lori wiles

Fabulous People: Lori Dickson Wiles

Lori Dickson Wiles is the founder of Lori Wiles Design, a Cedar Rapids-based firm known for its client-focused, collaborative designs. (And just look at this gorgeous, stately family home!) Learn about Lori Dickson Wiles…

Hometown: Milan, MO

First job: I was raised on a farm and around my father’s veterinary clinic so we worked from a very young age. I answered the clinic phone, tallied sales sheets and cleaned the equipment after my dad was finished with surgeries. It was a great education in all the things that it takes to make a small business work.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in Iowa: During our short, precious summer months, I like to paddle board at the state parks, hike and bike the scenic trails around the state. I’m also a big fan of live theater and music and love to check out the smaller venues in our area.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Creating a uniquely focused design company. We design based on understanding the person or company in a more thorough way than is typical. Working with a wide variety of clients and skilled tradespeople deepens understanding of the building process and promotes integration of design and construction. This allows the creation of remarkable projects and is very satisfying.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Lack of business knowledge. My education in interior design didn’t prepare me for being an entrepreneur in any way. I learned basic accounting from my parents’ business and educated myself (through lots of mistakes) as the business grew.

Someone who inspires you and why: Recently I’ve been reading anything I can find on the female supreme court justices. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a brilliant woman that worked diligently to change our country for the better. She overcame many obstacles and was a champion for gender equality benefiting women and men. And, she did it with great self control and humor.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Work with the people that will allow you the most varied experiences and give you the biggest opportunities to succeed or fail. You’ll learn something every day and will progress much faster than in a safe, repetitive job. 

Favorite quote: From Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am then I become who I might be.” This is all about taking the risk of learning and evolving.

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I can shoot a pretty good game of pool and can hold my own in ping-pong. Both are good skills to have growing up where formal entertainment was in short supply.

What makes someone fabulous: To me, fabulous people have the ability to be personally unique and intense while appreciating others and treating them with kindness.

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