Lyani Powers, endearingly nicknamed Powerhouse, is just that. A natural-born creator, Lyani has taken her expertise in construction drafting, interior planning, furniture restoration, and carpentry to transform spaces, all while being as sensitive as possible to the environment. From HGTV to SJP (yes, that one), Powers pushes the envelope when it comes to all things design.
Define what womanhood means to you.
LP: To me womanhood is a journey: a coming to know and love your whole self. I can look back at different phases of my life and appreciate the stage I was in--the struggles I overcame, and the lessons I learned--all in getting to know myself, not who others wanted me to be, but who I am through and through. Womanhood is about accepting all the parts you love and the ones you want to develop further. It is loving yourself no matter what and learning how to love others from that place of self-love. It is attaining your balance of soft and strength.
From soup to nuts, you've created everything from man caves to office spaces, pop up shops and home interiors. Tell us your favorite part of the design process?
LP: There is a moment when you walk into a space and you see what it can be. I am most excited when I first put pen to paper and begin to translate a vision into reality. Mentally exploring all these different options is thrilling because it is a moment filled with possibility and potential, culminating into the final moment when you hand the space over and it looks the same, or better, as it did on paper.
What about your craft has given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment?
LP: I find creativity addictive and contagious. It can flow from one cup to another. I allow myself to enjoy the different processes from concept to execution but the ability to manifest a space or creative idea is where I get the most enjoyment.
"Women often see each other as competition and I think this is unfortunate. There is plenty of opportunity to collaborate instead of compete. We should inspire each other through symbiotic support."
Entrepreneurship is a sought after journey for so many folks these days. As a successful entrepreneur, what advice do you have for those looking to turn their passion into paper?
LP: Find out how to make the money: it’s not just about what you want to do, you have to find the need and fulfill it. Be open to the different places the hunt takes you. I started in fashion, then set design and now, interiors. At each step I added a layer to my creativity. But at each stage of my development I worked for myself, even if it meant bartending at night to fill the gaps until I didn’t have to. It’s the way my backbone is setup. I just knew I wouldn’t be happy working for someone else. That comes with learning a lot of hard lessons, like protecting yourself from bad clients. It's tough and it can be feast or famine, but it was not an option. Find ways to make it work. It will keep you up nights, it won't be fair. At each level of my job creation, I came in on the lowest wrung to get my foot in the door and started from the ground up. Each time it was a shorter trip to the top and I appreciated those that taught me what I needed to learn to succeed.
What do you do for self-care?
LP: Stress removal has proven to be the most important lesson I have learned. If there is a situation that is causing you strife, remove yourself from it. I have had blessings that I stayed in longer than I knew I should have, and they turned from a blessing to lesson or a curse. Ego is something else! Your health is important and stress has a greater impact on health than most want to admit to themselves. That goes for personal relationships or work. Remove toxic people and toxic situations from your life. Not all money is good money. I also believe in enjoying my life through experiences. As an entrepreneur I first set up my emergency fund account then I set up my good memories account where I invested in moments that made me happy like travel. I value it more that than material things. A jar full of seashells is more valuable to me than a designer bag because I have the memories attached to them, the feel of the day, the smell of the ocean, and who I sat in the sun with.
From a designer’s perspective, what are a few small changes one can make to give their space a face lift?
LP: Paint is the most impactful and cost effective face lift that you can do for a space. And if it's broken, fix it or throw it out! Make room for the new to come into your life. De-clutter and organize your shelves and edit down what you have on display.
In celebration of Women's History Month, what is a message you'd like to share with women?
LP: Women often see each other as competition and I think this is unfortunate. There is plenty of opportunity to collaborate instead of compete. We should inspire each other through symbiotic support. Once a healthy competition becomes malicious or envious there is a problem. My friends are my superheroes, they make me want to do better and I want to help them do their best as well.
You've touted your at-home culinary skills on the 'gram. As a culinary school vet + home cook, what dishes do enjoy cooking for your family?
LP: I believe in making healthy delicious and quick. I also love exploring ethnic flavors. Coming from a good blend of spice myself, with Southern and Puerto-Rican roots, a good flavorful bite makes me happy. About seven years ago I became gluten, dairy, and soy free and started to treat sugar as a rare and occasional indulgence. The choice had an amazing effect on my health, but I had to figure out what I was going to eat! Nobody wants boring food and I didn’t have time to cook all day long! Most convenient “healthy” ready-made products I found didn’t eliminate everything or tasted like cardboard. Bad food makes me sad (laughs). So I hit the kitchen and started mixing up different methodologies. I focus on food pairing and alkaline levels as well as maintaining an anti-inflammatory base diet. I make sure there is a high amount of raw fruits and veggies and that our animal based protein comes from a clean source. It sounds difficult, but it really isn’t. It's about making informed choices and balancing out your shopping list. I get in and out of the kitchen in 15-45 minutes and everyone is happy (including my taste buds and my body).
Lyani's next project? Paint and Plate, a blog dedicated to her love of design, cooking and eating well.