Archive for the ‘Student/Grad Feature’ Category

Meet Chantal! She’s a QC Design School graduate of the Home Staging & Redesign program and owner of Narrative Interiors. We caught up with Chantal to talk about her journey so far, what the future holds for her, and to get some advice for current students!

Let us a little bit about yourself and your business.

It all started with a dream, ambition and a journal. As an Educational Assistant, I worked for our local school board for many years but always felt like I was working for the benefits and not towards fulfilling what I love to do. Knowing that my true passion was interior design and decorating, I took a leap of faith and decided to leave my secure position to start my business. I recorded every step of the process and little did I know that my journal was going to become a story of courage, strength, success, fears, failures, obstacles and doubts.

I started my journey by completing correspondence courses through QC Design School and helping friends and family decorate their homes. After a full year of preparation, I launched Narrative Interiors. I stayed committed to my goal while facing many challenges but accepted that loving what I do also needed to become valuable and profitable.

Room design by QC Design School Graduate

Narrative Interiors is a home staging and interior decorating/design business that focuses on reaching out to all budgets, tastes and lifestyles.

What first motivated you to get into the design industry?

When my two university bound daughters were unsure as to what their future was going to hold, I encouraged them to do what they love and the rest would take care of itself. To my surprise, they challenged me and asked me why I wasn’t pursuing what I loved to do. My initial answer was “because we have to pay for two kids in University” but then after a bit of reflection, I quickly realized that I would always have an excuse. I loved decorating and I knew that I had a talent that needed to be nurtured and explored.

How did you choose QC Design School? What did you like most about your studies?

I did some research online about different programs that were available and was very pleased with the information package I received from QC. I signed up and started my courses while I was still working full-time.

I enjoyed the feedback from the instructor and the flexibility of the course schedule. Seeing that I had a very busy life, I loved the fact that I could do the assignments at my pace. I also enjoyed that the course kit had everything I needed.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today?

I am where I am today because of extreme determination. The first six months were the hardest of them all. I spent many sleepless nights questioning my decision to quit my job to pursue a staging business and I feared that no one would buy the concept of staging and decorating. I would have risked it all simply for “pursuing a passion” and that was a lot of weight to carry. However, project by project I was able to create a demand for NI’s services. Within the first year I grew out of my home-based office and opened up my own studio to accommodate the increasing demands. I truly believe that NI’s success thus far has been because of the amazing team that I work with. I trust and have earned the trust of the many contractors, vendors, and suppliers I work with and for that I am extremely grateful.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is most definitely the amazing people I have met along the way. In our business we don’t sell a product, we sell a lifestyle. So in order to know what my clients need, I have to really get to know them. The relationships that develop during design and decorating projects are by far more rewarding than the successful end result. Also, working with a team of amazing contractors and tradesmen who are exceptional at their skills continuously amaze me. I CANNOT do it without them.

Many of our students have dreams of owning their own business as well. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the design industry?

It is by far the most difficult thing you will ever do. Starting and owning a business is like the scariest roller coaster ride you’ll ever be on except it doesn’t only last a few minutes. The anticipation, the dips, the turns, the fear and the excitement will leave you exasperated at times but will mostly leave you excited. Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills so I would strongly recommend to first build a solid business plan, to get to know the basics of bookkeeping and to develop processes from the onset because the clients WILL be there… Just make sure you’re ready for them when they all come at once (which they will). Surround yourself with positive people and walk away from any negative comments that don’t support your vision. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours but worth every minute of it when you get to love what you do.

Bathroom design by QC Design School Graduate

The whole office is buzzing about your amazing portfolio. Where do usually you find inspiration for your designs?

Wow… Thank you!! That means a lot to me. 🙂

I’m a big Sarah Richardson fan and I love her style. I try to infuse that fresh look in every project. I sometimes struggle when my clients like dark colours but I do my best to lighten up their space. I don’t have time to watch TV so magazines and fabrics are my biggest sources of inspiration.

We love your business name and logo! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name?

I can’t take any credit for the name. My close friend had a huge part of the process and I also hired someone from Toronto to come up with the concept. I did not want my name on the business so that at any time I could sell it, grow it or reinvent it without my personal name being attached to it. He knew that I loved being a part of my book club and he took it from there. His idea was “that every home tells a story.” Homes have every element of a great story such as a plot, theme, setting, characters, style, point of view etc. Initially I was worried that the name was too long, too many chances of incorrect spelling, too difficult to say in French, but I took a leap of faith because I loved it! I find it is still too long especially when I have to give my email address but I try to focus on the brand and logo of NI instead.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s a loaded question! My “if I had no limitations” goals for Narrative Interiors would be to see NI become a national name brand. I do not want to be the face behind the business… I want the business to have its own identity. I would like to hire decorators in outside communities as sub-contractors so they would get to do what they love but under NI’s leadership. Somewhat like Decorating Den but a modified version. Technology has allowed us to reach out to as many people as possible so why not share the passion with thousands instead of hundreds! 🙂

My personal goal is to encourage women to pursue their passion and I don’t sugar coat “pursue your passion” because it’s HARD work!!! I’ve had many women approach me or email me to tell me that I’ve inspired them which I find ironic because they are the ones who inspire me to share my story! Until I reach those goals, my future holds many more home renovations along with many more exciting adventures.

Check out some more of Chantal’s work!

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

Is interior decorating and home staging your passion? Follow your dreams and start doing something you love like Chantal did! Check out the selection of courses offered here at QC Design School.


