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Designing Women

Every year, the UGA Alumni Association recognizes top businesses owned by UGA graduates through the Bulldog 100 program. These outstanding businesses range from financial firms to barbecue restaurants and even interior design companies.

This year, Women of UGA Council Member Amber Gizzi (BSFCS ’14) from Pineapple House Interiors in Atlanta and Charlotte Lucas (BSFCS ’05), owner of Charlotte Lucas Interior Design in Charlotte, NC made the list.

We had the opportunity to talk with Charlotte and Amber about their time at UGA and their experiences with Bulldog 100.

Charlotte and Amber both graduated from the furnishings and interiors program in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS). They described the program as influential to their development as interior designers and as business owners.

“They required summer internships so I was really able to kind of get my feet wet for two summers in between school,” said Charlotte. “That really helped me to understand and get some experience.”

Charlotte’s company, which specializes in “providing perfectly proportioned rooms and one-of-a-kind, customized designs,” made the Bulldog 100 list for the second time this year, coming in at spot number 15. Her company placed fourth on the list last year and was the first time a graduate from Family and Consumer Science made it in the top 10.

Charlote Lucas design

A nook designed by Charlotte Lucas Interiors

“I was so thrilled and so excited to be included and so excited to have a connection back to Georgia again,” Charlotte said. “It makes me proud that I have grown my business the way I have and that I am being recognized by my school. I think that just being on it is a thrill and an honor.”

Amber, whose business Pineapple House Interiors made the 2018 list at number 56, shares that sentiment.

“I was so excited and proud when I found out we made the Bulldog 100 list,” said Amber. “We work really hard, so it felt good to get some recognition and validation amongst impressive peers. Being honored by UGA feels like something I love loving me back. I want to make my school proud and represent it the best I can.”

Amber Gizzi design

A living space designed by Amber and her team at Pineapple House Interiors

Pineapple House Interiors works globally on projects ranging from decorating, to renovations, to new construction. Amber credits her UGA education with preparing her to take on a partner role at such a young age. Still, she says nothing beats real world experience.

“School gave me a great foundation in design, but I couldn’t have told you where to buy a sofa when I graduated, let alone pulled together a cohesive design plan,” said Amber. “Even if your goal is to eventually start your own company, you need to go work for an experienced designer or business owner first.”

Nominations for the 2019 Bulldog 100 are open through May 31, 2018.

 

DeRetta Cole Rhodes helps women get to the C-Suite

This post was contributed by Bridgette Burton (ABJ ’11, AB ’11), marketing and communications chair for the Black Alumni Leadership Council.

DeRetta Cole Rhodes (BS ’92, PHD ’10), who is past president of the College of Family & Consumer Sciences Alumni Association, delivered a talk at the TEDxUGA event on March 22. Rhodes, who is the chief human resource officer for YMCA of Metro Atlanta, gave a talk titled “From Survive to Thrive: Women of Color in Corporate Leadership.” Prior to joining the YMCA, she held leadership positions at FirstData, Turner Broadcasting, Ernst & Young and ADP.

Rhodes spoke about her experience navigating the corporate ranks as a woman of color. Only 4 percent of C-Suite positions are held by women of color, and Rhodes has dedicated her work to increasing that number. In her TEDx Talk, which is linked below, she talks about giving a voice to underrepresented groups, the importance of mentorship and fighting for equity–from earning her Ph.D. to rising to her current position.

We caught up with Rhodes and asked her a few questions about her favorite things about the University of Georgia.

What made you decide to come to school at the University of Georgia? 

I was excited about UGA and the opportunities. UGA was my first choice.

What was your favorite class at Georgia?

Business Law taught by President Morehead

How did you get involved with the Alumni Association? 

I have always wanted to be connected to UGA, even after graduation and the best way for me to stay connected was to be a part of the Alumni Association.

Describe Athens in three words.  

Quaint, fun, great restaurants (perfect for a foodie)

Describe UGA in three words. 

Inspiring, Insightful, education – continuous learning

What was your most memorable college experience? 

The friendship and relationships that I made while I was there

What do you know for sure?

I know for sure I don’t know everything.

What will you never understand?  

So many things I am still trying to understand, hence the importance of education and what you continue to gain from UGA – continuous learning.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors and recent graduates?

Don’t quit and persevere.