If life was a colour wheel, Trisha Isabey could say she’s found success on both ends of the spectrum.
“I was an investment advisor for 15 years. I really enjoyed my career, but I was always more of an artistic person than a numbers person,” she explains.
As a women who throws herself fully into whatever she’s doing, Trisha knew the time commitment and pressure that comes with investment banking wouldn’t mix well with her style of mothering. When she was pregnant with her first child, Trisha sold her portion of the business to a partner and focussed solely on being a wife and mother.
“It was great for about five years. Then I got bored to the point where I was almost a professional baby food maker,” Trisha laughs. “My kids had a full menu of organic, pureed foods and I finally said to my husband if I don’t do something soon, I’m going to go crazy.”
Trisha had always harboured passions for fashion and interior design. As she went back and forth trying to determine which one she could build into a successful part-time business, fate stepped in.
“I got asked by a friend, a commercial realtor, to design a space for him,” she recalls. “I said ‘yes’ and it was so much fun that when it was finished I said to my husband, ‘this is what I’m going to do, this is it.’”
The business quickly took on a life of its own.
“It became a word-of-mouth thing through my circles and it didn’t stop.”
The part-time job she had initially envisioned blossomed into a full-time, full-service design firm with five employees.
“I thought I would just do it from home,” chuckles Trisha. “It just kept escalating and then we were nominated for Tommies and Georgies, then I started working for CTV and writing for BC Living and producing a design video.”
None of this is a surprise once you spend a little time with Trisha. It’s clear she’s not one to sit idle.
“I think I’m the type that you just can’t take the business person out of me,” she says. “I started carrying furniture lines right away because I couldn’t find what I wanted here. I started phoning up vendors asking if I could buy from them, then I started attending shows and really getting to know products.”
|Kelowna designer Trisha Isabey was photographed by Lia Crowe for Boulevard Magazine.
Today, Trisha has a studio space at 484 Adams Road in Kelowna, but she’s also designed her own home as a showcase for potential clients to get a taste of what she can do and the products she offers.
“I have clients here three to four times a month. They can look at things, feel things. It also lets them see all the pieces together.”
Trisha is invested in her clients. She believes a big part of her success is her commitment to getting to know someone before pulling out a single paint chip.
“I’m very consultative. The first couple of meetings I spend getting to know the clients and their lifestyles — getting to know their tastes, their future plans. Once I get a real feel for what a client likes, I visualize and put it all together,” she explains. “I like to put someone’s personality into a home.”
Throughout the six years she’s spent building her design business, Trisha is consistently amazed at its parallels to her previous career.
“The listening portion is the critical stage as I’m gathering information on so many levels,” she says. “I’m also like a marriage counselor because you don’t always have a couple on the same page, so you have to mediate. When I was in the brokerage industry it was exactly the same thing, we were trained to assess, balance and mitigate.”
Trisha can and will (time permitting) take on clients with a variety of projects and budgets, but now with other trusted designers on staff she can focus on her preferred niche.
“I like luxury; it fits my personal style. My favourite kind of client is someone who’s not afraid to take a little bit of a risk and do things that are outside of the box.”
Trisha is proud of what she calls her “dream team:” a shortlist of trades people and suppliers that she works with and trusts implicitly.
“I’m particular. If I’m going to refer someone who’s going to renovate your home and it doesn’t work out, that’s a reflection on me. There has to be a great relationship between me and whoever I send to a client. I don’t feel comfortable otherwise.”
Even with such a demanding work schedule, Trisha is never too busy for family time with husband Kevin and children Lauren and Matthew.
“If I need to do work in the evening, we’ll all be at the table, the kids doing homework, while I may be working on a quote.”
She picks up her kids from school each day and the family makes time for passions like golf, boating and travel.
Trisha doesn’t see herself ever fully retiring.
“When you do what you love there’s no end date,” she says.
She does, however, see her role transitioning into more of a mentor.
“I want to help build the careers of the girls who are working for me. I’m a big promoter of people with talent. I am the face of the business but I have no problem bringing people up however high they want to rise.”
With a full project calendar and an award-winning business, Trisha is still on the rise. She has a good life built on the solid foundation of a loving family, a trusted team and, ultimately, very satisfied clients.
“There is nothing better than a phone call from a client saying ‘I love what you did.’ That to me is the whole reason I do what I do.”
-Story by Toby Tannas