For Ashley Peterson, owner of Blue Mist Paint & Flooring in Spartanburg, South Carolina, hosting Converse University for a design course was a full-circle moment. Growing up 20 minutes from Converse University, Peterson would tell her mom she wanted to go there for interior design school.
“Years later, I often heard that interior design and anything in the arts would never provide a career where I could be super successful, so I ended up going to a local trade school and took the route into healthcare,” Peterson says. “I became a certified dental assistant and worked 13 years before finally believing that success looks different to everyone.”
Peterson’s husband Heath encouraged her to pursue an education in design and color, and in 2022 the couple opened Blue Mist Paint & Flooring, where Peterson has been able to put her interior design education and skills to use.
Peterson received a call from Kris Burton, interior design instructor at Converse University, looking for a place that would allow the Converse University Interior Design students a place to come and learn real-world applications. Thrilled to be given the opportunity, Peterson immediately said yes and jumped at the chance to teach these students.
In one week, Peterson had a welcome sign made, decorated the store with a balloon arch in the college’s colors of purple and gold, prepared a breakfast tray to serve and put together swag bags—complete with a color kaleidoscope and color of the year nail polish—with the help of some of the store’s vendors.
On the day of the visit, Peterson says she spoke from the heart, sharing about real-world applications for design, such as being time-sensitive in a project and being budget-conscious to take into account other behind-the-scene aspects of a design project such as plumbing and electrical. Discussions also revolved around how paint and color play a role in creating different atmospheres for a client and how to utilize different flooring in different areas.
“I discussed learning to speak up for yourself and your client and not letting installers tell you something can’t be done just because they don’t want to put in the craftsmanship,” Peterson says. “I also told them my story and how my path into interior design wasn’t a straightforward route and you don’t always get to follow your dreams in the most ideal situations. When you are given a chance to learn something or help others you have to go out in faith and take them.”