April 25, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature: Amore Events by Cody

Cody GrannisName: Cody Grannis

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram

A little bit about Cody…

Cody Grannis, a lifetime Virginian, is an award winning, certified International Event and Wedding Professional (IEWP), holding certificates in Non-Profit Management and Meeting and Event Planning from the University of Virginia.  She has over 6 years of experience planning University events in Charlottesville and throughout the country.

Cody, the mother of four, is the founder of Amore Events by Cody, LLC.  She has orchestrated many weddings in Charlottesville, Virginia and has an extensive network of reliable vendors in the region.  You will find her to be extremely dedicated and always working hard to ensure that each bride receives the wedding of her dreams.  Through Cody’s attention to detail and creativity, you can count on a wedding that will exceed your expectations.

Amore Events by Cody

Did you always see yourself becoming an event & wedding planner? What started the dream?

No, not at all! I started working at UVA in 2007 where my first job was an event planner in the Alumni Department. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much! I had never traveled before, but for one of my first events at UVA, I was sent on a trip to Palm Beach to plan a small alumni gathering. I had so much fun on that trip, getting to meet new people and work in a new and exciting environment. After that trip, I knew that event planning was something I wanted to continue to do long term. A little while later, I switched jobs at UVA and starting planning much larger events ranging anywhere from 100-5,000 people. After a couple of years at UVA, I got tired of all of the red tape and bureaucracy, and decided that I wanted to do something more creative on my own. I did some research and decided to become a wedding planner! We are now going into our forth season as Amore Events and we cannot be anymore excited!

Can you tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today?

I was a teenage mother of two little ones by the age of 19. And because of that I had to work extra hard to get where I am today. Knowing that I needed to provide for my family, I jumped head first into research on how to become an event planner, getting my certification from the QC School, and even took a course an event-planning course at UVA. When I applied for my job at UVA, I wrote them a letter and told them how excited I was about the position and how I really felt that I could do the job. They trusted me and hired me even though I didn’t mean all of the qualifications because I showed them how I was a fast learner and knew that I would succeed in the position.

Graduate Feature - Cody Grannis

Let’s talk branding. It’s probably one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business, and we’re sure our students would love a little insight into how Amore Events became what it is today.

Branding is a daunting thought, especially when you haven’t done it before. One of my biggest regrets is including my name in my business because I can never sell it. It is possible to change the business name, but not without a lot of paperwork and paying a bunch of money. Another huge part of branding is a logo and website. One thing that is necessary is working with a graphic designer and working through lots of different options with them. Make sure you go see lots of different logo designs and website templates before you choose. Take your time with this part because it is going to cost a good bit of money and in the end, it should be exactly what you want. One thing to remember through all of it is to stay true to yourself and your own personal style. You want your logo and website and overall brand personality to reflect you and what you have to offer. It is okay to get inspiration from other planners or people in the industry, but in the end, your brand needs to be all about you. Something to remember is that you can always re-brand. That sounds crazy, but it is actually a big part of growing your business. You might re-brand when your style changes, or when you add different services to your packages, or even when you want to reach a different clientele. We are actually in the process of re-branding right now and it is already paying off.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

In the event industry, making connections is key. When you were first starting out what was your approach to networking?

I started with just joining local event planning communities in the area. That is an amazing place to meet people, get your name out there and just make connections in the industry. A big thing I did that not a lot of other planners in the area did, was actually go meet with vendors face to face. I just wanted to get to know them and get to know their business better and really learn about how they like to work with planners.

I also joined free websites to market my business. The main ones I used in the beginning were Wedding Wire and The Knot. They were a big help in getting my name out in the industry and getting seen when couples search for wedding planners in Charlottesville. I also started requesting reviews from my brides. These reviews could be seen on both Facebook and Wedding Wire. This is a beneficial tool because I can use it to send to people who are inquiring about hiring me.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

I just love working with my brides. I love taking care of them and being such a big part of making their special day as perfect as I can. My favorite part of the wedding day is getting to steal my couples away for a few minutes and show them that every little detail we planner together has come together in the most beautiful day for them!

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

The biggest step in my career so far has been getting a studio space! It is a place that we have where brides came come and meet with us and can see all of our décor laid out. Something else that is huge for us with this space is being able to create a full mock-up of their reception tables. With all of our décor displayed in the studio, it is easy for us to walk around together, pick up things they like, try them on the table and really decide what they love. That is something we have never been able to do before, but it really adds an amazing touch to the experience for our brides.

A huge highlight of my career so far has been seeing our weddings and styled shoots on different national blogs, like Style Me Pretty, Southern Weddings and, Wedding Sparrow, and being published in Barn Weddings, a book by Maggie Lord. To see all of our hard work and our beautiful brides featured in these amazing places is really special.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

As you know, many of our students have dreams of owning their own businesses. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the event industry?

Some quick snippets of advice I would give are take your time with starting, really do your research about the industry and the market you are entering, have patience and kindness with both your brides and your vendors, be quick and assertive, learn how to say no, figure out your own personal design style, but also make sure you are keeping up with the trends.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

You’ve been featured on sites like The Knot and Style Me Pretty. That’s something to brag about! What do you think the future holds for Amore Events?

