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Conversations with the Inspiring Julie Richard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Richard.

Julie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been thinking of ways to transform and create new interiors. As a child, I would constantly re-arrange my bedroom, hang new art and paint the walls a fresh, colorful shade. I have always been drawn to the creative process and all types of design including fashion, architecture, and graphics. After a brief career in clothing buying and catalog layout, I decided it was time to switch gears and in my twenties, I earned a Master of Arts degree in Interior Design. Graduate school gave me a strong educational background, I was then ready to get some solid experience in the field. After graduation, I obtained a position with a well known interior design firm in Boston’s South End. The real world experience I gained was invaluable. In 2007, after the birth of my son, I launched an interior design blog, Shelter, taught interior design part-time at two area colleges and started my own design firm also named Shelter. I’ve been creating beautiful and functional residential interiors ever since! I feel very fortunate to work in such a creative field that is continually evolving.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I am not sure anything in life is ever completely smooth sailing!! Starting your own business can be risky, especially if you are solely supporting yourself. I went through an unexpected divorce with two very small children a few years after I launched my firm. For a time, I was in survival mode. Balancing my growing career along with being a mother of two young children can be both rewarding and challenging. I truly think if you remain positive, focused and driven, things in life will turn out, not always the way you envisioned but the way they are supposed to. Attitude is everything, as is being thankful for the good days and growing from the bad.

Running my own firm, writing a design blog, helping others create a beautiful home for themselves and working in a field that I am truly passionate about, kept me grounded and focused during the “unglamorous” moments of life when I was first starting out. My advice for other women would be to choose a career path that truly inspires them and to educate themselves as much as possible in the field.

After graduation, I would strongly suggest working for someone else before going out on their own. Learning from a professional while making invaluable contacts is an important key to success. I believe women have the intelligence, creativity, and vision to make amazing things happen in this world. Always be sure to silence your fears, take risks, listen to your instincts and set clear, attainable goals… I am constantly looking for inspiration, learning from experiences and jotting down ideas in small, pretty notebooks – never stop dreaming or thinking for yourself!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Shelter (an interior design studio) story. Tell us more about the business.
I launched my interior design firm, Shelter, in 2007. It is a full-service residential design studio. I also write a daily blog, also named Shelter. My design blog shares creative ideas on anything design related: trends, architecture, color palettes, textiles, travel and my second love, fashion.

Shelter specializes in residential interior design. My design projects often end up being a collaborative process. I help make my client’s dreams a reality by envisioning a cohesive concept and executing it. I specialize in an array of projects types but often help people furnish, design and decorate entire homes. I also design custom furniture, kitchens, bathrooms and offer project management services. Over the years, I have built relationships with a wonderful group of craftspeople and workrooms, I work with them daily on an array of exciting projects.

I am very aware that creating something fabulous, rarely happens alone. Working with knowledgeable artists/workrooms/contractors, sharing my eye for scale, color, and textiles, along with my educational background in the field set my designs apart from others. I am most proud that I have grown my business as a single mother and really take pride in each and every project, large or small. It is very rewarding to transform my initial paper sketches and drawings into reality. My goal is to better people lives with well considered, beautiful and functional designs. It is a very special feeling when I receive a photograph from a happy family that I have worked with, enjoying their home together! Running a strong business is all about building positive relationships.

I constantly aim to educate myself, love to use color in unexpected ways and think the small details make all the difference in a beautiful design. I never push my clients to do anything they are not comfortable with but I think taking small risks will set their spaces apart from others!!

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
In our digital age, people are constantly being bombarded with information, promises, and ads. Setting yourself apart from others can be a challenge. Consumers are also quite knowledgeable about design but some of the current television shows do designers a disservice. Television often promises finished homes with both unrealistic budgets and timelines. Homes are often staged and it is impossible to see the quality of work on a television show. If it looks too good to be true, it most likely is. Overall, the support among women in the design community is very good. It is an encouraging environment that often gives back to the community with charity and design events.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo: Ann-Marie Rollo, Room image photo credit: Sarah Winchester

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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