What my Path has taught me…
My professional career in the Interior Design field has been nothing short of an adventure. Over the past five years I’ve learned that design isn’t always what you would expect it to be, I started out as a Purchasing Clerk for a High End Custom furniture millworker. I was excited, in my mind I imaged that I would be going on site visits, installations, and just generally feeling really involved, which wasn’t exactly what I got from that experience. What I did learn; is how to humble my 24-year-old self, proper phone educate, and how to write very detailed emails to clients. One of the most important things the owner of the company told me; “Always stick up for yourself, don’t be a bully and don’t allow yourself to be bullied", which is something that stuck with me. And on this same day he asked me the most important question I had been asked from a boss thus far. “Candace, so what is it that you want to do with your life?” I was so content with where I was that I had never posed that question to myself.
Less than 6 months later I was enrolled at Miami-Dade College for the Interior Design program and I shifted my professional career to be more in line with what I wanted to do in the future which I though at the time was Sales, so I took a position as a Sales Assistant for a showroom in Miami. I started to think that I was finally on the right path; I daydreamed about going to client meetings, making important design decision, and just being engulfed in design. That turned out to not be my personal experience, at all, I found myself sitting at a cubicle in the back of the showroom, indexing fabric samples, printing catalogues, making client presentations and honestly the list goes on. Which is exactly what one must do at the beginning of their career, but after one year and a half in the same position, I went from feeling like I was on my way to feeling completely stuck. Being in this position made me question what design really is for ME, seeing the Sales Associates close large sales orders, earn big commissions, have their opinions heard, and just having the freedom to go out of the showroom for meetings made me think to myself, If only I could be like “them”. I wasn’t thinking about being me, and the saying goes “When you compare, you always lose”. That saying rings true, I had somewhat lost myself, I was never going to be “them” because I was still me.
After a year and a half of assisting, I switched to another company as an Assistant/ Lighting and Accessories Specialist for a “bigger and better” showroom in Miami. This allowed me to focus on Sales as well, and I was really amazing at it, in my own mind at least. While I was there I still thought, maybe I want to be a Sales Associate one-day. That didn’t end up happening, I began to realize that I really didn’t want to be a Sales Associate for someone else, I wanted to be a Sales Associate for me and work with products and people that I believe in. It took at least a year for that to come into fruition but not without many more parallels and rough patches along the way. I was bullied, made to feel as though I wasn’t good enough, and I started to doubt my vision. I began to think back to what my first boss told me “Don’t be a bully, and don’t let anyone bully you.” I started to realize that this was never my goal, I never wanted to be the girl sitting behind a desk all day, answering phones, taking orders from people that I didn’t believe in, and didn't look up to or admire at all, who were always negative and unfair to clients. I would never be their equal, they only saw me a threat not a team member. Backlogged with finishing THEIR presentations, writing their sales quotes and growing their business, and having no time to focus on my own goals. I quickly lost all motivation, I saw no future in design, and I felt there were no chances for growth, its not like I could become the Owner of this family owned business one day, so what now? I mulled over that internally for about one WHOLE year just waiting for the answer to magically appear, it never did.
Until one faithful day, my manager pulled me aside and said that my services were no longer needed; she said you’re great at the selling aspect, but not good at the assisting portion, she knew and felt that this wasn’t what I wanted anymore. After a combined three years of assisting, she was damn right! I felt shock, I came in every morning on time (most of the time) answered phones from morning to close, did my co-workers detailed presentations, sent samples to their clients on their behalf, scheduled fed-ex, unpacked boxes, sending email correspondence to over 30 vendors. All the while I was still trying to build me, trying to grow to feel empowered and respected, none of which that position afforded me. So once the shock of being “let-go” wore off, I realized that this was actually the best gift that any boss had ever given me, freedom. After I walked out of the showroom, I realized, everything that had happened to me up until that point wasn’t lost.
It prepared me to be the person I am, and gave me tough skin, more drive that I could have ever imagined, and made me totally fearless about starting my own business. Knowing that I can rely on myself, and truly build a future for myself is the most empowered I have felt in my 31 years of life. If you believe in you, nothing can truly stop you; you’re your own best cheerleader. I’m not saying that following your dreams will make you world famous, or even wealthy, but I can say that if you never try you will never know what could have been. It’s okay to take risks in order to find your happiness. What’s not okay is depriving yourself of that opportunity. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it definitely isn’t easy; but I can promise you that life is a beautiful journey, allow yourself to take the ride. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish when you just believe in YOU!