Following your dreams is something everyone always discusses, but for Ariene it is exactly what she has done and is doing. I stumbled upon Ariene’s profile on Instagram and was instantly hooked on her design style. One minute I was just following her designs and the next she was opening up a store and I knew I had to meet her. When I stepped into her store in Charlotte, NC I knew I was in a special place and when I heard she opened the store in less than I month I was even more impressed.
Ariene, is a design maven who is changing the face of home decor in the South. her story, Dressing Room Interiors is an up and coming design and home decor store in the Charlotte, NC area and we are so honored to share her story. If you love design, decor or entrepreneurship, Ariene is sure to inspire you.
Ariene C. Bethea
Dressing Rooms Interiors (Dress My Room – namesake)
Elon University B.A + Emerson College M.A
What You Provide:
Vintage furniture studio shoppe offering design and styling services
Where are you based?
Why did you decide to start a business?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m self-motivated, a hard-worker and driven to do my very best. At least that’s what my performance reviews always said! I didn’t just decide to start a business, the universe had a plan. I was laid-off from my corporate job and couldn’t find anything – at all! Instead of continuing to apply for office jobs, I decided to try something in the design field. I applied for a design consultant position at a furniture retailer and got the job. I loved coming to work and walking into a beautiful showroom with pretty things. It was such a different world working in traditional furniture sells. A world that wasn’t for me. I’m not one for scripts or hard sells. I’m grateful for the experience and what I learned about myself and what I didn’t want to do.
What is your favorite client story?
The one that comes to mind is my first furniture sell. I sold a set of 4 vintage rattan chairs that I painted myself and had professionally upholstered. I posted them on etsy to sell with no clue how I would ship them if they sold. Luckily, the were purchased by a local young woman for her dining table. I met her in the parking lot of a high school to complete the sell. I happened to have a rug and accessories that matched the chairs and brought them with me just in case she was interested. She loved them and bought it all! I rode that high for a week.
What is your website?
What is your address?
516 E. 15th Street, Suite 13C, Charlotte, NC 28206
Who are some of your business idols?
The shop that I walked into and immediately knew I wanted a store of my very own, Reincarnations Furnishings in Washington, DC in 2007 (closed now). I’ll never forget the feeling that came over me. I wasn’t even selling furniture at the time but something awakened inside of me. As far as a person, I really love Justina Blakeney and the story of how she started her first book and her brand. Her use of color and pattern is dramatic, fun and inspiring.
Do you have any mentors?
Yes, but I’m certain they don’t know they are my mentors. They are the many women I surround myself with that add so much to my life. I take something from them all. Some are vendors, designers, friends and family.
What do you love about Southern Decor?
I love the mix of heirloom pieces with modern pieces. It’s this mix grounds a space, gives it a soul. Makes it not feel like a showroom or model home. Everyone home needs a antique/vintage piece in a room for this every reason.
What is special about opening a furniture and decor business in North Carolina the mecca of home decor?
Many (most) of the independent furniture shops here in Charlotte have a multi-merchant concept, that provides vendors the opportunity to sell their good to customers without physically being in the store. In my case, it’s just me and all my favorite vintage loot. Also I love color and pattern in my upholstery and accessories and that can be a challenge to find here unless you work with a designer.
What is the most important thing you have done to build your business?
The most important thing was finding what I love to do. If I look back at my corporate work experience I’ve always been drawn to the creative projects. I designed my childhood room, my dorm rooms and apartments. If you asked anyone that knows me, I am right where I’m supposed to be.
I feel like I took all the natural progression steps to open a brick and mortar. I started online with accessories and lighting (I still sell online) and expanded my online brand to include furniture. I participated in local events (hosted a few) as vendor to introduce my brand to the Charlotte market. I took on a booth space to test the retail waters and now today I am shop owner!
How long did you plan your store opening?
In my head and heart for four years in real life two weeks! At the beginning of the year I started journaling all my ideas for a store. Every idea went into that journal including everything I was looking for in a space. So we this opportunity came along, it didn’t take long to make decisions.
What are some of your favorite aspects of your new space?
I love that it is intimate and cozy. I love the big coral ( wild flower by Benjamin Moore) front doors and the french doors inside, the character it offers with the high ceilings and the tiny loft area where I put my office. I love that it is my creative expression of vintage, bohemian and modern and what I consider cool.
What was the must have item for your new office?
The doors painted coral was a must. I pulled that color out of my logo and I absolutely love it. I definitely wanted plants in the space, it may sound boring but they bring life into a room.
Why did you choose the location?
It was serendipitous! My husband and I stumbled upon it after grabbing lunch nearby and it was the perfect size and fit.
What are some your favorite pieces in the store?
One of my favorite pieces is the blush pink swivel chair, I LOVE IT. And why? It swivels – enough said. If I had a place for it in my home it wouldn’t be in the store. I only buy pieces I love and would have in my own home, so everything is my favorite.
Favorite Southern Dish?
Peach cobbler. My mom made the best cobbler hands down.
Favorite Southern restaurant in Charlotte?
King’s Kitchen and Bakery, besides the food being great, the profits and proceeds from the restaurant go toward feeding the poor and operating the on-site job-training and life-skills development program offered to interns through the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center.