Who is Alex Sanchez?

Alex Sanchez entered my life about six weeks ago when we all were introduced to him on Design Star, but he's been in the business and working hard to create a name for himself for years in the DC area. He's proven himself to be generous, kind and adorable on the show, but does he have what it takes to become HGTV's next Design Star? Only time will tell. For now, I'm proud to give you my most recent interview where we get a chance to learn what's behind that warm smile and how his journey has landed him on such a stressful reality show. 

1.  We were introduced to you on the HGTV show, Design Star, but can you give us a bit of background on who you were up until you joined the show? Are you a professional designer, an architect or simply a design enthusisast and what kind of education do you have in your field?

"HGTV gave me the call to let me know I was going to be on Design Star a month prior to my first anniversary of opening my Design company, Renaissance Design ( I named my business Renaissance because I was known as the Renaissance man in DC. I made my name for myself in the world of design, photography and creative writing. I found a niche in the design world that catered to young professionals and small spaces. When I got accepted to be on the show it was tough decision because my business had just really began to take off and I had to put a lot of clients on hold."

2. Where did you grow up and where has life taken you so far? When did you know you wanted to work in the interior design industry?

"I grew up In St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. I spent my days in elementary school running home to watch design shows. I have always been obsessed with design, construction and architecture. I moved to North Carolina to attend college pursuing a degree in Architectural Engineering. I have always studied and loved design but it wasn't until a couple years ago that I thought of it as a profession. I worked 2 years after college in construction and realized that it wasn't for me. I needed creativity! So after a couple years of soul searching, I came back to my long time love of residential design."

3. Tell us who and or what you are influenced by. Is it the high profile designers or have you found influence in your own surroundings? Are there particular magazines that you look forward to perusing each month?

"I am more influenced by people and destinations than anything else. My designs are more a lifestyle and reflection than anything else. So all artists such as painters, musicians and writers inspire my designs. Being an island boy, I am also very inspired by nature and my goal is to create a feeling, more so than just a pretty room."

4. Before you joined Design Star would you have considered yourself successful in the design field? How do you measure success?
"18 months before I joined Design Star I was working a lot of odd jobs including one as a design assistant and wandering all over the US trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do for a living. I was a Summa Cum Laude graduate from one of the top engineering schools in the country for Architectural engineering. I had left the prison cell of corporate America and was determined to figure out what my passion was. Within that 18-month time, I opened up my design company after months of taking on (almost free) projects to build my portfolio and experience. I worked 14+ days to work side jobs and develop my business. I went from only having $.37 left in my pocket to being a known name in DC as the "young professionals" designer. By no way was I rich or infamous when I got the call to be on the show, but I was by all of my standards, successful. I was in a place of tremendous potential, and growth through all odds. My friends thought I was crazy, and there were many days that I thought they were right. But I stuck to the field that I loved and created a place for myself in an industry that was not receptive. And that fact that I was even being considered to be on the show was evidence of a successful design career, regardless of the short period of time."

5. Had you watched the previous seasons of Design Star or any other similar shows? What were your thoughts and did you have a favorite?
"I actually watched all the previous seasons. I was really impressed with Dan from Season 4. After competing on the show, I was even more impressed knowing the confines he had to work with-in."

 6. When did you decide to try out for the show? How did you find the information you needed to apply? What was the process like and how long did it take? Tell us how you found out you made the cut and how you felt.

"I had just started my interior design business and working around the clock to build it up. I have been a fan of the show so I was watching the show last year and talking to my cousin on the phone. And it just hit me and I told her "I am going to be on this show next year". And from then, that was my goal. They announced when they started taking tape submissions on HGTV and I made and submitted my video and portfolio. 
The process was long. There were a lot of hosting tapes to be made, interviews, and crossing your fingers. A few months after I applied and went thru interviews, I learned that I was a finalist. It was strange because it didn't really hit me until the cameras started rolling. I didn't want to celebrate until I knew it was for real." 

7. What concerns did you have about joining the show? What information were you given before hand? For example, were you told what paint company you'd be using, what stores you'd be shopping and/or what power tools would be available to you? Were you able to take personal journals/look books/or other inspiration notes with you?

