Publisher: Memphis Business Journal
Rice has been a fixture in Memphis interior design for more than 30 years. She and her brother, Michael Baty, opened Chestnut Hall in 1989, making her colorful, traditional style available to the Mid-South. She earned her bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from the University of Memphis and studied at the University of Dijon, France. In addition to overseeing the majority of inventory purchasing and maintaining relationships with manufacturers throughout the country, Rice continues to design for long-time customers. She is a mother of twins, loves terriers and makes the best pimento cheese in town.
First job: I worked in customer service for the W.T. Grant Co. while attending college.
Education: I studied at the University of Dijon, France, and received my bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees from the University of Memphis.
Business philosophy: We want our customers to enjoy their shopping experience at Chestnut Hall. Our customers are also our friends, and we truly feel that when they walk through our doors, they have entered our home. We are glad to see them, and we feel that they, in turn, are happy to be in our store.
Best way to keep competitive edge: Listen to your customers, respect your customers and above all else, appreciate your customers.
Guiding principle: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Yardstick of success: At the end of the day, I like what I do, and I am pleased with the path I have chosen.
Goal yet to be achieved: I would like for Chestnut Hall to have not only a regional presence, but also a national presence.
Best business decision: Making the decision to carry quality furniture while still providing value for our customers
Worst business decision: Embracing technology at a slower pace
Toughest business decision: Severing ties with long-term vendors when their corporate focus no longer aligned with ours
Biggest missed opportunity: Not fully participating in e-commerce
Mentor: Joseph Bergmann, former senior vice president of Goldsmith’s department store
Word that best describes you: Self-reliant
Like best about job: Bringing happiness to our clients with the perfect purchase or the realization of a beautiful room
Like least about job: When a much-needed fabric or item is discontinued
Pet peeve: Laziness
Most important lesson learned: Believe in yourself and follow your passions
Person most interested in meeting: Fred Smith
Most respected competitor: Lynda Shea Designs
Three greatest passions: My family, my work and my home
First choice for a new career: I would love to study law
Favorite quote: “Ah, a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for.” — Robert Browning
Most influential book: I have been influenced by such a wide body of literature that I can’t name just one work. I especially enjoy the poetry of Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the works of regional authors such as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Willie Morris.
Favorite cause: Finding forever homes for abandoned animals
Favorite status symbol: I don’t have one
Favorite movie: “Out of Africa”
Favorite restaurant: River Oaks
Favorite vacation spot: Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France
What’s on your iPod: “Someone Like You” by Adele
Favorite way to spend free time: I enjoy reading, cooking, visiting museums and, of course, decorating!
Automobile: Mini Cooper Sport