From Heated Exchange to Flourishing Partnership
Updated: May 29
Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters, the owners of FORBES + MASTERS, an interior design firm in Atlanta, were not supposed to be business partners, let alone -- friends. You wouldn’t exactly want to team up with the person who replaced you (Monet Masters) or the person you ended up replacing (Tavia Forbes). But the two did, and it was the best decision they could’ve made.
Before we talk about the heated exchange that should’ve kept them apart, let’s learn about the women behind the brand.
Monet Masters was born in Los Angeles, CA, and moved to Houston, TX, in her early teenage years. Around her senior year in high school, she became hooked on an HGTV show called “Trading Spaces,” and so started her love for interior design. After graduating from SCAD, a nonprofit art school, Monet began her career in corporate America with a family-owned business. Although she was doing interior designing, Monet found her role to be boring, uncreative, and unhealthy. Tired of being disrespected, Monet left and went on to do small gigs for people before meeting Tavia.
Tavia Forbes grew up in Mandeville, Jamaica. She credits her dad for her interest in interior designing. He was a craftsman who owned a furniture store and always took young Tavia with him to gigs. At the time, Tavia didn’t think designing could become a career and ended up going to college for business management in NY. Her love for designing was still there, and Tavia continued to take classes like studio art. Upon graduation, her mom encouraged her to move to Atlanta and try her hand at event design.
Tavia moved but didn’t have much success. She took on a role as an operations manager for two spas and hated it. Stressful. Boring. Tavia put in her two weeks, but the company asked for a month’s notice. It was during this transition that Tavia designed a launch book party for a wedding planner and received an invite from the publicist to design her townhouse. After plenty of referrals, Tavia’s empire began to grow. She and her skills would soon be enlisted to help a company where Monet was currently assisting.
A Chance Encounter
Monet was working on her first commercial project, and it was her largest to date. She was designing a salon, a beautiful and big salon. She admits that her excitement also made her prideful and that would cost her.
As time passed, nothing was really getting done. Tensions began to rise and Monet knew she needed to act quickly, but wasn’t use to asking for help. She recalls being brought into a meeting with the owners and first-seeing Tavia. It was explained that Tavia had experience and would be there to help Monet. Monet wasn’t having it. And, Tavia wasn’t feeling Monet’s energy either. By the end of the meeting, Monet knew what was going to happen and wasn’t too shocked when she was let go.
Infuriated, Monet began to search the internet for any information on Tavia. Tavia had no website no marketing, and no social presence – but she did have glowing reviews and articles about her work. Through her research, Monet realized the two had more in common and rethought how she handled the other day’s meeting. Monet decided to call Tavia and make a peace treaty.
Tavia was both impressed by and accepting of Monet’s apology. She agreed to keep Monet in mind if she had any projects, and she describes the beginning of a work friendship forming.
Two is Better than One
When Tavia received an opportunity to design a movie executive’s office in only seven days, she immediately reached out to Monet to do a consultation. Not only did they make the impossible happen, but they also had an enjoyable time designing and decorating. After the job, Tavia returned back to NY only to be called by Monet – in need of help to design a nursery.
It was in these moments that the two realized they can do it on their own... and they did. The pair tells about their personal strengths and weaknesses and how they complement each other and allow them to oversee certain sides of the business.
From Pinterest and design magazines, the two offers advice on how to find inspiration and begin decorating a room. The pros breakdown the difference between decorating and designing, and tell how they would design a house from scratch. Notable and questionable items include trees, mirrors, a waterfall, and metals – but they’re the pros for a reason!
Listen to the full interview and get to know the two black interior designers shaking up the interior world, only on The Femtourage’s Podcast.
Shanice G. Richardson is a published, freelance digital content writer with over four years of marketing experience. She’s skilled in creating impactful, engaging stories that connect readers to popular brands and the people who run them.