"Of course I was concerned about being on a reality show. I knew that there would be a lot of taping but not everything can be shown. I am not naive to the fact that ratings are going to be a driving factor in what angle the show takes, so the unknown and lack of control was terrifying. 
We didn't know what the challenges were going to be, where we would be working, who we were competing against or any of the resources we would have in advance. They were adamant about not having journals, notebooks and other inspirational materials that could give us an unfair advantage over our competitors."

8. So, the first episode is shot...was the challenge and filming what you anticipated? How long do you have for each challenge and how long before the next one begins? On a scale of one to ten, what would you say your stress level is during the challenges?
"I went into the experience with an open mind. I really didn't try to figure out the process... But I was taken aback when it was "nice to meet you, here's your challenge, get to work!" all in the same breath. And it never stopped after that. It's 12+ hour work days and a (sort-of) break day between challenges (unless you had to go to elimination)

Getting used to the cameras and operating around them was strange at first, but the hectic environment made them disappear quickly. The stress level is thru the roof. Maybe about a 9! It's fast-paced, a completely foreign environment, working with strangers, and praying you don't choke and fall flat on your face... Oh, and don't forget to look good on TV!"

9. Budget isn't discussed for the challenges. Did the budget change with each challenge and do you feel that it was similar to the kinds of budgets you are used to dealing with with your own clients?

"The budget changed based on each challenge.  On some we were given store credits, but mostly it was a modest budget for what we were trying to accomplish. In real life when given a modest budget, you at least have time to find bargains and alternatives. On this show, you only have a few hours to shop from select stores. It's completely different than how I would ever design a space, but that's why it's called a challenge right!?"

10. How has the feedback concerning the episodes so far affected you and has it been positive or negative in general? Do you feel like we've seen an accurate representation of who you are and your work? If not, how are you different?

"I don't read the reviews or about the show. I know there are negative things out there and I am not interested in it. But the feedback that I have gotten from the public and from friends have been amazing. The show has really giving me a platform to encourage others to pursue their dreams and break stereotypes. There is not one week that passes by that I don't have a message from someone who tells me that just me being on the show has encouraged them to pursue their passions. The people back home in the Virgin Islands, the people in DC, at my school in North Carolina A&T have been nothing short of amazing. They have continuously supported me throughout the show. 

There is only so much that can fit into an hour long show, so I am sure that all the designers would wish their story was told more in depth. So even if I may not feel that my "character" or design skills are fully portrayed, it has been a great experience."

 11. Do you think group challenges allow for individual designers to shine? Has this experience changed how you work within a group setting?

"I personally was not a fan of the group challenges-I work better as an individual. I did however pick up a few things here and there from my fellow cast mates. I usually am ok with collaborating, but only when we are working toward a common goal. Because in most challenges we all had separate inspirations and an individual desire to win, it was not an ideal working situation. But with challenges comes growth and I am better equipped to handle conflict in group design." 

12. If you were the one selected as the winner of this season, what kind of show could we look forward to on HGTV? What would be your concept? Is hosting a tv show scary to you or exciting?

"My show would be one catered to urban bachelor and bachelorettes. I would be focused on taking the young professional and creating a space for them that reflects their style, social habits and most importantly their ambitions. 
Hosting a show is very exciting to me. I am sure there is a lot that has to be learned, but I am sure the rush more than makes up for it.
13. Can you tell the readers something that might surprise them to hear about you?

"Most people who know me think I am crazy. Most times I am bouncing off the walls and very random. But when I get in tense, crazy situations, I tend to get very calm. And I think you mainly only got to see the quiet side of me on screen."

14. How can people contact you if they're interested in working with you?

"Anyone can contact me thru my Website: They can view my work as well as fill out the contact sheet."

I want to thank you so very much, Alex, for taking the time to let us get to know you and the Design Star process a bit better. 
We'd love to hear what you think in the coming weeks, so feel free to drop in anytime! 

Now get out there and enjoy your weekend everyone!


Carla said...

Good interview! Sad to see him go last night. Still think the show isn't worth watching with the new format but now that were down to the final four maybe we'll get an individual challenge now!

Anonymous said...

Great interview ~~ always nice to see what they experienced ~~ glad to know that he also found the group challenges stifling. Sounds like he'll only go up from here ~~

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