On one sunny, Texas Tuesday afternoon, she comes into the production area of Shop LC with her phone in one hand and handbag in the other. Dionne Ross smiles and exclaims, “Hi! You must be Michelle! I hope you didn’t wait too long.” This is my first time meeting any hosts, but immediately, I felt relieved with how welcoming she was.

“Let’s do the interview here,” she says as she leads me to an empty dressing room. Inside, there was two black leather chairs, one small table, and two large vanity desks with lights surrounding the mirror. It felt like a real Hollywood set – but it felt reassuring to see her comfortably sport a black tank top underneath a bluish-purple knitted lace loose top, black leggings, a gray pair of sports shoes, and a ponytail. She is also wearing a pair of tanzanite hoop earrings and a matching tanzanite ring. I turn and notice a Chaos by Elsie handbag on the table with a matching wallet by the mirror, and she must have noticed my stare. “Don’t worry,” she reassures me, “we are extremely comfortable around each other and leave our stuff here unattended all the time.”

We sit on the leather chairs and began to chitchat as I set up my computer for the interview. She waits patiently as I test my mic one last time, and politely reassured me when I felt flustered. Before long, we began.

I found out through social media that Dionne gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Levi, around 11 months ago. It must be tiring, but she seemed enthusiastic about it all. I ask how she does, to which she replied,

“Well, I have an excellent support system. Excellent. My parents, my family, (they are) very supportive. You know – yes there’s balance, but I also incorporate him already. (I bring him) to work. If I need to do office stuff, my coworkers are pretty used to seeing him, so he’s a regular (laughs). I’m very fortunate in terms of I have a support system and there are certain things that I used to do a lot of. I used to teach exercise classes, and I’ve been doing that for 16 years. I’ve had to decrease the number of classes I teach, so now I only teach classes 2 times a week. And now that we’re here, anywhere I go, Levi pretty much comes with me. We’re a package deal (laughs).”

She then goes on to tell me how she used to worry a lot for her child. She read some horror stories and a few too many parenting books that left her anxious and a nervous wreck and advised fellow new parents to take more time to enjoy these precious moments and less time to obsess over every little thing. Another tip for new parents?

“Stay active. Throughout my pregnancy, I taught my exercise classes the entire time…I do recommend staying active throughout the pregnancy, and then once you have the baby, just squeezing (an exercise session) in. Even if it’s just 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, do squats! Do lunges! Do yoga poses! Because you’re giving so mchauch and you’re giving so little to yourself. It’s so easy to fall into post-partum depression and I think (exercising) is a really good way to combat that because it’s just good for your body. And because you’re even more tired, you’ll feel better afterward…And now, I incorporate the baby into my workouts. I’ve done quite a few workout routines and we’ve gone on the news and promoted that little program. I really think it made a difference. I’ve lost my baby fat quick and it really helped with my energy level.”

 She asks if I had ever seen her baby’s nursery, to which I replied honestly that I haven’t. She showed off her baby’s nursery, explaining that it was meant to reflect an adventure theme.

I immediately noticed how coordinated everything was. From the green, comfortable chair to the accent walls, everything matched well together. I almost envied her gift of interior design, and began to ask her how did she plan the layout of her nursery so well,

“Here’s the thing – I love to decorate. I’m not that good at it (laughs). It’s just one of those things that you love to do because you love to do it. So, I’m going through an interesting moment for me right now. Through my single life and before I had Levi, I love the whole “the more fabulous – the better.” Now I had to simplify everything. I got baby toys everywhere so now, my house feels cluttered. So, my design approach now is a little more different. It’s a little more minimal and focuses on big, major pieces as opposed to just trinkets (everywhere). I love stuff, I love chandeliers, I love lamps, and just – stuff. I love draperies – but now maybe it’s more stuff for him to get into. More stuff to break (laughs). So, I still love interior design and I would love to be able to exercise that gift more. But, my approach is different and I totally get it now. The less, the better. So, my approach is more about picking signature pieces that you would love forever as they are investment pieces. You have a few key pieces, and that’s what you got.”

