By Chanda Temple
Traci Ann Moore’s parents had picked what they thought would be the perfect career for their daughter.
She’d attend college, study accounting and work as a CPA. Case closed.
But during Traci Ann’s junior year at the University of Montevallo, she had a change of heart. She wanted to study interior design after taking it as an elective.
Her mother wasn’t having it.
A DREAM DEFERRED
“I told my mother, ‘This is it. I don’t want to do accounting. I don’t want to do business,’’ Traci Ann recalled. “I want to be an interior designer.’’
Said her mother: “Well, I don’t know any interior designers. You need to stay in business because we need an accountant in the family.’’
Determined to sway her mother, Traci Ann told her mother that she could be the “first’’ interior designer she knew. Plus, it would take just an extra year to graduate if she changed her major now. Unmoved, her mother persuaded Traci Ann to stay the course. Traci Ann did, but changed her major from accounting to business management. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in December 1994.
Fresh out of school, Traci Ann found a job in corporate America. She hated it. She had unexplained migraines every day.
After working for three months, Traci Ann saw a commercial about the Southern Institute School of Interior Design at Virginia College in Alabama. She saw the commercial several times in one week. She wondered, “Is this a sign?’’ She picked up the phone and made an appointment with a counselor. Within a week, she had secured financial aid. She was ready.
BACK ON TRACK
Remembering what happened when she was a college junior, she didn’t tell her parents about her plan until she was enrolled. She quit her full-time job and secured a part-time job to fit her class schedule. She was still living at home in the spring of 1995 when she dropped the news.
“I was getting ready to go to school when someone said, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I signed up for design school and I have class today.’ ‘’
Her parents weren’t pleased. Her father told her that she already had a degree, so why waste more money? “How many people do you know, get up and go to a job that they are able to enjoy?’’ Traci Ann, who was single and had no children, recalled her father asking her. “You have to do what you have to do to provide for your family.’’
During her parents’ time, they did what they had to do to make a living. For Traci Ann, she had options. She saw interior design as a new way to be happy with her calling.
But while pursuing interior design, Traci Ann doubted herself – a lot. She wondered if her parents were right. Was she doing the right thing? Would this make sense in the end? Eventually, her parents embraced her decision. Today, they are her biggest supporters, she said.
Traci Ann graduated from design school in 1997 with an associate’s degree in interior design. She started her own residential design consultant business, TAM Interiors. Things were good, but by 2005, the economy changed and people weren’t spending money as much as they had in the past. Traci Ann had to change her approach. She started to focus on floral design and event decor. She also returned to Southern Institute to get a bachelor’s degree in interior design. She graduated in 2007, got a full-time job and did interior design on the side.
“Once I made all those changes, I was OK but I wasn’t completely,’’ she said. “I was missing the purpose of how my gift could help someone else.’’
In October 2013, she found her purpose after starting iCreate, a nonprofit organization that empowers, educates and encourages youth through visual art.
Today, Traci Ann is 41 and living in Bessemer, Ala. She said that running iCreate, working as a full-time office manager and running TAM Interiors is what she’s supposed to be doing. She gets confirmation every time she leads an art class.
Following a recent vision board session with students, a 7-year-old girl held up her vision board and explained how the board would remind her to keep pushing to become a pediatrician. Hearing the girl’s words almost moved Traci Ann to tears.
“I had to turn away because I know she’s going to remember that’’ experience, Traci Ann said. “I want to change lives. I want to fix somebody’s life. I can fix flowers, but through iCreate, I can make an impact.’’
Traci Ann’s next two classes will be held at the Vestavia Hills Library, 1221 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills, Ala., from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. On July 26, she will teach students how to create their own color wheel. On Aug. 23, she will lead a string art class. The classes are for ages 7 to 12. Admission is $10.
FOR MORE INFO
Traci Ann Moore offers interior design consulting; and art and vision board classes and painting parties for adults and children.
Follow iCreate on Facebook.
Follow TAM Interiors on Facebook.
Chanda Temple worked as a reporter for 20 years before becoming a public relations professional. She blogs about being better in business and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple. Contact her at email@example.com.