Founder and Principal Designer,
Brianna Michelle Interior Designer,
(March 2020) – Brianna Sheehan could see her future in second grade. “I started telling everyone I was going to be an architect or an interior designer,” she recalled. Decades later, Sheehan has more than made good on that promise, and now as the founder and principal designer of Brianna Michelle Interior Design, she’s defining both design and entrepreneurship on her own terms.
Whether it’s for a client project, or envisioning the future for my business, creativity has always been a part of achieving success. I get really excited about what something ‘could be,’ and a natural curiosity keeps me driving toward the goal until we reach it.
“I saw the opportunity in the market for a designer who focused on function and architectural detail,” she said, “so I took a chance and started my own firm. We live in a Pinterest and Instagram world. People fall in love with the aesthetics of a space often without thinking of their own lifestyle and if it will work for them.”
The lifestyle of the clients should be intrinsically linked to the design of their home, she said. How do they use the space? Do they entertain? Are they OK with items that need maintenance, or do they want easy cleaning? Answers to these questions and so many more fuel Sheehan’s work, guiding her to create custom homes that balance aesthetics with function to make her clients’ lives easier.
Sheehan always had a clear vision for her company. But honing in on what else would make up her entrepreneurial approach took a mix of intuition, experience and guidance. A responsible entrepreneur, she learned, needs clear vision but also has to be able to balance a predisposition for risk-taking with informed decision-making to capitalize on growth opportunities. Entrepreneurs need to know not only themselves, she said, but also their market and their competition.
So how has she struck that balance and honed that knowledge? She has two secret weapons: Creativity and community.
Like function without form, an entrepreneur without creativity just doesn’t get anywhere. “Whether it’s for a client project, or envisioning the future for my business, creativity has always been a part of achieving success,” Sheehan said. “I get really excited about what something ‘could be,’ and a natural curiosity keeps me driving toward the goal until we reach it.”
That creativity is made even more exciting through collaboration. Brianna Michelle Interior Design works with local artisans to bring their visions for one-of-a-kind fixtures to life and into homes. That collaboration has empowered Sheehan at every turn.
She said she’s grateful for the support of her family, including her husband Ryan, a fellow entrepreneur and custom builder who helped her build out their shared office space and Winter Park store, which now includes a furniture boutique. She also has gotten support from mentorship programs, including ATHENAPowerLink, a nonprofit based at Rollins College that supplied her with a free board of advisors for a year. The program helped her make tough decisions that allowed her business to grow, such as how to set up a team that could handle the day-to-day tasks and allow her to think creatively and strategically as well as spend time with her two young sons, Ryker and Beckett. Her firm experienced record growth in 2019, surpassing even her own goals.
“Having access to women with experience in areas like HR, legal and finance gave me insight I hadn’t had access to in the past,” she said of her time in the ATHENAPowerLink program. “The team really challenged me, helped give structure to my business plan and held me accountable.”
With an emphasis on abundance and a grateful mindset, Sheehan finds that the more she gives, the more she gets. “I have always believed in community over competition,” she said. “It’s fun to see others being successful, and if I can help in any way, I’m going to. Empowering others only opens up new avenues and dialogue that gives back to the whole community.”
Going into its ninth year in business, Brianna Michelle Interior Design now employs a staff of six and shows no signs of slowing down. Sheehan approaches every day ready to learn from the people and the world around her. What inspires her, she said: “The possibilities of what the business can be, and the opportunity to learn and do something new, something out of the box, with people I love working with.”