As a wide-eyed college freshman, Frances Lacefield had determined her dream Southern school, her dorm and her roommate. However, when it came time to decorate her new freshman digs, she was left with mediocre choices from big box stores. With the help of her mom, Beth Lacefield of Lacefield Designs, Frances designed dorm room decor specifically for pint-sized rooms (with extra long twin beds). Now at 26 years old, Frances has spun her freshman bedding into an established business for college kids and young professionals everywhere. Room 422 is a one-stop online shop and showroom for college bedding that can be carried from quaint freshman dorms to chic sorority houses and even first apartments. Meet Frances Lacefield, Room 422’s fearless leader and today’s FACE of the South.
How did Room 422 come to be? What void in the market did you see that you felt Room 422 could fill?
It all started the summer of 2010 as I was getting ready to head off to college at The University of Alabama. I found that the market was lacking bedding that fit the dorm room regulations: the beds are lofted for extra storage under the bed, and you cannot drill or hammer into the walls. I realized that easily accessible dorm bedding was missing from the market, so I made my own bedding with my mom. I continued to do this each summer for friends going off to college. After I graduated, I decided to take it to the next level and created Room 422. I created a headboard made of foam that velcros directly to the wall. This makes moving in and out very easy with the headboard only weighing three pounds. Our three-panel bed skirt is perfect for covering the under-bed storage. It also makes getting to that storage extra easy! Room 422 allows you to make your dorm room look good while following all the regulations.
Some might say that design, specifically textiles, is in your blood. How did your mom’s business, Lacefield Designs, inspire you to follow in her footsteps? Did she have any good advice for you when you got started, or did she let you forge your own path so to speak?
My mom is my biggest inspiration! She is hands down the most creative person that I know. She not only led me to my passion for all things creative but also taught me the importance of hard work and determination. Growing up seeing my mom own her own business made me less fearful to jump in and go for it. She had the mindset of “what do you have to lose?” She pushed me to believe in myself and follow my dreams. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her and my dad. They have been more than supportive. They pushed me to follow my heart. They taught me that if you put your mind to something and work hard, you can achieve your dreams. She encouraged me to do what I love for myself. There was no pressure from her to follow in her footsteps. She actually would not let me work for her. She didn’t want to give me the easy way out. She was always there for me but pushed me to figure things out and learn from my own mistakes.
How is Room 422 more than just a college bedding company?
We just launched full, queen and king bedding, and we are expanding outside the dorm room. We want to be there for all stages of life: first apartment, first home, first baby room, child room, vacation home, etc. One would think my sole intention is to simply sell bedding by helping women pick out a pillow and a matching bedskirt, but it is much more. My job is also encouraging them to follow their dreams, work hard, embrace change and remind them that these are the best four (or five) years of their lives, so cherish every second. Point blank, I want to contribute to why these women have the confidence to achieve anything they set their minds to because it was only a few years ago I was in their shoes.
We’re so impressed with your business skills! At 26, you are a young businesswoman, but you’re not letting your age keep you from tackling huge, amazing things. How has your age made you better at what you do? Has your age ever been a roadblock?
I think my age is actually an advantage. I created the bedding for my own dorm room. I know what is like to live in the dorm room because it was just a few years ago that I was in these girls’ shoes. I remember the feeling of both excitement and fear of leaving for college. I think being relatable creates a sense of comfort for my customers. I am also able to share my college experience to ease these fears, excite and encourage these young women at such a pivotal point in their lives. Starting a business at 22 also has its challenges. There are times that people don’t trust that a 26-year-old woman can run a business, but that just pushes me to work harder and prove them wrong.
What is your definition of a “girl boss”? What does being a boss mean to you?
Right after starting Room 422 I was gifted the book #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso from a fellow “girl boss“ mentor. I loved her definition: “Someone who is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it. As a #GIRLBOSS, you take control and accept responsibility. You’re a fighter – you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them. Sometimes you break the rules, sometimes you follow them, but always on your own terms. You know where you’re going but can’t do it without having some fun along the way. You value honesty over perfection. You ask questions. You take your life seriously, but you don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re going to take over the world, and change it in the process. You’re a badass.”
Your designs range from neutral to feminine and from bold to preppy. Tell us a little bit about your design process. Do you design with a specific customer in mind, or do you let your imagination do the work?
Our company allows customers to personalize their bedding by mixing and matching different items to their liking with both exclusive and classic designs. I try to offer a wide variety of patterns and colors in hopes that everyone can find a style they like. I design the patterns with the intent for them to all be able to mix well with each other because often times roommates will coordinate their bedding. Having several different options allows each roommate to mix and match their bedding to make it their own, but they don’t have to match each other exactly. We hope Room 422 products will allow customers to express their style. I also name each pattern after friends. They all have a meaning to me and express each friend’s personality!
What does your bedroom look like? Do you snuggle under Room 422 bedding?
My bedroom is all neutrals with fun accents from different travels. I did make my bedding, but it was before the official launch of Room 422. I’d say it is “original” Room 422. I have added accents from Room 422 in over the years!
How has dorm room style changed since you were in college? What are 2018 college freshman dreaming-up for their dorm digs?
They are much more sophisticated than my dorm room was! Girls are going all out these days. I have seen it all – from people wallpapering their entire room to putting in faux hardwood floors. Neutrals tend to be the biggest trend right now.
What advice would you give your college self? What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
Do you! I think it is important to stay true to yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t be afraid of failure. I believe in the saying, “You never know if you don’t try.” I have learned that the way you handle failure is what leads to the path of success. Always be kind and respect others. Life is all about relationships.
Excluding faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Traveling, ChapStick and cookies
Thank you, Frances, for sharing your boss babe story with us! Special thank you to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for these awesome photos of Frances at the Room 422 studio.
Read about even more inspiring Southern women in our FACES archives. Click HERE.