At EntreArchitect, you’re encouraged to share your knowledge. When we share with other architects, we all benefit. We are able to learn from one another and the profession will grow. One of the goals of EntreArchitect is to provide a platform for other entrepreneur architects to share their stories. After 162 episodes, we think we’ve succeeded with that goal.
Join us for a new series called The Entrepreneur Architect, where each guest has the opportunity to share their story and answer some questions that will provide value to each of you.
This week on EntreArchitect podcast, The Entrepreneur Architect Series featuring Michele Grace Hottel.
Michele has been practicing architecture at her own firm, Michele Grace Hottel Architects, since 1994 and is licensed in California and Texas. She is a commissioner and subject matter expert for California Architects board and the City of La Mesa planning commissioner. As an active member of the #ArchiTalk blog series, you can read her blog “I’ve never met a woman architect before…“, about the trials and tribulations of being a woman architect, wife and mother.
Michele has loved drawing since she was very young. During a kindergarten testing process, she was asked to draw a picture of a person. She chose to draw a picture of her tester, to his amusement, and they let her in. Growing up outside of Pittsburgh where everyone had art and music in school, Michele was invited with a group of students to be a part of a weekend art group with her art teacher. From then on, she was encouraged by her artistic talents.
Later in her schooling, the switch was made from girls taking home-ec and the boys taking woodworking to a more inclusive environment, Michele was able to take woodworking which included a drafting class. Throughout high school, she continued with art classes at the Art Institute, architectural drafting, and took classes at a technical school for mechanical drafting and design technology.
Her family then moved to California and after transferring to Cal Poly Pamona for a few years, she was able to go abroad to Denmark for a year for the cost of in-state tuition. After her degree, she worked in Santa Monica for a few years, worked for her stepdad for a few years and spent time on various projects, including a Metropolitan Community Church, an AIDS memorial wall, affordable housing in Santa Monica, and high-end custom residential work for people in the entertainment industry.
After having her daughter and thinking about the work/family balance, she wondered if she would be able to practice architecture in the traditional sense. She decided to do a few projects a year and has been doing that ever since.
The Entrepreneur Architect Questions
What is one big goal you’ve achieved in your career and how did you get there?
Michele’s biggest goal she’s achieved is getting licensed. When Michele was going through this process, it was only available to be taken once a year and she took them all at once. Despite people telling her that she wouldn’t pass on the first round, she studied hard and passed on her first take.
What is one struggle you experienced and how did you overcome it?
Michele never passed college algebra. Though she tried to take it last year, she found it much more difficult to do at this point in her career.
Additionally, she’s worked hard to be an architect and a stay at home mom. When she was in LA after having her daughter, she can remember being at her opening and someone telling her they could never be a part time architect. Though it took her a while to be confident in that, she’s received more acceptance from the profession and from herself.
Have you had an “aha” moment? How did you turn it into success for your career?
When Michele’s youngest was three, she had a project she was really excited about: a Point Loma home on a hillside with glass everywhere. This was a chance for her to show that she was on her own and was able to do the job well.
What’s one thing that has you most excited about your business today?
It’s exciting to have a lot of work! Michele loves doing projects that she’s excited about design-wise as well, right now she has a project where the clients want modern architecture and she’s been challenged with building restrictions.
At what age did you decide to become an architect? 12 years old.
Other than architecture, what makes you happy? My family.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? No one in her family ever told her she couldn’t be an architect, her whole family was always supportive of her.
What’s one personal habit that contributes to your success? Besides coffee in the morning and coffee several times throughout the day, Michele is very self-sufficient and loves others intensely.
What’s an app or resource you’d recommend? EntreArchitect of course! Also, #ArchiTalks (Go to any social media platform and search #ArchiTalks to learn more.).
What book would you recommend and why? A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander.
What’s a quick piece of advice? Be real. Be yourself. Be empathetic.
What is the one thing that small firm architects can do today to build a better business tomorrow?
“Blogging. I’m amazed by how many hits I get on my blog. It’s easy to refer clients to and it’s a great experience. Everyone has this commonality with experiences, and blogging is a great way to learn about architecture and express yourself. Get out there and talk to people about what architects do.” – Michele Grace Hottel
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Referenced in this Episode
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