Although this week marks her national debut as the star of HGTV’s new series, Breaking Bland, local artist Mary Welch Fox Stasik has enjoyed a long and winding career trajectory leading up to this monumental moment. And it all began modestly enough.
As a kid in Knoxville, Tennessee, Fox Stasik loved to rearrange rooms and sort fabric for family and friends. It was that early intrigue and natural ability that led her to Colorado State University to pursue a four-year degree in interior design.
“Prior to hearing about that program in Fort Collins, I was always drawn to doing these kinds of things,” she said, “but I really didn’t grasp that this was something I could study or do as a job.”
After graduation, Fox Stasik initially found herself working in densely populated cities such as Denver, New York and Chicago alongside seasoned designers, gaining crucial experience that would set her up for future success. Fox Stasik then inserted herself into the fashion, fitness and music industries, frequently traveling far and wide. And she managed to meet her husband, Ryan Stasik, now bass-player for Doom Flamingo, along the way. Together the couple are currently raising two daughters on Isle of Palms, an undertaking that seems to have impacted every other aspect of her life.
“Having children grounded me and gave me a greater purpose. It also gave me the confidence to embrace my own strengths and talents,” she said. Fox Stasik further revealed that becoming a mother is what prompted her decision to follow several other family members in making the move to the Lowcountry.
For Fox Stasik, Charleston has been a spectacular place to raise a family thus far. She is certain that bringing Mary Welch Fox Design to the area has challenged her to up her game by expanding her professional palette beyond what she was previously able to offer elsewhere.
“Unlike New York or Chicago, here in the Lowcountry there are more open air spaces, taller ceilings, and a lot of older architecture that is really wonderful to work with. There has definitely been a learning curve but I have found a way to pull my [big] city aesthetic into these types of places, while at the same time honoring the original structures.”
Fortunately for her, Fox Stasik’s eclectic efforts have not gone unnoticed. After a decade of living and working in this town, and cultivating a reputation for quirkiness within the community, Fox Stasik was recently invited to showcase her already thriving operation as part of the aforementioned television series aimed at helping homeowners dream big and embrace bolder design decisions.
Interestingly, Fox Stasik said she had sensed for a long while that HGTV would make a great platform for her work but the timing was never quite right. “I just kept going on my path and living life and then somehow this all came together for me now.”
From the outside at least, this transition may look glamorous, but Fox Stasik insists that nothing about this endeavor is easy.
“This is by far the hardest I have worked in my life,” she said. “In the music business the hours can be long and intense, especially when you are setting up for large festivals. You barely get time to sleep. But at least those are for shorter spurts of time. I had to laugh when I realized that bringing this series to life was basically like me working on one six-month-long music festival.”
As it happens, each house that will be featured on Breaking Bland took, on average, about six weeks to film, and that’s not counting all the work that the production team completes on the back end. According to Fox Stasik, this initial run will highlight a diverse assortment of properties located in Mount Pleasant, James Island and downtown Charleston.
Refreshingly, in spite of the rigorous schedule and her suddenly higher profile, Fox Stasik doesn’t take herself too seriously on or off camera.
“I’m a little bit of a klutz, so, hopefully, folks will get a good laugh out of my missteps on the show. I mainly want it to be a light-hearted viewing experience that will inspire people to tap into their own artistic realities and take a closer look at whatever turns on their own design mind.”
Breaking Bland, a seven-episode HGTV series set in Charleston, will premiere Wednesday with back-to-back episodes at 9 and 9:30 p.m.