Amore Events is really taking off and I couldn’t be more proud! One thing that I would really love to do sometime in the future is open up a wedding venue. I would also love to make more connections outside of Charlottesville. It is a dream to work with vendors in California and New York and even in another country. There is so much inspiration in the world that I don’t get to see, so I would just love to experience and learn about other styles and bring it all back to Charlottesville.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

 Curious to learn more about the wedding and event planning industry? Check out QC Event School and read our free brochure!


Business Name: Lionsgate Design

Location: Missisauga, Canada

Check out Tina’s website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!


A bit about Tina…

I’ve always had a passion for design and love solving design dilemmas. I grew up in the small town of Chatham Ontario and moved to Toronto in my mid-twenties for more opportunities. Met my husband of 13 years and have two small children, girl and boy in that order. I was the Project Manager for a major telecom company for over ten years before pursuing my passion and starting my own business.

What first motivated you to get into the design industry?

Ever since I was a child I was into decorating and design. I think I mostly got it from my mother who was always re-arranging and decorating the house. This tinkering in my parents house turned into a passion I couldn’t deny so I started Lionsgate Design as an outlet, but I made sure it would be a real business and not just a hobby.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

At what point did you decide to enroll in an interior decorating course? What made you choose QC Design School?

I decided to enroll in the interior decorating and staging course after I had my first child. I wanted to pursue my passion and thankfully have a very supportive husband. I chose QC Design school because I was able to still work my full time job while I did the distance education. I researched the schooling and found that QC Design School was the best fit for me, and I had a wonderful experience.

Tell us! What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I enjoy the most about my job is when clients are speechless and love the overall look of their home. That is my greatest satisfaction!

We love the creative look of your website – it’s lovely! Can you talk a bit about how you ended up at your current business name, design and logo?

Thank you! I came up with the name Lionsgate Design because I wanted my company to reflect me and to tell a story. I’m a Leo, born in August, and my last name Singh means Lion. I envisioned a lion head doorknocker with iron gates to a home which is how I came up with Lionsgate Design and my logo.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

You’ve done an excellent job of utilizing social media to get your name out there; we especially love the monthly newsletters you distribute through Facebook! Any tips for industry newbies on using social channels to network and build brand awareness?

Thank you! The best tip I can provide is to not always sell, sell, sell. It’s all about engaging an audience and providing some honest, free advice and tips. I like to showcase design spaces that inspire me which shows my sense of style and what I too like creating. I’d say 10% advertising and 90% engaging.

Highlights of your career so far? Tell us about your most memorable project to date!

My most memorable project to date is when I was hired on to decorate a new build 12,000 sq ft home from cutlery to furnishings. My clients literally moved in with just their suitcases. Soap, towels, glasses and utensils were all purchased and ready to go.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

On the flip side, was there a project you didn’t particularly enjoy working on? Why?

Yes, one in particular where everything that could go wrong did go wrong; with one particular reputable company (not mentioning any names). My client was on a tight budget and they purchased items from this company because there was a great sale. 10-12 weeks for a custom sofa that was ordered only to find out at the 12th week , even after continuous follow-up calls, that the sofa was never ordered and the coffee table that arrived was warped and the ottoman was chipped. Event though it was not ordered through me but rather directly through this company by my client, I worked as hard as I could to resolve the issues. Made it happen and in turn the client blamed Lionsgate Designs and never paid me for my fees, even after working 60+ hours on the project and styling the home with all the decor items. Lessons learned: contract revised, all hours billed including any discrepancies beyond my control or outside of my A team of suppliers.

Any advice for our readers on how to deal with difficult clients?

Always stay calm, firm and note company policy. Stay professional and always make sure you have a contract. I’ve only had one difficult client situation since I’ve been in business and once I revised my contract and prequalify clients ahead of time I haven’t run into any difficult clients. Just like clients interview you, you also need to interview them to make sure you both are a good fit.

What decorating trends are you most excited to work with in the coming year?

I’m not really in to using trends since they do come and go. I try to keep with classic and long lasting designs unless a client is adamant about a new trend. Then I will design according to the trend to provide what the client is looking for. In regards to staging, it’s all about the demographics and how the home is speaking to me. I target market through lifestyle merchandising the home to get it sold fast and for top dollar.

What do you see on the horizon for Lionsgate Design?

I see Lionsgate Design expanding to the next level. My goal is to create a larger design firm and hire more stagers, decorators and designers over the next 6 months to a year.

Take a look at some more of Tina’s work!

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: John Goldstein Photography

 Photo credit: John Goldstein Photography

 Photo credit: John Goldstein Photography



February 28, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature – The Bijou Bride

Bijou Bride

Name: Alexandra Merri

Business: The Bijou Bride

Location: London, U.K.

Connect with Alexandra!

Twitter: @BijouBride

Facebook: The Bijou Bride

Instagram: @bijoubride

Pinterest: Alexandra Merri

Alexandra Merri aka The Bijou Bride is a creative wedding planner and stylist based in the U.K.  Alexandra believes no two couples are the same and therefore no two weddings should be either.  Her services offer a bespoke approach to wedding planning that’s tailored to suit each couple’s lifestyle and budget.

The Bijou Bride

What first motivated you to get into wedding planning?

I’ve always been a creative planner, as one of my friend’s put it I “turn everything into an event” from birthday parties to Pancake day.  It was whilst working at a major film company organizing premieres, exciting team away days and so on as well as freelance fashion styling that I had that light bulb moment.  I realized that there was a career that would allow me to combine both my creative and organizational talents – wedding planning.  I had organised my own Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding (my middle name is Titania so needless to say it was a theme) within a 5 month time frame and been assisting various friends when I took the plunge and enrolled in the QC International Wedding & Event Planning course.  Luckily I passed with flying colors and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Bijou Bride

How did you choose QC Event School? What did you like most about your studies?

