The last time Danielle Colding was featured on EBONY.com, we were celebrating her reality TV sisterhood with fellow Black HGTV ‘Design Star’ contestant Hilari Younger. Now, Danielle has been crowned the winner of the show’s seventh competition, and will bring that same sense of camaraderie to her own spin-off show on HGTV, ‘Shop This Room,’ which premieres this Saturday, August 4, at 8 p.m.
One of very few African-American interior design TV hosts, Danielle will not only help viewers design a room around their favorite inspirational pieces, she also supports her interior designer friends by showcasing their talents on her ‘Shop This Room.’ In an interview with EBONY.com, Danielle shared why her show is the one to watch and why she is thrilled and not threatened by shining a spotlight on her friends.
EBONY: Congratulations on winning ‘Design Star’! How have things changed for you since we spoke last?
DANIELLE COLDING: Thank you! It’s exciting! Since I won, though, it’s been fairly chill. When I spoke with you the last time, I was shooting my show in secret, so I couldn’t say anything about that. But people have been incredibly supportive and reaching out and congratulating me, it’s been great! But really, I’ve been back working and doing my own stuff for my clients in addition to doing the new show since [the ‘Design Star’ finale aired.]
EBONY: Tell us about your new show on HGTV. What makes it different from other interior design shows we’ll see?
DC: The show is great. I had such a great time shooting it. I’ve shot five episodes and each one is so different. We’ll see how the ratings go and we’ll see if they’ll pick it up for another 8 episodes to make a full season. But, I think the show makes interior design accessible for people and shows them it doesn’t have to be so serious. It’s a fun job and I have fun doing it.
I had so much creative freedom on this and the producers were great about letting me do my thing. You get to see my own personal style on the show, which is to design a room around finishing touches instead of designing it around larger items, like a couch. We completely reverse the standard approach by starting out with a little thing and having that inspire the look of the room. A lot of times, people have things, — whether it’s a work of art or a picture — that they love and that means something to them, but they just don’t know how to use it correctly in the space they want to put it in. So, I take that item and design a room around it.
And also, I really like shopping and doing everything in New York City, so I feature New York quite a bit and I feature these great people I know, like my upholsterer who is this great Italian guy who I’ve worked with for years, and who people will really love. We go to great places. I find really great things to work with, whether it’s from a flea market to a high-end store, so I the show is really informative and really gives people a great behind the scenes look at what I do on a day-to-day basis.
EBONY: It definitely sounds like this will be not only an entertaining show, but a very informative show for those who are looking to start a career in interior design. What advice do you have for people interested in succeeding in this field?
DC: Being an interior designer is so much about keeping the creative juices flowing. I always talk about how important it is to be out in the world and traveling and seeing what other people are doing. It fuels me. It’s such a great career and every project brings a different challenge, and I’m always learning, so it is so important to stay fueled creatively.
But the other part? Get your business stuff together. My hands-down best advice is to hire people who are good at what they do. Be good at what you do and hire experts in an area where you’re lacking. So, you also have to know the areas in which you’re lacking. I could never handle the books and I’d never ever want to, so even in my brokest times, I had an accountant and a bookkeeper. Hire the experts. Let people do their jobs and it will free you up to do what you’re good at.
EBONY: You said that you’re always learning with each opportunity that arises. What have you learned from winning ‘Design Star’ and now shooting your new show?
DC: The last five episodes have been a definite learning experience. I kind of got into shooting on ‘Design Star,’ but that was different because it was competitive and this is just me. But the greatest lesson is letting go of this idea of being perfect. It’s actually not that interesting. It’s much more interesting to make mistakes and learn from them than to think about what everybody’s thinking and expecting from you. So, I just kind of stopped caring about that.
EBONY: What fueled that change in you?
DC: To be honest, I think the feedback I got from the judges on ‘Design Star’ really helped. When I was quirky and being myself, people responded to that. I had friends say, ‘You know, when you make that voice that you make all the time in private, that’s the time I felt most connected to you.’ When I’m trying to hold it all together, nobody’s really relating to that. But it’s not always easy to let go of that. When I was announced the winner, I was definitely feeling apprehensive about how I’d be received and who’d be happy and who wouldn’t be happy.
EBONY: So, in those times when it’s not easy to fight it off and those feelings of apprehension start to creep back in, what kind of things do you do to get yourself back on track?
DC: I trust the people around me. If I feel like I’m getting like that, I check in with my friends and family. They keep me grounded and secure. The people in my life are always encouraging me to be myself. When you need help you get it. People do want to help you, but often we don’t want them to. So, lately, I’ve been doing that much more. It also helps when I do yoga and other things that keep me centered; that also helps to keep me grounded and not in the superficial.
EBONY: Speaking of friends who have your back, will your friend Hilari [Younger, fellow ‘Design Star’ competitor] make an appearance on your new show?
DC: You know, I’m really hoping so. It’s something I wanted to happen in the first five episodes, but we couldn’t get it together, so I’m hoping we’ll get picked up for a full season and then to have lots of cameos throughout the show and Hilari will definitely be one of those. There are so many talented people in my life; I have artist friends and designer friends and it’s so fun to be able to show the world what we do on this show.
EBONY: We spoke in our last interview about the bond you had with Hilari in the midst of the ‘Design Star’ competition. It’s obvious that you still have that bond and being willing to give her and your other friends’ a platform for their work on your show is really heart-warming and rare to see on television. Where does that willingness come from?
DC: I think it largely comes from my mom and what she taught me. But, it’s also a spiritual practice. I have done yoga for a long time and I realized, I don’t need somebody else to lose in order for me to win. I want to win because I won, not because someone else lost or because I sabotaged them. I don’t feel like it’s the same thing. Folks have this basic philosophy: if you’re doing well, I have to be doing bad. I don’t believe in that model. I believe that, if I’m around successful people, I’m going to be successful too. There is plenty of room for all of us to be successful.
Tune in to Danielle’s new show ‘Shop This Room’ this Saturday, August 4 at 8 p.m. on HGTV and keep up with Danielle Colding Design at DCDNY.com.
Brooke Obie writes the award-winning blog DistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @DCDistrictDiva.