You can’t escape your passions.
For Beth Smith, one career pivot propelled her into the life of her dreams. After an increased workload as a certified public accountant (CPA) led her to a two-week vacation in an effort to invite a sense of calmness into her life, she soon left her corporate role and began to redesign her life and fulfil her purpose as a full-time interior decorator.
“It was a mix,” said Smith when asked about her inspiration behind making the move to leave behind her job in corporate America to pursue her entrepreneurial career in the creative space. “I want to say it was all my doing, but the universe kept on aligning. It got to a point where God was pushing me and eventually He was like, ‘Girl, you’re not listening to what I’m saying.’ So the missions got harder. I discovered interior design very much by accident and have never considered myself to be a creative. So to be in a creative space is still very surprising to me.”
Furthermore, she explained that redoing her own space and a very clear conversation with a close friend catapulted her into the space she is now, ultimately leading her to serve as an interior designer for brands like HomeGoods.
“I discovered interior design just by redoing my own home and I am very process driven. So I literally was just doing what I call, like, usual research, like ‘Oh, let me read some publications. Let me find some inspiration,'” she recalled. “My eyes were opened. I didn’t even know this kind of thing existed at the time and I didn’t know that there were interior design schools. I was so detached from anything creative and then as time went by, I really did try to push the interior design bug away, but it kept on repeating itself.”
She added, “One day I was talking to a friend who had recently had a baby and she was talking about how she wanted to start doing kids’ parties. She was also in corporate America so I was confused, but we had a very open dialogue and I was just kind of like why would you give up these good corporate paychecks and this 401K and this health and benefits.”
Smith explains that her friend’s simple perspective of being ” tired of chasing the dollar for things that are making me so unhappy,” is what changed it all for her. After pondering her own frustrations in her corporate America position, she came to a conclusion and executed a plan to make her new dreams a reality.
As someone who can be very practical, Smith recounted the steps she took before jumping completely off the porch to take up a role as an interior designer.
“I looked at my finances and I said, “Okay, well do you have enough money for six months… of like living expenses?” Smith asked herself at the time. “My goal at the time was to take interior design on nights and weekends and then I questioned if I should quit and just focus on school full time for a semester because then I could be done with my interior design degree.”
It wasn’t long before Smith began to put the groundwork she’d been laying into motion by starting off with a handful of clients to ensure that she was being financially responsible.
Now, she aims to inspire other women, specifically Black women, to see what the interior design industry is all about.
“I hope this inspires other Black women to really explore interior design because I hear so many times from other Black designers how this wasn’t their first career,” Smith told BAUCE. “This is their second career and it’s rare when I meet someone where this was their first career.”
She also wants others to know that there is more to life than always playing it safe.
“Sometimes we start off with doing the thing that seems more practical instead of the thing we really want to do,” Smith explained.
Lastly, she offered up one last piece of advice for anyone on the fence about making the pivot from their current role to one that is more creative like interior design: “Be cheap for a while.”
“I would say that if you are moving into this field as a second career or any field from another career, there are so many skills that you learned in that first career that is setting you up,” Smith continued. “So even though it may seem that it is far-fetched. Like you already have a breadth of knowledge, you’re just evolving it or adapting it to fit into the things that you really wanna do, I would say be cheap for a while. That goes a long way like you don’t have to go out to dinner with your friends every night. That’s what I would like to do, ’cause I mean, I don’t cook (chuckles).”