It’s tough to make a mid-career switch to interior design. Honing your skills, developing a process and finding a good team takes time, which can be hard to find in the thick of a busy life. Then there’s the risk and uncertainty. It can be seriously daunting to leave behind a stable career and a steady paycheck to start your own business and go hunting for clients. All of those obstacles make Rasheeda Gray’s journey even more impressive.
The Philadelphia-based designer grew up drawing floor plans with crayons and sewing tablecloths for tables made of milk crates—but like many others, design never occurred to her as a career path. Instead, she spent a decade climbing the corporate ladder as a marketing professional for insurance companies like State Farm, Progressive and Chubb. By the time she turned 30, she was an assistant vice president of marketing and communications. Still, when she reflected on where her life was headed, Gray questioned whether she was truly following her passion or purpose.
The final push came when she and her husband set out to sell their second home. On the advice of a real estate agent, she staged the space—and despite a challenging real estate market, the house sold within three hours. With her next home, Gray took time off from her corporate job to throw herself into renovating the fixer-upper, and soon realized that she’d rather make the time off permanent.
Instead of diving right in, the designer decided to make the transition strategically. On this episode of the Trade Tales podcast, she shares that process with host Kaitlin Petersen, explaining how she set up her business years before leaving her day job and what it means to fully lean into the role of entrepreneur. “As a second-career designer, there’s always this worry that you don’t have the experience necessary to be amazing in the industry,” she tells Petersen. “But I had to lean into what I was great at and really make that my competitive advantage.”
Homepage image: Rasheeda Gray | Courtesy of Gray Space Interior Design