I researched the most valued, in depth event planning study programs and knew that I needed a flexible course which is what led me to QC.  Those messages from my mentor were so much nicer than just a typed email and I felt really supported by the QC team throughout my studies and long after.

The Bijou Bride

You graduated from QC Event School in 2011, how has your career evolved since then? 

It hasn’t been easy but then nothing that’s worth striving for is.  The real challenge is getting your name known and working out your niche within the industry.

Your website is absolutely beautiful. What inspired the design?

I wanted it to be clean and contemporary, I found that a lot of planning company’s sites were pink and swirly which just isn’t me.  Inspiration came from some of my favorite sites like Kate Spade and Topshop I think it’s important to stay true to who you are, your loves and taste.


What came first, the name or the tagline? How did you come to decide on this unique brand identity? 

I wanted to find a word that summed up my approach and ‘Bijou’ does just that.  By definition it is ‘desirable, fashionable, stylish, chic, sought-after, to die for’ just how a wedding should be.  The tagline just came to me; I want all my clients to feel that their wedding day is quintessentially them not a projection of others’ expectations.


We know you must always be juggling a dozen tasks. How do you keep on top of everything? 

My Google calendar is invaluable, I log my to do list in 30 minute slots and have it synced with my mobile phone so I never miss a thing.

Wedding trends change every year; what 2014 wedding trend are you most excited to work with?

There is definitely a move towards toned down and understated styling or as I’ve dubbed it ‘bare naked elegance’ that is reliant on a great setting and good furniture.


What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve planned to date?

That is a tough one as they are all memorable in their own way.  A snowy winter wedding with a James Bond theme and 4 am finish time is probably the quirkiest though.


You’ve been featured in quite a few notable publications and sites. Tell us! What do you see in The Bijou Bride’s future?

This year is my busiest to date for wedding bookings but I’m hoping to take on further branding projects with bridal designers and venues.  I love being creative so a variety of projects is never a bad thing.

The Bijou Bride Features



Meet Lisa Collicutt, published author and Winghill graduateMeet Lisa Collicutt!

I’m a wife and mother and never imagined I could or would write an entire novel one day. My first published novel is a standalone paranormal romance, The Gathering Darkness, which I wrote while taking the Winghill Novel Writing course. Since then, I’ve written and published The Devil’s Flower, the first book in The Eternal Beings Series, and the first and second books in the Serendipitous Curse Reborn and Reviled series. I’m now working on two more novels, the next in both series.

By day, I work for a real estate company, so I’m quite busy. In my spare time I like to tour my homeland of Nova Scotia with my husband on our motorbike. I think up great scenes while riding on back—of course, I don’t remember all of them when I get home!


Name: Lisa Collicutt

Location: Nova Scotia, Canada



Good Reads:


Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

In all honesty, I always liked the idea of being an author. But I thought the possibility of writing a book was as realistic as becoming a rocket scientist, so I never tried. (What a waste of imagination all those years!) Then, in 2009, I read Twilight. At the time, I was used to reading much more sophisticated fantasy and historical romance novels, so this simply written teen novel struck more than one cord in me. Besides loving the story, I thought: I can do this. So the moment I finished reading Twilight, I went to my computer and wrote my fist novel. (No vampires included). Of course it wasn’t good enough to be published, but my writing improved with each book I wrote, and eventually, I got published. It was that same year, 2009, after starting my third novel that I decided to get serious and take the Winghill Novel Writing Course.

What did you enjoy most about your Novel Writing course?

I actually learned things, I felt important, and the lessons were fast and fun. I loved that I could do it all online at my own convenience. But I was motivated to finish my book, so once I had done all the course lessons, I took an extension on the course until I finished writing The Gathering Darkness. The whole thing, all the lessons plus the extension, took about 7 or 8 months. So the lessons went by pretty fast. I also liked the idea of having a tutor with me along the way to check each chapter as I wrote them. I took every critical comment seriously and worked toward making this book the best that I could—and it got published.

On your blog, you call yourself a “paranormal romance author”. How did you find the genre that works for you?

I didn’t think about genres at first. I just knew I wanted to write about witches and magic. I did loads of research, and that’s how I realized I was actually writing paranormal. Romance also plays a big part in my stories. I have to have both. I describe my stories as being dark and twisted. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about angels and demons, and even Hoodoo.

Where did the inspiration for The Gathering Darkness come from?

The Gathering Darkness, a novel by Lisa CollicuttI knew I wanted to write a spooky teen novel about witches. Then one day inspiration struck. I walked into the real estate office where I work, and a book of old photos of the town of Chester were opened to a picture of The Hackmatack Inn. This inn no longer stands, but it was large, dark, and menacing enough to draw me into the picture. Immediately my mind started whirling, and the premise of The Gathering Darkness was conceived.

I originally set the story in Chester, Nova Scotia, and used the Inn’s original name. Then, with advice from my tutor, I changed the setting entirely to the fictional town of Deadwich, Massachusetts. That way I could do whatever I wanted with the town and not offend anyone. Also, since I was writing about witches, I wanted the story to be closer to Salem.

