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Lesley Hughes-Wyman: “Daily acts of kindness.”

I would love to inspire a movement of ‘paying it forward’, where people are moved to actually follow through with daily acts of kindness. When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better, even if it’s just in a small way. If everyone living on planet Earth — 7.5 billion […]

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I would love to inspire a movement of ‘paying it forward’, where people are moved to actually follow through with daily acts of kindness. When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better, even if it’s just in a small way. If everyone living on planet Earth — 7.5 billion of us — paid it forward just once a day, we’d be a much happier group of humans. Creating positive change doesn’t always require grand gestures, marketing campaigns, budgets, or extensive planning.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Lesley Hughes-Wyman of MatchLine Design Group. As a registered interior designer, Lesley brings close to 20 years of industry experience to her role as a co-founding principal of MatchLine Design Group. Prior to joining forces with her long-time friend and business partner Tamara Ainsworth in 2009, she held various design roles at renowned firms, which allowed her to refine her craft. Lesley has overseen a number of notable full-service projects, including Embassy Suites, DoubleTree; the current conversion for San Antonio’s Estancia del Norte — A Tapestry by Hilton Collection; the upcoming historic renovation of the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Kansas City; The Lodge of Four Seasons at Lake Ozark; and Taj Blue Diamond Resort. She holds a degree in interior design from Texas State University and her professional affiliations include IIDA, ASID, and NEWH for which she has served in various leadership and committee roles.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up, I had always wanted to be in a creative field. Even my kindergarten “what do you want to be when you grow up” project answer was “artist or astronaut”. I decided on interior design studies late in high school, when I was researching college programs. After taking several internships “for fun”, I became more aware of hospitality design. I spoke to my then internship boss about looking for the next internship in a commercial field. Her former employer was in hospitality, and thought it would be a great avenue for me. I reached out to that firm, Carolyn Henry & Associates Inc, for my academic internship, and ended up falling in love with hospitality. It was the perfect mix of what I was looking for. She hired me after I graduated, and the rest is history!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Early on, we started working with a new client that was very anxious to get us out to walk his property, to discuss the renovation. He was short on time, so wanted us to fly in his private plane. We showed up and boarded the private plane (which was exciting in and of itself), took off, and landed….in all of about 5 minutes. Tamara and I chuckled about how close the property actually was. Time is money!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s not technically a mistake, but it makes for a comical memory. Early on, during our first few months in business, I was making cold-calls to prospective clients. For some reason, on this one voicemail I left, I was forgetting everything I was needing to say, meaning it probably sounded like I didn’t know what I was doing. If you ever watched the show Friends, and recall the episode where Monica left a “breezy voicemail”, you’ll know what I mean. To this day, I remember that brain-fade of a message.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

MatchLine Design Group stands out because we provide affordable luxury. Our company and team does an excellent job at providing the client with the biggest bang for their buck. With regards to a signature style, MatchLine is known for creating timeless designs — designs with staying power and longevity.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re super excited about quite a few projects! To name a few, our upcoming conversion of Estancia del Norte for Hilton’s Tapestry Collection will be a fantastic nod to San Antonio’s rich history. Our model room is set to be completed at the end of May. Also, our Embassy Suites Kansas City project — a historic restoration of the city’s old Federal Reserve building awash with art deco details. Being able to play upon the timeless and celebrated designs from that era is particularly exciting — we feel like we get to honor its history in a special way.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Don’t be afraid to give your opinion — a conversation goes both ways. Mutual respect and tactful communication are imperative in creating an environment that fosters creative thinking and new ideas. I also think it helps to give a pros and cons list when working through a design challenge, to consider all ways of arriving at a solution.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

It’s important to listen and collaborate with the team, consider their ideas just as much as your own, and offer an open door. You selected each person to be a part of your team for a reason, not a number.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Along with the support from my friends and family, MatchLine Design Group wouldn’t be what it is today without my friend and business partner, Tamara Ainsworth. We founded the firm together back in 2009. Tamara’s deep-rooted design expertise and industry showmanship is paired with exemplary communication know-how and a tactful, empathetic approach to client and colleague relations. In her methodology, she navigates several realms seamlessly — crafting impressive design narratives brought to completion, and most critical in her priorities, encourages our team to learn from one another to achieve their own greatness through teamwork. As a partner, Tamara asserts herself as an effective, but thoughtful leader assisting our team at every level to ensure broad-reaching success internally and externally. As a result, the firm’s employee retention rate is high, along with its client return rate.

I also learned quite a bit from my first hospitality “design boss” Carolyn, of Carolyn Henry & Associates Inc. At that point, it was just myself, Carolyn, and an architect in the office. Straight out of college, I was able to jump in and work on almost every aspect of project design with her. She taught me real-world lessons beyond just the books, and allowed me to flourish by providing a supportive environment fit for creatively challenging work. Everyone is different in their style and preference, but this is the main reason I always advocate to work at smaller firms, and why Tamara and I have always wanted MatchLine Design Group to remain a small firm. There’s something to be said about this one-on-one aspect, having an open door policy, and being able to learn each aspect of design so much faster — and earlier — than if you were more of a “number” at a larger firm.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Not sure about the world, but I just try to lead by example. I work hard, I’m honest and true to my word, and I foster meaningful working relationships.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. I wish that I was pushed to take business classes in college, or at least encouraged to add another minor. At that time, it wasn’t really in my mind that I would end up owning a company. That idea seemed so far away.
  2. If someone behaves in a less than ideal way, don’t necessarily be surprised, or allow it to throw you off your game. Always hold your ground. To this day, it amazes me how some people act towards one another in a business environment, showing disrespect or behaving with false pretenses.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to a project. In one instance, where we were considering taking on a certain project, let’s just say we would have had to increase our personal life insurance policy to do so.
  4. I wish someone had told me just how big the swings would be — the economy always cycles, but I wouldn’t have expected the ups and downs the world has experienced in such a short amount of time. The early 2000’s tech influx; the tech bubble burst; 9/11; the 2009 recession; and now COVID-19. We’ve always been a resilient business, and hopefully this latest world challenge won’t last too long.
  5. As an interior designer, you have to wear more than one (or two, or three!) hats. As an owner, you are an accountant, bill collector, tax guru, insurance agent, therapist, private investigator, marketing specialist, and a parent. The list definitely goes on!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a movement of ‘paying it forward’, where people are moved to actually follow through with daily acts of kindness. When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better, even if it’s just in a small way. If everyone living on planet Earth — 7.5 billion of us — paid it forward just once a day, we’d be a much happier group of humans. Creating positive change doesn’t always require grand gestures, marketing campaigns, budgets, or extensive planning.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m not really a huge quote person per se, but I seem to follow Estee Lauder’s mantra — “I didn’t get there by wishing for it, or hoping for it, but by working for it”. Tenacity and perseverance are words that are typically used to describe my attitude in life.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, with former First Lady Laura Bush — a fellow Texan (and Dallasite!), she’s known as being a real salt-of-the-earth person. Poised and patient, with both personality and graciousness in spades, Laura seems to welcome anyone with open arms while simultaneously holding her ground. A formidable advocate for human rights — including women’s rights, children’s rights, and championing the importance of a right to education — I think I could learn a lot from her wisdom and life experience.

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