The MNY Spotlight

Michelle Gage, Founder of Michelle Gage Interior Design

This week's Tastemaker Tuesday features Michelle Gage, founder of Michelle Gage Interior Design, her interior design firm based in Philadelphia. 

Introduce yourself!
Hello! I'm Michelle Gage, a Philly-based interior designer, with an affinity for all things bold, colorful and printed! 
Michelle Gage Founder of Michelle Gage Interior Design

Michelle is wearing a Mestiza piece the Flora Mini Dress in Canary Sequin

What characteristics (cultural, personality etc) make you unique?

Our designs are eclectic and eccentric, focusing on creating star-moments in our client’s homes. We have a flair for all things whimsical. 

What motivated you to start Michelle Gage Interior Design?

I studied interior design in college, but after I graduated I didn’t take the typical firm route that my peers did. I went to work as a buyer for Anthropologie HQ. My time there was wonderful and am so grateful for everything I learned, but Anthro is a retailer and not an interior design firm. Ultimately, I always knew I would run my own firm one day so I jumped and never looked back!

Find more of Michelle's home design projects on her website.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your interior design projects, and how do you make each one unique?

I always joke that I pull inspiration from everywhere - museums, travel, design magazines, our clients - and mix it all up in my cauldron to make a magical potion. We never use the same formula twice. I could be inspired by a the colors in a painting that I see in a museum and find a similar wallpaper style to use in a client’s home. A lot of it has to do with the right moment, home and client.

What is the most rewarding aspect about what you do?

Creating colorful spaces for amazing clients. We really do attract some of the nicest people around and it’s always a joy to showcase their personality in their home. It’s such a personal endeavor and we really relish in the opportunity to design spaces that are truly aligned with their life and style. 

Photo of Michelle Gage Interior Design
How do you interpret “invest in yourself?” and what are the types of things you do to invest in/ empower yourself?

During my first few years in business, I really skimped and saved. Ultimately, I realized that held me back. Photoshoots are a great example of this evolution I had. Photographers are expensive. I would book them and would want that to be the only cost for the day so I wouldn’t invest in extra props to make the shoot a bit more amazing. I realized, I’m still spending all this time (and money) to capture the house, that investing a few hundred dollars in some unique props would make all of my efforts stretch further. Investing in yourself and your business is the only way to grow it. Recently, I’ve ramped up my team to be larger than ever before. It’s for sure scary to think about being responsible for everyone’s livelihood, but I need support around me in order to grow to the next level so it’s all worth it. 

Why is it important to you to empower women?

There is a lot of negative talk that we, as women, need to fight off in our minds every day. There are hurdles that seem impossible to overcome, but I want to show women that we can do anything we set our minds to. I am a big believer in the thought that “if you can see it, you can do it.” Representation is so important. I looked up to so many other bold women who started design businesses before making the jump myself. I could follow their journey and see them grow to get ahead every year. Seeing that starting a business was not only possible, but could be profitable, encouraged me to chase my dreams. Truly, there are still some “pinch me” moments. I feel lucky, proud and empowered to have other amazing women working for me and being able to provide them with good jobs that help them achieve their personal and professional goals. 

What draws you to the Mestiza brand?

I love the excitement around each piece. Every dress makes a statement and adds a little bit more fun to everyday life. This mantra really aligns with our approach to designing interiors. 

How did you like your Mestiza piece?! Any details on how it fit or made you feel?

Oh I loved it! I am seriously crushing on all things yellow these days. The sequins and the bell sleeves make it a sixties dream. I can’t wait to wear it outside of the house; it’s a stunner!

Please share an inspirational tip to someone looking to follow your footsteps.
My biggest piece of advice would be to get your finances is order before making any huge shifts in your career. There is a steep learning curve when starting your own business and having a safety net gives you the freedom to experiment and learn with a little bit less pressure. From there, make a plan for your first year - knowing that nothing will pan out the way you expect it to. It’s always good to have a road map with goals, but allow yourself to be flexible and open to unforeseen opportunities. Network with your peers. You’d be surprised how open other women can be when working towards the same goals. Fight off the need to conceal your secrets to success. A rising tide lifts all boats. 
If you’re truly interested in starting your own interior design business, I have create a course on how to get started. It covered everything I wish someone told me when I was starting out. Learn more here.

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