Designed to Give
For Interior Designer Kimberly Lacy, serving her community is second nature
By Mel Jones/Photography by Beth Hall
As an interior designer, product ambassador, blogger, public speaker, system reform coordinator and an advocate for The National Teen Advocacy Group, Kimberly Lacy is busy, to say the least. But the mom of four—son Jalen, 21, and daughters Corliss-Celeste, 18, Madison, 15, and Sierra, 14—seamlessly weaves philanthropy into everything she does. “I am able to accomplish what I have by simply living by the advice that my grandmother once gave me, she says. That advice? “You have been equipped with many gifts and talents—do them with diligence, grace and greatness.” Kimberly, who lives in Little Rock with her high school sweetheart and husband of 20 years, Randy, tells Savvy what inspires her to give back.
SAVVY: WHAT IS YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE? KIMBERLY LACY: It takes three day planners, my iPhone and my iPad to keep me organized. I’ve found that it is best for me to sleep on a split-shift sleeping pattern to make the most out of my day. I wake up and start my day at 5:45 a.m. I always begin my day with mediation. I love nature so it is not uncommon for me to frequent Pinnacle Mountain or walk the amazing bridges that overlook the Arkansas River.
I spend time with my kids before school, and then it’s off to work for the day. I take a power nap from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. In the evening I often have meetings, but by 9 p.m. I’m back with my family. Late night is a time for me to work uninterrupted—I check email, sketch blueprints, and write proposals, blogs and talking points. I am usually in bed by 1:30 a.m.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK, FAMILY AND INTERESTS? I couldn’t do what I do without having a very strong support system. Fortunately, everyone in my immediate support system lives within 10 miles of each other. Accountability and unconditional love from my support system, in addition to the power of saying no to certain projects are significant when trying to juggle such a busy schedule. I’ve been told that I’m a game-changer and a workaholic. That being said, one thing my husband does to divert me from the hustle and bustle of such a hectic lifestyle is to whisk me away to one of our favorite destinations. We also try to schedule regular date nights to keep the spontaneity of our relationship going. In order to keep the bond that we have with our two children who are away at college we schedule mandatory monthly activities (our children are all athletes so activities are usually centered around sports).
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY? Growing up I watched my parents give selflessly of themselves, to their ministry and to others in the community. I’ve also experienced my own personal tragedies, which I use as a catalyst to fuel not only my purpose but also my passion in life, and my love of giving to others. One of the personal tragedies that I encountered in life was to overcome the emotional scars that are forever engrained in my mind from watching my childhood home burn to the ground and to see my baby brother being burned on over 90-percent of his body. Through the tragedy and devastation of losing our home along with the question of whether or not my brother would survive, I witnessed the small-knit community where I grew up rally around our family and provide an outpouring of support.
At the time we lived three hours away from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, which is the nearest burn center in the state. I remember spending the night at The Ronald McDonald House until my parents could sort out details and finalize arrangements for us. This childhood tragedy led to the family type bond I have with the staff at The Ronald McDonald House. I’ve also had loved ones weather abuse, and even die from the hands of their abuser, which is why I provide interior design makeovers to women who have suffered the same fate. From these experiences I’ve learned that overcoming adversity is easier with the help of a supportive community.
WHAT NONPROFITS ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH, AND HOW DO YOU GIVE BACK TO THEM? Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Junior League of Little Rock, The Ronald McDonald House, Women & Children First, Goodwill Industries and Designing Hope are nonprofits that I’ve had the opportunity to give back to. I have a personal connection to each of them, and they are all near and dear to my heart.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK INFLUENCE YOUR PHILANTHROPIC ENDEAVORS? When I walk into a room my brain is wired to mentally develop architectural, spatial and conceptual plans. One thing I’ve noticed while working as a volunteer for charities is that the mission and purpose of the charities are vital, substantial. However the aesthetics were often nonfunctional or impractical for the vast amount of clients that they service. After much thought and a strong desire to utilize my gift of interior design to help others, I developed relationships with Women & Children First to provide professional interior design services to clients who are transitioning from the shelter to their own home.
The Ronald McDonald House welcomed me with open arms to redo one of the rooms in the house for the well-deserving families that they serve. The staff even named it the Kimberly Lacy Room, and it is very rewarding to hear the stories about how different families enjoyed their stay in the room. I’ve also had the opportunity to assist with The Chocolate Fantasy Ball, the annual fundraiser for The Ronald McDonald House.
After designing rooms for both charities I received an influx of requests to provide interior design services for others families and nonprofits that were in need. In order to accommodate the growing demand, Designed by International Flair Designs, the nonprofit extension of my interior design firm, was created. As a result of the prior successes I’ve had as a product ambassador and interior design expert with national powerhouses such as Sherwin-Williams, Target, Kirkland’s, Williams-Sonoma, The Pottery Barn, The Home Depot, ReInvented Vintage and O’Verlay’s. I was able to leverage those partnerships in order to expand the mission behind Designed by International Flair Designs.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF GIVING BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY? Whether it is the “OMG” factor when I witness the reaction of a client who is transitioning from the shelter to their own home and are finally able to see their newly designed space for the first time, or the personal fulfillment that I receive from creating a juxtaposition between my purpose, passion and the gift of giving, it is rewarding to know that I am a part of improving the lives of others.
DOES YOUR FAMILY ALSO PARTICIPATE WITH YOU IN GIVING BACK? IF SO, HOW ARE THEY INVOLVED? Yes, with such a busy schedule there is often the need to combine family time with the philanthropy efforts that I am a part of. My daughters take a hands-on approach in their giving by working with my current philanthropy efforts. They love to cook and prepare meals for families at The Ronald McDonald House, and they often help me with pro bono interior design projects for well-deserving families who are transitioning from the Women & Children First shelter to their own homes. The girls are also a part of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Star Achievers Program.
I have also seen my son give the shoes he was wearing to a teenager he just met who had holes in his shoes. For some this may seem trivial, but my son stands 6’7” and wears a size 15 shoe. Needless to say, his shoes are a little costly. I am thankful that I do not have to question if he understands the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate. Observing the selfless acts of my children has allowed me to realize that the deposits I have invested in them would sooner, rather than later, equate to a positive gain.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR KIDS LEARN FROM YOU ABOUT GIVING BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITY? In the generation that they live in, it very easy for kids to develop a false sense of entitlement. I hope that I have taught my children to develop a sense of selflessness and compassion for others.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS THINKING ABOUT GETTING INVOLVED WITH A NONPROFIT, AS A VOLUNTEER OR IN ANOTHER CAPACITY? Giving is not about having the time to give but about having the heart to give.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT READERS TO LEAVE WITH AFTER HAVING READ THIS FEATURE? My only hope in life has always been to help, to inspire, to advocate and to empower others. The platform that God has given me to make a difference in the lives of other’s is a gift that I never take for granted. I challenge readers to find an organization that they have a personal connection to or a focus area that they are passionate about and just do it. Giving is the ultimate form of leadership.