Here we go again… y’all this is quickly becoming my absolute favorite post of each month. I get to feature women who I find to be beyond incredible and introduce them to this world at large.
This month MelanieJeanne’s Woman of Influence is a woman I feel a kindred connection to. She is a gal after my own goal chasing heart. Thank goodness for Instagram and the internet because that is how we met. I was searching and she is who I found. This gal is quirky and collected in all the best ways, she is style walking and she is good juju beyond belief. Whenever we communicate, I just feel better in life. She is good people and good people is what we need more of in this world.
It must be known that I find Meredith’s design style to be the bees knees. She has a way of adapting to each and every client’s design aesthetic and making a house come to life as a home. It’s what most long for in a home. For it to depict one’s personality while also feeling complete, happy and like a giant comforting hug.
First things first … Let’s get to know Meredith. Please introduce yourself as an individual! Who are you away from Meredith Smyth Design Studio? What are your passions, goals and life like outside of the brand?
How much time do you have? Kidding… I’m a basic B. I like spending time with people who show their true selves and are open books. A whole lot of my friends I’ve had since elementary and middle school. I am married to a funny and supportive man who I met while living in Chicago. I have a dog who basically operates as a human. I love an adventure … come to think if it, any kind really. And I b0re easily. I rarely grocery shop, but when I do, I’m pretty proud of myself. And I try to read, but if I’m being totally transparent with you … I just prefer a glass of wine and some good tunes. I’m energized by people and good conversation, which I suppose means I’m a natural extrovert. It also means I love a good restaurant with an atmosphere that makes me want to linger. I’m a Jesus lover. Heart and soul, never steers me wrong. My goal for my business is simple: Make people happy in their homes. My personal goal is simple as well: just enjoy it.
Next: What / Who is Meredith Smyth Design Studio?
Meredith Smyth Design Studio is my Interior Design Company! The place where I get to play with creativity, get to really connect with people to understand what will bring them joy in their most personal space.
Now a few questions to dig deeper and get to know you and the brand just a bit better…
How are you balancing entrepreneurship with life (a move across country, husband, pup, travel & passions)?
Well, becoming an entrepreneur flipped life upside down.
I spent nearly 20 years as an advertising executive. Fast paced, never a dull moment, complete chaos at all times, always on the road, huge teams, incredible clients, programs and experiences. I couldn’t have asked for a better foray into what is exactly the same in Interior Design! With the exception of working with huge teams, the worlds of design and advertising are pretty much twinning.
But, and this is a big BUT, I never could have anticipated how much work would go into each of these projects. And I’ve never felt more nostalgic for the teams I had in the past who helped with all of the details! Seriously though, every entrepreneur says this, but it is true – it is SO MUCH WORK.
So that brings me to where I am now, so grateful I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s all real. You see … I grew up here in Phoenix. And when I left to move to Chicago, I didn’t envision moving back. So when my husband began getting a taste of this sunny desert weather during the wicked February months in Chicago … he set his sights on a job transfer. I never actually thought it would happen … so when it did, I couldn’t believe it. And I wasn’t sure I personally wanted it; however, my whole family and lots of friends are here. We bought a house from afar and started trekking across the country. I had no clue what was in store in that moment.
Let me fast forward … moving here afforded me the opportunity to take a chance on doing something new, something I was passionate about. It gave me permission to try and fail, without a huge risk associated. Because, what was the worst thing that would / could happen … I would fail and then go back into advertising? Ok. Let’s give this a shot!
And then something unexplainable happened. So many doors began to open. Friend after friend asked to work with me. Do you know how flattering it is that someone in your inner circle thinks your opinion is good enough to tell them what to do with their most personal space? Mind blowing. It fueled me to learn, grow, trial and error, learn more. Research. So much research. And the result has been the most gratifying journey. It changes you when you love your space. More conversational furniture arrangements have lead to more conversations in homes. Playrooms have given parental sanity back. New kitchens have sparked dinner parties that brought so many friends together. Kid’s rooms have fueled creativity and personality. Cozy master bedrooms that led to … ok now … you and your dirty mind!
On the daily, I am quite literally learning how to be more efficient with time, sharpening processes and trying to absorb every little thing there is out there about design. On top of all of the work. And project management. And customer care. And finance. And I.T. DAMN IT!! Why does my printer never work when I need it most?!?!
So life doesn’t feel balanced. But, as I mentioned, I like chaos. So we’re doing alright without any balance.
Are you a night owl or an early bird gets the worm kind of gal?
Both. I used to strictly be a night owl. But, that was when my to-do list didn’t wake me up from peaceful sleeps. So, sometimes I’m burning the midnight oil … it’s actually when I get my best creative ideas. And when I’m up with the worms, I’m usually my most productive.
My friend’s dad has a great saying – “If you’re going to hoot with the owls, you better rise with the eagles.”
Coffee, tea or favorite bevy?
It goes: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Water – hopefully a sparkling one. Wine. Wine. Wine. CHUG water when I realize I only had one water all day.
