photos by CARRIE ALLEN
If you ask Stephanie Dobson, owner and principal designer at PersonalizeDesign Interiors, what her favorite current project is, she quickly says that would be equivalent to choosing a favorite child — simply not possible.
That’s how much she loves what she does!
Born and raised just outside Concord, NC, Stephanie is a mom and wife, with a blended family of seven (that’s one husband and five kids whose ages range from teenagers to mid-20s). Reflecting on her own hectic household, she knows a home must be intentionally designed to function well for the family — while also looking pretty, of course!
Stephanie always dreamed of being an interior designer, but her analytical skills first drew her to a career in accounting and payroll. After a successful 17 years in the corporate world, she took the plunge, and returned to her passion for design.
“I’m a life-long learner so I love to soak up as much information as possible from books, magazines, trade shows, interior design forums, and collaboration with other designers. Following my favorite designers’ work, visiting showrooms and, sometimes unplugging and enjoying nature will foster the best ideas,” she says.
Stephanie explains her corporate career helped prepare her for entrepreneurship in so many ways.
“Working with various teams taught me effective communication and partnership, while managing multiple large projects helped me understand all the nuances that bring an idea from concept to completion. One of the most valuable lessons I keep with me is the importance of a wonderful customer experience. I want clients to feel comforted knowing I am walking alongside them during their project journey, and feel pampered enough to truly enjoy the process!” she adds.
She knows entrepreneurship is not for everyone — it’s tough some days, and you need the best people in your corner,” she says. “I’ve always believed it’s important to surround yourself with positive people, and I’m so grateful to my husband, who really is my biggest cheerleader. He’s my sounding board when I need a second opinion, and ALWAYS when I need a pick-me-up. I’m also honored to network with other business owners and mentors — and thankful for a couple of close friends who encourage me to reach for the stars! I finally found my tribe and I consider myself blessed to have the circle I do.”
In a field that’s filled with emotion, PersonalizeDesign Interiors follows an important motto: “We don’t compete, we collaborate.” Stephanie calls it one of their core values.
“I really believe everyone deserves a home they love. Home is our safe place — which can make it hard for people to ‘hand over the reins’ at first. Design is personal, and our homes are our biggest investment,” she adds. “I spend time getting to know clients, diving into everything they like or dislike about their spaces, why they want to make a change, and how the change will impact their lives.”
“I communicate, communicate, then communicate some more!” she explains. “Design can sometimes feel confusing, but I remind clients what’s next, over and over again. When they know where their project currently is in the process, they can relax. I introduce design elements I feel passionately about to show them what’s possible, but at the end of the day, it’s their home! Nothing is ever ordered or installed without client approval.”
Scheduling a Discovery Call and Completing the Intake Questionnaire are the first steps of Stephanie’s process, where she’s determining project scope, timeline, and investment levels. Unless clients have worked with a designer before, most people update rooms one, or just a few pieces at a time. Knowing what’s realistic, and what a client is willing to spend is crucial. Stephanie also provides a Consultation Package which includes a detailed cost estimate of low, mid, and high-cost items, and her free budget template is ideal for clients to begin research for their project on their own.
“Understanding average project costs and how the process works is important, and both parties need to decide if we’re a great fit to work together. There should be a connection between us that feels right, if we’re going to be in each other’s lives for an extended period of time!”
Stephanie savors that creative process — walking into a space and seeing the possibilities.
“I love seeing that idea come to life at the end of a project, and I enjoy meeting clients and hearing about their lives. And I love meeting all of the four-legged family members!”
Building a new home, or simply furnishing and accessorizing your current space are both projects with countless moving parts. Stephanie loves helping clients style their living spaces to feel like home. “Hiring a designer and other professionals provides a wealth of knowledge and, collectively, they become your dream team. Working with an interior designer also provides access to ‘to-the-trade’ vendors for art, lighting, rugs, and custom furniture,” she adds. “Again, the best things come from collaboration!”
PersonalizeDesign Interiors serves Concord, Lake Norman, Charlotte, and beyond. Visit them at 41 Union Street South, in Concord, NC, online at Personalizedesigninteriors.com, and on Instagram @personalizedesigninteriors. Reach Stephanie at 704-781-8377, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.