Early in the pandemic, Alvin Wayne found himself at a crossroads. For quite some time, he’d been successfully balancing two careers simultaneously: a day job in luxury retail and a side business completing interior design projects. The double life had been working just fine—but when everything changed overnight, so did his perspective on what mattered most.
“The pandemic made me focus on what I really wanted and what was important to me,” Wayne tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “I needed to make a decision: Are you going to go into interior design full-time, or are you going to stay in fashion? Because I was burning the candle at both ends.”
It was a question he’d been considering all his life—after all, the New York–based designer always had the making of a future design professional. As he was earning a degree in health care management, the advent of design shows like Trading Spaces clued him in to the world of interior design. After graduation, he swiftly re-enrolled in another program—this time pursuing interior design at Savannah College of Art and Design. To keep himself afloat as he earned his next degree, he took a job working in retail visual display for luxury fashion brands.
By the time Wayne’s second graduation came around, however, the rest of the world had radically changed. Entering the job market in the thick of the recession, Wayne held on to his position in the fashion world, deciding to stick it out as the economy recovered. Luckily, his position meant traveling to different storefronts and creating beautiful environments—not a far cry from interior design. The job also moved him to New York, where he converted the design gigs he’d been completing on the side into a full-blown venture, officially establishing Alvin Wayne Interiors in 2014. As the years passed by, he saw no reason to disrupt the double career he’d created for himself. Then, the pandemic changed his perspective once again. “I realized I really wanted the freedom to live the life I wanted to live, because life is too short—it’s not promised to you. I think the whole pandemic really showed that,” says Wayne. “It kind of gives you the push to say, ‘Let me just give it a try, let me see what happens.’ I was already positioning myself to make that transition. It was just the perfect time to go ahead and do it.”
In this episode of the podcast, Wayne shares how he’s dispelling the stigma around shopping retail, why he decided to ditch the discovery call and how his social media presence became the centerpiece of his business.
Homepage photo: Alvin Wayne | Courtesy of Alvin Wayne Interiors