This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we are featuring mother-daughter teams around Louisville as our FACES. Today, we would like to introduce you to Kay Powell and Robin Cole of Robin’s Nest Interiors. Robin has owned her interior design store since 2012. Her mother, Kay, has worked for Robin since she launched the business, opening up and running the store while Robin meets with clients and designs. Kay never forgets a face and is a delight to chat with and for good reason — she used to be assistant director at the Pigeon Forge, TN, Department of Tourism. Coming from the land of Dollywood, and being a friend of Dolly Parton, Kay is enjoying her new role here in Louisville. Robin is also in her second career; she was formerly in health care and changed paths completely, going back to school to get her degree in design. This team is enjoying their “new” careers and success together. Welcome Kay and Robin as today’s FACES of Louisville.
You both had success in your prior careers. Tell us about your past lives.
Kay: I served as assistant director with the city of Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism for 22 years. I also was supervisor of the welcome center.
Robin: I have an MBA in business administration and worked for 10 years in the managed care industry. My last position was a national sales executive for Prudential HealthCare. I left that career to start my most rewarding one as a stay-at-home mom.
Robin, how did you end up in interior design?
In addition to being a stay-at-home mom, I also tackled updating our home. We entertained a lot, and friends would ask me to help them with their homes. Pretty soon I thought, “Hmmmm … I should get paid for this.” When we moved to Louisville 11 years ago, I ran an interior decorating consulting business out of my home while I got my associate’s degree in interior design from Sullivan University. About five years ago, I started toying with the idea of opening my own store, and the rest is history.
Kay, how did you end up working with Robin?
After I retired in 2007, I moved to Louisville to be near Robin, her husband, Tom, and my two granddaughters, Madeline and Carrie Lee. While I don’t have experience in retail sales, I have years of experience in welcoming guests, so it’s a perfect fit.
What is the best thing about working together? What has been the biggest challenge?
Kay: I love working with Robin because interior design is so interesting, and it has brought Robin and I closer. I live with one daughter, Sandy, and work with the other, Robin, so I am blessed! If I am not doing something as Robin would like, it is hard for her to tell me. I say, “Treat me like any other employee.”
Robin: I am out of the store quite a bit working on interior design projects, so it is such a comfort to me to leave the store in my mom’s hands. She is so good with customers and is very diligent — plus we just have a good time together. I like walking in the store in the morning and seeing my mom there. I do not like correcting my mom, but she is always a professional about it.
What is the secret of your success as a team?
Kay: With me taking care of the customers in the store, it frees Robin to concentrate on the design side of the business.
Robin: We have the same strong work ethic and our strengths complement each other. Mom is good at engaging people, where I tend to concentrate more on technical aspects and solving problems. I am good with numbers from my business background, but her expertise in marketing from her time in Pigeon Forge has proven invaluable.
What was your relationship like when Robin was a child?
Kay: Since Robin is my third child, I finally handled being a mother better (I think).
Robin: My mom expected a lot from my sister, my brother and me growing up, but she was also our greatest cheerleader. We did not have a lot of money, but she always made our home feel inviting and well put together.
Is your relationship different outside of work?
Kay: A little bit more casual outside of work.
Robin: We don’t talk about the store much outside of work. It’s definitely more about family outside of work. We like to have family dinners and play card games afterwards.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day or week like for you?
Kay: I usually open the store because I am a morning person, and Robin usually closes the store because she is definitely not a morning person.
Robin: My mom opens the store for me. I try to set appointments earlier in the day so I can be in the store in the afternoons. She usually leaves in the early afternoon, and I close up.
What advice do you treasure?
Kay: “It is more blessed to give than receive.” I have always tried to give more than expected.
Robin: “You have to give respect to earn respect.” I strive to treat everyone with respect, and that has served me well in both business and personal relationships.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.
Kay: Handbag. I have a huge collection.
Robin: My cheaters. Without them, I am blind as a bat!
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Kay: As I get older, I have become more of a homebody, especially since we recently bought a new home and Robin decorated it for us. Beautiful! It’s nice to have a designer in the family.
Robin: I am usually at my store, at the gym, at my church or at home. My favorite spot is sitting on our screened-in porch with my husband and our two precious labs, Twain and Mason.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Kay: I have loved movies all my life, and that love was passed on to my children, so hardly a week goes by that I am not having popcorn and a coke at a local theater. I also love going to live theater here at the Kentucky Center or Actors Theatre.
Robin: My husband, Tom, and I, along with another couple, have started a supper club. We try a new restaurant almost every Friday night. Louisville has so many great restaurants that we have lots of choices.
Are you night owls or early birds? What do you do during that quiet time?
Kay: Early bird. I study my Bible, I am an avid reader, catch up on the news on TV or answer emails.
Robin: Night owl. I usually watch television or read a book before I can go to bed. It’s my chill time.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
Robin: Probably my favorite restaurant in Louisville is Del Frisco’s, but we have tried so many good ones. For casual dining, Silver Dollar; Italian, DiFabio’s Casapela; barbecue, Feast or Momma’s; Steak, Charr’d; seafood, Selena’s; Mexican, Manny & Merle’s.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
Kay: Tom Clancy’s Commander In Chief
Robin: I love to read, but don’t have a lot of time. Plus, I literally cannot put a book down when I start it, so I can end up staying up all night to finish. I am waiting on the new John Sandford Prey novel from the Lucas Davenport series.
Lightning Round! Give us your:
- Candy or junk food splurge — Kay: Three Musketeers, Robin: Peanut M&M’s
- Guilty pleasure song — Kay: “Greenback Boogie,” Robin: Anything from The Eagles
- Tearjerker movie pick — Kay: Marley & Me, Robin: The Notebook
- Standby nail polish color — Kay: Red, Robin: Red
- Favorite cocktail — Kay: I don’t drink, Robin: Margarita
- Cartoon alter ego — Kay: I don’t have one, but if there was one for cleaning or shopping, that would be me! Robin: Robin, as in Batman and Robin
What are three of your favorite things right now besides God, family and friends?
Kay: University of Georgia football; golf — Tiger is my favorite, and now my grandson, Robert, who will play at the University of Redlands next year; TV — my favorite shows are “NCIS,” “Suits” and “Walking Dead”
Robin: I love working out, going to the movies and clothes shopping.
Thank you to Adele Reding for today’s beautiful photography.
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