Okay, let's be real. Its been a wild ride already. When I first set out to interview some of the interior design industries most creative influencers, I didn't really have a grasp on how much i'd be learning from these discussions. Chileeee.... issa blessing. (I'm not crying, you're crying!).
Next up, Cheryl Luckett of Dwell by Cheryl. I've been following her for a while, and she was definitely someone I was impressed by from the start. Not only is she an AA Top 20 Interior Designer, as well as featured in Southern Home Magazine, but she also is in partnership with Sylvester Alexander (a Black owned furniture maker with over 30 years of experience) for her own exclusive furniture line, The Belle by Cheryl Luckett.
Upon our first few minutes of our chat, it was easy to notice that she was such a Southern Belle, and all around beautiful person. Here's how it went:
TNB: "Thank you so much Cheryl for taking my call! I'm going to pick your brain a bit. So how did you get into interior design?"
Cheryl: "My major was in nutrition at TSU, but it was multi-discipline and included a focus in Interior Design. So it was always around from the start. I continued to learn collegiately, and by experience while I worked in Nutrition. By the time I decided that I was ready to start taking clients, I had been prepping for it for at-least 5 years on the side. The preparation part was very important for me. At that time, I wanted to make sure that my clients had no idea that I was doing interior design just on the side because I was so prepared."
TNB: "Oh wow. This is really helpful for me and i'm sure others just starting out. Do you have a certain strategy you can share for building exposure for the makers that are just starting out?"
Cheryl: "Invest! For 5 years, I financed my side hustle as if it were my only business. My professional career allowed me this luxury, and I poured into myself and my company. From everything from marketing to finance, I made sure my business was ready. By then, I was ready to accept the return of my investments, and it was really successful.
TNB: "I love that. Sometimes it's hard to really pour actual dollars into your side hustle, but if the plan is for it to be a thriving source of income then it only makes sense. So how did this partnership with Sylvester Alexander come to fruition? Were you looking for partnerships? I mean, i'm all here for a good partnership (Justina, Joanna, holla' at me!)"
Cheryl: "It was so funny actually. They reached out to me ! There was a secretary that would call and we would miss each other for a while, but when we did talk she mentioned they wanted to partner with an Interior Designer to collab and build exposure. I then wondered, well that's cool! I wonder who they were going to choose? Not knowing, they were talking about me! I couldn't believe it! "
TNB: "Awww, what a blessing! So you have walked in a few different lanes, how do you handle being the "first" or "only" when you walk into a room? I talk about that a lot because it's a real feeling."
Cheryl: "I grew up in Mississippi from parents who grew up during the civil rights movement. My parents had to learn how to navigate as a Black person, and taught me to do the same long before my interior design experience (deep right?!). It was already embedded you know? I knew I had to make sure I always showed up with my stuff together (..and sometimes striving to be the best in the room) to make sure I was accepted in the industry being the "first" or "only". It got to the point that it became second nature. I didn't know anything else because I have been living this all my life.
Cheryl touched on something I struggle with sometimes too, especially in my own interior design business. Is it important to constantly self-identify in efforts to appear acceptant of my Black skin? Am I trying to have a seat at the table, or am I bringing my own table? With a name like The Nappy Bohemian, do I also need to constantly mention that i'm Black and that I'm proud of it? Does it help or hurt my business? Does that add to the "Angry Black Woman" vibes that have tarnished our stereotypical image for years? Le' Struggle!
Well in short, hell nah. Cheryl talked about a level of understanding that she knows that people already sees that she is Black, and when she walks into a room that there is no need to mention it again. From then on, it's time to show up and show out.
And for fun as always...
TNB: Whats your favorite ice-cream?
Cheryl: "Im lactose intolerant now, but my favorite Ice Cream used to be Pralines and Cream. I lived for a good praline! "
If you guys didn't know, praline was created in the South. This makes a lot of sense because like Cheryl (also made in the South), she was just as sweet and approachable. If you personally have any questions for her, reach out! We joked about having so many chains of command that it makes us almost un-reachable, so act fast! This lady is on fire! :)
Thanks Cheryl! It was such an honor to talk, and I look forward to speaking again soon!
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