When Scott and I started our business 6 1/2 years ago we were the only 2 employees for 2 full years! We knew we would have to add staff eventually and we did, slowly…. up until this year!
Raquel Charissa Emily Toni Sarah Amanda Eli
Our design business has grown so much that in addition to our retail team, we now have in place 4 full time designers (including myself) and two operations team members to manage all the details for the ordering and installation of our projects. If you work in the industry, you know how critical that phase of the business is!
I wanted to take today to give you a little bit of a run down on who is now working on our team, their background and key roles.
1) Toni McWilliams
Toni has over 20 years experience in Interior Design, beginning after she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design from Baylor University. After graduation, Toni was hired by a design firm in Aspen, Colorado. She has spent her career as a full time designer, working at large firms, small firms and as an independent designer.
In Colorado, Toni’s jobs focused on luxury homes and condos in the Aspen area. One of her projects won an ASID award, sponsored by Colorado Homes & Lifestyles magazine, for Best “Residential Traditional Kitchen”.
If Toni wasn’t an Interior designer, her dream job would be working with rescued baby elephants in Africa!
2) Raquel Skrobarczyk
Raquel is an artist at heart and has studied fine arts, photography and interior design in Texas and Italy. So far in her seven years of design experience, Raquel has worked in model home merchandising and high end residential design. She collaborated on the design of a 2009 Mueller Parade Home winning 8 awards including “Best of Show.”
You would think an artist’s ‘dream job’ would be something painterly, but when quizzed, Raquel said if she wasn’t a designer she would be solving mysteries as a CSI!
3) Amanda Bogner
Amanda has an enthusiastic and fun personality that shines from the minute you meet her. She grew up in the design world- her father was in construction, one uncle was an architect and the other an interior designer. So, naturally this business is a bit ‘old hat’ for her, even though she is young at heart.
Amanda has spent time working with luxury bedding and upholstery and is also so good with CAD she has done a lot of freelance work for other designers. Outside of the design world, Amanda’s dream job would be in dance…ballet specifically.
I think our new design team is amazing and I can’t wait to roll out all the wonderful projects we have this year with them.
We’ve also added to our ‘ops’ team to handle the increased workload.
1) Emily Hernando
Emily has been with us over a year and a half now. She is the consummate professional and a major help to both Scott and I. She has the ability to see what needs to be done to meet a goal and dives right in to do it. I am continually amazed when I ask her about something and her reply is “I already did that”. That is such a blessing in a business!
Emily studied at UT when getting her BS in Textiles & Apparel, Retail Merchandising. We were lucky to have her intern with us and she has been here ever since!
If Emily wasn’t working with us, she’d be searching out a job to name nail polish colors!
2) Sarah Kirsch
Sarah is just finishing up from the University of Texas, after also working on a merchandising degree. Her positivity and strong work ethic make her a great add to our operations team, which requires an amazing commitment to attention to detail.
In this business we can’t afford to make mistakes so we need those involved in our ordering and procuring to understand what our clients need and make sure it gets built properly.
While Sarah studied merchandising, she has also worked at couture clothing companies, including a high end bridal boutique and a men’s custom dress shirt company. Learning about these couture details will help her as we deal with custom upholstery with ‘dressmaker’ designs. If Sarah wasn’t working with our team, she would be in marine biology and swimming with dolphins.
1) Elisandra Noriega
Eli is our Assistant Store Manager. She studied business and marketing at UT. She worked retail in college at Forever 21, with the Forte Foundation helping women in business and also worked for the state. She is a wonderful writer and I wished I had tapped her to put this blog post together for me!
Eli is originally from El Paso but loves Austin. Eli loves to travel and spent a semester in Europe. If she could do anything, she said would move to Nice, France and be a food and travel blogger!
2) Charissa Pongtaratik
Charissa was another Textile & Apparel intern with us (if you own a business in Austin you should definitely get linked into this crew!). She finished up her internship in December and started with our retail team in January.
She never meets a stranger and knows everything there is to know about Austin, especially if it involves restaurants! Charissa is hoping to spend her career focused on fabrics and textiles and we are a good spot for her to begin that journey!
Whew! What a team. Those of you who remember when it was it just Scott & I are probably blown away by what has transpired in just a few years.
I am just thrilled to have such a group of motivated, positive and inspiring ladies to share in this awesome workload in 2014. Scott and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings, but I can guarantee we will be staffed to handle it!