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Emily Shaw '20—Designing Success

Shaw 1
Putting her degree and creative talent to the test, Interior Design alumna Emily Shaw ’20 has taken little time to set out on her career path.
By: Rosemary Poppe

Interior Design alumna Emily Shaw ’20 has taken little time to delve into her career. In a month’s time, she has renovated multiple spaces, developed an online presence, and has been contacted by representatives from Buzzfeed, Apple News, and HGTV.

This journey began back in June of this year, when Shaw saw an opportunity to update her parent’s home. Her mother and father had planned a visit with family, scheduled to last one month. Knowing that it’s always easier to redesign a space with the client out of the house, Shaw and her parents agreed that she would have 30 days and a starter budget of $1,000 to renovate spaces within their home.

Shaw kicked things off with an Instagram video posted on June 15, showing the original state of each space and some of the work that she had already begun. She continued to post updates on Instagram and TikTok, and began to develop helpful DIY video tutorials along the way. Her videos were getting some serious attention, and by June 29 she was featured in Apple News. She is still working on additional updates, but her month long challenge is complete and her reveal videos show that her parents are thrilled with the updates.

Shaw shares more about her story below.

You updated your parent’s house while they were away—did they know what you had planned?

My parents were aware of the fact that I was going to renovate the house while they were with family. I had to get their permission to either get rid of or sell items, in order to pay for the renovation—they gave me a few recommendations of things that they would love to have. However, the outcome of the renovation was a surprise. It wouldn’t have been possible without my boyfriend Dillon (also a 2020 Endicott grad) helping me to get it all done. We spent most of our time sorting through items and cleaning the house. It had been a family house for 20 years and definitely needed it. After the initial cleaning, we had to replace flooring, paint, and more on a very tight timeline.

Shaw 3How did you determine your budget?

My parents were able to spend around $1,000 on the project and I pitched in as well. We cleared out a lot of items and were able to sell most of them on Facebook Marketplace. Most of the time I would take the money earned through those sales out immediately to purchase new items from the marketplace. I highly recommend this method if you are trying to redesign on a tight budget!

Given that this is a passion of yours, have you had these redesign ideas in your head for a long time or did you develop them quickly?

The ideas were developed pretty quickly because I never thought I would have the opportunity to actually work on this project. Being home all the time after graduating left me with the extra time, and once my parents got excited about the renovation, I began really digging into different possibilities on a budget!

You have a great online presence, did those skills come naturally or did you study those formats in school?

I do think that the online growth I have experienced has a lot to do with the knowledge I’ve gained in school when it comes to presentation skills and also graphic design. The interior design program at Endicott is very presentation-based, so I have gained the ability to speak publicly in an effective manner, and confidently explain my ideas. Although I was in the interior design program, I did learn a great deal of graphic design tips that helped me be able to brand myself successfully on social media!

How did your time at Endicott help to prepare you for this experience?

Endicott really promotes a strong work ethic, which was necessary to get all of these projects done on tight timelines with limited budgets. The Interior Design/Architecture program at Endicott is extremely fast-paced and challenging, which gave me the confidence to know that I could get big tasks done. I was also able to use the various computer programs that I learned in school to help me make design ideas and also show my audience different ideas that they could then vote on to stay engaged with my social platforms.

Shaw 4Your work has been recognized by Buzzfeed, Apple News, and HGTV—how does that make you feel?

It has been such a whirlwind for me! I started posting the content as a way to share what I was working on during quarantine, I never expected the opportunities that have come from it. I’ve seen interior design on social media but I’ve never really seen someone become an Internet personality because of interior design so it was a lot for me to comprehend. Within the span of a couple weeks I was in a dream talent agency, a verified account, seeing myself on various news outlets, hearing from producers and more. I am definitely still processing it all but am so grateful for all of the support I have received.

What other projects do you have on the horizon?

I have some exciting things coming up! I am starting some renovations in my sister’s home - which is a bit more comfortably paced. There are a couple future projects in my parent’s home since there are rooms we haven’t gotten to. I also have a series on my TikTok where I help people with different ideas to help solve their design struggles. Of course, there are some secret projects coming up that I can’t share about yet but you will see if you follow along my journey on my social media.

To keep up with Emily’s work, follow her on TikTok and Youtube (@Emilyrayna), where she posts most frequently, or follow her on Instagram and Facebook (@Emily Rayna Designs) to see more updates.

Read more student success stories like this and learn more about our Visual and Performing Arts programs, like Shaw's, which has been renamed to Interior Architecture as of this fall 2020 semester.