Colleen Waguespack - Owner/Founder of Colleen Waguespack Interiors and Fig & Dove
Shortly after Colleen Waguespack and her husband, Stephen, moved back to Louisiana, their son Christopher was diagnosed with autism. With services for Christopher spread across town, Waguespack saw firsthand the need for a one-stop-shop for coordinated care. The Baton Rouge mother became inspired to help ensure community children with autism each had equal access to care.
Now the vice chair for the Emerge Foundation, her long-term vision for Emerge has grown to open centers across Louisiana.
"The impact of autism is the exact same everywhere," Waguespack says. "There's not one community that's impacted more than the next community. If we can fill a building with that many children in Baton Rouge, you can do the same in Shreveport, Monroe, New Orleans and Alexandria."
Her work with the Emerge Center and its capital campaign for a new school inspired her to risk striking out on her own and starting her own business. In search of more flexibility in her professional and personal life, Waguespack left the world of corporate interiors to start her own residential interior design company - Colleen Waguespack Interiors.
"When you meet people who can write a check, who can buy a wing of a building or donate a classroom or what-not, the common thread is they all have their own business," Waguespack explains. "At that point as an interior designer, I can buy the table at an event but I can't have a classroom. I decided to start my own business in hopes that one day I'll be able to give back bigger."
The New Orleans native was destined for a career in interior design. She's been an artistic entrepreneur since childhood, and jokes that at sleepovers as a young girl she would spend most of the night reorganizing her host's bedroom.
After graduating from LSU, Waguespack landed a high-end corporate interior job that brought her to Washington D.C., where she honed her skills for the first decade of her career.
Along with nurturing her company, she's continued to expand her Christmas accessories brand. Launched in 2015, Fig & Dove has grown from a direct-to-consumer line of Christmas home decor to being stocked in stores such as Neiman Marcus. Waguespack is working on collaborating with larger labels for future expansion with the aim of creating a national lifestyle brand.
Between all of her obligations, she admits she's stretched pretty thin. She wakes up promptly before the sun rises to get a head start on that day's work before the kids wake up, and she often opens her laptop in the evening - well after the sun is set and her kids are in bed - to tie up loose ends from the day. She credits her 14 years at the all-girls Academy of Sacred Heart in New Orleans and her all-female staff for helping her stay flexible.
"There's some women finding themselves wanting to integrate into a man's world," Waguespack says, "and I'm actually a woman who's very comfortable working with women."