Have you ever walked in a room and noticed how your whole mood changes and you feel better or you feel down? It’s amazing the affect colors, pieces of furniture and the layout of a space can have on us. I believe interior designers have always understood how important it is for us to have our personal spaces reflect who we are, what we love, how we want to feel, what we’ve accomplished and where we want to go. That’s what I love about the work of today’s spotlight.
In today’s spotlight, we give a little bit of shine to Mr. Christopher Charles of Christopher Charles Interiors. If you’ve never considered having your home or commercial space designed by an interior designer, after getting to know more about Christopher and seeing some of his work you just may change your mind.
Take a moment to go behind the design of Christopher Charles and get a little more motivation and inspiration in your life.
What’s your name and where are you from:
Ok, my name is Christopher Charles Evans. I am originally from Houston, Texas born and raised. I actually graduated high school from Alief Elsik High School in Southwest Houston and then from there I went straight into the military. I am a veteran, I did six years in the Army and while I was in the Army I actually got my degree in Accounting and Business Administration.
What do you do and what inspired you to do it:
Oh wow! I am an interior designer. My passion with interior design is color, patterns and textures. So, I am the designer that people come to when they are afraid of color, but want to interject color into their home or their commercial spaces. As a child I never knew interior design; I didn’t even know there was a name for it, that that was an option for a viable career. Even as I got older and I understood that it was a possibility that you could make money, I did not believe that it was a career field open to African-Americans, let-alone African-American men.
With the stigma of interior design, especially in the black community, you really have to know who you are and keep your head up. Because how do you explain to somebody that as an African-American male you are an interior designer? I always thought when I first started that I was the only one, but that, I’ve come to find out is not true. But again, my passion for interior design is creating beautiful spaces that encourage, inspire and bring peace to people.
People are out struggling trying to make their money and they need a place that they can come home to that will encompass them and hold them and energize them to take them back out into the world. Now that is my soothing version. My over the top version is that, I am actually a designer who allows you to be braggadocious without saying anything and basically as a designer I sell status.
I create a space that is reflective of your accomplishments or where you are trying to go. So I can create a space for a baller who quite isn’t balling yet or I can create a space for a baller who has made it. So my clients, who don’t want to be braggadocious, they allow me to be braggadocious for them by way of creating spaces that speak to their financial status.
Best business or personal advice you’ve ever received:
The best business advice I have received just came to me a couple of months ago, and it said, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed or get a check. So, as vibrant or outgoing as I am; I am actually a bit shy. As a child, I suffered from a horrible stuttering speech impediment and every now and again it’ll come up depending on what type of mood I’m in. I don’t like all of the hobnobbing and schmoozing that has to go on as a business person, but I know that is a critical part of business. You have to let people know you exist. You have to let them know who you are. You have to let them know what you do and you have to let them know how you stand out from your competitors. I just don’t like that part. That’s the best business advice I’ve received and although it seems very elementary, it makes sense. So that’s the course I am on right now is to make sure people know who I am, what I do and how I stand out from my competitors.
The best personal advice I’ve ever received has to be from my grandmother. She always said a hungry bastard will eat anything. I never quite understood that as a child but as an adult thinking about the relationships that we get into and even for me it’s business relationships. So I try to make sure that I reach for excellence; make that my goal so that my clients understand that they are getting someone that’s reaching for excellence. I never try to rush a project. I try to be very candid with my clients about how long things are going to take. So, that would be my best personal advice that I’ve received.
And what was that saying she had again, a what bastard:
My grandmother use to say a hungry bastard will eat anything. What she meant by that was relationships; and it could be a job, it could be friendships, it could be just anything in your life. If you’re too hungry for something then you will accept anything. I asked her one time where did you get that from? She said I got that from the bible and I’m like I don’t think the bible ever used the word bastard. But she related it to, where it says to a full man even honey tastes bitter, but to a hungry man even the most bitter thing tastes sweet. She just kinda paraphrased it. Being in oil and gas for 20 years, I was sitting at a desk that was killing me.
Back in 2009 I actually had two small strokes sitting at my desk. I was an oil and gas accountant and just stressing myself out working 12, 14 hours a day. I had gone to lunch and I had come back and I went to stand up and I couldn’t stand up. I told the lady in front of me that there was something wrong with me you know; call my mom first and then call an ambulance. So once I got to the hospital and they ran tests I had had two TIA’s which is a transient something-something (ischemic attack) but it’s considered a mini-stroke. I was like, God I have to do something, sitting behind this desk is killing me. I am not where I am supposed to be! I had had my own interior design business since 2003, but it was something I did part-time because I was still unsure, about my talent and whether I was good enough. So I never would leave oil and gas completely but after the stroke, in 2010 I decided to go a little bit more forward with it.
So on a lighter note what do you like to do for fun:
Actually, in my down-time I’m still working. I actually travel and do seminars or facilitate meetings about relationships and/or self-improvement. So in my down-time I’m working, but I do love that interaction and sitting down with people and talking about their relationships or talking about self-improvement.
So for individuals who wish to follow in your footsteps in your line of work or otherwise, any words of advice or encouragement that you would give them:
I would tell them to start as early as possible. Had I known that interior design was a viable option for African-Americans, especially men, I actually would have gone to school for it. So let me make this very clear; I am self-taught. I know a part of it for me is raw talent, but that has to be honed into something that can compete with people who have gone to school. There are some technical skills that I wish I had learned in a classroom setting rather than my time on the job. It would have cost a lot less money. However, I do not think that it should cost you a $150,000 to get a design degree from some places when you can go to your local community college. And at the end of the day if the clients love what you do? That’s what makes you successful.
So, I would say start early and the other thing is Don’t Do Sh!t for Free! I don’t do sh!t for free. I don’t even design or decorate for my mom for free. I just don’t do it. If you respect me as a person you pay me. As my friend and family if you respect my talent and what I do you pay me. You should be more willing and more excited to pay me than a stranger off of the street. However, people have a tendency sometime not to see the tangible value in interior design.
What’s next for you or what can we look for from you in the near future:
What I have coming up in January is a fashion show design. I’m not doing the clothes. In coordination with the Super Bowl coming to Houston; there is a major men’s store in Houston that is going to put on a fashion show for a foundation that encourages and helps underprivileged youth and introduces them to things like the symphony, the arts and how to appreciate the arts. So, that’ll be the next big project. And again I’m not doing any clothes [laughs], but I’m going to create the lounge area and the fashion show runway.
And the last question we have of course is a part of why we do what we do; what do you love most about the Dirty South:
I think what I love most about the South is the people. I have met some of the most amazing people who have turned into family and some of them go harder for me than blood relatives do. I think that is something you cannot wish for and even if you had prayed for it. I have a group and circle of friends who love me unconditionally; who call me to the carpet on my stuff and I just don’t see where I would have found that anywhere else except for down South. And these people have not only encouraged me, but they put their money where their heart is. When they say people are the salt of the earth, now I understand that.
See some of the amazing work of Christopher Charles below and then get on over to his website here and see what they can do for you!
Photos courtesy of ChristopherCharles Interiors
© 2016 C. Huey for Dirty South Club
Note: This interview has been lightly-edited and condensed.