Transforming Style From the Inside Out, Women of Style & Faith Series - Telsha Claggett, Educator, Interior Decorator & Owner of Loves Interiors

What motivated you to become an educator and what about interior design (or decor) inspires you? How do you couple your faith with what you do professionally?

I began my career as a Financial Analyst, graduating from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. I have always had a keen interest in business but I found myself bored after embarking on new projects that, at first, were exciting because I was learning new things but it quickly became mundane after mastering the strategies for completing a project. One of my close friends had little children and we would pick them up and I would be involved in assisting with homework. Every time I walked into a school building, a certain feeling came over me, goose bumps on my arms as I walked through the school. I knew my purpose was in a school house although I didn’t know in what capacity.  I took a leap of faith and enrolled in an Education program at Loyola University in Maryland and obtained my Master of Education. I resigned from my position as a Financial Analyst and took a teaching position. It has been 16 years and has been the best decision of my life.  I actually went back to school for my MBA, thinking I was exiting Education but there wasn’t one position that was more enticing, that created more passion than being in a school impacting lives of wonderful, beautifully created young people.

I am currently the AVID Coordinator at a high school. AVID is a program that implement strategies that help students excel in high school and college. One major goal of the program is to make sure that students are eligible for acceptance to a four year college and have the necessary skills to excel in college.

Decorating, redesigning, and/or reorganizing have always been a part of who I am. My grandmother who passed, a year ago, was very creative and resourceful. Her home was beautiful. She made her own pillows for her sofa and sitting chairs. There is still the beautiful gold leaf design that she hand- painted as a border in her home.  In addition, my mom designs floral arrangements. My mom is very creative and is a great decorator.

I am a Certified Interior Decorator and I love to redesign and decorate homes, offices, almost any space to make it more beautiful and functional. 

How do you manage and a maintain balance in the different aspects of your professional & personal life and your relationship with God? What advice can you give others who want have interests in interior design, but have limited time because of the many balls their juggling in the air or just need some guidance and direction?

Balancing is a challenge and I can’t say that I do it well, all of the time.  Spending hours, on end, at work, takes away from my personal time and makes it a struggle to spend time talking to God because I am so exhausted and unfocused. I have decided that I will no longer do 14 hour days, 3 and 4 days, a week. My devotion time with God is non-negotiable. I am learning to say no, I can’t be there and I am not able to do that, at the moment.

My advice is to know when to say no, go home, and take care of yourself and your family, first. Your health and spiritual well-being must be a priority. Above, you cannot stop communicating with the Almighty God who is the reason why you are breathing. If there is anything that is keeping you from spending time with your Father, it has to go, it can’t stay. I have made the bad decision of letting other things get in the way of my relationship with my Savior and it will never work. He must be FIRST.

If you are interested in interior design, I suggest you research the demands and requirements of becoming an Interior Decorator or an Interior Designer. Know your passion. If you know your passion, it won’t feel like a great burden to live your passion.

Do you have any particular designers that you prefer when shopping for clothing?  Any particular vendors or stores for interiors that you lean toward? Are there any new trends or concepts in décor (technique or equipment) that’s peaked your interest? What tips and advice would you give someone that wants redo their home or just a room or closet in their home, especially that would be money saving?

I don’t really have a particular designer that I love. I have some pieces by a number of different designers and all have been on clearance or a great sale. I have pieces from Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Kein, Juicy Couture, and the like.  I like and have pieces from high end designers and moderates.  I am more interested in the quality and the way it looks on me. I do like INC International Concepts clothing and as I think about it, I have a few pieces. The INC label is definitely moderate and Bloomingdales is my favorite department store, that carries INC. I like the Bloomingdales because it carries clothing, shoes, and accessories in all price ranges. I have purchased a blouse for $25, on a deep clearance but at the same time, I could pay $500 for a blouse, if that is what I wanted to do.   As far as interior design, I do like the Z Gallery for finding unique pieces for the home.  I can buy a piece from a high-end furniture store or a thrift shop that has a great piece that will be an enhancement to my design. 

The biggest trend that I see in décor is that following the rules of design is not necessary to have a beautiful space.  As a matter of fact, going against the traditional has been much more rewarding in the world of design. You must know the rules to be able to mix and match in a way that creates a desired environment of your client. Educate yourself. I am a HGTV addict. I have learned so much and have been inspired in so many ways from watching HGTV.

I have a witty style question that I like asking all you stylish gals of faith, “What’s your Style Innuendo (the way you would like others to consider or view what your style is without you even saying a word when they see you)? How would you describe your overall style – dress, education, personality etc? 

I am a conservative dresser with a little flair. I choose to buy clothes that I can wear for at least two seasons and can be paired with different accessories to change the look of the whole outfit. I can wear a very conservative dress and update it with a blazer, vest, poncho, scarf, necklace, etc. to make it seem a little trendy. I don’t buy trendy clothing because I don’t look good in trendy clothing while my mom, who is 20 years older than me, wears trendy clothing well.  We both are very curvy but my mom is taller and is not as heavy in the bust like I am which makes a difference in how clothes fit. Personality has a lot to do with how a particular piece looks on an individual.  My mom is the life of the party, out on the floor, while I would be in the corner having a great conversation with someone, I just met.

What can we expect on the horizon from you in terms of ministry, academia and your decor business?

My ministry is to use the love that the Lord put on the inside of me to bring healing to others in different ways.  It may be that student that everyone has given up on who may need someone to tell them that they matter and that there is hope, even with the bad decisions that have been made. Serving others is what I know I am called to do.

I am not sure how much longer I will be in the field of Education. I do not plan on retiring from the school system. Where He leads is where I will follow.

My interior decorating business has been taking a turn to include organizational services. I have been hired to come and just consult and help with reorganizing storage areas, closets, offices, etc.  In the next few months, I will be staging a home for a client who wants to make her home appealing so that it will sell fast and for the most money, possible.  Homes that are staged sell faster and for more money. Spending an extra $2,000 -$5,000 could be the difference of making $20,000 more.

This blog series is about transforming style from the inside out, thus how can one transform their style and faith in a positive progressive manner, and do so without compromise? 

When I’m in tune with God and obedient to Him, the true me that He created me to be resonates – style, personality, spirituality etc. Things become out of alignment when I'm not properly connected.  When I am connected and in His presence , there’s no desire to compromise because all I want to do is please Him & return the love that He gives to me and I know that in my times of weakness He provides strength to forfeit and even forgive compromise.

For more info on Telsha and her company Loves Interior see the link below: