Let me come clean. When I walked into designer and HGTV.com guest editor Nancy Fire’s studio, Design Works International, last week I was shaking. The knocking in my knees was more likely caused by a mixture of excitement and dorky nervousness, because — let’s be honest — I’m a 22-year-old intern and meeting the design director of HGTV HOME is kind of a big deal.
From left: Nancy Fire, HGTV HOME intern Ashley Chase, HGTV Home Studio intern Sam Clyde, HGTV Home Studio intern Catherine Blubaugh
After spending more than three hours in her workspace and asking what had to be a draining round of rapid-fire questions about her life, art and work with HGTV HOME, I discovered that — spoiler alert — Nancy is the bomb. She exudes creativity, passion and wisdom; just by shaking her hand, you can feel in her grasp that she gets it. She gets the HGTV brand, she gets the audience and most importantly, she wants to make sure that everyone else gets it too. Not only did I get a sneak peek at what’s to come for HGTV HOME, I also walked away with several quotes, catch-phrases and pieces of amazing life advice that are totally worth sharing with you all.
Sensibility is key.
The word has a lot of different meanings in the Design Works studio. For example, Nancy might say, “I wanted this particular partner to understand the sensibility (feeling) that we were trying to create with the new lines for 2014.” Breaths later she might follow with, “The blue sensibility (collection) is my favorite of the color-ways.” She may even point out, “It’s so nice to work with people with such sensibility (logical understanding).” The bottom line is, Nancy has plenty of sense in all of its contexts. Her sensibility comes through in both a business-minded, reasonable way, as well as in the emotional connection she has with every single vision she creates for HGTV HOME.
Typical doesn’t exist.
Moving through the studio “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” over all of her projects and ideas, I wondered what exactly a regular day at the office looks like for Nancy Fire. She explained that sometimes she’s in Paris at shows like Maison & Objet, and sometimes she’s showing wide-eyed interns around her textile printing machines. Kind of confused, I asked how she defines her job if she doesn’t have a daily set of tasks or a routine. With a laugh, she said her mom still asks the same question. The answer? Nancy is the idea person. Sometimes those ideas pull her in different directions and land her in different locations, but the constant is that she is always generating new ones. She describes her value to the HGTV HOME brand by saying, “I’m not the best at one particular thing. I’m the best at putting the pieces together and seeing the big picture.”
Do what makes you happy.
Admittedly, hanging around such a successful and put-together woman was a little panic-inducing for a college junior with graduation and need for an adult job looming over her head like a black cloud of despair. When I asked for career advice, Nancy simply said, “Love what you do. It’s a long day and a long week … It’s hard to find people who love what they do.” In the event that you do chase your dreams but still come up short, she said, “It’s always good in life to have a great Plan B. Plan B keeps you going. My husband and I always said that if this didn’t work out, we’d move to Hawaii and I would lifeguard and he would bartend. Plan B doesn’t sound so bad, right?” No ma’am, it certainly does not.
There’s no room for vanity.
The biggest lesson I learned from Nancy came in the form of a beverage. “Does anyone want a drink? Tea? Coffee?” she asked when we arrived. Limbs still thawing from the frigid outdoors, we happily accepted. Just as happily, she got up to boil water and brew a pot of coffee. Everyone exchanged a surprised look. “There is no ego here,” she said. Nancy is as down-to-earth, friendly and fun as she is talented, powerful and successful. She is a doer, from generating the big ideas to accomplishing minute office tasks. At the end of our visit, she even genuinely asked us to help her select fabric from the new collections to use in an upcoming promotion for HGTV HOME Fabrics. After stabilizing those cursed knocking knees, I happily obliged.