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Women in Business Series: Kari Wilbanks of Kari Wilbanks Interior Design

Women in Business Series: Kari Wilbanks of Kari Wilbanks Interior Design

A couple of weekends ago, I sat down and talked with my mom specifically about her job. A while back, I started a Women in Business Interview Series, and this year, I decided to kickstart it with one of the best in the game I know! No bias here! 

Who is Kari Wilbanks?

My mom, Kari Wilbanks, runs her own interior design firm and has for seventeen years. She is a designer that focuses mainly on new construction for homes. She earned her degree at the University of Alabama, but it was not the route she thought she was going when starting her college education. This has been very reassuring in my own college search to know that things do change, and it is okay to find your passions later on! Ultimately, she landed on interior design because it was the best combination of some of the things she loved: being creative, working with others, and process thinking. As a kid, finding new designs, whether it was just around her room or rearranging her mother’s things, was never uncommon for Wilbanks, and she credits this time to being steps that lead her to interior design for a living. 

Starting Kari Wilbanks Interior Design!

For the first seven years as an interior designer after internships here in Birmingham, Wilbanks was faced with a new challenge because of her husband’s relocation to Tampa. Fortunately, she was encouraged by those around her to take a leap of faith. Kari Wilbanks Interior Design was officially open for business!

While she enjoys being her own boss, Wilbanks recognizes that it is not the strategy for everyone. She loves the flexibility that managing yourself provides, especially when my sister and I were younger, it was very helpful to accommodate our schedules. When opening your own business, Wilbanks says it is very important to be a self-motivator. Being able to hold yourself accountable and encouraged to work is the key to success.

At the beginning of a new business, the motivation is necessary because of additional work such as accounting that may not be able to be hired so soon. To those looking into entrepreneurship, Wilbanks notes to “not listen” to the fears that people may project onto you. She says to stay confident in your work, believe you can always get it done, and know that you can do a good job. Your work is solely yours so believing in your abilities is the first step towards being a successful entrepreneur.

Wilbanks’ Advice on Entrepreneurship!

Although confidence in yourself is necessary, Wilbanks advises to never discount the lessons that others can teach you. She suggests finding a role model in your field that inspires you to be just as successful and provide a “footprint” for your work. Interning for interior design really puts into perspective the detail that the job revolves around. She says real-world experience shows the true nitty-gritty of the design field, especially if you are interested in the job’s route that deals with everyone else like builders, contractors, etc (what my mom does). 

Yes, Wilbanks agrees, interior design is fun, but she wants to make clear there is so much more to it than that. Wilbanks uses the analytical side directly with her creative mind in her work. Something many people do not realize is the large amounts of math involved in interior designing. There are many numbers to account for that will ultimately determine the beauty of your work and satisfaction of clients. 

Why Wilbanks’ Is An Inspiration!

By satisfying clients, Wilbanks finds a sense of empowerment. She is able to listen and deliver her clients wishes while knowing they trust her to perfectly execute something they want to spend the rest of their lives in. To Wilbanks, interior design is a collaboration. She strives to find the best fit for her clients while implementing her own expertise to make a home they truly love. In order to stand out in her field, Wilbanks knows authenticity is of utmost importance. She does not believe this is limited to just interior design; authenticity allows a connection to those you are working with and the best end result for all. 

I have felt so lucky to grow up with a mom who truly exemplifies these traits. She has taught my sister and I the same qualities that she applies to her job: staying confident in yourself and learning from others. Although I do not wish to follow in her footsteps, I truly admire my mom’s dedication to her job that has not faltered throughout my life. Remember that your passion may not be apparent at first, but it will come in time and self motivation will follow! IF you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me, and I (or my mom) can answer! 

Check out Sherrod’s first Women in Business Series article on Cookie Fix’s, Amy Jason — here!

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