i. I work as an interior stylist.
My goal is to help people optimize the furnishings and other possessions they already have in order to create a nurturing and functional space that is authentic to who they are. I focus on helping my clients edit out what they no longer need (and love) and rethink the arrangement and positioning of what remains.
I try to really understand what is working about the spaces they live/work in– and what isn’t. Especially nowadays, we can feel “stuck” and I help people re-think their habits and their “things”: what do we have surrounding us and why? I think this allows people to see things from a fresh perspective– without having to replace everything. In fact, I make acquiring new things a last resort because most of us have too much stuff already!
ii. I do this creative work because: it is ever-changing, and continues to excite and energize me. Each project has very different issues and challenges, and I am so engaged when I do this work.
iii. A ‘typical’ day for me under Covid lockdown involves:
We are not really in lockdown mode any more, but while that was happening, I was able to perform some work remotely, using photographs and lots of back and forth. Now that we are more mobile, I am back “in-situ” but I do plan my movements carefully. I wear a mask most of the time and often gloves as there is so much touching!
iv. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
I am very solution-oriented, so I put a lot of thought into my work…solving individual challenges and goals that people have in their homes or stores. I also have a strong pull towards order and balance, so this work is ideal for me in that way.
v. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
The main challenge is understanding what the client’s goals are. Sometimes it is difficult for people to articulate what their vision looks like. They often know what they do not want, but being specific about what they are striving for can be hard. So, I use a lot of images as a way of overcoming some of these road blocks and as a means of communicating ideas. Luckily, the internet is a limitless source of images for just about anything, so I get people to spend some time compiling images of what best represents the look and feel of what they like and what they envision for themselves: “I know when I see it” kind approach.
vi. Creative childhood hobbies:
When I was little, around 9 or 10 years old, I would convince my siblings to switch bedrooms with me so that I could re-arrange everything and swap furniture. I would tell them that all they had to do was to agree, and I would do the rest….I would spend days and weeks getting everything in the right place, never tired of trying a different arrangement. Among other things, it helped me develop good spatial skills, as well as how to move large, heavy pieces of furniture when you are only 9 yrs old! It was so fun for me, and luckily, I come from a big family, so I was always busy!
vii. Other creators who inspire you:
I am continuously inspired by Mother Nature. I walk a lot, and notice so many interesting and beautiful displays of nature: colour (not only the the range, but also the combinations), texture, structure, balance, symmetry, fluidity…she does it all so magnificently!
viii. Training that has helped me in this career:
My work in the retail sector has been very helpful. It is fast-paced, so you really don’t have tons of time to contemplate your options. It is more intuitive, so you learn to trust yourself and your gut. This helps not to over-think decisions too much, which can hold you back. This area of work also relies on a lot of improvisation, and is fast-paced, which I enjoy. It is also different goal-wise from residential work because the installations are so temporary.
ix. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
I think it is hard sometimes for people in this line of work not to take feedback and criticism too personally. There is so much subjectivity in this field – what appeals to one may not to another. You have to keep your client’s direction in mind, and this may be very different from your own taste or preferences. You bring your skills and talents to work, but you are usually executing someone else’s vision.
x. Some proud career moments:
Back in my furniture design days, I was chosen to showcase my work at the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York). It was a dream of mine to go to that show just to see it, but to be a sponsored exhibitor there was so exciting. During that same year, my designs were also chosen to be part of a traveling showcase of work from Canada that toured Japan. It was an honour to have my work selected.
xi. Upcoming shows or events include:
Nothing planned at the moment. The pandemic is impacting the opportunities for this, but, we will recover, and get back to normal.
xii. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
I suggest that you begin anywhere, just get started. The more you work, the better you get, so volunteer if you need to. Keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and the more people you work with, the more you will learn – people in this business all have something unique to teach.
xiii. A professional goal I have for the future:
I am thinking about teaching a course for people who are looking to do styling for themselves. Not as a career, but for their own spaces. I feel that this could help people enjoy their homes more without too much coaching or cost.
iv. If you want to see my work, go to: www.mollysweeney.ca