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Rising Stars: Meet Allison Rhode

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Rhode.

Hi Allison, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started my professional career as a special education teacher and then director of several schools. I loved the mental creativity of finding each student’s learning strengths and styles and then differentiating instruction to meet those such that every minute of classroom instruction was tailored and meaningful to their unique brains. Fast forward a dozen years, however, and I found myself quite burnt out and seeking another form of creativity. In all that extra free time during the isolation stages of COVID, I earned an interior design certification and tried my hand as an entrepreneur by building a boutique real estate staging company with a friend, which was a fun challenge but ultimately not a long-term career goal. I knew Justin and Whitney Bride, owners of Ascent Contracting, through mutual friends and also worked with Whitney in the school system, and they were kind enough to offer me a position as an Interior Designer at Ascent Contracting Inc. A year and a half into this role, I can confidently say it’s the most fun job I’ve ever had! I truly enjoy all of the talented members of our small team, and I’m constantly amazed at how we seem to attract the most wonderful clients.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Smooth road – what would be the fun in that?! Changing industries in my mid-30s was scary, as were starting, navigating and selling a service business during the pandemic.

When I first started as Ascent Contracting the position of Interior Designer had just been created, so I had some hiccups about understanding the scope of my role on the team, such as where my responsibilities ended and a colleague’s began.  For example, who was ordering which items and when they arrived, whose role was it to inspect and process returns if necessary?  Through frequent coordination meetings on every project, our team has successfully ironed out kinks and created tools for sharing information and resources which have streamlined our collaboration and efficiency.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I find so much joy and meaning in transforming what is usually a very stressful and overwhelming process into a fun and gratifying experience for our clients. There’s no shortage of decisions to make when building or remodeling a home (in addition to the obvious – cabinets, tile, and paint selections – there’s also light switches and outlet plates, specific placement of cabinet hardware, and different types of shower drains, to name a few)!  Similar to the differentiated ways I approached my students’ learning needs as a special educator, I enjoy tailoring my design support to each individual family based on their priorities, time and interest levels.

For some clients, this looks like visiting multiple vendors together to see all of the options available, whereas for others, it means dropping 2-3 sample selections at their home. Finally, as an in-house designer working for a builder, I’m able to collaborate very closely with our project manager, superintendent, and subcontractors to ensure clear communication across all parties using in-house tools and resources. My hope is that by differentiating the process for each family and by working closely with our guys in the field, I’m able to support a smooth, stress-free process for the wonderful families we serve.

What are your plans for the future?
I’m very content in my little corner of the world with no plans for any big changes, but our team has some large custom home builds coming up that will pose fun creative challenges for me, and I can’t wait to get started on those!

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Image Credits
Spacekraft Media

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