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Meet Isabel Dellinger-Candelaria of Earth and Images in Downtown Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Isabel Dellinger-Candelaria.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Earth and Images just celebrated 25 years in business this past May. I’ve been involved since 1999 when the original owner hired me to do her merchandising. I spent many a Sunday working for her and dreaming that one day it would be mine. In 2007 when she wanted to retire, that happened!

With the downturn in the economy that followed soon thereafter, some reinventing was necessary. Originally we were primarily a showroom that provided beautiful and unusual furnishings and accessories to the trade. Our retail business dropped as many small business owners can relate. I couldn’t just sit there and wallow so I went back to school for Interior Design, I wanted to use this downtime for a positive change. This education allowed me to fill in the gaps of history, vocabulary, and how to run an interior design business. By 2010 we added these services and it has been the most fulfilling and exciting thing we could have done. We get to have the best of both worlds- a little bit of retail and our main focus on projects which range from very simple- maybe just window treatments or some accessories to one project we currently have that is 60,000 sq. ft. and includes 2 barns, an arena, main house, guest house, bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, shooting range, observatory, and spa/salon. We really can say no job is too small or too large.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
If there is someone out there who says owning a small business is a smooth ride I sure would like to meet them! I think at Earth and Images we have experienced pretty common struggles. One of them is riding the tide of the economy. Looking back I know I spent a lot of time pretty scared, but things did always work out. We survived and by no means was it easy but it was so, so worth it. Since then we have grown into something really beautiful that is very, very fulfilling.

The other struggle that has been interesting is having growth spurts and growing our team to meet them. Originally, when I first purchased Earth and Images, it was primarily myself and my Mom, and a part time sales person. Then as we added the interior design services we had a part-time sales person who also did CAD. As we started to grow, we needed a full-time person with CAD experience and then another part-time interior design intern. This original crew was ok for that initial period but as our projects got more complicated it was necessary to hire team members with more experience. This has made all the difference in the world, and while it’s rocky navigating getting the right personalities not only for our office but to also to work with our diverse client base, it’s better to take the time to find the right fit talent wise. I’ve learned some good things to look for and I use how I want to feel working with them as my best guidance. Right now we have 2 full time junior interior designers, a full time office manager, and we are getting ready to hire another interior design assistant or junior interior designer depending on how it works out.

I wouldn’t change any of it. Meeting all challenges make us stronger and that is how we continue to grow. It’s fascinating to watch our continual transformation.

Earth and Images – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Earth and Images was founded in 1992 by Vilma Besch and in 2007 when she wanted to retire I became the lucky new owner. Originally, we were a retail store that provides beautiful and unusual furnishings and accessories. Vilma was born in Europe and had a very European design taste, one of mixing old and new. My natural approach to design aesthetics was very similar- I love using color as visual transportation which allows for patterns and textures one might not expect to come together in a beautiful way. There is also nothing better to my eye than a pop of crystal in front of an old relic. In the early days, I came up with this description “It’s the comfort of the past and the thrill of the future”. To me this basically means looking to where we have been historically and using the classical the elements that are always reliable, but bringing them forward to our current time to combine it with what is fresh and of-the-day.

In 2010, we added interior design services. This allows us to work closely with our clients and their visions of what they want their home to be for them. Because of this our portfolio is widely diverse and specific to our clients. Feedback over the years has been consistent- our work can be described and comfortable and elegant. I’m proud of that. At all times we are focused on the function and livability of the spaces, materials, and products- all the while making sure things come together visually pleasing. I think this sets us apart from other firms who are hired for a specific look. Our look is our clients look, but using our design expertise and guidance.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Our proudest moment is the recognition our very first completed new build project attracted. We were featured in a 13 page magazine spread and also included on a home tour- both through Phoenix Home and Garden. I think this was the first time it hit me of the magnitude the hard work can pay off. This was October of last year.

I also enjoy the day-to-day satisfaction of knowing we have helped to make our clients live a more beautiful and happy day-to-day life. We hear all the time that living in the environments we create for them greatly increases the way they feel about their daily activities. This makes me very happy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Julianne Moore
Rick Brazil

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