I thought up a lot of the story in my head on my daily walks through the village to the post office. The main character, Brooke, was fashioned a little after me. We are both city girls who moved to the country as teens, and neither of us wanted to leave our city life behind. Like Brooke, I too was afraid of the dark growing up, and the country was terrifyingly dark compared to the city. So I put a lot of me in Brooke, for sure.

How do you stay organized and motivated to finish a novel?

I’ve never set deadlines except for the new series I’m co-writing with best-selling Author Aiden James. Because others are involved in this project, I try to give myself a deadline to follow. Motivation comes from my love of my stories. I guess you do have to love your own work to want to write it. Not to sound boastful, but I do love what I write. I’m a loose plotter, which means I rarely plot at all. Therefore, I have no idea what will happen on the next page until I get to that point and start typing—although sometimes I know what will happen 2 or 3 chapters down the road. This method has always worked for me. However, I do know some writers who get a white board and map out their entire story before they begin to type it.

Can you describe your experience with the publishing process?

The day I received the first letter of acceptance and contract was the most exciting moment of my life. I wish there was a more exciting word for exciting. For me it was so unbelievable, that I was more overwhelmed than anything else. But signing publishing contracts comes with a load of responsibility that wasn’t there before. My publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, is good at giving me the acquired time I need. But still, there’s pressure to complete when there wasn’t before. Publishing also comes with doing lots of interviews and self promoting. But I love it all, and wouldn’t go back.

Have you ever received a rejection letter? How have you dealt with this?

I’ve received many rejection emails. Each submission I sent lifted me up, and each rejection brought me down, but never to the point of quitting. I just kept writing, finishing one novel and beginning another, and all the while I researched the business. Living in my created worlds kept me happy as I sent out more submissions. And during that time I learned that rejections aren’t always a frown upon your work. Some publishers and agents reject you because they’ve filled their quota of paranormal for the year. So I kept sending until I found the right publisher who loved my story. I queried for about two years before I got accepted.

What does the future hold for Lisa Collicutt?

I hope I can write forever, however long that may be for me. I have so many more stories to tell, some already started. I even want to write children’s picture books one day and have some ideas for them put away. Right now, I’m in the middle of two new adult paranormal romance series, one about angels and demons, and the other about ghosts, reincarnation, and Hoodoo. I hope to wrap up both by the end of this year. I’ve met so many other writers, people in the business, and fans through social media. They’re who keep the spark glowing inside me.

I’d like to thank Winghill and the late Michael Crawley. I thoroughly enjoyed my Winghill experience.

Are you ready to write your novel?
Take the first step with Winghill Writing School



January 21, 2014 12:00 am

Student Feature – Lindsay Rosso

Student Feature

Meet Lindsay Rosso!

Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada





My name is Lindsay Rosso. I am a small town girl with big dreams (cliché, I know). I’m 20 years old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada and I know what I want – To be a stylist in the fashion industry. Fashion has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I would draw books and books of clothing designs. When choosing a career path, it was an easy decision for me. I knew my future was in the fashion industry. Fashion is something that always keeps my interest and ambition high. That is exactly what I need to pursue a successful career and more than that be happy to walk into my workplace everyday.

After high school I moved to London, Ontario to begin my fashion education at Fanshawe College where I studied Fashion Merchandising for 2 years. This program exposed me to every aspect of fashion. My time spent at Fanshawe inspired me to continue my education in fashion and learn more from the professionals in the industry. At this point in my career I’ve been exposed to several different ranges of retail, from high end menswear at Art Gabriel’s, to prom at Elizabeth Noel, to the Gap! Today I am an assistant manager at a local boutique called “Pink Chandelier” back home in Sault Ste. Marie. I have been fortunate enough to score a job I love right out of graduation. This year I also decided to work towards my certificate in styling through QC Style Academy and am loving it. I hope to continue my fashion education and keep working hard toward my goal of being a successful businesswoman and stylist.

Did you always see yourself becoming a stylist?

No. Going into college my aspirations were set out to be a buyer. By the time I graduated I got a better feel for what different kinds of jobs are out there in the fashion industry. I realized quickly that my strength is my creative side. I particularly loved my photo styling class and did exceptionally well too. My ideal job would to be an editorial stylist. If I was flipping through Vogue and saw an advertisement I styled myself, I think I’d pass out.

What are you enjoying most about your Fashion Styling course with QC?

I love my course with QC! It’s really nice to be able to continue my fashion education while working full time. This way I’m expanding both my work experience and education this year. I find QC to be very organized. The readings and assignments are very easy to follow, informative and fun! I’ve already filled the notebook that you sent with my course full of notes and I plan to use them as reference in the future.

We can’t stop looking at your Instagram photos! Did you have a strategy for growing your following when you first started out, or did it happen organically?

I have to be honest there is no strategy behind my Instagram photos. I got the app a couple years ago now and I absolutely love it. I definitely post a lot of fashion related photos, and never thought there would be an outcome of it but just because that is my everyday life! I love fashion and I love to be noticed for it. On a professional note I believe it’s important for a prospective client to be able to see my work and personality through social media. What better way to do that than through photos? I want my future clients to be able to see how I can put together a look, what inspires me. I want to demonstrate the passion I have for this business. Instagram can be an excellent creative outlet and also a great way to keep in touch with your family and friends!

We’re also loving your logo! Can you talk a bit about the process of building your personal brand, and how you ended up at that design?



