I’ve known interior designer Michelle Lynne Pant, founder and principal of ML Interiors Group, for about a decade. She’s one of the smartest, kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. She also has a thousand-megawatt smile that makes me wonder why she’s not starring in a national toothpaste commercial. Remember the Mary Tyler Moore song? “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Well, move over MTM, it’s MLP.
Smart. Stylish. Fun
The tagline for ML Interiors Group is Smart. Stylish. Fun. It’s not just because those words describe the entire team. It’s also because that’s the experience they provide to their clients. “It’s not just about delivering a design, Michelle said. “We collaborate with our clients and deliver more than they ever dreamed of. We make homes happier and more efficient.”
“The ‘Smart’ in our tagline is because we are smart with the process and with our client’s money,” Michelle said. “We’re smart at advising, we provide smart design, and we are smart about managing budgets. We are like a sherpa leading our clients on an expedition. We are telling them, ‘Don’t go here, or you’ll slide down the mountain. Don’t step here or you’ll fall through the ice.’ It’s all about the client.”
“‘Stylish’ comes into play because I don’t want someone to look at our design and say that’s an ML Interiors Group design,” she added. “I want them to look at it and say that’s the client’s style. It’s not about me.”
What about the last part?
“And ‘Fun,’ well, we always have fun, and we make the experience fun for our clients,” Michelle said. “They are going to have a good time with us!”
A Third Act
Interior design is not Michelle’s first career. It’s her third. During her corporate America gig, she dipped a toe into home staging. She liked it so much she waded in full time in 2010. The real estate boom in 2013 meant homes were blowing off the market before they could be staged. Staging is an ebb-and-flow business, and Michelle was not interested in waiting for the staging market to kick back into gear. Her company had always offered design services, but they only made up a small part of the business model.
“We realized we needed to pivot and move from a 10 percent focus on design to a 90 percent focus,” she said. It was time to step out of the staging pool and dive into design full time with the creation of ML Interiors Group. She’s never looked back, but it wasn’t a cake-walk.
“I was self-taught,” Michelle said. “I took my business skills from the two other industries I’d been in, applied them to my design business, and made it up as I went along!”
The first thing Michelle did, and what I think separates her business from most, is to develop processes and procedures. She also brought along Debbie Pratt from her staging company as her first full-time designer. It was not long before Megan Fornes and Lisa Morris found their way to the ML Interiors Group.
“I have a wickedly, talented team of designers. They are just the most amazing, kind, sassy, sarcastic women who love what they do,” Michelle said. “They change our client’s lives.”
Charting a New Course
Michelle has never been one to sit still for long and just enjoy the status quo. Not only was she running a successful design company, but she was also in the process of adopting a baby girl.
“I left my company in the hands of my company for a month when my husband and I flew out of town to adopt Gigi,” Michelle said. “Then I took two months of maternity leave. The business ran itself.”
That sparked an idea. With a talented team and those processes and procedures in place, the business ran itself seamlessly. So, she decided to create an interior design course.
“The inspiration for the course was a combination of seeing other women not have the confidence to charge what their services are worth, and a lack of transparency in the industry,” Michelle said. “No one shares information in the interior design business, and everyone does it differently. My goal and intention are to empower women to make a decent living doing what they are good at, while not exhausting themselves, and allowing them to be present to their children, their husbands, and themselves.”
That might be a tall order for some, but not Michelle. She launched Designed for the Creative Mind, a six week, five-module online class in November of 2019. The course is released only four times a year as the students have direct interaction with Michelle.
“There is an elite coaching program for graduates that takes a deeper dive into the business as well as advice on how you juggle, manage priorities, and design a life you love,” Michelle said.
Solutions for Everyone
If you think you can’t afford an interior designer, ML Interiors Group has a solution. Not only do they offer full-service interior design, new construction, and multi-family apartment community design, they also offer e-design and a fabulous concept — Designer for a Day — which is a four-hour in-home consultation that solves your design issues on the spot.
Michelle is one of those designers to watch because no grass grows ever grows under her feet. She is always thinking, planning, and dreaming of the next best thing. One of those many next things is putting her touch on a superstar of a home we’ve written about. We can’t wait to see that transformation!
“The best part of the journey is the creation,” Michelle said. “I have built something from the ground up, that no one else has done. No one does it the same way. Creating something out of nothing has been unbelievable.”
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Her love of all dogs, international travel, good chocolate, great champagne, and historic homes knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well!