This story is part of a series on “How I landed the job,” going step-by-step through job changes and negotiations at some of Charlotte’s best places to work. To be considered for a story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
the redesign company. website.
The path, as told by Kelly Lies:
(lightly edited for brevity and clarity)
We don’t really have titles at the redesign company. If I had one, it would be COO.
I run everything. Client consultations, writing their proposals, following up with all client interaction, all the way down to the design part of it. Including going out and shopping for clients and planning their design and implementing it. I’m involved in every little piece of the job.
I never in a million years thought I would be doing this. I went to college for corporate communications and had a corporate job for 11 years.
I worked with Tim [co-founder of the redesign company] for quite a few years at Lime Energy. We had so much fun, and we had so much respect for each other. He knew I loved design, and I really didn’t even know that Christina [his wife and co-founder of the redesign company] Christina did this for a living. He apparently had been telling Christina behind the scenes to hire me for a long time.
One night, I invited them over for a party, which was one of the first times I met Christina.
I consider myself pretty creative but never really thought it was an option to make money from it. I’m a pretty funky and expressive person in my home. I take a lot of items at low-end price points and make them look high end.
Christina walks in and oohed and aahed and was super excited because high-end look at low-end pricing is her thing. By the end of the night she was begging me to leave corporate America. I thought for sure that it was the wine talking. I thought I’d never hear from her again and that she wouldn’t remember!
She emailed me the next day and asked when I could start.
There wasn’t a job description. There wasn’t a title. There wasn’t anything. She was just like, come work with me, and we will figure it out as we go. It was a big jump for me. I had no idea how much she needed me, how much I would be working. I was used to a 401k and benefits. I didn’t know if I would be able to be supported this way.
It started out part time. I took a leap of faith and took a jump. And it was worth it because this is something I really love doing. It’s nothing I went to school for. Someone else came over and saw potential in me. So I decided to believe in myself, too.
I said yes to her offer, and six months later, I was full time.
We now have more clients than we know what to do with, which is definitely a good problem to have.
One of the best things about this job is how happy our clients are and seeing how happy we’ve made them when they come home. Sometimes we laugh and say we’re the pillow fluffers! It seems so silly sometimes.
Our clients get to love coming home rather than feeling stressed about it. We love that, and I think that’s one of the reasons we are so popular among our clients.
I went from doing what I thought I needed to do to something I love doing. It would’ve never happened going to a networking group or event. It happened by inviting people into my home and by being myself.
I don’t want to say that making the change was a difficult decision. It was new and a little bit scary (for lack of a better word). I had always gone for the sure thing. I think creative jobs in general seem to be a little more uncertain, or at least they have that stigma in my mind. That’s what made me apprehensive.
But this just fell into my lap. How do I say no to that? It seemed like fate. I knew I had to try this. I was super excited and nervous at the same time.
Sometimes I feel like I’m still adjusting to this career change. In the beginning, I would write client emails, and Christina would say, “No no, that sounds way too corporate. Speak to them like you would a friend.”
It was all about letting my guard down and not being worried about being so professional. Everybody is family, and we talk to them that way. It look me a long time to get used to this. There aren’t procedures, rules, or preconceived ideas of what we need to be doing.
It’s all whatever we want it to be. Christina and I are both super passionate about only doing the parts that we love. We’re honest with the world and will say “we don’t do that” if we don’t love it. Sometimes people want a high-end design, so we refer them out.
We won’t pretend to know things. We want to help people go on vacation more and spend more time having life experiences and still be able to afford a nice home.
I don’t really feel like I have to balance my work life and personal life anymore. It doesn’t feel like it’s one or the other. When I used to come home from my corporate job, I looked forward to not being at work. When you’re doing something you love all day, you don’t necessarily want to stop. There’s not one side and the other. Everything I do fits my life so it all blends together perfectly. I never get tired of my work.
I didn’t know that that’s what this would be. When I went to college, like most people, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. I still didn’t know after 10 years of corporate America. Working in design is where I discovered my love for it. I feel really fortunate and lucky to have stumbled on it.
My advice is to not be afraid to try to do something that you love. Don’t think, “How am I going to make it work? I don’t know if I’m ever going to get paid or paid enough.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough or that you need a degree. If other people see you’re good at something, believe what they’re telling you. Believe in yourself, too. No job out there is perfect. There will always be ups and downs and challenges.
Its not like we don’t have hard days. There are millions of things that can go wrong. At the end of the day, would I rather be doing anything else? Absolutely not.