Where are the personalities of Black Home Design? This one created its own platform
How many interior design / home improvement TV personalities can you think of? Of course there are tons of them, right? But how many of them are black? If you find it hard to think of just one, you are not alone. Sadly, the truth is, it’s not at all difficult to watch home decor shows on a Saturday and not see a single black or brown face in a lead role. June 2020 Vogue UK article âInterior design has a racing problem and it needs to be solvedâ explores the glaring lack of diversity in the industry.
Texas mother of eight Tara L. Paige didn’t see black women represented in the home design media ecosystem, so she decided to create her own space.
Tara’s passion ignited as she explored options to expand her living space beyond her four walls amid orders for Covid-19 shelters in place. As she envisioned ways to raise her own backyard, she browsed online and television programs and quickly realized that African Americans were woefully under-represented among the long list of very famous hosts and experts. âImagine leafing through a book, looking for a page, and leafing frantically, but can’t find what you’re looking for,â says Paige. “I haven’t found anyone who looks like me.”
Eager to find “her tribe”, she was inspired to create the Facebook group Black women who love outdoor living spaces, a group that has grown to over 200,000 members as of April 2020. Paige describes it as a community where black women of all ages from across the country bond deeply by sharing outdoor decorations and design inspirations. For many, the group became an online family and brotherhood of black compatriots who also needed a lifeline during dark times of separation. Drawing on her personal interests and innate creativity, she decided to speak directly to communities of color, and the response has been overwhelming. During patio season, her Facebook group would get around 9 million impressions per month. Due to the significant growth, what started as a Facebook page has now turned into a full time job for Tara where she oversees a team of around 20 people as well as 26 moderators who keep the discussion going.
But Tara didn’t stop there. The community she developed on the Facebook group inspired her to launch her own brand online The Patio Chic. She describes it as a multi-channel digital content platform and inclusive lifestyle brand for people from all walks of life to find inspiration, advice and products. Indeed, this creativity maven’s frustration regarding the lack of representation of black and brown professionals in the interior design space has transformed in less than a year into an active social media community, a brand of lifestyle and a full time business.
What is the industry saying?
HGTV, a leader in this field, does not deny that there is a problem. “We should be much further ahead when it comes to developing and presenting BIPOC experts (black, native and colored) – in lead roles – on home-oriented programming,” admits the president of HGTV, Jane Latman. “We agree there is a need to be more proactive in this area, so we are hyper focused on this effort to ensure that more of our next generation programming reflects audience diversity.” Latman highlights examples that showcase the talents of BIPOC HGTV:
Â· HGTV dream house and HGTV smart home Interior designer Tiffany Brooks to headline new series $ 50K Three Ways in 2021.
Mika Kleinschmidt and her husband Brian lead incredible house constructions in 100 day dream home
Â· Go for Sold Fan favorites Jon Pierre and Mary Tjon-Joe-Pin continue fantastic home renovations and design work in new program Two steps home.
HGTV acknowledges that they have enjoyed success over the years with talent from BIPOC (including Breegan Jane, Egypt Sherrod, Ashley and Andy Williams, Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins and Kim Myles), and Latman confirms that HGTV currently has more of 30 pilots and series showcasing the talents of BIPOC in their development pipeline. âSome will be broadcast on our linear HGTV platform and others will be available to stream on discovery +,â explains Latman.
Indeed, Tara is a prime example of some of the unique challenges black women often face in achieving their dreams, either in traditional corporate spaces or as part of their own entrepreneurial pursuits. âBlack women have always been left behind,â recalls Paige. âNow our voices are finally starting to be heard, and I hope people realize that we are powerful. With leaders like Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris, our power is taken seriously and we come forward. ”
Arguably, his success is largely due to his willingness to be authentic, embracing both his culture and his racial identity. In a world that often tells black women (openly and subliminally) to assimilate and become something they are not, Tara has doubled down on authenticity. âI think I was able to develop the Facebook group and The Patio Chic by being absolutely my #blackgirlmagic, loving the outdoors, entertaining the southern beauty, listening to hardcore rap music, mountain biking, sitting by the fire drinking my wine, having fun. When you are just yourself, your tribe will come.
Tara has also taken on the responsibility that many successful black women feel: to inspire and mentor young black girls and women. She brought in black girls as interns to provide them behind-the-scenes access so they could start learning early. “I always talk about climbing the mountain to show other black women that it can be done, and I will always have a hand to pull my mates until we all feel what it’s like to be in. Mountain peak.”