My logo was designed for my portfolio in one of my brand development classes while studying Fashion Merchandising at Fanshawe College. I drew the logo myself in Adobe Illustrator. The girl is a cartoon influenced by my features and Marilyn Monroe’s. This way the viewer can identify Marilyn, who is a huge fashion icon, and relate that to my name and career. I’ve also used red, black and white continuously throughout my portfolio and social media because my last name “Rosso” is the color red in Italian.


Can you tell us about some highlights of your styling career so far? (What are some of your favorite aspects and what are some things you find tedious or trying?)

Currently I am enjoying where I am in my career. I can take my knowledge and skills of styling and apply them to my current role as an assistant manager at Pink Chandelier. I love to help customers feel and look good. Assisting a customer in finding what they are looking for is always a successful day in my eyes. My job is far from dull or boring at all thanks to my boss and co-workers. We have a blast working together and make the retail environment fun for any customer walking in. I strongly believe I have a natural ability for styling. I can easily identify what a customer is looking for, what will look best on their body type and target what their personal style is. Upon finishing my course with QC Style Academy I intend to open my styling services to the public. That being said, my biggest challenge will be finding clients while residing in Sault Ste. Marie. I will most likely have very few or no clients before moving to a larger city.

Favorite item of clothing in your closet right now?

Favorite item of clothingMy favorite item of clothing I have in my closet right now is a dress I bought on my high school Europe trip in Rome back in 2010. It is a deep purple, in a light chiffon fabric, has a high neckline with light purple sleeve and gathers at the bottom with hints of turquoise. It’s been my favourite dress for years (and that means a lot coming from someone who searches through hundreds of dresses everyday). It is very unique and feminine and still to this day I have seen nothing like it. I bought it at a shop called “Fornarina”. It was definitely a splurge but I love it and only wear it for special occasions.

What would you like to see trending in 2014?

In 2014 I’d love to see more high-waisted denim and color moving into spring and summer. I got a pair of high-waist Mavi jeans a few weeks back and I am in love. The high waist look is so flattering and is making a huge comeback in fashion. We carry Mavi denim at Pink Chandelier (which is by far my biggest obsession this year), and have ordered in the high waist jeans to carry in store.

Another trend I’d like to see is more color moving into spring/summer 14. One of the biggest trends for 2013 was black and white, which is particularly unusual for summer. I missed the pastels in the spring and the vibrant colors in the summer. For me, that’s what makes spring and summer my favorite seasons is the vibrant and fun fashion pieces.

Tell us! What does the future hold for Lindsay Rosso?

I have a few options for the near future. I have been looking into school in Europe for over a year now. I’d love to study in France because I fell in love with Paris the first time I visited and could benefit greatly from an experience like that. However, I’ve recently made an amazing contact in the fashion industry who has encouraged me to pursue an internship in New York, which again would be a great experience for me. Currently I’m focusing on getting my applications sent in with the right documents, a killer portfolio, and hoping that everything falls into place! Farther down the road I’d love to pursue editorial styling but something else I’ve always thought of pursuing is being a creative director for a luxury brand. Wish me good luck!

A look at Lindsay’s work to date…

“Under the Sea” Fashion Show – Recycled garment designed and sewn by Lindsay Rosso, Francesca Scandale and Megan Welsh.

'Under the Sea' fashion show- Recycled garment (designed and sewn by Francesca Scandale, Megan Welsh and myself)









“Rossolette Grand Opening” Campaign Poster – completed in Adobe Photoshop by Lindsay Rosso

Adobe Photoshop 'Rossolette Grand Opening' Campaign Poster











Photo styling “Estee Lauder Pure Color Lipstick” Advertisement – Photograph, styling and editing by Lindsay Rosso

Photo Styling 'Estee Lauder Pure Colour Lipstick' Advertisement - Photograph,styling and editing by Lindsay Rosso








Photo styling “Nasty Gal Spring 2013 Collection” Advertisement – Photograph, styling and editing by Lindsay Rosso

Photo styling 'Nasty Gal Spring 2013 Collection' Photograph, styling and editing by Lindsay Rosso








“Fashion Rocks Hair of the Dog” show – Merchandising Comittee Co-coordinator (Fundraiser for Paws United). Photo credit: Christian Varsava

'Fashion Rocks Hair of the Dog' show, November 2012- Merchandising Committee Co-coordinator (Fundraiser for 'Paws United')











“CONNECT 2013” Fashion Merchandising students set up booths to demonstrate portfolios. Lindsay gave out customized mugs with her logo and business info along with mug cakes.

'CONNECT 2013' Fashion Merchandising set up booths to demonstrate portfolio's. I gave out customized mugs with my logo and business info along with mug cakes









Interested in pursuing your fashion styling dream? Check out QC Style Academy’s website to see all that we have to offer!


September 16, 2013 6:43 am

Graduate Feature – Michelle Panton

Michelle Panton, wedding plannerMeet QC Event School graduate Michelle Panton. Michelle was able to turn a passion into a career in 2010 after completing QC’s Wedding Planning course. She is now the owner of Belle Weddings and Events, a thriving Australian wedding planning and styling business. She now lives her passion each and every day by creating personalized, unique, and memorable experiences for her clients. Read on for Michelle’s story, and to take a look at some beautiful photos of her work.

Company Name: Belle Weddings and Events
Description: Wedding planning and wedding styling specialists
Region: Melbourne, Australia


What motivated you to start your career as a professional event and wedding planner?

