#62 Bailey Li: Founder of Bailey Li Interiors

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Alicia Bailey—founder of Bailey Li Interiors is a self-taught interior designer and decorative artist specializing in commercial and residential design. She is a curator of artfully inspired, “insanely” stylish spaces and is a creative visionary who has the ability to transform spaces into stunning environments through her discerning eye. Bailey has made a reputation for herself through her famous hand painted wall murals and textures that she envisions and paints herself without any formal training. Her breathtaking walls combined with her fresh and fearless design perspective are what make her stand out in her industry.

Bailey, originally having a background in real estate and corporate sales, unknowingly began her journey into the world of interior design while working as a real estate agent in 2003. At the time, there was an influx of professionals from the increasingly expensive New York City market seeking to put down roots in Northern New Jersey. This created an increased demand for home staging services. Without thought, she began staging as a means for clients to easily visualize potential properties as a place to call home. What began as a need sparked her passion for interior design.

Throughout her journey, she began to carefully hone her skills with each design. Every project was an opportunity to grow creatively by not only designing spaces, but it became an opportunity to birth an interior artist—one that conceptualized and implemented techniques for hand painted, textured walls, acquired knowledge from master upholsterers to create show stopping bespoke chairs, and mastered the skill of combining antiques and rare vintage pieces with modern elements, colors, and textures that would together combine to be masterful works of interior artistry.

With her bourgeoning artistry came the unyielding need for broader creative expression. She satiated this need through careful collaboration with visual artists, fashion designers, and photographers to create installations and other works of visual art. This did not go unnoticed. In October 2018, Bailey partnered with a collective of women from varied creative backgrounds to launch FEM/N/3D at the annual Newark Arts Festival. The exhibit contained large-scale installations and visual art by Bailey that garnered the attention of award-winning actress, comedian, and television host Whoopi Goldberg. Not only did Bailey’s work grab the actress’ attention upon entering the exhibit, but she walked away with two newly purchased pieces.

The interior designer and artist goes by the belief that by transforming one’s space, you can transform their lives. She muses, “Interior design has helped me uncover my true passion— bringing out the best in people by interpreting who they are at their core and translating that through their environments. The impact that my work has on my clients' lives is truly the reward I seek.”

Bailey currently resides in the Valley Arts District of Orange, New Jersey. She dwells amongst a community of artists from various mediums— music, visual arts, and fashion—in a refurbished firehouse built in the late 1800s. She believes in immersing herself in the creative arts and surrounding herself with like-minded individuals as a means of continuous inspiration. Bailey recently Partnered with the famous Property Brothers and is listed as a featured designer on their Casaza furniture website.

House Beautiful listed Bailey as one of 29 Black designers Making History. Bailey’s unique ability to hand paint murals and textures was also noted in the article. Bailey has sat on a panel at The New York school of interior Design in a discussion about how to break the mold in an industry where black interior designers have been underrepresented and widely overlooked. Her attention grabbing work has been mentioned in Forbes, vogue.com, seen on NBC’s Open House NYC with Sarah Gore, Apartment Therapy, XONecole, and PBS’ State of the Arts, a program highlighting extraordinary people, communities, and works of art from around the world. 

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

Courage: A few years ago I wrote something that changed the trajectory of my entire life...

“Dear God, Please breathe bravery down my spine and don’t let me take a single breath until all my fears are suffocated.” 

This prayer came at a time when I had just lost my job in corporate America and had to lean solely on my interior design business. I seized the moment and opened a small interior design boutique and showroom. I was simultaneously excited and frightened to death. I knew that with all the odds stacked against me the only way I’d survive being a full time interior designer, showroom operator, and mother was by throwing both caution and fear to the wind and embodying unwavering faith. 

The words I wrote became my daily mantra. I truly believe that “the Universe makes room for the brave” and that it takes courage to stand in ones purpose. 

Purpose: I stumbled across my passion which opened the door to me discovering many other passions. The more I ventured out, more of my hidden talents were unveiled, and finally it hit me that my “passions” were all pointing to one significant thing. I realized that the common denominator to all of the things I was passionate about was the fact that I ultimately felt most alive and fulfilled when I was impacting or transforming the lives of others. Whether I was designing a home, painting a textured wall or creating art installations, I felt the reward I was seeking through the obvious effects that my work had on the people who experienced it. It was through the expression of my artistry that I discovered that staying dedicated to your purpose allows you to truly see and experience the difference you are making in the world. Purpose is an electrifying, magnetic current that not only leads you to your greatness but empowers you to guide others to theirs. 

Gratitude: I am personally holding myself accountable for practicing an attitude of gratitude for all that I encounter and endure, no matter what that is. It’s important to Remember that the contrast we experience is equally as important as the successes. After careful inspection I’ve noticed that 99 percent of the challenges I’ve faced have simply been signs and indicators that I was extremely close to what I desired. Whenever I have given thanks for anything in my life, my energy instantly boosted, my humility level balanced itself out, and positive circumstances always followed. Gratitude is an essential part of my formula.

