We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Davidson of Elle Ryan Design and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
This is a great question because balance can change from day to day and year to year. In my generation, we were the second major wave of young women that were told we could have it all….career, relationships, family, friends, pretty things….they just forget to tell us that we would have to do it all too! When I was running a large department in corporate America earlier in my career, I could delegate more freely. But then when I began to work for myself 25 years ago, as you build your own brand and create a firm with your name and footprint, delegation takes on a different look and feel.
Balance? When my kids were young and I was building, it was all about my family and my work. I kept that “white knuckling act” going for many years. Then when my kids were in middle and high school, I decided to go back to school and got accepted into UCLA’s Masters in Interior Design program. Keep balancing? Then I added more to the juggling act by adding a rigorous masters level program to running a firm along with two kids, two dogs, two homes but thank goodness only one husband! That’s a lot to try and balance!
Fast forward 12-15 years, my kids are on their own (well…are kids ever on their own?! LOL) and now balance has taken on an even different aspect as I now look to choose projects that are interesting and allow for flexibility in my schedule. I can now choose to work with my best journeymen, sub-contractors and craftsmen. I can choose to collaborate with clients that appreciate my skill set and are great people. Balance today reinforces to me the fragility of life so I choose everything more wisely. I’ve worked hard for many, many years and now I am fortunate to appreciate the benefits that commitment to my craft and find the true balance which is saying yes when I want and no when I want to as well.
It isn’t easy always but today, if I want to read the Mansion section of the Wall Street Journal and have a cup of great coffee before I start going through the first round of emails of the day, I’m going to and (try!)not to feel guilty about it. That’s today’s balance for me….I say it like it’s easy to do. It’s not but I am acting as if and learning along the way!
What should our readers know about your business?
It isn’t easy to begin working for yourself and forgo a big corporate paycheck…if it was, everyone would be doing it right? But if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to do things your own way, not to really like listening to other people’s directives and have an idea how to get it done, then maybe starting your own gig is a good idea. And that’s what I thought and so I went for it! I always had a good eye, people liked my sense of space, dimension and design aesthetic and I learned the rest by doing. And that’s ALOT of learning on the job! I’m most proud that I have created a practice for over 25 years with a diverse range of projects for interesting clients in their homes, gardens & offices. There are a tremendous amount of designers out there….in Los Angeles especially and so many have a great eye too. Perhaps what sets me apart is that I don’t take myself too seriously and I’m not looking to be the person that is the social media darling of the moment or the designer to the star in People magazine that week. My clients run the gamut in terms of the level of privacy they enjoy in their lives and I respect that for them and don’t need to build my reputation on saying their names out loud. I think they appreciate that as do their friends. I’m just happy to help them all create homes and sanctuaries that they can escape to and enjoy with their families and friends.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Covid has changed the landscape in a remarkable way and sadly, so many places are closed either temporarily or for good. However, I would still show my out of town bestie all kinds of amazing areas and places in LA that included the following: Lots of hiking: Fryman, Franklin & Dixie Canyons & around the Rose Bowl too. Nurseries like Rolling Greens in Culver City and Beverly Blvd. Descanso Gardens in the spring would be lovely too.
Go downtown to: Take a LA Conservancy walking tour of downtown LA and checking out all the amazing architecture of the old buildings as well as the fantastic murals and graffiti. Catching a bite at Wexler’s Deli in Grand Central Market, visiting The Broad and maybe taking in a show at The Music Center. Wouldn’t that be an amazing day downtown!!!!
Walking on Abbott Kinney with lunch at Gjenlina and some shopping at Ruti & Fiorentini & Baker Fabric stores, furniture stores, button and trim stores…….oh my!!
Liz’s Hardware on La Brea….don’t get me started….. Dinner at Republique for a treat, more great people watching and some of the most delicious food ever!
A drive up the coast to Malibu……can we get into the Adams House for a tour? Cross the street to Cross Creek & the Lumber Yard for some people watching and window shopping? I could go on and on because I’m a native and know so much of the city and the Valley so you tell me when to stop!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have an incredibly supportive husband…Bill Davidson…that has always encouraged me to go after my dreams.
Website: elleryandesign (but don’t bother looking as it is under renovation after hackers destroyed it!)
Instagram: elleryandesign (you get a glimpse of me, my people, what I like and some projects too. My clients are pretty private folks!)
Cheryl F.W. Davidson, Talia Myers