As she spoke, I noticed how excited she was to explain her process and approach to interior decorating. I’ve heard rumors that she was good at it, and her smile was infectious. I explained to her that I recently got a place I can call my own, but I’m no good with interior design. I asked the expert for some tips.

“There are a few things I can tell you. First of all, if you like bold, fun, rad stuff – I would really steer away from buying things that are trendy, like a bright, purple couch. Because, big staples like that, you need to go more classic and then you can change with pillows. You could change with the season.

I had bought a red couch when I was in college, and I loved it but it got dated very fast. So, the next time around, I bought a beige sofa but had red pillows. So, I would get a classic design on stuff you couldn’t change very often, and then you can let your personality go with stuff that is less expensive and changeable. That also goes for bedding, linen. Have a nice, classic, elegant bed and change out your pillows for the season. If you want to do bright colors for the spring and rich colors for the fall and winter, great! You should be happy with that furniture 10 years from now. The only reason why you need to replace it is because you’ve lived in it too much.

I also always recommend an accent wall. Every room in my house has some sort of accent wall. Sometimes, it’s just one wall with a pop of color. I’ve been doing a lot of things like stripes; the baby room has mountains…That’s really fun. In fact, his room was my last major project and then he was born and I don’t have the time to do anything. I really wanted to come up with an adventure theme for the nursery.  

Don’t be too matchy-matchy. The more variety, the more you can make things your own. So, Oprah’s approach always said: “Your home should always rise up to meet you.” When you come home, and you’ve worked all day, it should be a refuge for you. There are no rules – it should be a reflection of your personality. It should be a reflection of the things you love that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Sometimes, people just go (to a furniture store) and just pick out a set, but that’s so impersonal.  

It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If you buy impulsively, it will cost a lot of money. But if you know what you want and you study it, and go online and see who’s selling it, and you really research it, you can have everything you love.”

By now, I am convinced that she needed her own interior decorating show as she was so knowledgeable. It struck me how empathetic she was as she was giving me tips after tips. She understood that not everybody has an eye for decorating, and made interior decorating sound as fun as possible. When asked to describe her own style, she replied,

“My goal would be opulence. To me, I want a combination of over the top opulence and then super plush comfort. I love really good pillows. I love a really fluffy duvet cover on the bed. I don’t want a house so fancy you can’t live in it. I love a super comfortable couch, and a super comfortable bed, so yeah. 

I also like a very well-traveled look. I like to travel, and I love to collect masks from everywhere around the world. I have a wall with masks. I collect different African artifacts. I have these things called juju hats and they’re made out of chicken feathers. I like a look that looks like I’ve been all over the world.”

As she scrolls through Instagram and showcases me a few of the photos, I can’t help but notice how active she was on social media. She would point at a few comments that made her day while flipping through photo after photo. I can tell that fans really relate to her, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that made her successful at social media. When asked how a fan identifies with her, she humbly responds,

“I really don’t know. I had this conversation with another host, Katie, and she’s not very active on social media. In every post she posts, she really agonizes, (and asks herself) “should I do it? Should I do it?”

I just let people into my life. I just do. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but that’s what makes you relatable is when you are honest and you let them in on the day to day life. You don’t have to be that glamorous but, it is what it is. I’m very authentic.”

 As she spoke, she leans back, as if she was reminiscing on the good times. I’ve known that she has been with Shop LC since 2007, so she must know how Shop LC has transformed into the company it is today. I asked her, “How has the company evolved?”

Without hesitation, she says,

“Wow – there’s been so much evolution. At first, we were just jewelry and just genuine gemstones. Most of the stuff we sold was in gold. Now, our price points have come down a lot. We have “Under $10,” and introduced the whole costume jewelry. And then, I was able to work a lot with our (non-jewelry products). What I loved is that Shop LC hasn’t taken a hard stance on “what we are – we’re never going to change. (Instead), they say “this is who we are. We want feedback. We want to grow with what (the customers) need.” And so, we were able to grow and evolve according to our customers.

One thing we held true to is our Lowest Price Guarantee. We really don’t compromise quality to do that.”

