WOW! Is this real? It's still hard for me to believe where I am today. I started Inspire Me! Home Decor in 2012 as a spontaneous idea, a potential outlet for a person who was struggling to find her place in the world. Back then, I was looking for an answer to the not-so-trivial question: What am I meant to do with my life?
I had what you might consider an unusual childhood. I'm Lebanese American, but I grew up in Kinshasa, in the Congo. My father was a businessman, and my mom stayed home to take care of my brother, my sister, and me. Like many other African countries, there was a lot of political upheaval. We frequently had to grab what we could carry on our backs and run to the airport due to a military coup or uprising. My childhood was disrupted quite a few times: Leaving Kinshasa meant abandoning our family's home, leaving behind cherished items. But once things settled down, we'd return to start all over again, which I believe played a huge part in instilling a strong will and determination in me. My mom would pick a new house, and no matter what state it was in, within a few months she would turn it into a beautiful home for our family. Watching her start from scratch and make her vision a reality is something that stayed with me. I didn't realize how much of an impact it had on me until I had a home of my own.
I was always opinionated and strong-minded, and from the time I was young I thought I wanted be a lawyer. But, after I went to college in Michigan and prepared to apply to law school, I realized I was just going through the motions. I wasn't truly excited by the idea of studying the law. I knew deep down that being a lawyer wasn't going to make me happy. I summoned my courage and told my family I needed some more time to figure out what I wanted to do.
I truly believe that everyone needs to have their own “thing,” their purpose in life. And that purpose can take many forms, but it needs to be yours, and, more important, make your heart dance.
A couple of years passed. By all standards, I had an amazing life. A devoted husband, beautiful kids who filled my time, loving parents, extended family and friends. I felt guilty even acknowledging something was missing. Believe me when I say I asked myself over and over, wondering how—in spite of all I had—I could continue to feel a tug, a pull, a NEED for something more. I wanted a career that would make me happy, to love something I could do for myself. Now, don't get me wrong, my family certainly makes me happy, but I truly believe that everyone needs to have their own “thing,” their purpose in life. And that purpose can take many forms, but it needs to be yours, and, more important, make your heart dance.
In 2012, we embarked on our first home renovation. I turned to Instagram in search of ideas, but I couldn't find a page that really spoke to me. Maybe it was the mix of my Lebanese heritage and American influence, maybe it was the example my mother had set, but I didn't see my design aesthetic—which I started to identify as “Glam Elegance with a Cozy Vibe”—reflected on the many home decor pages that were out there. I wanted to create a stylish statement home that would also feel warm and inviting; a home that could wow guests and also accommodate my everyday family life.
I decided to share my own process and vision, and nervously launched the Inspire Me! Home Decor Instagram account (@inspire_me_home_decor). I initially didn't tell anyone about it; it was my secret, my creative outlet. I thought I would find a few fellow homeowners who might appreciate any advice and inspiration I discovered along the way. What I found was my calling.
As the renovation progressed, I realized I was waking up each morning energized and ready to tackle the day's to-do list. From picking out paint colors to selecting carpeting, choosing finishes and, most important, bringing my vision to life, I enjoyed making the kind of decisions that tend to frustrate normal people. And, thanks to my growing group of followers, I learned I had a decorating style that seemed to resonate with others. Yes, I embraced bling, faux fur, and metallics. I really loved mirrored pieces, chandeliers, and other statement decor. But I balanced the aspirational with the practical, mixing in pillows, blankets, storage solutions, and other accessories to add coziness and color.
Six months later, our home renovation was done and I looked at my husband and said, “This is what I want to do.” I knew I wanted to help others with the home design process. Seven years later here I am, still pinching myself that this is real. This book is obviously about helping you love and enjoy your home, but it's also about sharing what I've learned on my journey. My goal is to help inspire and encourage you to follow your passion and dreams no matter how scary it may seem. The unknown can be terrifying, but I encourage you to dig deep and build the courage to take that first step. Walk away from the fear bubble and toward what could be your own success story.
If you're to take anything away from this book, it's that living our best lives starts in our home. The sense of inner peace a beautifully decorated and organized home offers will allow you to feel fulfilled and inspired to tackle your day. I want you to feel empowered to bring to life your own interpretation of what your ideal home looks like. No rules, just a helping hand to get you on the way to decorating a home that is a reflection of who you are, your style, and your taste.
Please know that I don't take you for granted: You're my client, my customer, and the reason I'm here. Inspire Me! Home Decor continues to grow, thanks to you. You have honored me with your loyalty, compassion, and encouragement and I will forever be grateful. You are a huge part of this journey, standing by me, crying with me, laughing with me, and cheering me on. We have formed a friendship, a sisterhood if you will, and you inspire me.
When anyone asks me, “What makes an entrepreneur or business owner successful?” I say, “Drive, passion, hard work, and believing in yourself and your goals.” That makes for an unstoppable combination. The rewards are beyond what you'll ever imagine. Try it, you'll see.