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The Leap: Averyl Andrews Yaco
This interview series explores the process of remembering something true about ourselves, noticing that it's missing, and taking the leap to re-integrate it back into who we are.
This interview series explores the process of remembering something true about ourselves, noticing that it's missing, and taking the leap to re-integrate it back into who we are. These are stories about becoming whole. In this interview, Averyl Andrews Yaco tells us how she reconnected to a missing part of herself by launching her residential interior design studio, AID.
Tell us how you remembered something true about you.
I am a deeply creative, highly sensitive person, who has always loved beautiful things. As a child, I’d fill my boredom with drawing, painting, sewing and cooking. All of my hobbies revolved around creating things at home. I was driven to make, and enthralled with the flow of energy that came along with it.
College was filled with Art Studio classes and a Film Studies major. But after I graduated, I deprioritized my creative side to find success in the working world. I spent a few short years working in the fashion industry, then another fourteen years in the beauty industry at Sephora’s North American headquarters. At the time, I enjoyed my work and adored my co-workers, but I also had a lingering feeling that something was missing. I forgot how much I needed (and loved) the act of creating.
When my husband and I bought our first house, right before the birth of our first child, everything changed. A creative flame that had been burning on low suddenly came alive, and all I wanted to do was create an inspiring space for our new family. Our untouched 1927 Spanish bungalow became my obsession, and we slowly started remodeling every room. As is the case with many second life designers, my home became my laboratory, and eventually the marketing tool that would launch my next career.
When and why did it go missing?
If I am totally honest, it didn’t happen all at once. My creative passions slowly, quietly exited over a long period of time. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and cared about success and security. As I climbed the corporate ladder, my ego was distracted by promotions and the promise of more responsibility. I enjoyed feeling “successful”, but I was also moving farther and farther away from my life’s purpose and true passions.
How did you make room to leap?
I wish I could tell you that I thoughtfully, intentionally made the space for change, but nothing could be further from the truth. One day I was working a fast-paced job in the midst of a pandemic, and the next day, life as I knew it fell apart. A series of health issues I’d been avoiding for years compounded, and I very suddenly, against my will, left a career I’d spent 15+ years building. My life became very small and very simple, and I spent most of my time trying to pull myself out of a hole I had no interest in being in.
But in the midst of this midlife crisis (now gift), I was presented with an opportunity. I had time to think, for the first time in years, about what really moved me. And my heart answered back, repeatedly and affirmatively, that it wanted a quieter, more creative life, with the space and freedom to spend more time with my children. Something no one would offer me, but something I would have to create myself. Then a crazy thing happened… Everyone around me started asking for interior design advice. And one by one, quite accidentally, a sweet, little design business was born.
Leap implies that a big jump just happens one day. You wake up, feel it, and jump off a cliff. But more often, I think leaps are actually just a series of small choices we make steadily and consistently over a long period of time. In my case, it was just one foot in front of the other, trying, learning and validating that a new path just felt right.
How does it feel to have re-integrated this piece of yourself?
In short, it feels like coming home. I used to have coffee with friends and find myself saying things like, “working part time and spending more time with my kids… that’s the dream.” Or “if I could start all over again, I’d become an Interior Designer.” It was as if my heart always had the vision, but my head wasn’t able to fathom starting over.
Now that I’m here, it’s so clear that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I wish it didn’t take a complete unraveling of my health, priorities and beliefs to get here, but I am so incredibly grateful for it all. Every part of my body feels full in this career, and there is no greater reward than that feeling.
The fun part: tell us all about AID.
AID is a residential interior design studio based in Berkeley, California. We curate inspiring homes for busy families all over the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of my clients love and appreciate design, but don’t have the time to execute thoughtfully. Remodeling and decorating can be stressful, but I love helping people find ease and confidence in the process. It’s an honor to tell a family’s story visually, and I take my relationships very seriously.
At the moment, I am a one woman show. My days are filled with client meetings and creating designs from my dining room table, in the few short hours while my children are at school. It’s a hustle for sure, but I find creative work to be the inspirational counterweight to the (at times) challenging work of motherhood. It fills my cup, so I can fill theirs.
Share your toolkit for someone who sees themselves in your story.
Leaping is hard, but the good news is that information and resources are readily available, and in many cases, free. Here are 6 tangible ways that you can start investigating the next iteration of yourself today:
1. Inspire Yourself: For me, it is essential to be in awe of something and really feel it. I am an inspiration hoarder and when I discovered most of my “saves” across Pinterest and Instagram were images of interiors, it was a real wake up call. What do you save? Why?
