For Women’s History Month 2023, The Shade Room’s “She’s A Trailblazer” series celebrates women who have shattered glass ceilings and made groundbreaking contributions to creative lanes across social media. Join us to celebrate these inspiring trailblazers who empower future generations.
Bridgid Coulter Cheadle may be the longtime partner of actor Don Cheadle, but she’s far from your average “trophy wife.”
The 54-year-old – who married Cheadle in 2021 after a 28-year engagement – has never wrested on her husband’s laurels, and instead has paved her own way as a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, breaking through the corporate world’s glass ceiling as a woman of color while paving the way and creating safe spaces for Black women to thrive in their professional endeavors.
Paving The Way For Black Interior Designers And Smashing Through Glass Ceilings
Cheadle has managed to be a trailblazer in an industry where Black participants were and in many ways, still are few and far between.
According to statistics from the American Society of Interior Designers, Black designers account for less than two percent of its membership, per a 2019 report from Architectural Digest.
That has never been the story for Cheadle, who completed UCLA’s highly-regarded post-graduate Arch_ID Interior Design Program, a master’s level equivalent through extension, where she gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of design.
“One of my favorite affirmations is: ‘Be bold and trust your instincts,’” she told Shout Out LA in a 2021 profile.
“A Curious Creative, Dreamer And Activist, Mother, Wife, Philanthropist, Advocate And Serial Entrepreneur”
What exactly does Cheadle do? In her own words:
“I am a curious creative, a dreamer and activist, mother, wife, philanthropist, advocate and serial entrepreneur. I navigate a few different businesses: I am owner and principal designer of an eponymous interior design firm; a co-founder of Home+Maker, a boutique real estate developer; and also the founder and CEO of Blackbird Collective, a work and wellness community for women of color and allies to create positive change for each other and the world.”
A former actress herself, Cheadle says she left initially Hollywood after working on projects “absolutely steeped in impact and with pretty great artists,” giving her a sense of her own artistry and where that artistry could go.
As a designer, she quickly formulated her own style “that was layered, global collected, with a modern zen feel,” she told the outlet.
“Later, I found myself venturing into real estate development after grad school where many of my interior design professors were architects and encouraged me to explore the holistic concept of a building.”
Cheadle eventually graduated with distinction and quickly bought a small remodel project in Venice to see if she could build and decorate a house by herself, which she did effortlessly.
Bridgid says she approaches each venture as an artistic expression, while also providing exceptional attention to detail. For her signature textile collections, she sketches, paints and designs patterns that are often inspired by her love of travel and natural environments.
Giving Back By Creating A Co-Working Community Specifically Created For Black Women
But it’s not all about her professional and artistic journey.
Cheadle has given back to the Black community after creating the Blackbird Collective in 2019 – a co-working community specifically created for ambitious women of color with focuses on productivity, wellness, activism and community.
— blackbird Collective (@blackbird_house) December 9, 2022
“I find that my myriad experiences have distinctively prepared me to build this impact focused community space at this particular time,” she said of Blackbird Collective.
“Blackbird is a vibrant in-person and online community for professional women of color and allies where it’s safe to be yourself, speak your mind, and connect with others,” the website reads.
She also received her undergraduate degree from UCLA in Theatre, where she enjoyed the first of many careers as an actress performing on stage, film and television.
And like many working women, Cheadle is the proud mother of two who is forced to navigate her family life and professional life while finding a balance in the in-between, like most other women do.
Those interested in learning more about Cheadle’s Blackbird Collective can do so here. Physical workspace for the collective is located in Richmond, VA for those in the area.
Blackbird Collective is currently offering a one-week free trial.