6 Things with Carley Summers Founder of Carley Summers Interiors, Styling, and Photography
Based in North Carolina, Carley Summers is an interior designer and photographer, holding a fine arts degree focused on photography and painting. With interior photography, she helps clients and brands narrate their stories. With interior design, she creates truly sacred spaces for clients and their loved ones to enjoy. She will soon release her first book called "Sacred Spaces" in April.
1. What started it all for you?
I am the Founder and Creative Director of Carley Summers Interiors, Styling, and Photography- a boutique interior design firm located in my hometown of Greenville, NC. It all started for me in Port-au-Prince Haiti, on a mission trip that was instrumental in my healing from drug and alcohol abuse. After two DUIs, nights in jail, and two rehab stents, my parents encouraged me to serve for six months in Haiti, where my love for photography began. My time in Haiti brought me to a small Christian college, called Palm Beach Atlantic University, located in the heart of West Palm Beach, Florida. It was in WPB where I met my husband, Jon - the hot, moody drummer at the church I was working at. We quickly married and after posting our home on Instagram, I started getting photography requests from interior designers around the US. After several years of photographing for designers, I thought to myself, "I can do this." So I started taking on virtual clients and a few local clients. A few years later, my husband and I decided to move back to my hometown of Greenville, NC where my parents and brother still lived. I was nervous to move back to a town where I obtained two DUIs and where so much trouble happened, and I was also nervous that my new interior design business would fall flat, but the opposite happened. I started getting so many design inquires, I had to turn people away. I hired my first employee and the business just grew from there. I'm now able to spend amazing time with my family - years of which I lost when I was going through my addictions. My husband works full time with me now as CEO and we have two employees and several interns. I don't really take on interior photography jobs anymore, but I still photograph our own projects. Aside from interior design, we have a furniture line called "The Max Collection" and are about to release my first book in April called "Sacred Spaces
2. What drives your creative spark?
My creative spark was given to me by God, so He ultimately drives it. I love what I get to do, and creating magical, sacred spaces for our clients is what keeps me going. Interior design can get really expensive, so we try to be the best stewards with our client's money - not only with the time they are paying for, but also when sourcing project items. You don't always need to spend thousands on a chair, so we'll source strategically for our clients, and often one-of-a kind antiques at a great value. I think strategic sourcing is something we obsess over.
3. Most treasured home decor item?
By far, my most treasured home decor item is my living room coffee table. It's significant to me because my grandfather, Max Stout, designed it. He was a furniture designer in High Point, NC during the 50s and 60s and was extremely influential in my life. I even named my furniture line after him, and each piece is named after someone in his family, including my mom, Page. I also named my first born son after my grandfather.
4. What’s the best advice you've ever received?
"Fake it until you make it!" This was great advice for me because I always had (and sometimes still do) have imposter syndrome. When I first got started in design, I gave the impression that I had more experience than I really did. I didn't lie of course, but the confidence I had was certainly key in my success and set my clients at ease.
5. It's 5 o'clock at home. What would you be pouring?
Either sparkling water or kombucha. I've been sober for 11 years, so I love me some sparkling water!
6. What are your favorite 6 accounts that you follow for inspiration?
"I love what I get to do, and creating magical, sacred spaces for our clients is what keeps me going. You don't always need to spend thousands on a chair, so we'll source strategically for our clients, and often one-of-a kind antiques at a great value. I think strategic sourcing is something we obsess over." -Carley Summers