By Meredith Corning
Kimberly Lacy is the talent behind the International Flair Designs interior design house based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Growing up around her father’s antique store gave Kimberly a keen sense of style and insider knowledge about furniture, color theory, aesthetics, finishes, fabrics and custom design. International Flair Designs focuses on both commercial and residential projects around the world. Developing relationships with national home brands such as Kirkland’s and Williams-Sonoma has elevated Kimberly and her company into an upper crust level of design work. On top of staying busy with client work, International Flair Designs gives back to the community through partnerships with Women & Children First, Ronald McDonald House, Designing Hope among others, by offering her design skills in gratis to these worthy organizations. Learn more about Kimberly’s journey into building her interior design firm and her upcoming trip to Italy and France in our latest interview.
Describe your company, International Flair Designs and the significance of that name.
International Flair is a full-service interior design firm that I started in November 8, 2008. When I was 12 years old Nathaniel Simmons (nephew of the late civil right activist, Ralph David Abernathy) wrote on a small piece of paper everything that he believed I would accomplish in my lifetime. To this day, I still have that tattered, faded, wrinkled up piece of paper. International was one of the words that was written on that paper, the word flair stemmed from someone teasing me about my personal fashion style. The name International Flair Designs is such a powerful name, IFD is a lot bigger than who I am as a person it is a daily challenge to live up to that name and the mission that stands behind it.
What is your educational background in interior design and are you affiliated with any professional memberships?
I received professional training from the Academy of Art University (San Francisco) and also the University of Central Arkansas. Prior to that I obtained a Master’s Degree in Education. I am currently a member of AIA, AEA, and the Sherwin-Williams Pro-Advisory Panel.
How and why did you get started in interior design?
Without sounding too cliché, interior design was a gift that I was born with, interior design is a field I’m very passionate about. At a very young age, I can remember tagging along with my father to his antique store or watching him work as a carpenter. I developed a keen interest in power tools and antiques. I am also a problem-solver/analytical thinker and I thrive on finding solutions so that others can live their best life.
I lived with the what-if’s for years until one day, I walked into my workplace and learned that due to budget cuts my position as an education specialist was eliminated. Although I was devastated by the news, I quickly turned a negative outcome into a positive by starting my own interior design firm.
What styling trends are you seeing right now that are gaining popularity in the interior design world?
As a designer, I’ve always paid close attention to looks that grace runways and red carpet events for design inspiration. I also look for timeless, vintage pieces that can be incorporated with what’s trending versus creating a look totally based on trends.
What has been the single most important marketing factor for you to get your business noticed in your community and can you explain what overall marketing techniques have worked best for you?
Fortunately, I’ve been approached by several national home brands to be a product ambassador. From those partnerships IFD has gained solidity. But, believe it or not word of mouth and developing positive relationships with others has been the most effective marketing tool for IFD.
What philanthropic efforts do you partake in and how has this affected you professionally and personally?
Growing up, I saw my parent’s give selflessly to their ministry and to those who were less fortunate in our community. I quickly learned that the act of giving is not just for the person on the receiving end, but it is also for the giver.
Giving back is the ultimate form of leadership. From giving back I’ve gained an indescribable sense of peace and humility knowing that I’ve helped to improve the quality of life for someone else.
I am pleased to have worked with some of the most well-deserving charities such as: Women and Children First, The Ronald McDonald House, Designing Hope, Goodwill Industries, Volunteers In Public Schools, and the Central Arkansas Library System.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Interior Designers?
Yes. Know that interior design is a difficult field to get into, due to the popularity of DIY shows there is a record breaking flux of people that have flocked to the interior design industry.
Find a mentor who is willing to share their wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise.
Besides what we all think of when we hear the words “interior design,” can you explain other aspects of your business?
I often tell people that I am from one extreme to the next. When someone thinks of the word “interior design” it is so much more than the frills and fluff of a big reveal. It could simply mean something as simple as creating a simple tablescape for Williams-Sonoma, assembling furniture, preparing talking points for a television promotional, preparing late night drawings/proposals, or as extensive as creating a computerized design of an airplane interior. The possibilities are endless.
What is next on the agenda for you and International Flair Designs?
I have a love for historic preservation and I am looking forward to fostering that by spending the summer in Italy and France. During my stay, I will research Italian/French architecture and interior design. IFD is also in the beginning stages of having a home collection featured in a major retail store. I am looking forward to that opportunity as well.