Mikel Welch, founder of Mikel Welch Designs, co-owner of B2 Harlem, on-air personality for the Steve Harvey Show and all-around design guru, redefines the term, “self-made man.”
A native of Southfield, Michigan, Mikel’s interest in design was evident at an early age when make-believe play yielded Lego sculptures of sofas and dining tables for imaginary houses. As an adult, after graduating from Morehouse College with a degree in marketing, Mikel had a few unfulfilling stints at a variety of jobs, which led to urgings from his mother to find a career that elicited such passion that he’d do it for free. After finding himself repeatedly browsing furniture stores and volunteering to stage model homes for local realtors, Mikel finally heeded the call – and his calling – to interior design.
At the age of 27, armed mostly with raw talent, iron-willed determination and a willingness to take risks, Mikel opened Dwell Interior Design Solutions in Atlanta. Without a client base, Mikel posted ads on Craigslist, offering to design rooms free of charge in order to build his portfolio. The gambit worked and invaluable design experience was the payoff, but before long Mikel realized that he needed to widen his network in order to advance.
In 2008, Mikel moved to New York City where he worked at The Container Store and CB2, picking up additional odd jobs along the way to make ends meet. It was at the Container Store where Mikel met his mentor; a designer who invited him on a photo shoot and then to apprentice with her. Mikel spent the next few years working for interior design firms including Valerie Onor Designs and collaborated with his mentor on showhouses including the Millionaires and Mansions Showhouse, Saddle Brook Designer Showhouse and Sotheby’s Event.
During this time, Mikel also met a set designer for Dexter who invited him to visit the set should he visit Los Angeles. Interpreting the encounter as a sign, Mikel took another calculated risk and moved to West Hollywood. Once there, Mikel again took a job at CB2, but set himself the personal goal to network with shoppers and to collect three business cards per day. Two weeks later, Mikel had lined up jobs with both Teen Vogue and HGTV, eventually landing a job as a set designer for Style Network’s hit reality show, Jerseylicious.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
In 2012, Mikel attended an open call for HGTV’s Design Star and was not only cast for Season 7, but finished as a top four contender. The experience served to hone Mikel’s on-air personality and to introduce him to the public. Fans of the show fell in love with Mikel’s signature bow-tie style and relaxed, enthusiastic personality, while industry insiders began to take note of his design talent and assured on-camera presence.
Shortly thereafter, Mikel relocated to Chicago, where he met Steve Harvey’s manager and executive producer. Steve’s manager asked Mikel to redecorate the television legend’s office…in seven days. Not only did Steve love Mikel’s transformation, but he was so impressed by Mikel that he decided to enlist him as the Steve Harvey Show’s on-air design expert and set designer. In this role, Mikel has spent the past three years sharing creative, yet attainable tips and tricks for renovating unfinished basements, designing sophisticated masculine spaces and creating luxury looks at affordable prices with the show’s 2.2 million viewers. In addition to his on-air segments, Mikel also brings his creative touch and “Eclectic Luxury” signature design aesthetic to designing lavish greenrooms for prominent Steve Harvey guests including First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Halle Berry and the late Joan Rivers.
THE NEXT RENOVATION…
When Mikel isn’t on set at Steve Harvey or filming his Steve Harvey-sponsored web series, he is overseeing luxury renovation and design projects for private clients of Mikel Welch Designs. As a design authority, Mikel has been featured in HGTV Magazine, Essence Magazine and Modern Luxury Interiors, People.com, and on The Huffington Post, CBS’ The Talk, HGTV’s Shop This Room and ABC News. His work was recently exhibited in the prestigious 2016 Hamptons Designer Showhouse, as well as the 2015 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens and the 2015 Antiques, Garden & Design Show.
In spring 2016, Mikel relocated to New York City and took on his biggest project yet: gutting and renovating a restaurant and bar in Harlem, called B2 Harlem. Drawing on his varied experience, Mikel created a space brimming with 1920s glam and elegance that perfectly fits with the restaurant’s newly-enhanced menu and bar program, which Mikel also oversaw.
Most recently, Mikel took on a cohosting role on Zillow’s forthcoming, design-focused web series.