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Wendy Yates of Abigail-Elise Design Studio: “Looking back this may be seen as funny, but probably not”

Include plants or other elements of greenery within your room design to make a space more vibrant and lively. Focus particularly on the areas whereby you spend most of your time. 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 […]

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Include plants or other elements of greenery within your room design to make a space more vibrant and lively. Focus particularly on the areas whereby you spend most of your time.


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 Yates.

Wendy Yates is an entrepreneur dedicated to inspiring, supporting, and motivating others to live their best lives while also finding ways in which they can be productive, positive parts of society. She began her first design work in Kona, HI 20 years ago, however, she knew she wanted to do so much more. Without a formal education, Wendy has used her grit, passion, and leadership skills to create several companies that embody a culture rooted in the value of being a force for good.

In 2008 Wendy established Abigail-Elise Interiors, Inc., which has since been expanded to include more services and a broader scope of work as Abigail-Elise Design Studio. In 2019 Well Fit Human Travel Retreats was created as a passion project that combines lifestyle design, wellness, and humanitarian work. It doesn’t end there. With her attention towards real estate development and larger-scale community projects, Wendy is working to build Abigail-Elise Brands and a recently launched AE Cares Foundation. She is driven to positively influence the wellbeing of others via environmental and social projects by bridging the gap between luxury development and humanitarian efforts.


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 tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up we moved homes often, which made it difficult to create and maintain friendships. This reality had both a positive and negative effect on me which gave me both strengths and opportunities to work on. In many ways I began to be more resilient, learned how to create space for myself, and how to communicate with different personality types. Since my relationships were almost always short lived I was also very lonely and can now see that I lacked trust when it came to building long term relationships. I never really had a sense of home, nor a community so in a roundabout way I believe those aspects moved me toward my specific career path.

It was when I was going through a divorce in my young adulthood, didn’t have a place to live and had a two-year old that I decided to start Abigail-Elise Interiors in Summit County Colorado during a recession. Although the timing wasn’t the easiest, my shift into entrepreneurship was very natural and it enabled me to build more long term working relationships in an area I now call home.

All in all, I’ve always had a drive to constantly grow in ways that made me incrementally better so that each day I can live with purpose and joy. It took me failing several times to learn how to successfully utilize my natural creativity and leadership skills so that I can create and collaborate with high-reaching design teams, change people’s lives, and create both spaces and experiences that change what others believe is possible for themselves.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Hmmm… Can you define interesting? If by interesting you mean valuable then I have a story.

Beginning my career may be one of the most interesting/valuable stories I have because it forced me to grow up and live with intention. I was divorced with a baby, my car was broken down, I didn’t have a job or friends, and …I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Add in the fact it was during a recession and there wasn’t a single person to help me at that time. I did what was necessary, I started a company.

As a side note, I fully believe that if you are paying attention life forces you to be intentional with your time and resources. My experience showed me that once I was able to recognize this reality, I was able to accomplish what I put my mind to. In the long run, I want to help guide others to know and embody this life lesson so that they too can create their lives in a positive and productive way.

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?

Looking back this may be seen as funny, but probably not. It’s more painful. Once upon a time I blindly invested in a real estate project that was brought to me by a builder and an architect. They showed up, flashed a few drawings, and I ignorantly was in. I didn’t do my due diligence in researching and lost a substantially large amount, which almost left us bankrupt.

My greatest takeaway that I’ll share, do your homework! Know what it is you’re getting into and minimize the risk by educating yourself on as many details as possible. Always be learning, always be prepared.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

One exciting project that we are currently working on is a part of our “The New Luxury is Sustainability” initiative we call the Giving Box by AE. These exclusive home decor subscription offerings are designed to create an experience in people’s homes based on their personality type. Each collection is custom curated with products from companies around the world that value sustainability, environmentalism, and giving back to their communities. By supporting these small businesses you are helping create global connections and become an impact investor while also encouraging the awareness and support of sustainable e-commerce.

A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the non-profit AE Cares Foundation which helps to fund initiatives that directly supports the following organizations: The World Central Kitchen, Project Soar, 109 World, Aerial Global, and many more.

We are super excited about these subscriptions because it helps people understand that design isn’t just about collecting things that make a space beautiful, but is about collecting spaces that make a life beautiful. Creating your space with products that you can be confident are sustainable in how they are made, where the waste will go, and who is being supported by your purchase is the first step in creating a positive impact in the world.

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

I would like to share a mindset instead if I may. “Wellness includes a whole life approach to your everyday decisions .”

Your environment, diet, exercise routine, actions towards others, usage of time, spending habits, and friends create your personal experience which has a direct effect on your mental wellness. Everything we do in life is tied together. If I were to add a quote that I live by centered on mental health it would be by Richard Branson –

‘There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions — in a way that serves the world and 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?

My mother has always been supportive, even when I didn’t fully realize it. I also believe that every person that gave me a job or said something kind to me helped encourage me to keep going or to come up with a new idea. For that I am thankful.

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.

At Abigail-Elise Design Studio, we research and create spaces that are centered in lifestyle design. Our designs combine laid-back luxury with fresh concepts and we thrive in the organic process of collaborating with our clientele. The methods in which we focus on to create wellness and joy are:

  1. Include plants or other elements of greenery within your room design to make a space more vibrant and lively. Focus particularly on the areas whereby you spend most of your time.
  2. Add layers of lighting to allow for a change in ambience and mood given your activity. For example, make your space vibrant and lively with bright overhead lighting or floor lamps when hosting a family gathering. Change the vibe drastically with table lights and warm bulbs to make it more romantic. Use natural sunlight bulbs to make a dark room feel more welcoming, especially if there aren’t any windows.
  3. Collect items and art that are either original or sentimental. Be intentional and somewhat picky with the items you select so that their presence has the potential of sparking a memory or feeling that produces pure joy. I personally only have artwork that I obtained during my travels with my family around my home.
  4. Incorporate fresh cut floral to your home’s scenery. This is a quick, inexpensive way to add color, fragrance, and ultimately joy.
  5. Decorate with scent so that every space invokes the sense. Incorporate scents that elicit pleasant emotions. Start small with something like lavender, vanilla or rose oil then move to scents that bring back cheerful memories such as pine for winter holidays or coconut for a tropical vibe.

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. 🙂

Being a purpose driven business means everything to me. I focus on impact over expansion and believe that this frame of mind automatically moves my company in the direction we’re looking to go. When working on a new project we look at how our participation will positively influence and create more opportunities for others. We lead by example and prioritize helping others to see what’s possible within their lives.

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 🙂

This is a great question and it’s honestly a toss up. I can’t choose just one so here are a few at the top of my list; the Musk Family, Lebron James, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Musk Family; May, Elon, Kimbal, and Tosca Musk. May is a phenomenal woman who raised her kids as a single mother. She created some of the most caring and impactful human beings of our time. They are all doing such incredibly impactful work. Kimbal is focused on teaching schools how to plant sustainable healthy food, Tosca is a brilliant director who creates valuable content, while Elon is advancing the world of technology.

Lebron James because I am an absolute diehard fan and he has just an incredible awareness around mental wellness. I am inspired by his unyielding focus.

Bill and Melida Gates for how much they have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Abigail-Elise Design Studio Website: https://aeinteriorsinc.com/

Abigail-Elise Design Studio Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abigailelisedesignstudio/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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