What does your morning routine look like? What do you do in the morning to create positivity throughout your day? Favorite breakfast (always looking for delicious inspirations)?
I’m a three-meal-a-day eater. And I don’t really snack. I know there are lots of thoughts on this, but it works for me. I LOVE making breakfast. Avocado toast with smoked salmon, a poached egg and roasted tomatoes is probably my most favorite breakfast treat.
My morning coffee time is big for me. It’s when I set the intention for my day. And just think. It’s probably my most quiet time of the day. I try to just put a smile on my face as the first order of business.
What are your greatest indulgences?
Dark chocolate and wine. And fashion. I love a good outfit and getting ready to go somewhere fun. I love how lipstick makes you instantly feel better. More confident. And travel. Every single time and never with too many scheduled plans. And a massage. I do love a good massage. And skiing. I love a cozy ski town. And a perfect Saturday. You know, the type of Saturday where you don’t have anything you have to do so you just do whatever you want, all day … from one activity to the next.
How do you balance all that is important to you (family, significant other, friends, Meredith Smyth Design Studio)?
There is always something being de-prioritized in exchange for something more immediate. I don’t have a system. I just feel it. If it all of a sudden just feels off in a relationship or that there is distance, I try to immediately turn attention to it. There are never enough hours for everything so just trying to be present is a current focus.
What inspired the launch of Meredith Smyth Design Studio?
My friend Kate Taylor. She has an interior design firm in Chicago and she gave me the chance to freelance with her on the side while I worked in advertising. We had a great time. When I was considering my own gig … she just told me to do it. Said I had enough business experience and everything else I would figure out along the way. So I said, “Ok, which logo should I go with?” And promptly sent her 200-300 options. Haha!
Seriously though, your community and who you surround yourself with plays a huge part. My family on both sides is woven together with fiercely strong, insanely smart women who don’t take no for an answer. Each believes that anything you want to do is achievable. And that kind of upbringing sticks. So naturally, all of my girlfriends are strong, capable, interesting women. So when I say, hey should I give this a try and the community around me shouted Do It, I didn’t even give it a thought. I just went for it!
And of course my husband. Literally, if he had said no or had any hesitation, we wouldn’t even be talking right now. So a big thanks to Kevin for being my #1!
How did you gain courage and confidence to walk away from corporate America?
I think it comes down to if you are driven by the known or the unknown. While I have a decent compass for safety, it’s always more skewed to the road less traveled.
What does the creative process look like for you as a design and with your clients?
Listen. Listen. Ask. Ask. Listen. Listen. Ask. Ask. Listen. Listen.
Once I have absorbed their wish list, their Pinterest boards, their hopes and dreams … I’m let loose to get creative around their design strategy. That’s how I think of it right now anyway. I of course have my own style, but I like and appreciate a lot of different styles. I find it fun to help define a shared style for a couple with seemingly opposite styles. Or help someone discover what truly feels like “them”. It’s less about me and defining my style and more about helping discover what will bring a smile to someone’s face. The more they trust me, the better the outcome. It’s why my favorite thing in the world is a surprise reveal. That means they trusted me to LISTEN to them and bring it all together in a way they couldn’t picture on their own.
What are your goals and dreams for Meredith Smyth Design Studio? What does the future look like?
Well, I just hired my first employee! I’m thrilled to have a second set of eyes, a collaborator, a helper and a buddy at the office! Baby steps, but I have a lot of ideas where I want things to go. This is where faith comes in for me. You make plans and God laughs – so I like to put my ideas out there in thought and prayer and see where God pushes me. When I get a nudge on something I have been thinking a lot about – I try to lean in.
What makes your brand accessible to ladies? And what niche do you believe you fill as a designer?
Well, I’m a real girls girl. Who also has a lot of great buddies. I think I’m pretty good at hearing both side of a household and helping find solutions through design that appeal to everyone and make all parties happy. I hope that I am relatable and not unreasonable. There are a lot of stereotypes about designers and misconceived notions about them – that are probably fair. However, I’m not at all like that. I really don’t care if you get your chair from Target and mix it with a custom sofa. I like Target. And I like a deal … so I’m not overly concerned with the price tag of your items. I care far more about how your space makes you feel. If it’s uniquely “you” and if it “works”.
What would you say to other dreamers? To other women longing to express creativity? To other women longing to launch a business and pursuing entrepreneurship?
You are BRAVER than you think. Take a small step if the big one feels too big. No one ever chalked a side hustle up to failure … they just called it a hobby if it doesn’t take flight. You have absolutely nothing to lose in trying.
And there you have it! Isn’t she wonderful? And not just wonderful, but real! She is the real deal. What a great conversation we just had. Now get to my house and help me tie a bow around this baby! I want this house to feel like our home!
Y’all, check out Meredith’s website over at Meredith Smyth Design Studio, check out Meredith’s Instagram for inspiration too. Reach out, explore creating happy in your home with Meredith. I promise, her good juju alone will make your world better!