‘Women to Know’ Melissa B. Williams

Photo by simply Arlie
Photo by simply Arlie

Meet Melissa Williams ­– An interior design guru that took her hobby and turned it into a career and business. Based out of Potomac, MD, MBW Designs specializes in full residential and commercial interior design. Melissa started her business with one goal in mind, to be the go-to African American interior design firm in the country. After being seasoned in this industry, she has used her impeccable style and professionalism to take MBW Interior Design to the next level; transforming homes and creating an ongoing change in the lives of many.

Personally, I drew a lot of inspiration from our interview in terms of my own aspirations and gained reassurance of where hard work and dedication can really take you. Melissa was a reminder of how fortunate we are to actually have a passion; the hard part is getting out there and making use of it. Put your fear of failure and competition on the back burner and really go after the things that we dream about.

Need an extra push of motivation? Grab a quote or two from our interview below:

On What Inspired her to Pursue Interior Design versus Other Areas of the Design Industry

It’s funny, as a kid I was always intrigued by fashion and really thought that would be the path I took. Although I’m sure my parents would beg to differ being that they would come home and find something done differently in the house all the time. That being said, there was something about decorating a home (whether it was my parents home, my first apartment, or my first single family home) that really made me feel good. Knowing that I would spend much of my day in my home inspired me to make it comfortable and reflective of who I was. As a result I would have family, friends and guests always asking me what I did, how I did it and could I help them. I began to understand that styling homes was like styling myself in fashion, but with the added bonus of making others happy about something that was such a huge part of their lives. I became passionate about making others happy in their home. There’s no better gratification as a designer than to bring out the best in one’s home (or space) by bringing life and personality to it so that it makes them happy and functions as they do.

On her First Big Job

My first big job was building our custom home from the ground up. This was a huge undertaking, not just because of the size (10,000sf) but because it was something I’d never done before. I was excited and determined so I put on my “hard hat” and took on the challenge. I managed this project from plans to completion which required my creative, strategic thinking and analytical skills. This project required that I work with the layout of floor plans with the architect and builder, meet with contractors and vendors, select and purchase all furnishings, fixtures and equipment and manage budget requirements. The end result was so rewarding knowing that our new home felt like HOME–a place that made us happy, reflected our personalities, and made our guests feel welcome and comfortable. It was also the best hands-on training I’ve ever had.

On the Challenges she Faced Starting her Own Business

There were many challenges in starting my own business. The number one challenge was FEAR–fear of the unknown, fear of the major players in the market, fear of being the new kid on the block and an African American woman in a very saturated market, and of course the fear of failure! But understanding that fear is a state of mind, I didn’t allow it to manifest because I thought positive thoughts, and followed my dreams. I’m so proud that I took on those challenges with fierce determination, courage, and belief in my abilities. I would have failed had I not tried.

My favorite quote that gets me through challenging days is “There was never any fear for me, no fear of failure. If I miss a shot, so what? …I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that’s why I succeed.”–Michael Jordan

On What Inspires Her

I find inspiration from people, nature, architecture, other designers, fashion, my travels, and my kids. I find that living in a Metropolitan area like the DMV inspires through so many cultures, the architecture, even the geographic location–being part South/part North. Being that I’m a visual/creative person, it’s not hard to find inspiration from many things. There’s so much around me to absorb.

On Her Ultimate Vision for MBW

My ultimate vision for MBW Designs is to become the largest and most desired African American owned and operated Interior Design Firm in the country by providing an ultimate design experience for my clients; inspiring them to live and think creatively in all aspects of their lives.

On Her Advice to Aspiring Business Owners

Focus and prepare yourself through education whether it’s through school, work, seminars, lectures, mentors or from your own research. Have drive, determination and discipline. And never lose your passion to be creative and forward thinking.

For more on Melissa and MBW Designs, please visit MBWID

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