We had the good fortune of connecting with Keesha Allen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keesha, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Being an interior designer is not all about shopping. A professional interior designer is skilled at curating beautiful, functional and healthy homes so their clients can live their best lives not only inside their sanctuaries, but also, outside of those harmonious spaces. Interior designers are problem-solvers daily. Our tasks include, but not limited to, scheduling and managing various contractors, brainstorming solutions to design challenges placed by the architecture of the home, dealing with trade vendors and placing orders in a timely manner, space planning furniture arrangement so the occupants of the home can live and enjoy their furniture comfortably, addressing the necessary layers of the room such as wall treatments, ceiling treatments, flooring, and problem windows, conducting site visits to make sure plans are carried out according to written specifications, and taking well-pampered care of our clients. We are dealing with clients on a very emotional, intimate level. For our clients, taking care of the design of their home, means handling their money, their exclusive time, their celebratory moments, their setbacks, their hopes and dreams for this moment in their life, their struggles of being a professional or running their own business, their family life, the apparatuses of their values, and many more. While doing these things aforementioned, we are educating them on the value of not shopping retail, what exactly in involved in working with a professional interior designer, accurate and realistic budget for the design of their home, and the intricate steps of the design process.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
During my years of working in Corporate America, there was always an empty feeling gnawing at me – a feeling that there is something more to my destiny. I was not tapping into my ARTISTIC self, and it left me sorely unsatisfied. What do I do? I knew, in my deepest of my heart, I love FASHION, DESIGN, and all things BEAUTY. However, I knew I did not want to be a fashion designer. My innate desire was to couple my enchantment for materials and fabrics with my love affair for technical adroitness. After in-depth research online, I stumbled upon the field of Interior Architecture and Design. From my inquisition, I discovered that this discipline was not only the divine playground for ingenuity and creativity, but it also required the knowledge and use of methodological aptitudes. Yes indeed, Interior Architecture and Design seem to feed both of my appetites. Thank God Almighty. Next step? Educate myself. I knew nothing about architecture, interior design, or combination thereof. I found a graduate program and I acquired my Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Architecture and Design. I began my business, while completing this graduate degree, and it was not easy juggling both goals. I experienced slow growth in acquiring clients, and consequently, I was broke for months and even years. Along the way, I have learned to handle my business strategically and implemented systems and processes for my design projects. My struggles have led me to seek out mentorship programs to strengthen the profitability of my business. I have humbled myself, and went outside of my comfort zone in doing social media, and also in handling, of my clients during their respective design projects. I pivoted my thought process, and became unapologetically invested in charging higher prices as a result of the level of service that I provide my clients. I became great and savvy in doing my business. What makes my business unique is simply me. When seeing a space for the first time, I can automatically determine if there is something wrong or right with the space. Immediately, I begin to brainstorm how to make the space function better, and identify the gorgeous items along with the order/layering of those items, to conclusively, conceive the “wow factor” home. My vision is different from my client’s vision, and also, different from another interior designer’s vision. The environments I have created for my clients, in my business, denote the interminable flowering and maturation of my aesthetic, personal tenets, and design skills by way of my studies at the Academy of Art University. Each masterpiece was deeply intimate, singular in its materialization, and unrivaled in its individual composition. For every project, I sought to interject my fervor for culture, research, differing materials and textures, inventiveness and huegasm [color obsession]. For each project, I expose all of my glory; the tiny parts of me that emulate the vision of my cultural portrait. My passion for architecture, flowers, vintage, the arts, 1990s nostalgia, books all contribute to the development of my interior projects. Each prior design work has birthed unique design challenges, stretched both my personal and professional proficiencies to the max, to ultimately actualize sanctuaries that are intriguing and alive with texture, graphics, femininity or masculinity or both, and vogue.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting me here and I wanted to show them the best time ever, some of the places that I will visit include The Gite Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts and its adjunct Contemporary Museum, Houston Botanic Garden, The Menil Collection, The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and The Ensemble Theater. I will also find some Home Tours that we can go to, I love seeing the distinct architecture of homes here in Houston. I will bar hop down Washington and in the Montrose area. I will dine at the Traveler’s Table, Bar Boheme, MAX’s Wine Dive, Lucille’s, Brenner’s on the Bayou. Favorite coffee shops that I will take them to is Slowpokes, Retrospect Coffee Bar, Throughgood Coffee and Catalina Coffee. My favorite dessert place to go is SWEET Houston.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To my cherished loved ones, Mami, my sisters, Nikki and Stacy, and my nieces, Melody and Nadia, a huge thank you goes out to them for the plethora of love, support, countless prayers, shoulders-to-cry-on, and imaginativeness that emanates from each of them. And most of all, my highest form of thank you, goes to GOD, my Father, my Creator, my Confidant, my All in All, and my Everything. I wouldn’t be running my business if it wasn’t for the fact that He is the Author of my life. HE has led me here, even when I quit working on my business a year ago. Therefore, I am beyond adequate words, owe HIM my highest praise; the greatest thank you goes to Him, along with Jesus, The Holy Spirit; and together, with the Immaculate Mother Mary, along with the company of angels and saints, I am here running my interior design business. Without GOD, without intercession for the best of my life from both my earthly and heavenly family, I am nothing and I don’t accomplish anything. GOD & Family. I love You. And I need You.
Keesha Allen, Founder & Principal Interior Designer K Lilia Interior Design