Paola McDonald’s design career started young. She grew up around architects, designers and highly creative people, but it wasn’t until she gutted her first house that she truly realized her calling. “I couldn’t believe the thrill and enjoyment that I got from seeing my beautiful design come to life.” Shortly after, Paola decided to follow her dream and share her gifts and talents with others as she launched Creative Elegance Interiors in 2006. “There is nothing I would rather be doing. I look forward to every new project as a challenge and an opportunity to give form and life to my creativity - and to help my clients’ owns the spaces of their dreams.”
Describe yourself in three words:
Ambitious, optimistic, happy.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
I am so proud that this year I have been able to hire three incredible team members to support our growing company. We've grown from just me and a part time operations coordinator to me, my design assistant Sarah, my administrative and marketing support, Thanh, and a part time interior designer, Maria. These girls are a perfect fit for my company and I know together we are going to continue to achieve success and growth. Every time I think about the fact that I have a "team” I can't help but beam with delight.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
My gosh, I have so many. I think one of my biggest goals would be to launch my E-design program. It is a program that would allow potential clients from anywhere in the country to purchase my design services virtually. I would also like to start designing for small commercial design projects such as boutique hotels, shops, restaurants and country clubs.
How does your company stay connected through social media?
We try to offer design tips and inspiration through all of our social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. On Pinterest I've created boards that speak to our design specialties and that can provide inspiration for people trying to design spaces that all family members can relax in and enjoy.
We also just launched our new blog, The Real Life Decorator which provides design tips and inspiration real life living. As a mom, I have quickly learned that a home has to work for those who live in it. Function is of first and foremost importance when you have children (and dogs. I have three of those furry children as well). The Blog was created as a way to provide real people with real solutions for their design dilemmas. To offer real ideas that are as functional for everyday life as they are beautiful. To offer inspiration, budget savvy tips and creative ways to make your house the place you and your family enjoy being in the most.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I wouldn't want to be doing anything else in the world. However, I do think I will write a book someday. I love fiction and have a few book concepts developed but haven't had the time or the patience to sit down and really focus on writing a solid book... yet!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My design career began in large part because of my children. I wanted a career that allowed me to be around, to have a flexible schedule in order to attend to their needs. Owning my own business, though often challenging, has really allowed me to be available for my children and family. Its been hard but I've really focused in the last year or so on having a set schedule and really closing down the office at 5:00 PM to shift gears and focus on the kids.
Also, my husband is phenomenal. He is so supportive and active with our children. I don't know what I would do without him.
What websites do you visit every day?
I find myself on Facebook at least once per day to see what everyone is up to. I also find a ton of design inspiration and ideas Houzz. When I'm stuck or having a design mental block, I surf the beautiful pages of Houzz and always find an idea or inspiration to get me unstuck and designing again.
What is your favorite drink – and where can you find it in Northern Virginia?
My favorite drink is red wine and I particularly love the Ameritage from Pearmund Cellars in Warrenton. You can also purchase at Wegmans in Gainesville or get a glass with a wonderful meal at Bonefish Grill in Gainesville.
What are your top 3 favorite people/places/things in Northern Virginia?
My family and I are huge fans of El Tios Tex-Mex Restaurant in Gainesville. Their food is just fantastic. We eat there at least twice a month and all family members always leave happy and satisfied. Their service is wonderful and so are their margaritas.
I've also never been disappointed with an evening out at Iron Bridge Wine Company in Warrenton. Their food is always delectable. The atmosphere is romantic and I especially love their wine flights. My husband and I often go there for parent's night out.
I have made it a habit of giving myself a treat about every six weeks by going to Tranquility Day Spa in Haymarket for the most wonderful facial. For that one hour, I turn off the phone and just forget about everything and always, always come out refreshed and relaxed and ready to take on the world. It is amazing!
What is your goal for retirement?
My husband jokes that I will never retire. However, I do want to see the world. Although I won’t wait until retirement to travel, I do intend to see as many places as I can before I die. I also hope that I am able to spoil my grandchildren rotten, the way my parents and in-laws are so wonderfully spoiling my kids now.
Do you have any advice for women who would like to start their own company?
I have a card on my desk that my mentor and business coach gave to me that reads "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" by Neale Donald Walsch. I look at it every day. My best piece of advice is to never let fear stand in the way of your dreams. When you start your own business you will experience new and difficult things. You will be pushed well beyond your comfort zone, often on a daily basis. Trust your gut and keep pushing forward. Never make decisions from a place of fear and never let fear slow you down. Also, try to find a good mentor or business coach!
Connect with Paola McDonald
Creative Elegance Interiors
Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Email
If you own a woman-run business and would like to be highlighted in our Leading Ladies series, please apply here: Leading Ladies Interview or follow this link to read about other Leading Ladies in our community!
Hi! my name is Andrea and I'm a not-so-average Northern Virginia blogger, mom, and transplant from the Midwest. I host Girls Night Out events, meet ups, and write about events and my adventures in the DC area. I love to travel, brunch, and drink wine with my neighbors! I'm known to live on the wild side and order Venti iced double shots at 5pm.
Official Ambassador of MediaKits.com.