Our #WomenWorldwide series is all about women who have become successful in their field, not just in their home country, but with international accolade. With our #TeamCoco Pinterest boards brimming with ideas for our next shoot location or the latest interior trends for our flat-lays, we thought it was about time we spoke to an expert. Straight from Northern Virginia, CEO and Founder of GreyHunt Interiors, Sallie Finney Kjos gave our writer Jenna the run down on some of her favourite past projects and how important it is to give something back…
JC: Sallie! We see that you were named “Hot Young Talent” by HOME & DESIGN Magazine and were awarded “Best in Customer Service” by HOUZZ in 2016 and 2018, which is quite the achievement! What has been your proudest moment so far?
SK: Well, there’s a long list of things I’m proud of. Certainly, two of which we’re being named “Hot Talent” and my nominations through HOUZZ. Both of these moments solidified that my many years working in interior design has been paying off. It meant I was finally being recognized not just by my clients, but by the design community as well!
JC: I’ve also read that two of your proudest CSR moments was when your company provided event-space design for the “Serve Our Willing Warriors” gala and when it worked with Hope Shines, Inc. to donate materials and toys to children in Rwanda. Why do you think giving back is so important when you own your own company?
SK: Giving back is the best investment because it turns the fruits of your labor into fruits of love for others, and it encourages growth. It allows your work to go beyond yourself or your career in order to make a difference for those in need. There’s just nothing like being able to be there for someone else and impacting their lives. I give every month to the local food pantry and to Charity Water that is making a lifesaving difference every day, worldwide.
JC: Can you tell us more about your history before founding GreyHunt Interiors?
SK: Oh gosh, where to begin! Well, my parents were born and raised in England so their culture had great influence on me growing up, even in the states. For example, my dad was a talented craftsman who admired the “British way of doing things” (or the right way), as he says referring to building. He showed me how to have a love and admiration for antiques, design, and construction that would last. In fact, I was about six years old when he started teaching me about color undertones. Through his teachings and obvious passion for creating, I was inspired to go after an interior design degree. I also worked in a home boutique shop for 12+ years, forging my way into the design world even further. Then in 2009, when my son Greyson was three months and Hunter three and a half years old, I started my very own business with GreyHunt Interiors.
JC: That’s quite a journey and its awesome to hear you have a British connection! Since the launch of GreyHunt Interiors, what has been your favourite project to work on so far?
SK: I can only pick one? Ha! That is a very difficult question because I absolutely love what I do, and there are so many projects and so many amazing clients! However, if I really had to choose I would say my #EmeraldGem project is at the top of my list. This black, white, and emerald green home was such a treat to work on since the owner and I have known each other for years and adore the same style of design. I knew she would trust me to create something she loved, and through that trust I was able to start from the floors up and get it done in a breeze!
JC: Who would be your dream client?
SK: All I could ask for would be someone that could appreciate and respect the design process, and how much time, effort, and love goes into each project. It really is a lot more elbow grease than most think, especially when you client only sees the end result. Additionally, I would want them to feel for the textures and take in the colors and lines, viewing the space like a piece of art. Oh, and did I mention a budget wouldn’t exist either??
JC: What a dream it would be to have a bottomless budget! Aside from the awards and successful projects, can you tell us about a recent ‘Girl Boss’ moment?
SK: Absolutely! This past October I got to interview Kathy Ireland at the High Point Furniture Market. It was an amazing moment getting to sit across from such a stunning woman inside and out. At one point I was certain my heart would explode when she complimented me on my designs and business. As we chatted away, she mentioned to me her close relationship with THE Elizabeth Taylor and how her influence brought many blessings into her life. This moment continued to prove to me that girl bosses and girl power has a trickle effect. Someone like the amazing Liz Taylor inspired and taught Kathy Ireland about life and business, and then Kathy graciously shared some of this knowledge with me. No matter what, I will continue to share and encourage other girl bosses because that is what it is all about. Let’s see how many of us can make it to the top!
JC: What has been the hardest part of running your own interior design business?
SK: This is an easy one- definitely life balance! Between my two beautiful boys who are 10 and 14, my amazing long-distance boyfriend who shares a love for design as the Senior Director of Industrial Design for Delta/Brizo, and my wonderful family that’s close by, it’s a lot to balance on top of work. With all that combined, it’s needless to say I don’t really have time to do a face mask or even read a book in bed (wish I was kidding!). I hit the ground running each morning and stay up late to tuck in my boys, my love, and my business each night. Then, I close my eyes, count my blessings, and do it all again the next day.
JC: Wow, your positive attitude even under such immense pressure is inspiring! Aside from burning the candle at both ends with more successful projects, what’s in the pipeline for 2019?
SK: We are already off to a great start! We got to launch our custom art and soft goods line on our website, our staff has grown, and we are working on some amazing collaborations as well. We also have some really awesome projects that are currently being installed that I just can’t wait to share! Personally, I just booked tickets to Scotland this summer and some other adventures that I can’t wait to share. Most importantly, my 2019 goals are giving back even more.
To see more of Sallie’s portfolio or to book your very own design consultation, visit https://greyhuntinteriors.com.
For more interior design inspiration, you can also visit GreyHunt Interiors on Instagram.