— by Alina Ladyzhensky, Associate Director of Advancement Communications
Hope Velocette ’10 Interior Design Hero Alumni Heroes comic book style graphic with Hope's headshot
Hope Velocette’s Superpowers:
  1. Dreaming big, down to the details. I dream on behalf of and with my client through the entire process to ensure the heart of the project is not lost. Especially during technical drawing and construction phases.
  2. Finding beauty and opportunity in things that are often overlooked. I love reimagining what places and objects can be. In doing so, I can change people’s perception of what’s possible.
  3. Empathy and intuition. I listen deeply to the client and the space they plan to inhabit.

“I just said, ‘it’s now or never and I am going to figure it out as I go.’” 

That’s how Hope Velocette, a 2010 alum of Moore’s Interior Design program, describes taking the leap into founding Velocette Studio, her Philadelphia-based interior design business.

“Leaving my 15-year career to start my own business was the scariest thing I had ever done! I was born as a creative spirit and raised by a single mother of three who could barely make ends meet as an accountant,” Velocette continues. “She taught me that having a steady job was of the utmost importance. I pushed my dreams of owning a creative business aside until 2015, when I took the plunge into the unknown.”

The leap paid off. Within two weeks, Velocette Studio had its first client: the bustling Mission Taqueria restaurant, located in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. In the eight years since, Velocette has created imaginative interiors for other local eateries, including Wilder and Oyster House. Her client list also features other types of commercial spaces, such as the real estate office headquarters for Philly Home Girls and HOUWZER.

When Velocette enrolled at Moore at the age of 28, she already had years of interior design experience under her belt. 

“I had fallen into what was technically an interior design career. Initially, I was planning the visuals and merchandising for a retailer’s store openings,” she says. “I also traveled around the world, leading large teams who would physically build displays, install furniture, decorate, and style these new stores.”

In her work during this time, Velocette observed “many outside architects and designers missing the mark” as they tried to create brand-appropriate spaces”. In this, she saw a big gap that she could fill.

“My then-employer wanted to dream big without limits. Unfortunately, they were often met by architects and engineers who would start every sentence with what wasn’t possible,” she explains. “It was like each side was speaking a different language. Seeing this situation time and time again made me want to bridge the gap and create an in-house team capable of designing inspiring, innovative, and brand appropriate stores. I just needed some formal skills to make this idea a reality.”

When Velocette researched design education options, Moore was at the top of her list. In addition to upskilling the technical aspects of her work, Velocette credits Moore for its inspiring faculty, who helped build her creative self-assurance and enabled her to better see her own strengths as a designer.

“I had always been full of ideas, but these ideas were often channeled through others. I was managing teams and helping them do their best creative work. I had a tremendous amount of fear about saying anything was about me,” she says. “For women, the word ‘ego’ starts getting inserted as a way to put you in your place, especially when we ask for fair pay, position, or credit. I felt like I had been really beaten down by that. Being at Moore was a wonderful opportunity to explore who I was and build my confidence.”

After graduating from Moore, Velocette built the interior design team she had envisioned years earlier for her employer. Five years later, she had an epiphany.

“I realized I was building the company I always wanted for someone else. Although I was grateful for the lessons and opportunities, I couldn’t let my deep-down dream of owning my own business die,” she says. “It was time to be courageous and set out on a new adventure.” 

“In the beginning, I didn’t have a business plan or specific category I wanted to design for. I just took it day by day. I started with a restaurant project, then residential, then retail, then an office, then another restaurant. The clients I clicked with didn’t want an office that looked like a traditional office, and they didn’t want a chain restaurant. They wanted a space that made them feel something. They wanted an experience, and I was good at making that happen.”

Velocette’s advice for current Moore students—and for anyone who is forging their own creative path—is to become practiced at listening to your inner voice, and leading with it in every decision that you make.

“At the end of the day people want authenticity and connection. There are many interior designers out there, but only one with your voice, heart, and spirit. Let that be what makes you stand out from the rest.”