Raili is one of those friends who no matter how long in between it takes to see each other, we fall right back into our rhythm and catch up as though no time has passed at all. We have been friends through thick and thin, and I have watched her evolve and shoot straight for the top in every field she has dipped her toe in. Interior design is definitely her calling and although she has gotten plenty of press the last few years, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Sunset, C Magazine, ModernLuxury and Dwell, you will definitely be seeing and hearing more from her this year!
Raili, it’s so hard to believe when we first met in our early 20's you were a flight attendant when you graduated college. How did you get from flight attendant to where you are now? Can you share your different careers? You are a true chameleon who does everything well!
Oh boy… well after that short stint with United Airlines I somehow talked my way into an assistant marketing position in the surf industry. That lead to pioneering sales for Roxy-Quiksilver’s “new” girls line for 8 years, and then on to V.P. of Sales for up and coming brand Paul Frank.
With a passion for cool design, I teamed up with my longtime friend Maria Barnes to launch Alice Supply Co., a line of hip housewares, which we sold in 2012 to our business partners. That was the most “dive in blindly” moment for me because we had no idea how to produce toolboxes, brooms and ping pong sets. So off to China we went to learn the hard way...visiting factories.
Fast forward to this design gig. I did not have a CLUE about interior design. In fact I could not name one designer other than my friends that did it for work. I gave our ranch remodel a go on my own and the rest was history. Being a designer was never, ever something I thought about, or even had on my top 10 goals for my life.
You have just been named Modern Luxury’s Favorite Interior Designer. Congratulations and so well deserved! How would you describe your interior design style and what you are known for?
People seem to think I have an out of the box approach to design. I suppose a bit of that is true but if I read that I would think “weird.” Having never studied design or followed anyone else’s lead, I think my projects are a bit off-the-cuff.
Do you love to work on projects from the ground up, or do you prefer the challenge of remodels?
New builds are so great. Having a say in every single detail is so rewarding, especially if the client trusts the process. However… I adore old home remodels where the character still shines through in woodworking, stonework and architectural details.
Who are your favorite architects?
Eric Olsen is the architect I work with most often. He and I have formed such a great working relationship- we can read each other’s design minds. About half of my projects are with him right now. He really makes my job so fun! I also am in awe of Nick Noyes, who I worked on the Del Mar project. He is the master of the modern Napa farmhouse plus such a good guy. They must teach good character in architecture school!
What are your favorite materials to work with?
Hmm, depends on the project. Always changing!
Who would you say is your biggest design influence?
Design coming from Australia and Ukraine is always catches my eye. Every time I see something super cool on Pinterest, I have a bet with myself on where the designer came from.
If you were to choose a style for your own new home, what would it be?
If it were here in Southern California, my DREAM is to do a Spanish modern. I have it all mapped out in my mind, but it requires lots of land around it so that’s probably not happening.
Where are some of your favorite stores or websites to source for your projects- no need to divulge trade secrets!
For lighting, I am ALL over the map.. We do so much custom from Buzzell Studios in LA, but for the more casual rooms, I am a tried and true Schoolhouse Electric groupie. I don’t think I have done a project without something from them. Locally, I love 503 Found, Juxtaposition Home, and a small vintage store called Haskell.
What is your favorite room to furnish, and why?
It changes with each project. For our Windward project, that was just featured on the home tour, I had their laundry room designed and signed off before framing was finished. I always take the living space most seriously and literally wake up in the middle of the night writing notes down about my ideas.
I love how you are able to achieve the hi/low so effortlessly. What are your tips for what is worth to spend on versus save on?
Well, I am a “thrifty” shopper because that is how I grew up, but have learned about beautiful artisans in my short time in design. So, the wow pieces might be the high, but I can always find good deals with the accent pieces, basic casegoods and rugs.
What are your favorite accessories to use?
Lighting-I love a cool fixture and treat them like accessories. But, statement art, curated collections and signage are my fave.
How many jobs are you able to work on at once?
Well, my sweet spot would be a dozen but we are way above that right now and everyone is feeling it.
How do you like social media? You have been getting such a great following and response. Do you feel like that has helped your business grow, or do you feel you are more referral based?
Love/Hate. It’s been great for business but I always think, at the end of my life, I will want ALL these hours on Instagram back to spend time with the fam, friends and doing things that really mean something.
You have an amazing family. Can you tell us about them?
I have 3 kids who are all so different. I always say, how did they all take separate roads? My daughter Calyn is such a free spirit traveling the world (right now in South East Asia) and teaching English online. Wyatt, 22, is a senior at University of Oregon and loving that college life. Insert emoji of beer.:) Rees is 15 and a freshman at Newport Harbor High School. This kid is so involved in everything...volleyball, student government and anything social.
Ryan, my husband, is the absolute love of my life. He very much anchors our entire family. He and I got married when I had two small kids and he took the role of step-dad so seriously and absolutely loved those kids like his own. I still get heart flutters when he walks in the room and we’ve been together 20 years. He is truly the reason I have been able to dive into this unknown world I knew nothing about. His support is unending! Maybe that is what I should say about going for it in life-find a partner that is super supportive. His day job is senior sales director at Vans. He is a “shoe dog” and has been in that industry forever working for Adidas, Vans, Hurley, Converse and now back to Vans.
We are so impressed with all you do…what advice would you give to women who are trying to juggle it all and feel like they can’t?
I think if people STOPPED looking outside for green lights, people could be more clear about their career path. I have to seriously give myself daily pep-talks, along with major prayer time to even get the day started. As I have gotten older, I realize that if I listen to myself and what I believe in, I do not care if I fail.
I feel the same about my design projects. I NEVER do anything that I do not love 100%... ever! If no one ever hired me again, I’d still stick to the same plan, I’d just have to find a different avenue.
RailiCA Interior Design
@artofbeingfemale on Instagram