Could Getting Fired Be Your Big Break? It Was For Designer Bailey Li!

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is interior designer Bailey Li.

Bailey Li

Founder, Bailey Li Interiors

My first job was working at A&W fast food restaurant in Short Hills Mall in New Jersey. Shortly thereafter I worked at Mrs. Fields Cookies. I took these jobs so I could afford the latest in fashion.

My big break came when I lost my job in corporate America and pursued my side hustle of decorating spaces full-time. I would say that was more of a “breakthrough” rather than a “big break.”

I’ve had to work hardest at facing my fears, believing in my dreams, and putting into practice all of the spiritual tools that are ultimately responsible for my peace and my success.

I never imagined that I would be an interior designer let alone one that is recognized for her work on television and in publications that I’ve admired since I was a little girl. I also never imagined I’d be hand-painting abstract murals in people’s homes or creating installations at art exhibitions. It’s all very mind blowing!

I wish I’d learned sooner to pursue my passions. In the words of the late Kobe Bryant, “To seek out things that I love and work hard at them.” I also wished I’d learned to believe in my artistic and creative abilities and to see them as a means to thriving. When I was growing up there was no real emphasis on art as a viable career. Interior design was simply a luxury that my family could not afford. Now it is a necessity that no family can afford to live without!

The only regret I have is not discovering who I truly am sooner.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent in Tulum, Mexico, at the Azulik Jungle Villa enjoying a chakra harmonization massage.

What keeps me up at night are the moments I choose to worry rather than understand the power that peace of mind possesses, when I listen to thoughts that are not aligned with my true divinity rather than meditating on gratitude and mantras that will uplift and inspire me.

When I’m struggling, I say to myself, “Dear God, please breathe bravery down my spine and don’t let me take a single breath until all my fears are suffocated.” I wrote this prayer and used it as a daily mantra  when I decided to open my own home decor boutique;  it has stuck with me ever since.

I am unapologetically fearless when it comes to designing unique spaces for my clients. Our home is our opportunity to cultivate peace and joy within our lives. I aim to provide my clients with a space that allows them to tap into their brilliance and then to step out into the world with it.


Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.