Grad Lex Lee Puts Career on Hold as She Creates a New Online Community During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Interior Design and Chairing Styles Grad Lex Lee has enjoyed her thriving interior design career since she graduated, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. last month, she put it on pause and started an online community to connect everyone in self-isolation. “It has been a place where I share stories of my past, create merchandise for my audience, and provide a space for others in quarantine to just feel OK with not feeling OK," she said. "I can't thank FIDM enough for giving me the skills to effortlessly pivot during this global health crisis. I owe a lot of my skillset to them, and I hope this profile speaks volumes to a new generation.”
Tell us your story -- your background and path to Interior Design: Oh boy, how many words do I get? I studied Economics and Urban Planning at UCLA and graduated from there in 2011. I’ve had a passion for design all throughout my studies at UCLA, but I didn’t think I had the innate talent. In 2012, however, I was chomping at the bit working a desk job that I just HAD to see my options for design. I immediately fell in love with the FIDM LA campus and the department chair, Dina Morgan. It was a tumultuous start—coming from a very analytical background and needing to apply it to a very personal and creative major like Interior Design. I butted heads with my fellow students. I butted heads with teachers. I loved every second of it.
What continues to inspire you in the world of Interior Design, as a profession? Right now? During COVID-19? Almost nothing. But don’t let me lose you. At first I thought, well now people might appreciate putting a little more stock into where they live and prioritize making it a sanctuary. Most millennials rent and often feel like there is no point in spending money on interior upgrades. I don’t blame them. I offered 10 hours of free design consultation to landlords who would agree to not accept rent from April and May. No landlords bit. I love design and my profession, but it has been hard to find out that in a pandemic, my work is not “essential.” Again, don’t let me lose you, we are onto something here and I can’t help but credit that to FIDM.
What are you doing to stay inspired, in general, during these challenging times? So this is where the story gets a little less bleak. I fully love my design work, but I’m letting my interior design business take a pause while I build another venture: Sad Bitch Enterprises. @sadbitchenterprises on Instagram and sadbitchenterprises.com. It’s a community that started at the onset of the coronavirus here in America and a heartbreak here in San Diego (my own). Since self-isolation, it has been a place where I share stories of my past, create merchandise for my audience, and provide a space for others in quarantine to just feel ok with not feeling ok. It’s 100% beautiful because FIDM taught me to design WAY MORE than just interiors. In a week, we reached 1000 community members. I actually don’t know if that’s a good metric, but I talk to them every day!
How are you showing up for your community, your career, and yourself right now? They call me Chief Sad Bitch of Sad Bitch Enterprises, and I use this platform to show them that a pandemic is not a time to beat yourself up over productivity. As creatives, WE ALREADY DO THAT! This is a place that doesn’t glorify depression either—we simply know that the world is going to have rough spots, but we just have to keep going. I do daily live streams that go from Q&As about love or design, live readings of my Sad Bitch stories, or even candle-lit acoustic concerts. Note: I don’t sing. I had my friend @iamlinakay perform. I answer EVERY SINGLE DIRECT MESSAGE. They are often about heartbreak, depression during this pandemic, small business advice during this pandemic, substance abuse during this pandemic, and Tom Pelphrey from Ozark. My mission with Sad Bitch Enterprises is to continue to keep the feeling of a small, but global, community of men and women who just want to be themselves. My visions with Sad Bitch Enterprises is to one day provide free mental health services TO EVERYONE. How do you like that?
What brands are inspiring you right now, in terms of their response to the needs of the world during this pandemic? Ooh, excellent question. Christian Siriano 100% for stepping up to enact his version of the Defense Production Act before the president. I have about 500 corporate emails that are unread right now—I honestly don’t care what their marketing team has to tell me. Unless they have turned their factories into making masks, PPE, disinfectants…all they can do is relook at their books and see what they need to do to keep their employees safe and AT HOME.
What fond memories do you have of your FIDM experience? I miss jamming those elevators at the LA campus. We know we can’t do that anymore! I haven’t been near a person in so long! I love the swanky lobby, the drafting tables. I NEED A NEW CANVAS TOTE BAG. Seriously, what can I do to score another one of those? I loved the camaraderie that approaching deadlines gave us students. These are the human elements that are missing from a life in self-isolation. I miss the break time Red Bulls. The unexpected drop ins by Dina Morgan. I miss the accountability for excellence. Dang, now you’re going to get me to cry! I loved my time at FIDM, and I hope to see it thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Anything else you’d like to share? Yes, I have since become close with two other FIDM alumni @mikandcookiesco @ihatespencernuzzi and I encourage more inter-major interactions beyond the classroom. But that’s more a personal thing haha. OH AND FOR REAL ABOUT THE TOTE BAG.
Keep up with Lex Lee at lexlee.com, sadbitchenterprises.com, verbatummm.com, and on Instagram @lexlee and @sadbitchenterprises.