I have always loved hosting and creating special events. I am passionate about design and decoration, food and ambiance, organizing and creating memorable occasions. I was looking for a career that brought all of my passions together. After completing the QC Wedding Planning course I realized that wedding planning and styling was exactly right for me! I was so motivated and confident once I graduated that I could not wait to start my career in wedding planning.

What are some highlights of your career so far?

Definitely the friendships and close bonds that have developed from working with our couples. There is nothing more special than a couple contacting me after their wedding day expressing their gratitude for creating the wedding day of their dreams! This is so rewarding and makes all of the organizing and planning worthwhile.

I’m also happy to have the opportunity to work with amazing and talented people in our industry and the chance to work in completely different and unique wedding locations and venues. From a converted country convent to a glamorous city venue, beach locations, and historic homes and gardens – every day is different.

How did your course prepare you for working in the field?

The course has been invaluable to my career in the wedding and event planning industry. It gave me the confidence to start my business and also gave me the support of the tutors when needed. It also gave me knowledge and understanding of so many aspects of what it takes to organize a successful and flawless event, such as a wedding.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out with their training or career?

The QC course is so helpful in gaining knowledge on all aspects of wedding and event planning and preparing you for all issues that can and will arise! Do your research and meet with other wedding professionals in your area. Have confidence in your own abilities; if you love what you do it will show in your work.

Be patient and understanding with your couples, and always listen carefully to their wedding day ideas. Remember that it is an honor to be involved and work with couples who are embarking on such a special day in their lives!

A look at Michelle’s work…


Michelle Panton of Belle Weddings and Events

Wedding styling by Michelle Panton

Wedding styling by Michelle Panton

Belle Weddings and Events

An outdoor wedding by Belle Weddings

A classicly decorated ceremony by Belle Weddings and Events

Michelle Panton mixes trends and traditions in her designs

Unique wedding favors by Michelle Panton

A bright, tented reception by Belle Weddings

Photography by Wheelhouse Studios, where watermarked


September 11, 2013 10:36 am

Graduate Feature: Renee Gignac

Renee Gignac portraitRenee Gignac enrolled in QC Design School’s Home Staging course in 2011. Her business, Decor Innovation Designs, was still young at the time, and she hoped to develop it even further. Since that time, her business has grown into an award-winning company. She brings her own particular aesthetic – timeless, luxurious, and sophisticated – to each and every one of her design projects. We’re pleased to bring you her story here, as well as show off some photos of her work.

Company Name: Decor Innovation Designs
Description: Home staging, interior redesign, interior decorating
Region: Windsor, Ontario
Houzz profile:

What motivated you to start your career as a design professional?

I was always interested in design as a child. In my spare time I used to watch the real estate channel and read home magazines. I was blessed with an artistic talent, and knew that I wanted to do something in this field where I could shine and be myself. I guess I owe the push to follow my dreams to my mom who always believed in me and my uncle who told me to never give up.

What are some highlights of your career so far?

This year has been the best year of my career, not only as an interior designer but also as a home stager. I truly believe in the saying “reach for the stars”. We have been recognised by Houzz for the Best of Houzz 2013 award. We are now working with several real estate agents and have been picked up by four builders to stage their model homes.

How did your course prepare you for working in the field?

I learned a lot through my QC course in home staging, things that I should have learned in my interior design course and never did. I still use my course books today and refer back to them if there is something I’m not sure of. I feel that since I took the home staging course it has made me a better designer and business owner.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out with their training or career?

I will say that this is not the easiest field to work in; however, if it’s something you really want you need to put your mind to it and push yourself. You are going to face a lot of bumps in the road at the beginning, but you should never give up, no matter how hard it gets. I’m speaking from experience. It took five years before my business started to take off. Just have fun, be honest, trustworthy, and confident, and you will succeed.

Take a look at some of Renee’s work…


A staged bedroom by Renee Gignac

Bathroom design by Renee Gignac

Decor Innovation Designs living room

Renee Gignac living room design

Dining room design by Renee Gignac

Do you want to create your own success story, like Renee? Enroll in QC Design School now to start your new career in the design and decorating industry.



August 14, 2013 2:04 pm

Student Feature: Athena DeVonne

QC Event School student Athena DeVonneToday, we’d like to share yet another story of student success. Meet wedding planner Athena DeVonne. She took a chance on a career change that would give her more time with her young children, as well as more financial freedom. She chose QC’s Wedding Planning course to help take her there, and it paid off. Read her inspiring story below.

Company Name:  Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs
Description: “Making your memories grand on a modest plan.” Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs understands that your day should be a reflection of you. Your goals paired with our experience will create an endless memory. Through listening, executed detail and unique custom design … your wedding will always be remembered as the coalesced expression of two hearts into one love.
Region: Dallas, Texas
Phone: 888-406-0816


What motivated you to start your career as a professional event and wedding planner?

I didn’t start the way most wedding planners started. I didn’t catch the planning bug after helping a friend or family member or from planning of my own wedding. It literally started with a simple conversation. I needed change.

I am a single mother of two precious daughters, Alaithia (5) and Aarionna (4). Alaithia has a condition called Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria. In short it means she is totally dependent on me. She currently cannot speak, crawl, or walk. As you can imagine, a special needs child grows such a love in you as a parent. I grew tired of missing her therapies, school functions and opportunities for special programs due to having to clock into a full-time job. I was also tired of trying to balance my younger daughter Aarionna’s activities, which were often held back because of her sister’s condition.

