Inspirational Women

Lisa Sandham

She graduated top of her class and was honoured with the President’s Medal in 1991. After a three month internship with a local architectural firm she was asked to join their team. Working as both a technical drafter and interior designer, Lisa gained a considerable amount of experience working on large commercial projects in the North.

Early within her career she worked within various related disciplines in the industry and found that her technical skills kept her gainfully employed for many years. She gained valuable experience detailing and preparing manufacturing drawings for several American pre-cast concrete companies located in California, Virginia and Illinois. She had the opportunity to work on various bridge projects in the San Francisco area and the Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia.”

Lisa’s journey to entrepreneurship was never premeditated. It was an employer that saw her potential, something she failed to recognize in herself at that time, “She sat me down and told me that I had to embrace the gifts I had been blessed with and that I should start my own company. In that instant I felt an awakening, fear and excitement that I would build something of my own.”  With no formal business education or mentor, Lisa looked to business books for guidance and inspiration, “The very first business book I read was “The 8 Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs” by Brent Bowers. This book described key characteristics shared by successful entrepreneurs citing true-life examples. Tenacity, leadership and endurance were a few of the characteristics I recognized in myself. For the first time I saw myself as an entrepreneur.”

In 2004 Lisa Sandham established her own practice, Lisa Sandham Interior Design and demonstrated her commitment to her profession by passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam (NCIDQ) and becoming a qualified Ontario Building Code Designer within the province of Ontario. She is one of only three Registered Interior Designers in Thunder Bay. Her unique skill set and qualifications allows Lisa to design projects from the ground up. “Many know me for the kitchens I design but that is just one aspect of what I do. I have worked on several large projects where I have designed both the interior and exterior, as well as providing fully detailed construction drawings for building permit. My philosophy dictates that a cohesive design begins the moment you walk thru the front door. All elements including furniture placement, art, millwork, ceiling detail and lighting design all contribute to a well thought out interior.”  For twelve years Lisa has gained a reputation for excellence in her field, with focus on both commercial and residential projects. Using a collaborative model she works hand-in-hand with her clients to ensure their vision is always respected. She considers herself fortunate to have a successful career in Northwestern Ontario, “I awake every morning grateful. I know that without the support of my clients and the community I would not be where I am today.”

In recent years Lisa has used her love of writing to promote design in the North. She has written several articles which have been published in Interiors and Sources Magazine and she is a regular contributor to Bayview Magazine writing on design and lifestyle. In 2015, Fine Homes, a national publication interviewed her in a series of kitchen related articles and she was contacted by a television producer asking her to audition for a new reality-based television show.

With over 25 years’ experience in the industry she firmly believes in giving back to her profession and community. Since 2008 she has been closely involved with the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO). In 2008 she served as the President of the Northern Ontario Chapter and currently sits on the Board of Management as a Director. Lisa has also found great joy in mentoring both students and intern interior designers. “I take great pride in representing our members in the North and being able to influence the direction of our profession in Ontario. It is fulfilling to mentor our younger generation. There is a need for seasoned professionals to both inspire and empower the next generation of men and women in our field. My membership with One Woman spoke to me in the same respect. The ability to give another woman an opportunity to discover the greatness within her is so incredible. We need champions within our society that work to raise others up so they may find their true potential. Throughout my career I have had the ability to recognize mentors that were put before me. They encouraged and guided without asking for anything in return. They are special souls and when you experience their kindness and generosity it inspires you to follow their example.”

The role models who have influenced her have been the women who have surrounded her throughout her life, with special emphasis on her mother. One cause that Lisa has chosen to focus on is the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “We lost our mother in 2014 to heart and kidney failure. For ten years my sister and I practically lived at the hospital. We connected with medical professionals and staff. During this time we learned a great deal about our hospital and how vital community fundraising is. We established a memorial fund in our mother’s name and contribute on special occasions as a way of remembering her. This year I created my own charitable event with the help of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. The proceeds will be put toward equipment purchases in the cardiac and renal departments. This is especially important as our hospital depends upon community support to ensure that life-saving equipment is in place to save lives. ”

Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It is a quote that Lisa holds close to her heart as it exemplifies that one person can make a difference. “As a business woman I have always believed it was my responsibility to share my gifts with others and give back to the community, whether it is local or global. The most compelling quality we all possess is the ability to connect with others in a meaningful way.”