Risk taker. Home maker.
As an African-American woman, Tracy George says she has "so much experience feeling unwanted," from childhood and adulthood. So much so that she now suffers from regular bouts of imposter syndrome when faced with accomplishment.
Imposter syndrome or not, George has accomplished quite a bit in her 27 years of life, including partnering in forming the Sandy STAND UP Movement in 2020, and more recently being named a two-time Better Homes and Gardens Stylemaker.
George grew up in the Sandy area, adopted into what turned out to be an abusive family at a young age. Around her freshman year of high school, she reported her experience to law enforcement and ended up in foster care, moved around between eight or nine different homes between the ages of 15-18, before aging out of the system and experiencing homelessness until she was 19.
"It was really hard to even graduate from high school," George said. But she did. And she says looking back at her childhood experiences "really inspire and keep me going."
Over the years, George has explored several creative outlets, including photography, which still practices through her business Sunday Portraits. She's also taken initiative at times to advocate for and educate on anti-racism, as she did as a co-founder of the Sandy STAND UP Movement. Nowadays though, her main passion is homemaking and interior decor.
"I never really even saw myself being an interior decorator until I had kids," she said. "It's been important for me to create a space where they feel like they can be themselves."
Growing up without a lot of stability, George said it's big to be able to offer that to her daughters and that she also "wants to be the house all of the kids can come to."
"Being able to feel welcome in someone else's home is important," she explained. When she was experiencing homelessness, George was often either camping in Meinig Memorial Park in Sandy or going between her different friends' couches.
"Everything I do kind of ties together and it absolutely has to do with feeling welcome and like you can be yourself," George said.
George's interest in interior décor sparked while she was still living in Sandy in a little 700-square-foot house.
"It was a really small space and we had a lot of stuff," she said, explaining that one day she decided to go through it all and get rid of what didn't fit or serve her in the space. "I thrifted a lot of things."
Now, living in a much larger place in rural Clackamas County, George has enjoyed turning a very '70s style house into her family's home.
When the Georges — Tracy, James and their three daughters — found their current house, it was in need of a lot of TLC. Much of the carpeting had to go, the walls needed new paint and they utilized contact paper to refresh the fairly dated kitchen.
"I recently decided my style is modern traditional," she said. "It's a lot of thrifted and vintage items in neutral tones with pops of color. I like using the contact paper, too, because it allows me to change things up without actually renovating."
She also tends to gravitate toward baskets, old books, blue-striped stoneware and shelf décor items to create her aesthetic.
George began chronicling her interior décor adventures on Instagram in May 2020 under the username MrsTracyGeorge, and in 2021 her profile was noticed by an editor at Better Homes and Gardens and she was named one of the publications Stylemakers of the year. 2022 is the second year she's been honored with that title.
George said until she was contacted, she didn't know how people got connected to publications and companies. But, a home editor at Better Homes found her, and while her imposter syndrome told her "this isn't somewhere I belong or an accomplishment I should receive," she's now been chosen among 100-200 others in North America two years in a row.
"Once I got all of the information last year, and it sunk in, I was speechless," George said. "I didn't understand how someone like me could earn this."
One day, George hopes to take her interior décor skills outside of just her own home and become a consultant; even now she answers questions from people who reach out to her on Instagram fairly regularly.
Until then, George's husband has given her "total freedom" to do what she will with the inside of their home, and she's "proud of the payoff," and also excited to travel to New York City this fall for the Stylemaker conference, and mingle with potential sponsors and peers.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.