An unlikely path led Traci Connell to great success as a Dallas interior designer.
Connell earned her degree in education and was an elementary school teacher. She enjoyed the job, but says she hadn’t found her passion.
“What I really loved about teaching was the creativity and structure of the classroom,” she said. “The big ‘ah ha’ moment for me came in 2000, when my good friend asked, ‘why can’t you make money doing something you love?’ And shortly after, with some careful consideration, Traci Connell Interiors was born.”
At first, Traci Connell Interiors, Connell Interiors at the time, was a helpful second income for her growing family. She spent the first ten years developing her eye for design, honing her business skills, holding leadership roles within the Interior Design Society (IDS), and completing successful client projects, as well as many charity opportunities.
Life threw her a curve ball in 2011, when she found herself a single mother with three children, and the sole provider for the household.
“Fueled with pure passion to feed my family and realize my dream, I reestablished my company as Traci Connell Interiors,” she said. “My decision to change careers is justified every time I see a client lay eyes on their newly designed space for the first time — the tears of happiness say it all.”
During the last four years, Connell has grown her revenue ten fold to over a million dollars, and her net profit grew eight fold. She has gone from running her business from her kitchen table and her car trunk to acquiring a full design studio. Connell previously organized her projects in bulky three-inch binders for each client. Now her business is completely cloud-based so she can access any detail of her business from her iPhone.
“I’ve been told that I have an impeccable eye for space planning and design,” she said. “Each client design plan is outlined through a state-of‐the-art project management system, streamlining the process and enhancing the client experience down to the last detail — we’ve been frequently recognized as setting a new standard for interior design firms by offering a process-driven approach to projects.”
Connell says her design work is inspired from avant garde fashion, striking color contrasts in art or nature, and unique applications in architecture and travel.
“But first and foremost, I make it my goal to understand my clients’ aspirations and learn their stories, and develop a rapport while creating the design plan,” she said. “It is this personal attention that allows me to create customized design solutions tailored to reflect my client’s needs, tastes and lifestyle.”
For example, in a recent custom build job, Connell and her team installed the antique lanterns that were saved from the demolition of the church where the couple was married.
She’s got an eye for style, and shares a few of her favorite design elements lately.
“I’m loving the use of cobalt blue and the color blush in our designs lately, which has been showcased in High Point during the last two markets,” she said. “Additionally, it seems as though statement wallpaper by Harlequin has been stealing the show in a lot of our current projects — I love the whimsical pattern and bursts of color on the selection we just installed in a teenager’s bathroom, complete with turquoise painted cabinets.”
Connell is heavily involved in volunteer work, serving in IDS leadership roles as chapter president and initiating community projects to renovate and furnish the children’s shelters Jonathan’s Place in Garland and City House in Plano. She also participated with Dwell with Dignity on designing and furnishing two apartments for deserving families as well as serving with her son, Austin, through Young Men’s Service League. She is currently co-chairing a project for CARE (Center of Animal Research and Education) to design and furnish two safari-inspired guest suites for them to use as rental income to help run the facility.
“The ‘why’ behind my charity work is to use my talent to create happiness for someone else,” she said. “Over the years, I have been asked to coach other interior designers in business practices and I’d love to take it a step further and create a mentorship program not only for designers, but for female entrepreneurs who lack the confidence to follow their passion. It would be so fulfilling to share my story, teach business strategies as well as empower women to take the leap of faith.”