San Francisco Fed
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San Francisco Fed

Origin Stories: Meet SF Fed’s Diverse Suppliers — Ronda Jackson, Decor Interior Design

By Jeannine Louie, Lead Sourcing Specialist, Supplier Diversity and Business Partners

The SF Fed is ramping up our commitment to supplier diversity by setting an audacious goal: increasing our annual spend on diverse suppliers from $22 million in 2020 to $30 million within the next five calendar years. This work is part of the Bank’s Framework for Change, our commitment to taking action that will result in greater racial and ethnic equity in our organization and the communities we serve.

To celebrate small, local, and diverse businesses — those owned by women, minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people — that help our communities thrive, in the coming months we’ll be sharing the stories of a few of the Bank’s diverse supplier partners. Read our first profile on Dannine Sheridan and Diana Mendoza of the Sheridan Group.

Decor Interior Design started as a boutique interior design firm and has expanded to become an award-winning design and specialty construction firm. Founder and CEO Ronda Jackson spoke with us about how Decor Interior Design got started, the growth of her company, and how she’s thinking about the future.

Jeannine: What inspired you to found your business? When and why did you start it?

Ronda: The constant battle persists between finding the time and energy to raise our children and earning a living to provide for them. The pressure, guilt, and shame of not providing a two-parent household is a tragic reality. As a single mom, I saw entrepreneurship as my way out. Building and growing Decor Interior Design is how I conquered financial strain, cured social isolation, and countered the ever-present parental guilt.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 24 years. I’m looking forward to the work ahead.

Jeannine: Is there a particular accomplishment you’re most proud of?

Ronda: My most recent accomplishment is starting an internship program called In the Mix. The program offers exposure to design and construction careers to emancipated youth, veterans, and re-entry candidates. We are here to support them as they take their next steps exploring new roles and advancing their skills.

Candidates can apply for positions at Decor. We will also assist with resources and opportunities with our industry partners. When I look back at my life, I’m grateful for all the blessings and second chances I have received. Decor is proud to be a blessing to career-challenged individuals.

Jeannine: From your perspective, how has the growth of your business impacted your community or local economy?

Ronda: As a business owner, it’s easy think about how well you’re doing based on the commas and zeros of your revenue. But when I look at a contract, I’m thinking, how many jobs does this contract create?

It takes a lot to maintain our status as a HUBZone company, which means we’re based in and hiring from an area that’s considered a historically underutilized business zone. One of the requirements for retaining our HUBZone certification is to have 35% of employees come from historically impacted zones. For us, it’s over 70%. It is very gratifying to offer meaningful employment and make an impact in the community.

In addition to being an entrepreneur, I’m an advocate for other business owners.

During the pandemic, I created a YouTube podcast, Road to Recovery. Road to Recovery’s key purpose is to promote business growth and agility, economic security and sustainability, and empowerment through business education. The show’s topics are centered around business conversations on what’s working, what companies have the capacity for, and how to financially support rebuilding your business.

So for me, it’s not just about painting pretty rooms. It’s more about how I can impact and help contribute to people having a better life.

Jeannine: Are you certified as a diverse supplier?

Ronda: A lot of us started our businesses as trades people — as painters, designers, carpenters, contractors — but not as business people. I think pursuing certification is huge growth strategy for diverse businesses.

Going through the vetting process of a third-party certification is not for the faint of heart. Diversity certification not only verifies race or gender of the owner or operator of the company, but it also validates that you meet a standard of business acumen.

The documents you need for certification are similar to ones you’ll need to provide to apply for financing or respond to RFPs. I think certification is something business owners should embrace because it clearly identifies you as meeting strategic sourcing benchmarks.

I call my certifications the “LMNOP” — between certifications for local, small, women, minority owned business, they span the alphabet!

Jeannine: How did your engagement with the San Francisco Fed begin? What impact has the partnership had on your business?

Ronda: My first introduction to the SF Fed was through the Platinum Supplier Program run by WBEC-West, a regional partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. The SF Fed was kind enough to host that year’s program. We were given a guided tour of the museum and the facilities.

I wish more corporations and clients would come back and ask their small business suppliers about the impact of their partnership. The introduction to the SF Fed — that was big. Small businesses don’t always get the opportunities to see what’s happening in institutions like the Federal Reserve. The exposure and growth opportunities — from the paperwork required to submitting a bid and following up on emails, to how we present ourselves in the field to clients — it helps you become a more professional organization.

A few years ago, we were invited to participate on a facility maintenance RFP. After several competitive bids, we were awarded a painting contract. It has been a great relationship.

Jeannine: What advice would you to give to others who are interested in starting their own business?

Ronda: Stay the course! For anybody who is starting their own business: you need to really hold tight to that “why” — to what brought you to entrepreneurship. When I started, it was about me being able to be an active parent and providing a good life for my sons. If you have that “why,” something that’ll keep you grounded, it will see you through both the successful and the challenging times.

Jeannine: Thank you so much for your time and partnership, Ronda!

Ronda Jackson is a third-generation entrepreneur, small business advocate, and the founder and CEO of Decor Interior Design, Inc., a full-service interior design and facility maintenance provider to airports, hospitals, hotels, and offices for firms like Warner Bros., U.S. Bank, and Southern California Gas. Ronda was named the 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC) — West Star and Enterprising Woman of the Year, and Decor Interior Design has been awarded Supplier of the Year by the Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council four years in a row.

Jeannine Louie is a Lead Sourcing Specialist at the SF Fed who has held supply chain roles in both the public and private sectors. Her innovative thinking and analytical approaches have enabled her to successfully develop and implement strategies to address diversity & inclusion and climate change. Jeannine received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and master’s degree from Columbia University.

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