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Exploring Life & Business with Alicia Garey of AG Designs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia Garey.

Hi Alicia, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I had worked in the entertainment industry in the literary department of a large talent agency and in television production when I eventually decided to pursue my love of interior design. Initially, I was an assistant at an architectural firm and when my two children were young, I attended the UCLA interior design program, working on assignments either during the day when they were in school or late at night after they were asleep. It was (and is) a vigorous program taught by working professionals. I was constantly inspired by the classes and instructors and my fellow students.

After working with design firms for a few years, I stepped out on my own and established AG Designs. As technology and innovation evolve, so does the ability to guide a project forward. From kitchen and bathroom design, fabric selections, and lighting, I am fascinated by the ways in which new and classic materials come together to create beauty and comfort in our interiors.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Running AG Designs since 2008 has presented all kinds of challenges and rewards. As a sole proprietor, I began working on projects scaled at my own comfort level while raising a family. It was a busy time but thankfully, I was able to be discerning about which projects I would take on.

One of the more challenging aspects in those early days was assembling reputable contractors and sales reps. If I engaged in services with a new entity, I’d kind of shake in my boots at first and micromanage to make sure everything turned out alright. Experience has taught me that while I can align a project with excellent resources, there are usually surprises in a renovation and being a problem solver in coordination with the entire team is a crucial component for a successful outcome.

In 2011, I faced a personal struggle when I was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was working on a large office project. Toward the end of the project, I had to step back and take care of myself, and I’m happy to report I’m doing great. It took some time to get back into the swing of things in my work life but I did and I’m always guided by a sense of gratitude.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
When I begin working with a client, they have often contemplated making a change for some time. They are seeking clarity and comfort and it’s exciting to help solve design dilemmas and arrive at a concept tailored to the client’s wish list.

Although I didn’t start out specializing in kitchens and bathrooms, it became a large focus of my work because those are the crucial areas of one’s home that require considerable planning and financial commitment. Interior design is also a team sport and communication is key. I am known for my diplomatic approach which is to say that I appreciate all input in the design process. Clients often come up with terrific ideas and without the expertise of the contractor and their crew, our concepts couldn’t go far. So, I truly value a respectful and collaborative dialog during the concept phase and throughout the project.

At the end of the day, I’m so happy when a client tells me how much they love their new space. Sometimes a fabric, color, texture or an object might be the initial point of inspiration, but first and foremost is the principle that form follows function. I strive to be a good listener and also to observe an environment perhaps in ways that a client may not have considered. I always say we can explore anything on paper. Interior design requires patience and tenacity and I think I’ve successfully managed to bring both to the table.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Even though work was essentially halted when California shut down in March of 2020, staying in touch with clients and colleagues during these challenging times became more important than ever. Many of my clients I also consider as friends and in those early and scary days, I wanted folks to know they could reach out to me any time. It also became apparent that while we’ve all shifted to being at home more than usual, a heightened appreciation for our surroundings developed. I was able to continue consulting with clients remotely and started a kitchen renovation with safety protocols in place during on site meetings. There were minimal manufacturing delays, the project turned out great, and the client was so happy to enjoy their beautiful new space.

The other good news is that previous to the global pandemic, it was already customary for construction crews to maintain on site safety and cleanliness including sectioning off areas in progress. During a renovation, we always want to determine an ideal path in and out of a home for minimal disruption, so planning for this during the pandemic has not looked much different.

It is true that in some cases, furniture production has experienced longer lead times during the crisis, but I’ve been mindful of lead times for years and there is always a way to plan strategically.

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