Whenever Wendi Stallings, the principal at Private Label International, spots an apartment complex boasting vibrant shades of blues, reds, oranges, yellows and other eye-popping hues, she smiles.
The 20-year veteran of the design industry remembers the time when beige was all the rage. But it wasn’t for Stallings. Her response was to challenge the status quo with color.
Through Private Label, Stallings bathed projects in everything but coffee and sandy tones. When Stallings launched her Scottsdale full service interior design firm 2008, it coincided with the recession. There wasn’t a lot of new construction and people were selling their homes and moving into apartments. This created a market that focused on rehabbing complexes that were old, outdated or simply neglected.
She partnered with a client that acquired older structures and gave them a new and contemporary look. But it also created a vibe that went beyond the visual. The facelift gave neighborhoods a boost, too.
Over the years, more multi-family residences flaunted colorful facades. Stallings believed Private Label was the spark.
“We changed crime and attitudes with color. It changed the Phoenix marketplace, this profound breakup with beige,” Stallings said. “It warms my heart to see all that color all over the city.”
Ever since, Stallings has carved a successful niche in the competitive realm of interior design that specializes in developing hospitality environments and lifestyle brands for clients worldwide, spanning residential, retail and restaurants. In 2012, Stallings expanded her firm to include an office in San Francisco.
Private Label’s growth from 2018-2022 is estimated at 215%, according to Stallings.
Private Label is part of a global interior design market that was worth $150.7 billion and a U.S. market worth $40.7 billion in 2020, according Research and Markets.
Clients who want to break the mold
The ability to work with older assets and new construction has broadened Private Label’s reach. While her clients run the gamut of industries, they share a common goal of being early embracers of what’s innovative in the market even if no one else has taken that leap. Adoption of bold colors is an example.
Stallings and her team also are adept at discovering what clients want and need although they may not be able to articulate their vision.
“We click well with clients willing to stand out in the market,” Stallings said. “They are able to stay on the market longer because they are early adopters. They stand the test of time because they were invested before everyone else.”
Private Label’s award-winning portfolio includes projects in 13 states such as Envy Residences in Scottsdale, Ten01 on the Lake in Tempe and Helton Brewing’s brewery and tasting room in Phoenix.
Stallings also has partnered with The Wolff Company to design Revel Communities, luxury senior independent living communities with locations in Scottsdale, Colorado Springs, Reno and Folsom, California.
Since 2016, Wolff has collaborated with Private Label on 45 of its communities across the country. The firm reached out to Stallings when it was considering the development of Revel, said Amber Huntley-Ruiz, the VP of marketing at Wolff, a Scottsdale-based real estate private equity firm that focuses on multifamily developments.
Private Label has become Wolff’s preferred interior designer for its Instagram-worthy interior settings. Being highly creative, having experience with complicated concepts and operating like a true partner on every project are what distinguishes Private Label from the crowd, Huntley-Ruiz said.
“They are very fresh and exciting. The concepts they present to us are beautiful but also enhance the livability of our communities,” Huntley-Ruiz said. “I don’t think we’ve ever given them a challenge they haven’t risen to.”
Stallings was a vice president for an international design firm that dissolved during the recession. Many of her peers also lost their jobs in the economic collapse and she was in a prime position to select experienced team members that would become Private Label.
Changing spaces from an early age
A native of St. Louis, Stallings was 7 when she set her sights on a career as an interior designer. Several times a week, she would ask her father to move the furniture around in her bedroom.
Seeing this recurring request, Stallings’ mother measured her furniture and made a floor plan for her. Stallings then started moving the furniture herself, using her legs to push pieces around.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to change the space,” she said.
Stallings pursued her passion through high school. As a senior, a teacher in an advanced art class told her to go to a museum in Kansas City that was holding a portfolio review with art schools. Her work was positively reviewed and she was on her way.
Stallings graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and moved to Arizona in 1997.
“I love hearing that the things our clients value most about us is that we are most collaborative. They say, ‘I want to be blown away.’ For them to set the bar that high, we really have to go outside of the box,” she said. “This is what I was born to do and I love it.”
What: Private Label International
Factoid: The U.S. interior design services market was worth $40.7 billion in 2020, according to Research and Markets.
Details: 480-725-5688, privatelabelintl.com
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Scottsdale’s Private Label International focuses on vibrant design