“Lots of tears, lots of late nights,
lots of hard work.”
This is how Accents Fine Home Interiors and Gifts owner Laura Patterson describes the process of building her business over the past 10 years.
Patterson is a Petal native and graduate of Petal High School. Her husband, Joseph Patterson, is from Oak Grove, where they moved after they married.
Together they have one son, Sam, who is 8 years old.
Before the idea for Accents even came about, Patterson earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at The University of Southern Mississippi and worked as an emergency room nurse for 10 years.
She was an emergency room nurse at Forrest General Hospital, then at Wesley Medical Center she was a charge nurse.
Growing up, she never imagined she would be a nurse.
“I always wanted to do some kind of architecture, interior design type, but once I got to high school I decided I wanted to go into the medical field,” Patterson said.
When she got to college, she began working as a tech at a hospital and loved every aspect of it.
“I loved the adrenaline, I loved the patient care, I loved the people,” she said. “But then it was time to move on and do something different. That’s definitely where God had me in my life at that time.”
She got burned out in the nursing field and felt drawn to her original passion: interior design. She and her husband began tossing around the idea of opening a store.
“One day, he just said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Patterson said. “He said, ‘We don’t have kids yet. If it works it works, if it doesn’t you can go back to being a nurse.’ So that’s what we did. I took a big leap of faith and my husband said go for it.”
She originally planned to be a stay-at-home mom and own a small home décor shop when she and her husband were ready to have children.
Patterson cut the ribbon and kicked of her new journey in November of 2007.
“Here we are 10 years later, and I’m definitely not a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “But my son has grown up in this. He loves every aspect of it. He will decorate trees, open boxes, some days he will be behind the counter checking people out.”
Her original storefront was in the same building she is located in now, but she started out with an 1,800-square-foot store. In 2012, she moved the store next door. Accents now has approximately 6,000 square feet of sellable space.
In April 2017, she bought out Westside Studios, as the owner was ready to retire.
“She called me and said, ‘I’ve had a good time, but it’s time to go,’” Patterson said.
So her store, which began as a home décor store, transformed into something new, featuring a bridal registry and gifts.
“So that’s our newest adventure,” she said. “We brought in tabletop, fine china, new lines for bridal registry.”
Baby gifts were also brought in when the store expanded. The baby section of Accents now takes up nearly half of the sales floor, featuring a wide variety of items from jewelry to toys to books.
“We’ve got our baby registry in one area and our bridal registry in another and still have our home décor, which is our roots,” she said. “We started as a home décor store.”
In the beginning, Patterson worked closely with interior designers. However, the financial climate in 2009 did not allow for the higher end feel of the store at that time. This is when she revamped the store to bring in gifts.
By offering gifts as well as home décor, Patterson is able to appeal to more people by giving her customers a wide variety of merchandise at various price points.
Patterson said when patrons walk through the doors of her store they can expect to find items from $5 to $500.
“We sell a lot of Mississippi-made items,” Patterson said. “I have made so many friends all over the state, and as a result I have been able to bring in new, local items and lines. They will call me and tell me about something new they found that is doing well at their stores, and I will sometimes give it a try and see how it does here.”
Occasionally Patterson said she misses the nursing field, which she said has much to do with her coworkers and patients. However, she said they visit often at the store.
“One of my former bosses came into the store a while back and looked at me and said, ‘You’ve definitely found your niche,’” Patterson said.
With a background in nursing, Patterson was uncertain about where to begin with opening a business of her own. Her husband, who is a business owner as well, encouraged her to get started in early 2007.
“I kind of figured it out through trial and error,” Patterson said.
In the beginning, she debated going back to school for interior design over opening the store. But after a discussion with her father-in-law, she began piecing together a business plan and all of her ideas for the store, and Accents was born. Her father-in-law then revealed to her his plans for the building in which Accents is housed now.
“God definitely had a hand in all of this,” she said.
Patterson went to her first market in summer of 2007.
“We went and bought everything for the rest of the year,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve since learned so much. Now, I know you buy Christmas in January, not July.”
Figuring things out for herself was tricky enough, but all of that was amplified by the fact that she was attempting to open in the middle of the holiday season.
“We opened as a home décor store, so the plan was just to open with a few Christmas trees as a part of the display,” she said.
As for her strategy when attending markets, Patterson bases her choices on her own personal style and taste.
“I just go on what I like,” she said. “If I see something that I like or that excites me, then I usually get it for the store. If I like a line or an item, I decide if it would work well in the store or not.”
She said much of her inventory is based on the recommendations of her customers and employees. Her customers are important to her so she said she always tries to seek out what they come in searching for or asking about.
“Sometimes, I will go to market and see the bestsellers in a showroom, and I just don’t like it,” she said. “But sometimes I have to get past that and buy it anyway, because I always consider if my customers will like it.
“But I do go mostly on what I like and thankfully it has worked so far,” she said.
Accents is currently made up of a staff of 15 part time and full time employees, not including Patterson.
“I work a lot of late hours and busy weekends this time of year, so I take a lot of time off in the summer with my son and husband to travel. Travelling is my No. 1 hobby. I grew up doing it with my family, and it has seeped over into my adult life. I love it more than anything.”
Patterson said she is thankful that her son and husband enjoy it as much as she does. However, you can bet Patterson will not stay away from Accents for too long, as she says being present for her customers has built her business.
Nikki is the news editor at Hub City Spokes. When she is not covering the latest in the Pine Belt, Nikki can be found finalizing all the details of her upcoming wedding, including updating her own registry.