Add fun books stacked on a table. Pick whimsical themes with colorful covers. Turn the titles all facing one way so you and your guests can read it. Pick topics that no one would suspect you like…this adds a bit of mystery to you!
As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Conklin.
Wendy Conklin, The Chair Stylist, is a former educator turned boutique chair decorator helping people around the globe infuse personality, color and whimsy into their surroundings. Through her company, Chair Whimsy, she offers various options to turn a boring and beige room into whimsical and wow, including a collection of ready-made designer chairs, custom chair design, fabric selection services and a host of courses to unleash the DIYer’s inner artist.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
One of the most interesting creations that I’ve done was for a lady who lived on the East Coast. She wanted things to be very colorful, which most of my clients do. So I picked out some fabrics and she loved them. We’re trying to pair them with something different on the seats and a different fabric on top of each chair, and I think there were 10 chairs with all kinds of different frames. So I was trying to make it work and make sense — there’s a color in this fabric on top that ties to the color on the seat so that it would bring some kind of cohesive design. And she did not like that, she wanted it to be random. I had a really hard time with that and I tried to talk her out of it. But she was adamant that no, this is what I want, I really love things that don’t match at all. So needless to say I did the chairs, I did not take a picture of the final product at all because I didn’t want to post it as I thought it was such an odd-looking set of chairs. It looked like I made a ton of mistakes because nothing looked like it went together. I mean, I’m all for an eclectic look but it needs to have some kind of cohesiveness. This was probably three years ago and then this past year, I received a picture from her dining room. The walls are painted pink, the trim is painted green, she has freehand painting all over the walls, flowers and scribbles and things like that. But honestly, it looked so good! I couldn’t believe how good those chairs looked in her space. And yes, nothing matched. But because nothing matched, it worked. And so that was probably the most interesting thing that’s happened to me since I started my career.
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?
When I was first starting, I had put fabric on upside down and inside out. What’s supposed to be on the inside I put on the outside because I couldn’t tell the difference. And I didn’t realize that fabric has an up pattern. So you start from the top and go down. I didn’t know that. I had done things backwards, upside down, and inside out. I learned the correct way but, one thing I did learn from that is you can really do whatever you want. And if it looks right to you at the moment, do it and if it makes you happy, do it. So that’s kind of my philosophy.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now I’m collaborating with a painter and using her designs on fabric for some collections that I’m doing, and I love doing this because that means I get a super unique chair that nobody else has, or could or can create, because I’ve got an agreement with this artist. I also get to showcase her designs and her ideas so it’s helping her. It’s also helping me, and it’s giving my audience something very interesting to either be inspired by or to purchase. So that’s how I think it’s helping people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I love Steve Martin, the comedian, who said “be so good that they can’t ignore you.”
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?
I’m going to name Tobi Fairley. She’s an interior designer, life coach, and business coach in Little Rock, Arkansas, and she was the first official business coach that I had. I thought, “I’ve got to have help because I have all these ideas and I’m trying things and nothing is working and I don’t know why. It’s so frustrating knowing how to make more money and I just can’t seem to make money.” January 1 comes around and I start doing my taxes, looking at what I made and it was so disappointing. So I joined her program even though I didn’t think I could afford it, and it paid off. She’s the one who helped me get a good email list going with a valuable lead magnet that really served my audience, but she also pushed me to do a course on upholstery and I didn’t want to do it. I thought nobody wanted to learn from me, they could just go to YouTube. She kept saying no, this is what you need to do, your people will love to learn from you. And so I did and the response was overwhelming. Creating that first course has changed my life and changed my family’s lives. And it’s changed so many of my students’ lives because they have the ability to create something, they have the know-how to do it and it’s all because I shared it. If I could create a movement that could change people’s lives, my movement would be a maker’s movement.
Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Add a whimsical chair (or chairs) to your space. Let the chair be the art in the room. And if you are going with something super colorful, start the room décor with a chair. Then build the other pieces around it.
2. Pick a main hero fabric (like a floral, bold geometric, or multi-colored fabric) for the room. Then play off of that fabric with smaller designed fabrics to create a colorful space in your pillows, curtains, and chairs. For example, if I choose a floral that has orange, pink, and red in it, then the other fabrics will be other patterns in two-toned designs like a pink and white cheetah print, orange and pink dot, red and pink stripe, or orange and red check.
3. Layer with colorful art work. Pick the things that speak to you and layer paintings on top of each other on a mantle, dresser, or wall console.
4. Pick delicious smelling candles with scents that you love. The smell will fill the space and bring a sense of calming joy to it.
5. Add fun books stacked on a table. Pick whimsical themes with colorful covers. Turn the titles all facing one way so you and your guests can read it. Pick topics that no one would suspect you like…this adds a bit of mystery to you!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
My movement would be a makers movement. I believe that we are all makers at heart. We’re just not just doing it, and it is something that I want to help people to realize that doing things with their hands, has so much to do with how well we do our jobs, how well we parent, how well we work in our marriages, how well we live our lives. I do think my movement would be all about. We are all makers, and we need to do things with our hands, whether it’s baking, gardening, upholstery, woodworking, whatever it might be that these are skills that we can learn and grow as human beings, and bring more joy, not only to our own lives but by what we create for other people too, so it’s kind of an exponential movement. I’m teaching people to be makers, they’re going to teach people to be makers and so on.
We are very 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 whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Sara Blakely, hands down, the creator of Spanx. I would love to have breakfast with her and talk about business, her design sense, and her ideas. I admire her business sense. But I also admire her attitude about how we can create, having tenacity in business, and how not to give up.
Dolly Parton, because I love her business since she’s such a smart lady. She’s built such an amazing brand for herself that stands out. And she didn’t have any trouble deciding that that’s what she was going to do. She wanted to stand out, she didn’t want to be like everyone else and that was the key to her success. I do admire her business sense.
So breakfast with Sara and lunch with Dolly!
How can our readers follow you on social media?https://www.pinterest.com/chairwhimsy/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!