Anything can happen. And the sky’s the limit… We’re talking about when you find that one thing that brings you inner joy, and you are willing to make the changes necessary to make it part of your life.
Just ask our newest DFAD Ambassadors, Cathy Driftmier and Tara Buedding, of Madison, Wisconsin. What they thought would be a one-time community volunteer project, turned into a life-long passion, a permanent place with an international design movement, and a bold move to pursue a new career. Times two.
Three years ago, Cathy and Tara were working at the same local design firm when they heard about an opportunity to join some designers who were planning to makeover a local charity. “Tara and I thought it would be a great way to give back, so we signed up and went to our first meeting at FLOOR360, the local sponsor of DFAD Madison. When we first met with owner Bob Tobe, there were about 13 or 14 of us designers and nobody knew what to expect,” says Cathy.
It’s not uncommon for designers to come in with uncertainty about working with other designers; as we’re known for having strong opinions and take-charge personalities. But when it came to DFAD, as explains Cathy, “We agreed on the theme and color palette, and went our separate ways to design our designated areas. When we came back together to present our designs, the result was surprising. It looked as though we had all worked on it together. And it was just beautiful. “There was not one bit of competition between us,” Tara adds, “In fact, we became good friends. I can pick up the phone today and call any one of the designers if I ever needed anything. That’s unheard of in our industry.”
After witnessing the jaw-dropping responses from recipients seeing their newly designed space, both Cathy and Tara each experienced something profound. And they went straight to Bob to share their revelation. “Right then, we told him that THIS is what we want to do forever,” claims Tara. And that statement changed everything. Cathy and Tara quickly became an indelible part of DFAD Madison’s core design team, where they continue to head up key areas of the makeovers each year.
But that’s not all. Last summer brought another season of change for these ladies. Pursuing their dreams didn’t just mean giving back, it meant taking a step that would bring them greater satisfaction at work while having unlimited freedom to do what they love. Totally unplanned, Cathy gave her notice on a Friday. Tara did the same that following Monday. They were shocked to find out that they were both leaving the firm to pursue new business adventures that would fit their lifestyle, schedules and true ambitions. “It’s common to volunteer for different causes, and I’ve taken part in many over the years. If you’re lucky, you find that one thing. Well, this is MY thing. Design for a Difference has brought a higher purpose to my life and I wanted to make room for that,” reveals Cathy.
Today, Cathy is reaping the benefits of a referral-based business and as an award-winning kitchen and bath designer at Driftmier Design. A mainstay in her community, she is an active member of both NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) and NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) and is also a volunteer at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. “Now, when I meet a client, I am happy to hand them my brochure, which shares my DFAD story, because that’s who I am as a designer and as a company.”
As for Tara, being part of the Transitions experience really hit home. “When I was a young mom, I went through some really difficult times and could have used an outreach like this. It’s an honor to connect with women on this level and DFAD made me realize that I had to do more than what I was doing at my current job.”
Having dabbled in the design industry for about 14 years, Tara has followed her heart by starting a service-based home organizing business called The Happy Home Organizer. Also staying busy with referrals, she shares a little about why she’s gone in this direction. “I’ve always been drawn to the functional part of design. And organizing spaces for people is a satisfying way to do that. It’s very physical; I mean, I am sometimes cleaning out basements and making trips to Good Will. But I want to work with everyday people like myself, because what I do makes them feel good.”
There’s a lot to be said for finding that one thing. You’ll know it when you do, and like Cathy and Tara, if you embrace it, it can change your life. We are thrilled to have these two new DFAD Ambassadors join us on a national front as they continue contributing our amazing movement.
Until then, we invite to discover your one thing then become a part of something that matters. Because your one thing is all that matters.