Vice president of furniture company with more than 100 locations praises interior design grad for her possession of “every skill set we need”
Whitney Pope has a lot to handle at Havertys. From starring in the furniture company’s new YouTube videos, to designing spaces, to working in both advertising and merchandising, it’s a lot of responsibility for one person. One day her boss, the Vice President of Merchandising told her “it’s like you have every skill set we need.”
“Well,” she said, “I couldn’t have done that if I hadn’t gone to Anderson.”
Pope, now based in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from Anderson University’s School of Interior Design in 2012. Havertys recruited Pope in 2013 as an in-house designer that would create and demonstrate design ideas in a series of YouTube videos aimed at customers. These videos include design “How To’s” and highlights of Havertys’s furniture collections. Since joining, she has shot 46 videos, which are now being released online.
Atlanta-based Havertys furniture company has over 100 locations across 16 states and also assists in room planning and design. Pope’s role in the company has grown since she was hired; now, she serves as Product Video Manager, the content manager for two new 3D design programs, and as part of the editorial staff for Havertys’s in-house, corporate magazine.
“My job crosses over,” says Pope. “There isn’t anybody at the company with a job quite like mine… I went to school for interior design, but we learned so much more in that program.” She is also a member of the New Urban Store Design Team, which focuses on city-based markets and incorporates digital design media such as 3D room planners featuring Havertys’s furniture.
Pope makes daily use of the Photoshop skills developed over several design courses to correct color on fabrics, create design boards for new stores, and create spaces for videos shoots. The Codes and Commercial Design classes helped prepare her for Havertys’s New Urban Store Design Team.
Classes in computer-aided design prepared Pope to help develop an upcoming 3D planning program for Havertys, which will let Havertys employees virtually design rooms for their customers. Textile classes taught her to work with the 3D fabric program Micro D, which requires knowledge about how certain fabrics lay, different pattern types, upholstery methods, and other details.
Pope says Anne Martin, dean of the School of Interior Design, stresses professionalism throughout the program.
“It’s a very intentionally rigorous program,” says Martin, who the American Society of Interior Design (ASID) named national faculty advisor of the year in 2012. “But the students who decide to come to Anderson are very dedicated.”
Pope, whose family moved around while she grew up, calls Seneca, South Carolina, home. The promise of a Bachelor of Arts degree drew Pope to Anderson. “I really wanted a liberal arts degree, not just an interior design degree,” she said.
A degree in interior design traditionally leads to a wide variety of work, ranging from jobs in architecture firms, to transportation, to both corporate and municipal work. Wherever students end up, Dean Martin assures they’ll be ready for the professional world. “Our students are engaged with professionals from their first course in Design 101,” Martin says.
Pope remembers giving presentations in front of both her peers and industry professionals for her classes. “This helped me feel confident in my knowledge and be able to present in front of many people with confidence,” she says, adding she often leads meetings that include VPs in attendance.
The rigorous program has also resulted in interior design students winning awards both statewide and nationally—like Sarah Wadding, winner of ASID’s 2013 shelter competition. The competition called on students to convert existing, vacant buildings into temporary shelters that support the health, safety, and welfare of a community impacted by natural disaster and economic hardship.
“It makes me proud to see continued success out of the AU design students,” says Pope. “I brag and recommend this program all the time. I will always look back on my time in the interior design program as one of the highlights of my life.”