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dream.create.inspire: michelle jennings wiebe, ASID of studio m

May 23, 2011

photo by kismis ink photography

i met michelle at the lavish! conference at the rue magazinehgtvstudio mbash i was fortunate enough to design. michelle has a sensational energy + since have been following her work at her design company studio m, inc. she is a delightful + charismatic talent who i am honored to share with you.


To create elegant, yet comfortable interiors that perfectly fit each client.

what are some images that inspire you , represent you or what your brand is visually inspired by?

What was your childhood dream?

As a girl, I grew up in a Midwestern town surrounded by beautiful historic homes. I was very intrigued by them, including our own home, a stately brick built in the early 1800s. My favorite pastime was sketching floor plans and furniture, painting still life and interiors, and decorating my Barbie houses. So I knew early on that Interior Design would be the perfect career for me. I dreamed of my own business, making a difference, and leaving some type of design legacy! Along with this, I wanted to own a stable of great race horses.

Your dailies (job)?

Each day is so different, but typically starts with responding to email and reviewing our daily design blog. Then my day includes construction site visits to check on installations and design intent, meetings with clients and sub-contractors, meeting with the Studio M designers to review projects they are managing, and just good ol’ designing! My favorite days include selecting the perfect items for my clients at the NYDC (New York Design Center) or Design Center of The Americas (DCOTA). I also tremendously enjoy frequenting art galleries and antique stores. At night, after the kiddos are in bed, I usually am catching up on my favorite design magazines and blogs.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My clients!! I love orchestrating the perfect design style for THEIR lifestyle and passions. It is intriguing to get to know them and learn about their life story. I also have to admit that I love to travel and enjoy when that becomes part of any particular project.

Favorite quote(s)

“In order to be irreplaceable one must be different.” – Coco Chanel

Favorite flower:

Peonies!! Growing up, our backyard was full of them. I can still smell them, and nothing makes me happier than a large colorful vase of them!

How do you stay motivated daily?  

My motivation begins with a quiet time in the morning to reflect on blessings, dreams, and goals. My goals range from daily, to one year, to five years,and then to ten years! In addition, just PURE PASSION for design keeps me motivated! I live, eat, and breathe it!

Toughest challenge upon working towards your dream?

I’m probably in the most challenging —yet exciting!!–time of my career now! As much as we have had success, I have huge dreams of placing our firm as one of the premier interior design firms in the country. I guess you might say, going to the next level. I find that there are so many talented interior designers out there, so how can we differentiate ourselves? What will make us stand out?

How did you work through it?

Each day demands perseverance and determination. I believe in my ideas, so I will continue until they are realized!

How many times have you heard no?

Plenty, but that makes me only strive harder! Bring it on!

Often times can be very demotivating, how have you turned no’s into yes’s or find the silver lining? Again, no one else can control how I react to things. No’s are not easy, but they typically steer you to a better place! I continually keep my focus on the higher goal.

I find it very important to recognize your accomplishments, while you set new goals to have a sense of achievement. List your favorite accomplishment this year.

After 3 years of working on every minute detail, I successfully finished the complete interior design and project management on a new construction 10,000 square foot home in my favorite style, “CoastalCouture.” My involvement included overseeing architecture, landscape architecture, and the general contractor, so my participation covered all areas—much more than our typical projects. It is now my goal to get it published in a major trade magazine!

Balancing free services vs. paid while building your business.

Studio M is involved with the Impact Foundation’s “Home Blitz” charity extreme home makeover-type project for one or two single moms each year. We actually just finished this year’s last weekend. It is so worth it to see changed lives, all based on helping their standard of living through a beautiful new home interior. This wonderful charity is how we provide free services, but otherwise all of our projects are fee based.

What is the one thing that has given your company a big boost?

Social media, including twitter, face book, and our design blog. All of this is just a little over a year old, and we have seen immediate (and fun!) results. I am a huge believer in social media!

As we grow + learn more about ourselves, evolution may be necessary. How do your dreams evolve as you do?

My dreams have gotten larger, some might even say preposterous. But as I have learned more about me, design, my clients, it makes me want to reach even a broader audience and have even a larger impact!

When do you know when it’s time to let go of a goal and move on to another?

Never say never. If I am passionate about something that I feel is a good idea, I don’t give up too easily.

What inspires you?

Travel, fashion, architecture, books, magazines, and art inspire me. I also have to say that I’ve been spending a lot of time in NYC, and that definitely energizes my creativity. It’s that “Empire State of Mind.”

Creatives tend to have numerous passions, how did you hone in your focus to keep your creative self satisfied?

I am very curious by nature, so I love challenges and risks. I can never say my life is boring.

Your favorite go to books/magazines that you adore?

My bedside table is literally stacked with piles of books and magazines. Reading is truly one of my favorite pastimes and relaxation methods. Right now, my favorite design books include HUE by Kelly Wearstler (refer to it weekly for ideas!), The Great Lady Decorators by Adam Lewis (very inspiring!), and Glamorous Rooms by Jan Showers (classic elegance). I also love to read biographies about successful and influential people. I truly am a design magazine junkie and love pouring over every single one of the major national ones each month. There is almost nothing better than laying on the beach or poolside with 3 or 4 design magazines.

Persons you have looked up to for drive + inspiration?

My female heroes of the past include Dorothy Draper (a trailblazing great decorator), Grace Kelly and Jackie O (for their infinite grace and style), and Florence Knoll (incredible furniture designs). Today, I am enamored with the fashion designers Diane von Furstenberg (for a still relevant 40 year design career, now including interiors) and Tory Burch (for an incredible “real clothes” fashion empire), Kelly Wearstler (for her risk taking and bold design), and Candice Olsen (for putting chic design on TV).

What do you recommend for creative, budding entrepreneurs working to create their

Passion. Curiosity. Hard work. Excellence. Be yourself, not someone else.

information on this series

images provided by studio m via marc jacobs, elle decor, unknown sources

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