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

The key to joy is perception and for me I perceive failure as my greatest ally. Sometimes “success” is actually the culprit that gasses us up so much that it prevents us from growing and expanding. Failure on the other hand gives us that much needed wake up call; it points us towards the enlightenment we are seeking and slaps us in the face with the truth that ultimately leads us towards our passion and purpose. They say pressure creates diamonds and I have to admit that the times when my back was up against the wall and I felt the most defeated or the closest to giving up is the exact moment that I reached some pinnacle, some next level and somehow embodied an otherworldly emotional, mental and physical strength. It was during those moments that brilliance poured over me and I was able to accomplish the unimaginable.

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

I am as eager as you are for the unfolding of what my future has in store. Stay tuned and follow along because I can assure it’s going to be huge!

#61 Aliza Licht: Founder & Author of LEAVE YOUR MARK

Aliza Licht is the Founder & President of Leave Your Mark LLC, as well as the author of the best-selling book: LEAVE YOUR MARK. LEAVE YOUR MARK was recently ranked #5 in bookauthority.org’s “100 Best Career Development Books of All Time.”

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

I believe in being a decisive leader, innovator, and mentor. I am not only passionate about the growth of a business, but also the growth of my team. Success today means constantly challenging the status quo, being able to make hard decisions, and being comfortable failing, learning, and starting over.

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

When I launched my book LEAVE YOUR MARK and left my longtime role at Donna Karan I endeavored to build a consulting business at the same time. My heart wasn’t in it though and after 10 months of tracking my progress, I was really unimpressed with myself. I decided to cut my losses and go back to a brand. I recently left that role after two and a half years and consulting and acting as a “rent a CMO” now feels right to me. Sometimes it is really is the timing that makes all the difference.

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

Besides digital, marketing, and communications strategy, I am launching LEAVE YOUR MARK The Podcast where I will brew fresh career advice weekly. I have interviewed incredibly dynamic and successful people who have a wealth of knowledge and advice to share. I hope to launch in late summer!

#60 Margarita Womack: Founder of M'panadas

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Margarita Womack PhD, MBA is a business executive and science professional. She holds a bachelor of science from Tulane University, a PhD from Princeton University in biology, and an EMBA from Georgetown University. Currently, she is dedicated to developing her own start up, M’panadas, a company bringing fusion South American street foods to fuel people on the go. Previously, Dr. Womack was involved in science education and research through teaching K-12, leading the development of a non-profit to foster science in her home country, Colombia, and carrying out primary research at Princeton University.

What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?  

1. Grit: I heard recently one of the founders of Sweetgreen say that at the beginning: “everyday you are both on the edge of bankruptcy and world domination.” I thought it is the perfect description of what it feels like to run a start up. Grit and determination help to cope with this completely chaotic MO - you can never give up, and you have to be ready to adapt to an ever changing landscape. 

2. Curiosity: I am an insatiable learner and problem solver. I wake up in the morning looking forward to what is the next challenge to tackle in my business, and what i need to understand to do so efficiently. 

3. gratitude:  Success in business (and life!) does not occur in the void - it is largely the interface of others around you. I keep this in mind everyday, and always look to pay it forward and be fair to others. 

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?  

The biggest mistake that I have made so far was to block a large portion of my capital into packaging materials, thus restricting my flexibility. Purchasing a large volume of lowered the price per unit. I wanted those savings, so I placed an orders as large as I could afford, and kept them in the finished basement of my home. It became physically impossible to walk between the wobbly towers of pizza-like boxes for the catering side of the business. And more were on the way… thousands more corrugated cardboard boxes for food service. Then trays and outer sleeves for the frozen line. They also filled the playroom and then the guest room. Made for unhappy husband, and an amazing maze for the kids to play hide and seek. We finally had to move them out. It took a whole day of work and hiring a crew to move everything to a storage facility next to the kitchen. Not only had I spent a good fraction of my capital on these boxes, but I also had incurred the cost of the move and the recurring cost of the storage. Then, of course, I realized that updates to my original box designs needed a number of tweaks. But for now, I am stuck with the boxes I have!

I learned a lot from this misstep. Even though I saved some money on the front end, I lost it on the back-end. Also, in start up mode, everything is a prototype. Locking myself into a high number of boxes kept me “locked” from making changes as I learned more about what works and what doesn’t with my packaging. 


What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future? 

New flavors, new packaging and new product! Launching in the Fall meat and chicken m’panadas, moving to a more sustainable and better value packaging, and also by popular demand our chimi sauce will sold on it own in a squeeze bottle.