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She then goes on to explain how empathetic Shop LC is. She explains the evolution of Budget Pay, one of our most popular shopping features, and why it is so important to be conscious of all of our customers.

“When we started Budget Pay, if something was under $20, we couldn’t do (Budget Pay). Now, I’ve seen us do Budget Pay on pieces as low as $10. Now, that sounds crazy, but sometimes, people are there. There are people who only have $3 but really want it. So, Shop LC gets it. Some people just don’t have it like that. You shouldn’t only spend your monthly allowance on one thing – and Shop LC figured a way to keep the prices low. Now that I’m a mom, I am conscious of every dollar I spend. Just because I have a baby doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good anymore. I now need to be more conscious (of how much I spend) and Shop LC respects that.”

The more I listened to her, the more I forgot that I was interviewing her. It struck me how wise and profound Dionne was. She would often lean in whenever I stuttered, as though to reassure me that I was doing my job properly. We began chatting about passion, our hopes, and our dreams. We even bonded that Shop LC was the start to our respective careers! She advised me on the importance of staying active – one element of my life I have yet to master. I figured now was the opportune time to ask a professional coach on advice for people who hate to exercise (like me!).

“Well – I get it. I am a huge believer in “Don’t try to change yourself. Get to know who you really are.” Most people like my sister – she hates walking at 5 in the morning, so she’s not going to keep it up. If you don’t like to do it, you won’t.

My advice for exercise is to find something you genuinely like to do. If it’s racquetball, if it’s frisbee if it’s the one time you get together with your girlfriend and you walk around the park once a week – like, it could be anything. Working out does not have to mean going to the gym, it doesn’t have to be kickboxing or something. It can be anything active. Instead of forcing yourself into doing something you had to do, take time to try different things and find something you genuinely like. I genuinely like kickboxing, and I genuinely enjoyed it so much I started to coach it. That’s what I do! If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it. There are so many times I tried doing (something I didn’t enjoy) because I told myself I had to do it, but I didn’t keep it up! If you’re not a morning person – fine! Do it in the evening! I see so many people here (at Shop LC) that goes to walk around the building during their lunch break or something.

There are so many more ways to do it – and I think you should find what you like to do and then come up with a plan that’s reasonable. If you’re not a morning person, you’re just not a morning person. Because what’s going to happen is that you miss a couple, then you miss a lot, then you give up, and say “I tried and it didn’t work for me.” If you had an evening one, then make sure you pack your clothes in your car so you don’t need to go home. That would be my piece of advice.  

If you don’t know what you like that’s active, then give yourself a month of trial. I don’t care if it’s pole-dancing class. Do something that you really like to do, if you do something that makes you feel sexy or something, do that! Do something! If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep it up. It shouldn’t be a chore.”

By this point in the interview, Kim walks in and politely grabs her bag and her wallet while apologizing for interrupting the interview. Dionne smiles and casually tells her to take her time. She then turns to smile at me, and says, “Now – where were we?” Never once did Dionne look at her phone to check the time, as though to hurry me to wrap up an interview. Whenever someone spoke to her, she would make direct eye contact with them and answers with kindness. I asked her one last question, “Do you want to give a final shout out to anyone?”

She looks back at her phone and sees a photo of Levi. She smiles, and says,

“Shout out to my family. They support everything that I do, and they’ve always been that way. I’m the kind of person that tries a thousand different things, and I think it’s important to keep trying to do things that you might love to do. So, they really support that as they roll with the punches. 

Shout out to my Shop LC – like they’re really like my family. I’m really close to my work. In terms of my work family, I feel like us hosts are not catty and really support each other. There’re other networks where I’ve heard that there are diva hosts, people that aren’t really supportive and jealous – but there’s not that here at all that I’ve felt in all my years being here. People are actually supportive.

To my followers, thank you for following me, I look forward to connecting with people. When you’re on air, you forget that it’s real people you’re talking to. So, when we can connect with them via social media, it just connects us so much better. They get to know me as a person and I get to know them as a person. And that’s really cool.” 

You can follow Dionne Ross @rossdionne and @coachdionneross on Instagram. You can also follow her on Facebook @lcdionneross.