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Conversations with the Inspiring Chandra Moore

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chandra Moore.

Chandra, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in the Central Valley in California. I knew at the early age of six, I always wanted to be an architect. My parents would buy Architectural Digest magazines, and I would design a variety of buildings. When I was a sophomore in high school, my professor told me that I wouldn’t be an architect, because it was a man’s field, I received a ‘B-‘ on a calculus test, and I was African American. I went home and cried that day ready to give up. I told my parents what happened, and my dad looked me in the eye and said only time can prove him wrong. In 1999, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Architecture and two years later with my Master’s in Architecture. A week before graduation, I sent that teacher an invitation to my commencement and told him thank you for not believing in me.

For the past 20 years, I have worked in amazing firms all over the world designing football stadiums, hospitals, businesses, and working with multi-family developers. In 2011, my husband and I had our first child, and I knew I had to do something different. It was unacceptable to work from home at the small firm I was at. Nor was my boss excited when I had to take the day off because my daughter had caught a cold. That is when I decided to step out on my own and I started cog-studio.

It definitely wasn’t easy. We had only been married for three years, and I was a new mom starting a business. As a third-generation entrepreneur, I knew I had the drive. I just didn’t know how to start. My father passed away in 2004, so I was relying on him to help me start, as he pursued architecture through development. In August of 2011, I spoke to my husband about starting my own firm. My husband wasn’t excited about it, but he knew I wanted to do it. After much convincing, we made a bet. If in five years, I didn’t make a substantial profit, I would go back to corporate and work at an Architecture Firm. If I went over the profit margin he gave me, then I would get five more years. My mother, (who also has entrepreneur skills) thought it was fair. She believed in my dream so much, that she sent me a small check to start. I purchased a laptop and business cards and started cog.

If you told that 32-year-old Owner, that God would bless her to be a mom of three, a wife, and a business owner with a great team of Architects and Interior Designers, I wouldn’t believe you. Now, cog is 8 years old and we are excited to enter new territory. After working with Developers for the past eight years in eleven different states, we have decided to pursue a new dream and open an office in Atlanta. We picked Atlanta for a variety of reasons. From the open arms, we received from the Atlanta Chamber and Invest Atlanta, to the fact that our largest Multi-family project is built in Sandy Springs. We are very excited to collaborate with other firms to help build Atlanta. We will not only continue to create unique environments in both states, but we will pursue our most exciting venture within the business, which is Development.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The journey has not been smooth by any means. My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and we now have three kids. So, it was tough to raise a family, a firm, and bring in finances. I spent the majority of the time ignoring the noise and staying focused on our goals. My Executive Admin would always remind everyone in the office that we didn’t have time to compare ourselves, we only had time to make our grass green.

As much as I enjoy designing with the team, I also enjoy spending my time working on the business and not so much in the business anymore. This is because I have an amazing team, so I spend the majority of my time creating the client’s vision and leaving it up to the team to execute. I would encourage every business owner to plant the seed and step out of your comfort zone. I push myself on a daily basis to expand my ideas and my knowledge. I am currently pursuing additional certifications that will allow us to expand our market.

My advice to other entrepreneurs is to run the race at your own pace. Don’t worry about everyone else, because you don’t know what type of cross they are carrying. Life is short, and you don’t have time to waste it comparing yourself to others. We are all given a task and a vision… and as long as you are pursuing the vision given, you will be successful. Yes, it is tough. Yes, it seems impossible, but I have learned to keep my eyes on the prize and I am determined to not leave this world the way I entered. We will continue to build and design great spaces for people to live, work, and play. I would also tell other women that all it takes is a dream. You just need to start. You don’t need a large loan to start, nor do you need a beautiful office. You just need to decide when you will take the step, and everything else will fall into place. Once you have reached your final destination, you will be given a new dream that is very different from the first.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into COG-STUDIO story. Tell us more about it.
COG-STUDIO is a multi-disciplinary design firm filled with Architects, Interior Designers, and now Developers. We specialize in Multi-family Development, Office Workplace, the Entertainment Sector, and Luxury Living. When we are not working in these areas, you will find us creating spaces for the kids in the community. What we are most proud of, is we have mastered how to expand on a company’s brand within a space. We have a very strategic process that celebrates the client while thinking out of the box. It is defiantly not about us, and that is something we enjoy. Our profession is very visual, and it took years to establish our niche combining a companies brand with ROI. I never create a space without ROI in mind. That is my primary goal at the end of the day. To create a safe and unique environment, with an ROI in mind. We have worked with very unique clients, from celebrities to CEOs. All of our projects are unique and they each carry a unique element within the budget given.

Our other love are the kids. We just finished a 30,000 sq.ft Recreation Center for children in Detroit. We have added so many unique elements that will enhance a child’s cognitive skills as well as they’re fine motor skills. From a STEAM Lab to a Forest Library, we were honored to receive this project from the city.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My biggest inspiration is my mother. She is an amazing woman of God. She has always taught us to reach for the stars and to stay focused. When I was growing up with my siblings, we would always say things like “We can’t” or that something is too hard. She would remind us to say “We can’t do it yet, but the day will come that we will accomplish our dreams”. She never allowed us to put negative energy in the air. My father believed in us as well and taught us to reach for our goals. I am so grateful to have two amazing parents who loved life, loved us, and just enjoyed the ride.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bre’ann White – Photographer, Jason Keen – Architecture photographer

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