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Black History Month Spotlight: Danielle Colding

by Grace Bonney

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Over the past few years, I’ve been focusing more and more on building a community of women I can look up to and turn to for advice and inspiration when times are tough. Some of these women are people I see in real life and others are people whom I admire and find motivation in from afar. One of these women is Danielle Colding, who I had the joy of getting to know during our book writing process for In the Company of Women

Danielle graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology and found the study of culture (and the way we choose to live in the world) to be a great influence on her approach to design. After getting a degree in Interior Design from FIDM, Danielle moved back to her home town of NYC where she founded her own design firm in 2006. HGTV fans may know Danielle from her 2012 win on Design Star, where her incredible knack for color and texture was on full display. What strikes me most about Danielle is her combination of poise and openness. During her interview for the book, Danielle said, “I think I have made every mistake in the book. Every single mistake possible. It is humbling, but then again I have to remind myself that these mistakes have taught me my greatest, most enduring lessons.

I am constantly inspired by the beauty in Danielle’s work, but also her generosity of spirit and the way she approaches her work, keeping history and culture in mind. Read on after the jump to catch an excerpt of Danielle’s interview from In the Company of Women! xo, grace

Photography by Sasha Israel for In the Company of Women

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An excerpt from Danielle’s interview in In the Company of Women below:

Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business.

The biggest overall lesson about running a business is that it is a business before all else. Regardless of the type of business it is, you MUST treat it as a business first and foremost. Even if you are a creative person, the daily nuts and bolts are really about honing your business sense. Without that it is very difficult to be profitable and thus have creative freedom. It is something I have battled since I started my business.

What does success mean (or look like) to you?

Success for me is all about my quality of life. And for me, a quality of life has everything to do with having the freedom to make choices that are not fear based. Whether it be the ability to choose the kinds of projects I want and can learn from, or the ability to take a month to travel. Freedom to choose is the ultimate luxury.

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In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

I get help. I talk to my friends and colleagues. I am not shy about my vulnerable moments. During those times I need to talk. I need to hash things out. Wearing my heart on my sleeve certainly doesn’t work with everyone, but I have an incredible professional support system that I can rely on in times of adversity.

What does the world need more of? Less of?

The world needs more gratitude. The world needs less narcissism.

What is the characteristic about yourself you’re proudest of?

I’m proudest of my resiliency. I have had a tough life and have been through a lot. And I am still standing. And in spite of all the odds have found success and happiness.

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