At age 12, Blanche Garcia rolled up her sleeves and volunteered for nonprofit construction projects.
By the time she was 17, she was hustling to make a name for herself creating custom products and designs for her first clients.
In the years to follow, Garcia would earn her degree from Willsey Institute of Art and Interior Design, apprentice at an architectural firm in Summit, complete her LEED certification and become the director of membership for the American Society of Interior Designers — all while planning her own business.
Today, she is the principal and owner of B. Garcia Designs, a full-service interior design and home renovation firm she started in 2000 before opening a brick-and-mortar store in Montclair in 2009.
Of course, you probably would just recognize her as co-host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”
And that’s OK with Garcia.
Welcome to the life of a reality TV star in the business world, where your on-screen actions tend to define you.
It’s a tradeoff Garcia was eager to make.
Garcia, who was on one episode of “HGTV Design Star” in 2011, admits she was willing to do anything to be on TV: “I did it without pay for the exposure,” she said. “I always knew that my company needed to be featured on television in order to bring it to the next level. For designers today, it’s really the only way to build your brand … Until the public acknowledges what you do, there’s no other way to take that big leap.”
But she’ll be the first to tell you it’s not as glamorous as it appears. The travel and the time can be all-consuming.
“It’s grueling in the beginning,” she said. “You wonder what you’re doing it for. But as a designer, I want my best product out there. If that means we’re working through the night, that’s the way it has to be. We never not finish and it’s never not functional.”
Garcia had been marketing herself to television shows in 2011 when she was contacted by the producers of “Hotel Impossible.” She started as a guest designer in the second episode of its first season in 2012, but the producers liked her so much they asked her to stay on as co-host.