The motivational speaker and ex-monk, Jay Shetty says that “we dream through people.” Make a list of people you admire and why. Then break it down even further and think about how they spend their day… Does this resemble your dream life and reflect your values? Find interviews with this person and see how they did it. Wake up every day and imagine you can too. If you’re not bored after a month, you’re on to something.
2. Brainstorm, Remember & Ask: What did you love as a child? What can you get lost in? How would your oldest friends and family describe you? There are clues to your future in your past, but it is important to investigate without judgment, ego or negative self-talk. If you’re into it, peruse books in the self-help section. I personally love the Enneagram, Human Design & Dr. Nicole LePera’s books for deeper work and self-discovery.
3. Prioritize Quiet Time: I find that my best ideas always show up on a walk, in the shower or when I’m totally alone without stimulation. Carve out these moments for yourself every day. Leave your phone behind. What comes up when nothing else is coming in?
4. Be Generous: Have a gift, talent or career you can share with others? Take that coffee and share your expertise. Need a new sweater or lipstick? Rather than buying it from a huge company, seek out a small brand and support them with your purchase. Really admire what someone is doing? Tell them. I find that helping others always leads to someone helping you. The universe really listens and responds to loving energy.
5. Educate Yourself: Buy a book, listen to a podcast (love Second Life), watch a video on YouTube, or talk to a friend who’s doing something you admire. Rinse and repeat. Build a community of like minded people around yourself.
6. Try It On: Finding a new career is like dating. You have to try it on to see if it’s a match. If you’re frozen or unmotivated, don’t panic! That’s a data point. You might not be ready, or this might not be right. What feels easy to try? Start there. Keep trying until you find more resistance (pivot) or more flow (lean in).
And if you already know you want to pivot into Interior Design, I highly recommend the following resources:
1. Create Academy/ Rita Koning Course (Use code RALLIER15 for 15% off) - This is an amazing snapshot into design and process led by an approachable master teacher.
2. Kelly Wearstler Masterclass- Kelly is arguably the most creative designer in the entire world and this is a truly excellent Masterclass.
3. Spoak- This is the program I am currently using for floor plans & mood boards. Super user friendly for a beginner. Sign up and see if you enjoy the work.
4. Online Courses- There are lots of Interior Design certifications out there and you don’t have to sign up for an entire degree program. Just take a class and see if it sparks joy.
1. The Interior Design Handbook- Very approachable, easy to read guide of design principles. Less technical and more of a “how to” intro.
2. The Domino books- Similar to above, but with a lot more pictures. These were published a long time ago, but most principles still stand.
3. New books- Jake Arnold & Heidi Callier just published new books and I am really loving them both. The forwards are humble and honest, and the images (although completely different styles) are so inspiring. Both had short stints at design firms, but are huge proponents of learning on the job/ the importance of self study. Their high end artistry and personal style are incredible.
4. Make Life Beautiful- Shea Mcgee and her husband explain how they built their empire without any funding. Super inspiring, scrappy story that's easy to read. No pictures, more of an autobiography.
5. Made for Living- Kinda like the Domino books (some inspiration, some practical tips) but from Amber Lewis (Amber Interiors).
1. IDCO- Interior Design Collective. Amazing website with free (and purchasable) materials, a very informative podcast with industry veterans explaining their stories with a focus on certain topics each week. Also does a Design Camp twice a year that I will attend at some point.
2. Business of Home- Start with the vulnerable, beautiful Athena Calderone episode, but stay for other people you admire. Witty, honest interviews with industry greats.
3. Second Life- There are quite a few designer episodes on here (Amber Lewis, Sarah Sherman Samuel, etc), but there are also episodes from other industries that are super inspiring (Meg Strachan who started Dorsey stands out). This is the podcast that started (and repeatedly reaffirmed) my entrepreneurial journey.
4. Trade Tales- Put out of Business of Home, but with smaller designers talking about everyday business. Less inspirational, more operational, but great practical learning content.
5. Business of Design- Similar to above, but run by an interior designer.
1. AD100: Use this list of the 100 best designers in the world to start curating your Instagram and following designers you like.
2. Yelp: Find local designers who you admire and read their stories. Ask to take them to coffee or lunch. Volunteer to be an intern for a summer. People are inherently kind, and most people will want to help you, even if it takes time to schedule.