A Conversation with Mandy Black
Since moving to Summit County just a few months ago, Mandy has revealed her sweet, Southern personality and love of interior design to the Collective team.
With a wide range of projects in her portfolio and years of experience consulting with clients in a Mississippi furniture store, she’s joined our retail team as a jack of all trades. You’ll most likely find her behind the checkout desk, hanging up new décor or redesigning vignettes in our retail store. With her experience and relationship-based personality, Mandy introduced us to a handful of vendors that hit that elusive sweet spot: The middle-tier options that are still very high-style, but at a price point that some customers find more attainable.
“We’re now tapping into a new market; offering full-service interior design for furnishings and accessories only.” If you’re looking to give your spaces a refresh without starting from scratch, Mandy is your girl.
Here, we get to know Mandy, what fueled her love for interior design, her favorite pieces in our retail furniture store and how she works with her clients to make their spaces everything they wanted and more.
Can you remember the first space that had an impact on your design-focused career?
It was definitely my first design project, four years ago. I got thrown right into it and was working directly with the client on my own. I’ll never forget when my boss came to the install day and was so proud of how put together the space was. Then, the clients showed up and absolutely loved it. Right then, I knew it was my calling.
Tell me about that project…
It was a gameday condo in Starkville, Mississippi! Since the color of Mississippi State University is maroon, that played a big role in the design. It was clean and neutral, otherwise, and had a rustic, yet modern vibe. There was a lot of natural wood with pops of metal. That was the first gameday condo out of 8 that year. I also took on a lot of other residential projects locally as well as in Arkansas.
Was that your favorite project?
It kicked off my career and was one I’ll remember forever, but one of my favorite projects was designing a woman’s room in a nursing home. The woman’s daughter got in touch with me to create a personal and meaningful space that her mom would love, upon moving in. We ordered custom bedding and drapery, picked out new and stylish furniture and accessories. We really decked her space out. I incorporated photos down her hallway as a “memory walk.” It included her and her husband when they were young at the beginning, to their family and growing older down the hall. It was so special. If I can spread that happiness and peace through this work, I’m all in.
How would you describe your style?
My personal style is very eclectic. I love mixing older, timeless pieces with what’s new and trending. Also, natural elements and neutral colors are my go-to.
What has inspired and informed that?
A few years ago, I inherited gorgeous wooden pieces from my grandparents. They’re not traditional, but classic. It pushed me to learn how to blend meaningful furnishings into an up-to-date and stylish space.
What clues about your personality and style does your house reveal?
I hold onto pieces that could last for decades, that have purpose and bring me happiness. Less is more in my space. And neutrals to keep it cozy up here in the mountains.
How do you begin a design process?
I always dig deep and get to know the client first. It’s so important to know how they want to use the space. With that relationship and initial trust, I can uncover their personal style and gauge what sort of pieces, colors and textures they’re looking for. A lot of the time I get a pretty good read on people, but inspiration photos definitely help jumpstart the process.
How important is relationship when designing a client’s home?
It’s vital; the foremost way get the project done right. My ultimate goal is pleasing the client so that they absolutely love and find comfort from their space, and that it expresses their personality.
Do you try to nudge clients out of their comfort zone?
I do! I’ll never make someone feel uncomfortable. But I do think it’s fun to push my clients to achieve that extra “wow” factor. Interesting, unique pieces make any space more unexpected and exciting.
What spaces are you currently designing?
Right now, I’m furnishing and accessorizing a three-bedroom condo. The clients are keeping some of their bigger pieces, but I’m helping them mix in the mountain-modern look to give it a refresh and revamp. It’s so fun to make small yet impactful updates on an existing space to see how it transforms.
How do you make sure your client’s house feels like home?
Accessories play a big role in turning a house into a home. The smaller things warm up a space and reflect the client’s character. I soften up rooms with pillows and throws, fun art that speaks to the client and, of course, greenery.
What qualities do you look for when choosing furniture and accessories?
Any piece I choose must be timeless and long-lasting. I’m always looking for furnishings that will hold up for at least seven years, that are durable yet pretty. As for accessories, they should be meaningful and evoke emotion. Even if we’re looking for something as simple as faux greenery, it should look realistic.
Which design trends are you most excited about to kick off the new year?
I’m still loving the mountain-modern style we’re bringing into the retail store. The natural pieces with metal accents, all of the textures and patterns. My favorite piece with some texture? Our fabulous faux furs. Everyone needs one.
Finish this sentence: Every room needs…
All the soft goods! Pillows and throws just to cozy a space up. Plus, lamps and greenery.
Do you have any pieces at Collective that you especially love right now?
The holiday décor is fabulous! It brings cheer and comfort to the retail store. I love our bowls filled with greenery and ornaments. They’re simple, easy to put together and beautiful. They can work in any space; as a centerpiece, on a console or coffee table.
My top five non-holiday items are our new leather Barrington poufs, the Strata wood and Strata marble coffee tables that stack, the Maryl dining chairs, faux fur throws, and the Maryl dining chairs, and the Jak bar cart.
What made you decide you wanted to be a part of the Collective team?
My husband and I wanted to move to the mountains and were set on starting a new adventure in a different place. My dream job just so happened to be waiting for me at Collective. Everything fell into place. The company is so family-based which makes being away from home easier and my team is so supportive.
What do you like best about working with Collective Clients?
I love making people happy. Your home is such an important place. It’s where you start your day, end your day, make memories and traditions. I love helping to make that space comforting, beautiful and personal.