This week for our Blond Genius Spotlight Series, we want to introduce you to our friend Amanda Reynal. Amanda is owner of Amanda Reynal Interiors an amazing interior design firm located right here in Des Moines!
In our interview, Amanda shares some insight on interior design, the best advice she's received from other women business owners, her personal tips for de-stressing, and of course, some of her wardrobe must-haves.
Keep reading to learn more about Amanda (and her fav life quote from Coco Chanel that we just love, too), and make sure to follow her Instagram: @amandareynalinteriors and checkout her website AmandaReynalInteriors.com.
Blond Genius: Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from, and can you explain your business to those who aren’t lucky enough to know you already?
I am Amanda Reynal, and I own a full-service Interior design firm and home shop call Amanda Reynal Interiors in the heart of Downtown Des Moines. We work with clients to create customized and personalized homes from conception to completion. I have also evolved into a tastemaker and influencer while sharing lifestyle, entertaining and fashion through social media. I am excited to launch a new website and blog in the upcoming weeks. I grew up in Connecticut and New York and have called Iowa home for the past 19 years.
BG: How did you get started in your business?
AR: Over three years ago, I opened our shop and interior design studio in downtown Des Moines. We carry original and affordable home accessories and furniture along with chic products that I have discovered during my travels. When I am not busy working on interior remodels and decorating projects, I spend my time curating an edit of furniture and home goods for the shop that cannot be found around Des Moines. I also cannot resist carrying friendly-priced jewelry, scarves and personal accessories that I love.
I should have known that I would end up as an interior designer. When I was a little girl, my mom made me a dollhouse, complete with electricity and herringbone wood floors that I specified. I was constantly rearranging the furniture and redecorating that dollhouse. I graduated from college with an Art history degree and moved to NYC intending to seek a career in the art world. However, I took a design assistant job with a small architectural firm instead and never looked back. I knew I had found my career path and fell in love with the dynamic world of interiors. Simultaneously I studied interior design at New York School of Interior Design and Parsons School of Design and landed a job at a legendary interior design firm. Married with a newborn, we moved to DSM in 2001, and I launched ARI soon after. I cannot believe we have been in business for almost 20 years!
BG: As a female-led business ourselves, we love other female-led businesses, too. What’s your best piece of advice for other women in business?
AR: I am so grateful to have a supportive and generous circle of female business owners in my world. From them, I am reminded to have fortitude and the guts to put myself out there in ways that are not intuitive to me. Most importantly, I have learned from fellow women in business that kindness and generosity are the most critical and rewarding attributes one can have in all spheres of work and life. My advice to other female business owners is that there is no substitute for authenticity, so just be yourself and do what you know is right, and everything else will fall into place.
BG: Everyone needs a little escape from work now and then. Where’s your favorite place to escape it all?
AR: I crave travel and am constantly inspired and renewed by visiting different places. My winter escape has always been Palm Beach, and I am happy as can be when there. During the warmer months, we spend time in our home in New York’s Catskill Mountains as much as possible. Nantucket is where I grew up spending childhood summers, and my soul sings when driving on the beach there in a topless Jeep. My travel bucket list includes India and Bali. When home in Iowa, there is no happier place to escape it all than my very own bed.
BG: What are your best tips for managing stress or learning to relax?
AR: Stress is an unavoidable aspect of life for most of us while running a business, raising kids, traveling and managing everything that comes in between. Currently, I am really into Peloton workouts and Yoga Sculpt. I love tennis, too, but don’t have as much time as I would like to get out on the courts.
BG: Let’s talk fashion. What are some of your favorite fashion designers?
AR: I typically end up wearing a “high/low” fashion look mixing classic designer labels with whimsical street fashion. For example, I’ll wear a Chanel bag with a Zara dress or Gucci loafers with denim cutoffs. Favorite designers include Alice and Olivia, La Double J, Frame, Mother, and Ulla Johnson. To me, these designers emanate a sophisticated global vibe that works anywhere from coast to coast.
BG: What’s a can’t-live-without-item in your closet or something that is always on repeat?
AR: Accessories are my weakness. Handbags, shoes, jewelry, scarves, belts....love it all! While trends are fun, I inevitably circle back to classic pieces. A tailored Veronica Beard blazer, Celine tote and a pair of flats are my uniform. Jeans (Frame or Mother) with customized velvet slippers from Stubbs and Wooton are my usual look. I am often on my feet for hours, so I try to balance classic chic with comfort. In the summertime, I am all about easy, breezy dresses and sandals that go from work straight to patio cocktails.
Amanda in Vince - Cropped Swing Tank and Wide Leg Pant in Dune, Veja Shoes with L*Space Deep Seas Bag
BG: Where do you draw inspiration from for your fashion, business and life in general?
AR: I am inspired continuously everywhere I look and go. Inspiration comes from many places: museums, art galleries, film, travel, and of course, editorial fashion. Interiors and fashion are forever intertwined and influence each other immensely. We are exposed to so much visual information through the internet that trends quickly become ubiquitous. I often go through old magazines and books, devouring timeless interiors and find inspiration through design icons of the 20th century.
BG: What is the most coveted item in your closet?
AR: The most cherished items in my closet are sentimental pieces. My grandmother’s Gucci bamboo handle bag from the ’60s, my family crest ring that I received for my sweet 16 that I still wear every day and an engraved pendant my husband gave me for my birthday 15 years ago.
BG: Do you have any favorite quotes or words you live by?
AR: I love this quote by the inimitable Mademoiselle Coco Chanel because it also pertains to design, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
BG: (We second, this!)
BG: Okay, dish. Share an embarrassing moment or a time when you just had to laugh at yourself.
AR: My kids sometimes remind me of my most embarrassing moment. Five years ago, when they were quite young, we were skiing in Aspen on an icy, steep, double black diamond run that we had already skied earlier that day. By the afternoon, the run had been skied off with dirt showing through, and I panicked at the top when everyone else had already skied down. I started screaming the worst possible profanities and threats to my husband while the boys and other onlookers were watching. I ultimately skied down no problem, but boy did I embarrass myself in a moment of fear, and they sure have not let me live it down!
BG: What’s something you wish you could share with others about interior design?
AR: The interiors industry has grown exponentially in the past several years, thanks to the internet and extensive editorial coverage by digital publications, bloggers, and influencers who share everything. Because everyone has access to so many visuals and product, they often enthusiastically undertake DIY design and decorating projects without thorough planning or understanding of the scope of work. Interior designers have experience and training to plan and execute projects without guesswork and emotion.
With over 25 years of experience, I still measure and measure again and encourage everyone to create a plan that can be executed thoughtfully. We save our clients money by helping them make choices that they will love for years to come while standing the test of time.
BG: Last but not least, what’s something that might surprise our readers about you?
AR: I have been needlepointing since I was in my 20s. I have been wearing Jack Rogers style sandals since I was in elementary school, and they were only available in Palm Beach. (And my weakness is dark chocolate!)
Thanks to Amanda for her time! Stay tuned for more Blond Genius Spotlight Series!