I am so excited to bring this blog series to y’all! I have a passion for collaborating with, encouraging and supporting mompreneurs and small business owners. Each month, I will be bringing you a monthly installment of our Mompreneur Blog Series. First up this month is Ally Whalen from Ally Whalen Designs. Ally is a ridiculously talented interior designer located in Cornelius. She was so sweet and fun to work with! Check out her interview below to see how she manages it all:
A: I was born and raised in Vermont with three older brothers. While Vermont is the most beautiful place in the country, I was in need of a change and some warmer weather. So when I was 19, I followed my eldest brother to North Carolina to finish my last 2 years of college in Apparel and Textile Design. I loved NC so much I decided to make it my home. I met a gorgeous fireman in Charlotte who I now call my husband! He had a 2 year old daughter at the time who I quickly became attached to. We married in 2007 and had a daughter of our own in 2009. So with a teenager, a kindergartener and our own business we stay quite busy!
C: What prompted you to start a business?
A: Several things prompted me to start my own business. At the time I had been in the corporate world for almost 18 years holding numerous positions and titles in different industries. I was the Director of Corporate Sales in 2010 and my daughter Piper was about a year old. The economy was tanking and enduring the recession in sales while pregnant was no cup of tea. I hated the feeling of fearing that at any moment I may lose my job and I really wanted to spend more time with my kids. Couple that with my creative side dying to get out I knew I needed to make a change. So crazy idea, I’ll start a business in the recession (ha-ha) and away I went!
A: I actually had the intent of starting a home staging business. I wanted to help people Simplify their homes in order to help them sell and I wanted to keep things on the DL from my corporate job so using my name at the time wasn’t an option. I came up with Simplicity Staging and Redesign. I started a not so great website and got my first client from it the next month, but it wasn’t a staging client, it was for help with interior design. I actually never had one staging client, my business quickly blossomed into full blown design and so I changed the name to Simplicity Interiors, LLC. Which remains my biz name, but I DBA (Doing Business As) Ally Whalen Design.
A: We are a full service Interior Design Firm that handles everything from one room makeovers to whole home renovations and new construction. With some great examples and inspiration from Gamma Cabinetry’s homepage, which deals with cabinet designing among various other details on renovation, I finally powered through. As the business has grown, the business plan has certainly changed. My husband and I owned a storefront for a short while, but quickly found out that wasn’t going to work with me being out with clients all the time and him project managing our remodels. We still do rent some space from another shop so we can display my furniture line to sell and are starting an e-shop on our website www.allywhalen.com
C: How do you balance all of the roles that you have?
A: As busy as I am I find I have way more time with my kids and my husband Scott because he works along side me now. I am able to drop Piper off at the bus and pick her up almost everyday which was my plan for working out of my home again. She comes in the treehouse after school and either does homework or watches a movie while I finish up my day.
C: What is the best aspect of having your own business?
A: Freedom! For example, right now it is 1pm and raining outside, I’m still in bed in my pajamas as I type this questionnaire! This is surely not a typical day for me as I am usually out with clients and running different directions, but the fact that I can slow down and do this when it’s pouring outside is a nice plus!
A: You work a lot, well maybe I shouldn’t say work because when it’s your passion you do for a living, it never really feels like work. I probably put in 60-70 hours a week, including some time on weekends when I’m catching up on the books or clients can only meet on weekends or in the evenings. Everyday is different so that’s what I love.
C: What are some long-term or future goals you have for your business?
A: Right now I think we really plan to get our online shopping site up and running so we can sell my oh so comfy slipcovered furniture around the country. As far as long-term it’s hard to say because I’ve had so much success in such a short period of time with my business that it’s taken me further now than I ever could have imagined. My work has now been published in 15 publications over the last 3 years (6 national magazines and 9 local) with 1 more national magazine coming out later this year. I’ve gone non-stop for a while now, so focusing on me a little may be my 2016 short term goal!
A: Yoga:) That’s about my only downtime during the week, a little gym, a barre class and 2 yoga classes to keep me sane! I also love girls nights in the treehouse- a little wine and a lot of laughter goes a long way
A: magic eraser
A: My first real job out of college was a Design Assistant for Healthtex, a childrenwear clothing company
A: Ellen- I just love her show. No matter who she has on for a guest I know it will be funny even if I don’t particularly like them:) So I know dinner with her would be hilarious and I love to laugh!
A: The love season by Elin Hilderbrand
A: Do it because it’s your passion. If you find something you love to do it will never feel like work. and you need a thick skin, you must be resilient in order to move forward in anything you do!