Timeless-Designs for Modern Tastes
Brown, Carolyn M., Black Enterprise
Interior designer Sheila Bridges' signature is culturally classic and ageless
It was a fascination with Roman architecture and history that first piqued Sheila Bridges' interest in decorative arts. Today, the 33-year-old designer is the owner of Sheila Bridges Design Inc., a four-year-old, New York-based interior design firm that generated $1.5 million in revenues in 1997.
After graduating from Brown University in 1986, Bridges moved to the Big Apple to explore opportunities in the fashion industry as a retail buyer. A year later, she went to work in men's designer clothing at Bloomingdale's department store. That job landed her a gig with world-renowned Italian couturier Georgio Armani. But by 1989, she tired of the fashion business and went to work as an interior design assistant for a New York architectural firm that did both commercial and residential design work.
Bridges, who studied part time at New York's Parsons School of Design, quit her job in 1992 to study decorative arts in Italy at Polimoda, a design school in Florence. By 1994, she was ready to go it alone. She acquired a business license, incorporated and converted one of the bedrooms in her Harlem apartment into an office.
Initially, her clients were people who didn't want to spend the kind of money top full-service design firms commanded. But soon the firm was garnering upscale clients such as Andre Harrell, the former Motown chairman. Bridges has gained fame among bankers, entrepreneurs and other entertainment personalities, including Bad Boy Entertainment CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs and MTV host and comedian Bill Bellamy. …