Birmingham interior designer Stanley Stevenson Jr. chases entrepreneurial dreams at Forge

Stanley Stevenson with the microphone.

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Stanley Stevenson headshot
Interior Designer Stanley Stevenson recently made the leap to full time entrepreneur. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)

Stanley Stevenson Jr. is not your typical interior designer in Birmingham. Find out how the husband and father of three is blazing his own trail in the interior design world.

The Journey to Stevenson Design

Stanley Stevenson Jr. started in the industry working at a local outdoor furniture company in the design department. There, he gained knowledge under seasoned designers by designing 3D furniture models and space planning for the company. He didn’t know it at the time, but this extensive experience would lay the groundwork he’d need for his future business.

Although he enjoyed the work, he knew he eventually wanted to form his own design company. So ten years ago, he took his first baby step and began the process by reading self-help books, researching and taking note of what worked and didn’t work for others.

He even started a blog, DaddyBe, about “living life on your own terms” in entrepreneurship. The blog took off, and now he’s also podcasting about his endeavors.

Stanley Stevenson with the microphone.
Stanley Stevenson started the DaddyBe podcast in January 2019 after finding success with his DaddyBe blog. The podcast features special guests each week speaking about different aspects of entrepreneurship. (Photo submitted)

“The blog and podcast are my way to get my thoughts and ideas down about going through my entrepreneurship journey. It also lets me share my vision for my company,” said Stevenson.

Aspiring to Full-Time Entrepreneurship

In 2018, he set a time limit, giving himself six months to quit his day job. It was actually his wife, Kelley, that ultimately gave him the final boost of encouragement.

“She told me ‘You’re podcasting and blogging about starting your business, so do it!’ Once I knew I had her support and our family was all on the same page, I knew it was time to for me to start taking my plan seriously,” said Stevenson.

Stanley Stevenson, with his newfound full-time entrepreneur status, will soon upgrade his nights and weekend package with Forge to the 24/7 access package, so he's able to work from the downtown co-working space anytime.
Stanley Stevenson, with his newfound full-time entrepreneur status, will soon upgrade his after hours package with Forge to the 24/7 access option so he’s able to work from the downtown co-working space anytime. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)

So on March 8, 2019, he left the security of his day job to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time interior designer and CEO of Stevenson’s Design.

“It was a scary jump—and I felt liberated, confident, scared and pumped all at the same time,” said Stevenson. “It is truly amazing the increase focus and creativity I’ve had since being able to devote my energy to this full time.”

Working From Forge

He started to work from Forge, the downtown co-working space at the Pizitz in 2017. Initially, he signed up for Forge’s after-hours plan. This allowed him access to the building during nights and weekends for a lower rate.

“What I can get done in two hours working at Forge takes me an entire week to do at home,” said Stevenson. “My workflow is smoother because I’m not distracted and I can focus on the task at hand.”

He’ll soon upgrade to a round the clock package at Forge granting his access to the co-working space 24/7.

Function + Aesthetic

Like every interior designer, Stevenson has a favorite go-to design aesthetic. Although he doesn’t put himself in a box stylistically, he describes his as mid-century modern.

Stanley Stevenson at Forge.
Stanley Stevenson at Forge. For Stevenson, father of three, Forge is the ideal quiet space to work on the growth of his business. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)

Designers with such tastes are a dime a dozen in Birmingham. What sets him apart from others is his laser focus on utilizing space and function of a room. This is something he learned to do well while working in the corporate world, handling logistics, space planning and running a distribution center fast and efficiently.

“I carry that experience with me, and I want to first and foremost make the space something that people can use effectively,” said Stevenson.

On the residential side, he said it’s all about getting to know the family he’s working for and observing how they use the space. Oftentimes, he’s able to go into a house and create more useful space by simply moving things around.

One of Stevenson’s kitchen redesigns. (Photo submitted)

Commercially, he said it’s again about the effective use of space, but also about the bottom line for the commercial client.

“I like to fix functionality problems, and make environments more holistic. I have a business mind that will always thing about how to design space to run fast and efficiently, keeping the big picture in mind.”

Stevenson’s Business Plan

Stevenson, who went to design school at Virginia College, studied both interior and graphic design in school. Once he started working, he realized many clients he worked for needed both graphic design and interior design work. Wanting to provide efficient solutions for his customers, he decided to incorporate both into his business.

“By offering both graphic and interior design, I’m able to offer an aestetic flow to clients, and they get the same look both with their logo, web design and interior design.”

Stanley Stevenson, Stevenson’s Design

The double design feature makes his business unique in Birmingham’s design world.

Stanley Stevenson discusses his design work with Bham Now Marketing Coordinator Gabi Hembree. This collaboration between members at Forge is another advantage of working at a co-working space.
Stanley Stevenson discusses his design work with Bham Now Marketing Coordinator Gabi Hembree. This collaboration between members at Forge is another advantage of working at a co-working space. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)

This, he said, allows him to help customers build a more cohesive brand image.

Stevenson’s Advice: Ignore Your Fear of Failure

Three weeks in to his giant leap to solo entrepreneurship, Stevenson says he’s confident he made the right choice to pursue growing Stevenson designs. He’ll take the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Certification) exam in April, which  is the industry’s recognized indicator of excellence of design principles and commitment to the profession.

After that, he’ll continue to blog and podcast while growing his expanding client base for Stevenson Design.

“I always grew up thinking there is honor in working for somebody else, that that predictable lifestyle and fixed income was the way to go if you had a family to help support. Don’t let fear be the reason for not taking the step to go for it,” said Stevenson.

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