TOWSON, Md. — Tucked away in a corner on the first floor of the Kenilworth Mall you'll find Latoyia Smith working with her heart and her hands.
She's an antique collector and interior designer who never thought she'd end up here.
"They want to see talent. They want to see change. They want to see diversity, and so I believe that I’m being received very, very well," she said.
Picking a favorite piece is no easy task for Smith, she's surrounded by hidden treasures like a dresser she paid $15 for.
"My favorite thing to do is a dresser, I love refinishing it, painting it and making it unique because you get it and it’s kind of just brown and broken down," Smith explained.
She's a veteran who'd worked 20 years in various government agencies from the Department of the Army to the NSA.
During the pandemic she couldn’t work from home, add to that Smith's been living with lupus for seven years. With the time away, she found something that she loved.
"After COVID happened I had to reflect on what would make me happy again, what do I want to do," she said. "I started to restore old desks. I would get them from the Goodwill and then I would paint them with Ravens logos or unicorns."
That's where it started.
Then by June of last year, still in the middle of the pandemic Smith opened Lavish Furniture Flips and Interior Design.
Her inspiration to create and renovate was just what many people needed.
"They can't get furniture in. They can't afford it. People are not shipping it, so be sustainable, don't go out and buy everything, hold onto those heirlooms and create a home that is you, uniquely you," Smith said.
"You come in here and you tell me, Oh I've got this thing. It's been in my basement, my grandmother used to love it. She sat on it every day on her porch, this rocking chair. I'm like give it to me, It's going to look fantastic when I'm through with it. You're gonna love it and your gonna think about your grandmother every time you sit on it on your porch."
Her handpicked, pre-loved pieces and renovated relics bring her joy.
"I love what I do every day. I enjoy it every single day. I wouldn't change for anything. The less stress I have on me, the better I feel with my lupus," said Smith.
And with her working at her best, Smith is able to turn your old furniture into something special...into a piece that’s more than nearly new.
"I want it to be filled with positivity, with a good vibe instantly. It's not coming out of the box. You didn't get it from Amazon. You got it from me and every stroke, every swipe, it came from me," she said.