“Find out what you love and do it and it won’t be work.” Erika Escue found that old quote to be true in her own life many years ago when she found herself divorced with two children and hadn’t worked in several years.
Erika said she has always been creative, drawing, crafting, painting and creating things while growing up inLebanon,Ohio. When it came time for her to go to college her father encouraged her to study business but she had to pay for her own education. She attendedMiamiUniversity, studied communications and marketing and always knew she wanted to work for herself. Erika said she dropped out of college one semester short and had her son.
Early on she traveled toCincinnati,AtlantaandDetroitcraft and trade shows to sell her creations. She loved traveling. She met her husband while at a trade show inCincinnati. They eventually moved toMichiganand thenToledo,Ohio.
Erika said she has an affinity for antiques. While married she started an antique business. She would buy at private sales, spruce up and restore items and then sell them at the monthly Ann Arbor Antique Market. She also worked at an advertising agency, Advanced Visual Concepts (AVC). She and her husband had a daughter during their eight year marriage but three years after they moved toToledothey went through a nasty divorce.
She had not worked for a time when they divorced and she couldn’t travel with two small children as she had previously. Erika said she worked odd jobs during the day and went to design meetings with clients in the evening. “Things began to snowball so I concentrated on just designing,” She said she really needed the business training she got in college and worked in a carpet store for a short time to gain retail experience.
Then she won a design job with a restaurant and redesigned it top to bottom including code issues and the practical needs of a professional kitchen. She learned much of what she needed from books. That also snowballed and she began to get more commercial work.
Erika said she doesn’t have strong family ties but her father’s mother was a powerful force in her life. “She was a school teacher and devoutly religious. She went to church regularly and faith permeated her life,” God is also her strength. “Many times over I shouldn’t be here but I know God has watched over me.” Her other inspiration was her best friend Debbie. “She was my shoulder to cry on. She has the most beautiful spirit of anyone I’ve ever met.” Erika said Debbie has the most positive outlook on life and she doesn’t know how she would have gotten through the last 10 years without her.
Today Erika does a variety of design work that includes residential and commercial clients from all over the country without a physical office. Her work includes designing rooms, furniture, accessories and finding artwork for her clients. She still paints for her clients occasionally. Her furniture ranges from a high end library table with old world hand crafting to a specially designed conference table for a commercial business that needed to fit a tight space yet leave room for their technical presentation equipment.
She said her circle keeps getting bigger as she shops everywhere and anywhere to find the right pieces at the best price point for her clients. “My strength is being able to interpret what a client wants and show them what it could look like. It’s not my vision, it’s theirs,” Erika said.
She said her next goal is to be able to answer the many requests she receives and take on interns to teach them the business side of the design work. “You can’t teach talent but you can develop it. But you also need to know the business aspects to succeed.”