This actress made a giant career pivot and got a stylish and highly successful second act
Do you know that saying “when a door closes, a window opens”? Kate Dawson’s window is covered in sparkles and glitter and is full of possibilities she never could have imagined. At the age of 44, with no formal training, Dawson, a successful actress, founded her own thriving interior design company, Decor Whore.
Over the years, friends have always told Dawson she should be an interior designer. But before and at the center was the attraction to become an actor and singer. Her passion for design dates back to childhood and the joy she felt when her mother let her decorate her own bedroom. “And every time I played with Barbies, I just focused on making an amazing house for her and Ken,” she says.
During her freshman year at college, when Dawson moved into an apartment with a roommate, her friends were dazzled by the tiny apartment she decorated inexpensively using antiques and finds from the local market. fleas. The place contained beautiful fabrics, elegant artwork and pops of color.
“It was like a real house. Most college apartments are just a mishmash of cheap stuff put together without style or design, ”recalls Dawson. It was the first time she discovered her talent for interior design.
Meanwhile, Dawson continued to fulfill his dream of performing. After earning a degree in musical theater from Millikin University, she moved to New York City and made her Broadway debut, landing the lead role of Emily for three seasons in A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden. She’s done tons and tons of voiceovers for film and television and has performed in theaters across the country from California to Alabama.
She created and co-produced the children’s book and CD Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project and gave birth and performed her solo show, The A ** hole in my head. Along the way, Dawson married actor Jedidiah Cohen, who played Rod McCallister in the Alone at home movies and they had a son.
Dawson’s design expertise proved to be very important to her when she and her family had to downsize to an apartment. After a promising investment in a new business went wrong, they could no longer afford their house.
“When we were forced to sell our beautiful house, which was heartbreaking, and move to an apartment, I wanted our new space to feel comfortable and welcoming and I had to do it on a budget,” he explains. it. Through this experience, she discovered that loving your space changes the way you feel. “Our environments have a huge impact on our mental health,” says Dawson.
Friends came to complete them on the set. When a friend in particular shared how much she loved the place, Dawson kind of chuckled and said, “That’s all TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, real estate sales and Craig’s list… cause I’m a whore. for a good deal… In fact, I’m also a whore for decoration! Then these words came from his lips: “You can call me a fucking scenery!”
She and her friend laughed so hard. Dawson had a revelation. She said, “OMG. If I ever start a business, I call it that. After finally quitting laughing, the friend hired Dawson to design her office. In 2019, Decor Whore was born.
After Dawson posted before and after photos of the office, people went “a little crazy” about them. Suddenly she got messages and texts asking to upgrade other spaces. His business grew from there.
Since launching Decor Whore, Dawson has transformed more than 50 spaces in the New York area. Her mantra is that any designer can take you to an expensive store and show you a $ 12,000 sofa. (Which she can do, too.) “But where’s the fun in that? Where is the individuality? Where is the creativity? Where is the excitement of the affair and the quest? ” She asks. “Well, that’s where I come in.”
Jeryl Brunner: How did you go from being an actor to a business leader?
Kate Dawson: It was not a one-step process. It happened in stages. But when I look back, I realize that all of my experiences have prepared me for exactly what I’m doing today. Particularly efficient. What I love about theater and art in general is connecting with others through stories. Storytelling is essential to humanity, and it’s the only way we can truly enter someone else’s world to try to understand our differences and also our similarity. What is a no credit check loans?
One of the things I realized early in my career as a designer is that our homes tell a story. And to design a space that my client loves, I have to be able to get into their head and be a great listener and observer. And that’s something my acting years have really helped. I also think it prepared me to put myself out there over and over again. As an actor, you have to go out and find jobs. It’s the same with my business.
Brunner: What would you say to your young self?
Dawson: I would tell her that she is not too much. I would tell her that all those “toos” she’s heard over the years, you’re too loud, too dramatic, too sensitive, too much, are actually clues to her true personality and purpose in life, and that the more she can stay true to herself, the more successful she will be. I would also tell him to believe that there is something greater at work – because there is.
Brunner: So many people dream of doing something super creative like you do. What would you advise?
Dawson: When I was playing around with the idea for Decor Whore, I remember stumbling across a quote I saw on Facebook that my friend Dee had posted. He said, “Successful people start before they are ready.” It stopped me in my tracks because I had dragged my feet trying to figure out A LOT of stuff. I thought that once I did, I would be “ready” to take that leap. When I read this quote, I realized there was no way I could figure it out without doing it. So my advice is to start. Just do the thing. And know that you’ll probably have to reinvent it a million times. But you can’t learn to ride a bike by watching it. Get on the bike and see what happens.
Brunner: What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business?
Dawson: Surprisingly and happily, this has made people re-evaluate their home and realize how rewarding it is to love your space! I don’t want to shed light on this global crisis, because the truth is, this pandemic has changed the world in ways that we can’t even fully understand yet. And it was a roller coaster to say the least. But I’m also thankful that it forced us to slow down.
We used to just run and run to get to the next meeting, music class, or swimming lesson. Before Covid, it was easier not to like your house since we spent so little time there. Now people are seeing that being surrounded by beauty brings joy and literally changes the way you experience life, which changes the way you present yourself in the world.
Brunner: What are some tips for refreshing your space on a low budget or without doing a complete overhaul of our home?
Dawson: I have a totally unscientific algorithm for decorating a room like a pro. I call it the “FOUR Ps”.
To paint. Painting is the game-changer in a room. It is the miracle of a decorator. There is so much you can do with paint, whether you decide to paint the whole room or maybe just an accent wall. Or how about the ceiling? Or if you have a lot of brown wood furniture, paint it white.
Pillows. Throw some pillows! Got an old sofa or chair that you can’t replace or upholster? Go to HomeGoods and take home an assortment of fun and colorful pillows that you love! Remember, you can always return them. So if you see a bunch in the store you love, but can’t make up your mind, buy them all and play with them in space! And even throwing a blanket that ties to one of the pillows on the side of a sofa arm will improve the overall look. Never underestimate the power of pillows.
Pictures. You can’t have a room with blank walls. And I’m not talking about a picture hanging in the middle of the wall in the middle of the room. I’m talking about an assortment of framed images, or artwork, that you can hang in a cluster that will bring interest, color, and texture to the space. And make sure you have pictures hung on multiple walls. Not one.
Plants. That’s right. Plants. I know most of you are thinking, “I kill all the plants I own.” Me too! But here’s the good news! There are so many fantastic fake plants now! Home Goods offers an assortment of sizes. Nothing brings the energy of life like a plant does. If you have an empty corner, get a large fiddle-leaf fig tree potted plant. Tuck in those cute little faux succulents that you will find in the control line of cafes, end tables, and bookcases. It changes the game! Bringing this green gives a new touch of color and dynamism to the space. So don’t be afraid of false plants.