QC Event School student Athena DeVonne is now a professional wedding planner

One afternoon I expressed these feelings to my significant other and stated I need more time, flexibility and financial freedom to be there for my daughters. We discussed my talents, skills and abilities and narrowed it down to something in social networking, design, events or public speaking. We somehow brought up weddings, and I was smiling the whole time we were talking about it. It was he who suggested I research being a wedding planner. It would allow me the chance to work from home, schedule my own hours and expand my passion for design. It entails lots of networking, sales, negotiating, talking, creativity and social media to stay on top of trends. So I jumped on the internet, found QC Event School and … well here I am now.

I find joy in the challenge of turning a client’s ideas or dreams into a visual reality. The celebration of love is special and delicate. I want to enhance and tell the stories of couples everywhere. I have a strong passion for creating more then one function out of anything, pushing my creativity outside the box and making a new blueprint. My goal is to be sure every bride who wants a wedding has one, no matter the size of the budget. Creativity and strong resources solve all obstacles.

Wedding planner Athena DeVonne

What are some highlights of your career so far? 

Wow, I have been blessed! I just launched Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs January 15, 2013. Since that date we have:

– Contracted seven brides (all who signed during the initial consultation)
– Become the preferred wedding planner to two local wedding venues (Frisco Heritage Center & Aristide Event and Conference Center)
– Become the exclusive wedding coordinator and designer to The Gallery Event Room
– Built a partnership with esthetician Lorina Coleman of More Than Makeup. Together, we created a bridal package for my clients including skin care, body massage and the wedding day look
– Built a partnership with Kevin Gaddis Jr. of Epic Event Photo Booths. He provides unlimited photo booth shots for my wedding couples at an awesome special price
– Been interviewed by wedding planner trainer Debbie Quain of Weddings for A Living. I am one of her Wedding Business Guide members. It was great to be asked to share our story. This was our first press release (in just 6 months of launching)
– Been invited to be the first guest speaker on Sophisticated Events by Shatasha’s blog, The Trendy Bride’s Lounge

Most currently I am working with another wedding planner to create a bridal magazine. (Visit my website for the launch details) I am also publishing a how-to book for D.I.Y brides to help with the process of planning your own wedding. Wish me luck!

Coalesce Creations Wedding Designs

How did your course prepare you for working in the field?

Oh my goodness, how could I have my career or success without this course? The course has enabled me to go into a consultation with a prospective bride, speak confidently and express knowledge. With the experience I gained from the assignments and conversations with my tutors I can currently say I have signed with every bride I have met with. The course has prepared me to be highly organized, aware, and helped me find my own identity in this industry.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out with their training or career? 

My advice would be start and don’t wait to have it all together. Remember, the word “impossible” spells out “I’m possible!” Go into your business with a business mindset. My mother always says, “Treat a business as a hobby and you will receive hobby results. Treat a business as a business and you will receive business results.”  Don’t miss the opportunities presented to you just because you don’t have everything. Confidence and self-trust are vital, so get going! Experience is just as powerful as knowledge … so grow both!Coalesce Creations

Athena DeVonne is a wedding planner and QC student

 Athena’s portrait by Kevin Gaddis Jr. Photography
Photos 1-3 by Dee Portilla Photography
Photos 4-5 by Ezell Photography


July 8, 2013 12:43 pm

Featuring QC Graduate Tracy Black

Meet QC graduate Tracy BlackTracy Black knows the key to a career you love is passion and perseverance. With that outlook, she is now the owner and Principal Decorator of soulstyle, an interior decorating and home staging business. We’re proud to say that she’s also a graduate of QC Design School’s Interior Decorating course. Her approach to design is to create warm, comfortable and dynamic spaces for her clients.

We got in touch with Tracy to get her insight on the design industry and share her story. We encourage you to visit her website and Facebook page, and scroll through to view some stunning photos of her work below.


Company Name: soulstyle Interior Decorating & Home Staging
Description: Interior decorating, renovation design, home staging
Region: Greater Toronto Area
Phone: 416-508-8717 or 519-217-8717

What motivated you to start your career as a design professional?

My interest in decorating and design began with my first home purchase, and for years was just a hobby (or obsession!). I was teased about losing square footage in my house because of all the coats of paint! When the opportunity to begin a new career presented itself I took a leap of faith, left the corporate world after 15 years, and began my own business in a field I was passionate and excited about. I have been very fortunate with success thus far, and have never regretted the decision.

What are some highlights of your career so far?

I’ve had many features in blogs, which have been wonderful exposure to my projects and my business. However, the real highlights of my career have always been the clients I work with.

How did your course prepare you for working in the field?

It’s good, sound training with practical and very applicable lessons. I am often emailed by potential students asking about my experience at QC, and I always recommend it. No course can teach creativity, but QC definitely provides the basis for developing yourself and your skills.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting out their career?

Persevere. Be passionate and enthusiastic about what you do. We are given the very unique and trusted privilege of helping people create their homes – treat it as such. Lastly, work with a set of design principles that you truly believe in, and know why you believe in them! Be yourself and realize that your creativity is distinct. Don’t be concerned with trends or “magazine rooms”. Create spaces that your clients love.

A snapshot of some of Tracy’s designs…

A cottage-style bedroom design by Tracy Black

A gorgeous ensuite by QC graduate Tracy Black

Tracy Black, owner of soulstyle, designed this family bathroom

A family room design by interior decorator Tracy Black

A kitchen design by QC Design School graduate Tracy Black

A beautiful kitchen design by Tracy Black

A neutral master bedroom by Tracy Black