Working Women Wednesday: Barrie Spang

Working Women Wednesday is a weekly highlight of the hard-working women within the Girl Gang. This week’s feature is the Owner of Sapphire Pear, Barrie Spang.

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Your Local Girl Gang (YLGG): Tell us about your business. What is your mission statement? When did you launch?

Barrie Spang (BS): Sapphire Pear is a full service interior design studio and home decor store which opened in November of 2015. Sapphire Pear is all about color, good design, and getting our clients to challenge their design comfort zone a little bit.  

We help clients from something as simple as selecting wallpaper for a Powder Room to all design decisions for an entire new construction home. It is very important to get to know our clients, truly listen to what they are looking for, and design their spaces with them in mind.  We learn how they live, who resides in the home (kids, adult parents, pets), what they like to do, what their interests are. All of that plays into how we design a space for our clients. We design for the life our clients are living. If you look through all of our design work, you will see a lot of variety, and I am so proud of that! That means we are capturing our client’s personalities in their homes and delivering something unique.

YLGG: When and how did the idea for your business come to you?  

BS: I think I always thought I would eventually own my own business. I had been working at another local interior design studio for 20+ years when I started to dream of starting my own interior design firm. The idea grew and evolved over time and eventually became what Sapphire Pear is today.

The space where we are now became available and I just knew we had to rent it. It was the perfect location & size. It also opened up the opportunity to have a storefront which led to our Home Decor Shop. Coming up with the name was far more difficult. It took months to find something that fit, was memorable, and wasn’t already a taken handle on social media. I had been thinking about colors and how they really represent what I wanted to the company to be about. I started to think of my favorite color, Pear Green, and I reached out to Ashleigh Clark, the designer who has been with the company from the earliest stages, and asked what her favorite colors were. She responded right away, Sapphire Blue and Coral. Sapphire Blue,  I knew we had the name right away! I immediately jumped on social media to grab the handle, purchased the domain, and started to imagine the branding.

YLGG: Growing up, what was your dream job?

BS: Honestly, it was always interior design. My dad remembers over hearing me when I was about nine  years old telling a visiting cousin that I “wanted to make people’s houses prettier”. After our family cookout that day, he pulled me aside to ask me about what I said and told me that is an actual profession called Interior Design. He then made it more real by explaining that Lee and Quen, men I knew well as they helped us with building our new home, were interior designers. It made it clear to me what that meant & I started to dream about being an interior designer.

I would sit for hours on the floor of Lee & Quen’s design studio looking through wallpaper books as my parents met with them about our home. We moved a great deal when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time in their studio. My dad sells real estate and I think my parents were “flipping houses” before that was actually a thing. I am sure that helped form what I wanted to do for a living as well.

 YLGG: What characteristic do you most admire in other entrepreneurial women?

BS: Organizational skills! As a creative person, I am often scattered, jumping from project to project, getting interrupted by phone calls, drop bys, and work emergencies. A lot of times, I  feel like I am not organized. I grow envious when I read about female entrepreneurs and they reference their flow charts, planners, color coded calendars, scheduling tasks, white boards, etc… I yearn for that skill.

YLGG: What piece of advice you would give to women starting their own businesses?

BS: It will be the hardest, most time consuming thing you ever do, but it is totally worth it. I knew starting a business would be hard and a great deal of work, but I completely underestimated just how hard and just how much work it would be. That said it is completely addicting. It is a rush and I am so glad I did it. There is nothing more rewarding than building a business, creating systems, putting protocols in place and then see them start to work. Opening Sapphire Pear is the single thing I am most proud of in my life and I highly recommend to anyone thinking about it to go for it.


YLGG: What do you like most about your workspace?

BS: I love that our space feels like a home. We have had clients and shoppers comment as they come in that our store feels so homey and I love that! We have actually had a client fall asleep on one of our sofas. That is a true compliment to my book. Having our office spaces with in the store makes our workspace so creative.


YLGG: What is something you could not go a day without?

BS: Coffee with Simon. Every morning I get up early with my dog Simon. While he eats breakfast, I make coffee and then we cuddle up on the sofa in my Living Room during cold months or the one on my screen porch in the Summer. While he goes back to sleep, I sip my coffee while  I scroll through emails and texts, check my to do lists, brainstorm design ideas, watch a little news, and all that helps gets me mentally prepared for the day. It is a ritual I really miss when I travel.


YLGG: Name a woman, past or present, who you admire.

 BS: I have always admired my business partner, Betty Kemper, the founder of Kemper House, since I was a little girl. Having been family friends for decades, I watched her raise her large family of five children with the appearance of ease and always with a lot  humor.

As her children grew older I got to witness her transition into a business owner. After watching her mother-in-law suffer almost two decades with Alzheimer’s, she recognized the need for better care for memory support.

She created Kemper House and broke the mold on how to  design a living environment where the memory support residents can feel safe, happy, and stimulated. I was beyond excited when she agreed to be my partner in Sapphire Pear. I most admire her for her hard work, kindness, and grace in which she runs her businesses. She is kind to everyone and that has left a huge impression on me.

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