2016 Leading Ladies: Leading Lady of Interior Design

Leading Lady of Interior Design
Emily Castle, Castle Design

By Melissa Mauzy
Portrait Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton
Photography by Alise O'Brien


Emily Castle established Castle Design in 2003. In addition to an associate’s degree in art and interior design from St. Louis Community College, Castle has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Washington University. Emily is NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Designer Qualification) certified, a registered interior designer in the state of Missouri and a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. At Castle Design, Emily leads a team of eight designers. Emily was the regional winner of a Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchen contest, took first place for Bath of the Year in National Kitchen+BB Magazine and has won Kitchen of the Year and Bath of the Year in SLHL. She is greatly involved with the local ASID chapter, serving as past president and membership director among other positions. Locally, she is a city of Clayton Chamber of Commerce member and past board member and involved with the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association and Central Presbyterian Church. Emily is a leading lady because she advocates to ensure St. Louis remains a hub for world-class design. 

SLHL: What gave you the inspiration to start your own business?
Emily: After working for some of the best architects and designers in St. Louis, I decided to start my own business to pursue my passion for design. My goal was to offer the highest level of expertise and service. 

SLHL: What is your biggest challenge as a business owner?
Emily: My biggest challenge as a business owner is keeping up with the demands of a rapidly growing business. It’s not just about my own work anymore, but mentoring and guiding those within my firm. It’s definitely a balance between working on the business – mentoring, improving efficiencies – and working in the business – managing my own client projects. I’m a morning person, so I begin my day early and have completed a lot of work before the rest of the staff arrives. This allows me time to not only focus on my own clients, but to continue to guide my staff with theirs. 

SLHL: What is most rewarding about owning your own business?
Emily: I take pride and satisfaction knowing that I have developed a solid reputation as a top St. Louis design firm through impeccable service, award-winning designs and the respect of our clients, as well as other members of the industry. We continuously earn repeat business and 65 percent of new business comes from referrals. I find it rewarding that my very first client is still an active client today. 

SLHL: What advice would you give someone wanting to start a business?
Emily: My advice for those wanting to start a business is to have mentors and learn from those who have successfully paved the way. It’s also important to have a vision and stick to it. Develop a brand and know what it represents. Finally, always keep an open and honest dialogue with your clients, and stand behind everything you do.