Debbie Travis, “The Reigning Queen of Renovations,” as Regis Philbin calls her, has continued to bring fun and passion into homes and made decorating a lifestyle for everyone. She has appeared as a guest on many of the most popular talk shows throughout North America including: The Oprah Show, The Today Show, Regis and Kelly, Entertainment Tonight Canada, and many more. “Paint is her passion,” says Oprah Winfrey about Debbie. “She can do things with paint that you’ve never seen before. Travis is the master of paint and plaster.”
With such a long list of accomplishments – CEO, producer, writer, host, and designer – we chatted with Debbie to get the inside scoop on her successes.
Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and/or your business.
I’m a massive social butterfly! I have two boys and a hubby, so I guess really three boys. I am the CEO of our media and television production company as well as one of the largest celebrity brands in Canada. On the set, I’m referred to as everything from ‘Debster, Deb and hey you there!’
What television family does your own family most resemble?
There is a brilliant show in the UK called Outnumbered which is coming to the US soon. My family was very much like this…working mum…crazy kids and outnumbered parents.
How did your business begin?
I was a television producer in the UK and while I was working at the Cannes Festival, I met a Canadian bloke Hans Rosenstein, married him a few weeks later and moved to Montreal. I could not find a job in production, as I could not speak French so I began painting houses, restaurants and churches all with the latest trend from the UK – paint finishes. This led to a how-to video, which was soon picked up as a TV series and women absolutely loved it! The Painted House was the first decorating show in North America. This led to three more different series, a line of decorating books, a parenting book, Not Guilty and a home décor product line.
If you had to describe your business in less than 15 words, how would you do it?– We run a media empire specializing in lifestyle programming and brands.
What is your inspiration for your business?– My viewers and readers are my inspiration and I love hearing from them!
Describe your biggest success and how you knew that you were going to make it.
The first time I stood in front of a massive crowd and had the audience eating out of my hand and the first live radio show where the lines were suddenly blocked.
Tell us about your typical ‘work’ day.
I try to go to the gym early in the morning because if I don’t I create every excuse later in the day, but I don’t go when I am busy shooting. When I am filming we start very, very early. I am woken up by my makeup artist and friend Raquel who I verbally abuse until I get a coffee. It takes her about two hours to make me presentable. While she works on my hair and face my director arrives and we go through the day’s filming. I am then at it until early evening then we gulp down dinner while we have meetings for the next day. When I am not filming I am either sitting on a plane somewhere tossing down wine, in my office in Montreal where we create and edit shows, or at my branding studio in Toronto where my team is busy designing my line of home products. I throw in ideas, which are often ignored, as they are way more talented than me (note to entrepreneurs: hire people smarter than you!)
What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur?– Working with great talent.
And, what is the most challenging?– Juggling family life and work.
What keeps you motivated?– Seeing your kids grow and thrive and your business growing.
What is your next big goal?– I am madly excited about my venture in Tuscany. I take groups of entrepreneurs to my little corner of Tuscany where I inspire and motivate them to Dream it, Live it and Do it. It is a magical week spent in a luxury villa with amazing like-minded women. We actually just got back from a trip to Tuscany.
What is your guilty pleasure?– Wine (smile). Girlfriends and a good bottle of wine, like a vino nobile de Montepulciano. I can’t think of anything better!
Name a product that you cant live without for you or your baby?– (I was going to say wine!) My babies are pretty big now, but for me I would find it hard to live without Skype as I get to talk to my ‘babies’ everyday. It’s free so we can chat for hours wherever they are in the world.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an entrepreneur and what is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a mom?
Share the good and the bad of your day with your children. When they are part of your career journey and you explain why you may be grumpy or stressed at the end of the day because of what happened at work they realize its not their fault. Read my book, Not Guilty by Debbie Travis, about my journey as a mum, wife and career woman. Also, do what you enjoy. If you know what you like and you know what really excites you, keep looking for opportunities to get to that thing. It’s so easy getting into my business, but it’s not easy staying; it’s about always being there, being liked, being on and thinking ahead. And, finally, have a great sense of humor!
How do you stay sane while bringing up children and growing a business?– I believe you should walk away at least once a year from both your family and business. You must look after yourself. Go for a day or a week – even a few hours and do something you love. Hike, go out for drinks with a friend, visit a spa…remember “happy mummy…happy home.”
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