California designer Kate Lester has been practicing luxury residential and commercial interior design for over 15 years, firstworking for some of Hollywood’s most famous designers before launching her eponymous firm in 2010. With a clientele including professional athletes, entertainment industry insiders, and the Hollywood elite, Kate has defined “livable luxury” — and coined the term Spanifornia style. Read on to find out how she got her start and what inspires her most:

MY LIGHTBULB MOMENT: 
I had decided to leave my secure design job and start my own firm. I was sitting in traffic on the 405 thinking “what in the world am I going to do?” How am I going to get clients, and really make money doing this? Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?” Then my cell phone rang. It was a friend from college calling to say he had heard I was going out on my own and it was perfect timing because he had just purchased a huge house a block from the ocean and had not a single piece of furniture. It was then and there I knew I had made the right decision and Kate Lester Interiors was born. 

I CAN’T START MY DAY UNTIL:
Smooch my daughter and talk about what we each have going on that day. It’s important to me that she sees me excited to go to work and that she knows that she can do anything she wants if she puts her mind to it. 

SUCCESS IS:
Being able to throw away half used legal pads. Ok, let me clarify… I don’t actually throw them away. We have a pile in the office where I put them and the other girls use them (because obviously they are not crazy like me). I am a meticulous note taker and I like a fresh pad of paper to keep me organized. If it gets too low it goes in the pile and I don’t even feel bad about. I love having those little moments where something like paying for office supplies used to be a struggle and now it’s not. I try to stop a lot and enjoy these often. Maybe success is being able to take a second, pat yourself on the back and take it all in – for me that’s a good start.

YOU’LL NEVER SEE ME WITHOUT:
Ripped jeans and a cute hat. I have a pretty serious hat obsession.

DREAM COLLABORATION:
Target, of course. I love how they are integrating small collections from designers and artisans and bringing great design to the masses. I literally spend hours in there anyway, so why not have my face on one of the displays?

THE ONLY CITY BETTER THAN LOS ANGELES:
The North Shore, Oahu. We travel there as a family every year and it’s a chance for everyone to unplug and recharge. That part of Oahu is considered “the country” and that’s exactly why I love it. I want my daughter to ride horses, surf, and play in the sand. No one cares what kind of car you drive or what you are wearing. It’s the anthesis of Los Angeles and I think everyone needs a little bit of that in their life sometimes. 

WHEN I FEEL UNINSPIRED:
I walk away. When you are a creative you can’t force things. If my creative juices are not flowing I take a minute and do something else completely unrelated to design. I shut down my laptop and phone and head out for a run or a spin class, or binge watch a housewives marathon. 

ADVICE I WISH I HAD 5 YEARS AGO:
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I think that is completely true. In this day and age social media makes it easy to compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty. Every person’s journey to success looks different. Embrace that and keep moving.

IN 5 YEARS, FIND ME:
On TV! I would love to share my sense of humor and lack of filter with the masses. It’s such a privilege to be doing what I love and be able to be having a blast doing it. Design is fast-paced and fun. I mean… it’s not like we’re over here curing cancer – we’re “making houses pretty” (as my toddler likes to remind me). Most design shows are kind of boring. I want to change that. 

ABOVE ALL ELSE:
Work hard and be nice to people. It really is that simple