Creativity always came easily for Michel Smith Boyd. Finding out where to channel that energy, on the other hand, took some experimenting. After a brief stint in nursing school, the Atlanta native took off for New York and dabbled in everything from modeling and acting classes to beauty school. Nothing felt quite right until he and his then partner hired an interior designer to decorate their place in the city.
“Meeting [the designer] exposed me to so much, [and] I was really enamored with what he was doing,” Boyd tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “Once he took me to the D&D Building, and I saw all these showrooms and realized that this [career] is legitimate, it felt so exciting—like there was this ball of energy in your chest and you feel really full and can’t catch your breath. It was that. Much to my excitement and surprise, I discovered what I was supposed to be doing.”
Boyd swiftly enrolled in a design program at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Since he wasn’t attending at the typical postgrad age, he felt compelled to hit the ground running and began taking clients for everything from small design projects to party planning. It was at a party he had designed for a marketing executive that he met his next generation of clients—an affluent group of doctors, lawyers and executives who would define his early design career. After such a swift ascent, the designer is now taking his time rethinking everything about his firm—building new processes, roles and payment policies that are designed to protect his creativity for the long haul.
In this episode, Boyd shares how he escaped the trap of perfectionism, why pivoting to a flat fee freed up his creativity, and how he navigated a fork in the road between growing his firm and growing his brand.
Homepage image: Michel Smith Boyd | Courtesy of Michel Smith Boyd