We’re BAAAAAAAAAACK y’all!!! And better than EVER!!!! Thank you for continuing to follow along my Instagram and Facebook while the blog took a little hiatus for a complete new re-design!  I’ve got so MANY new projects on the horizon but FIRST!….

Let’s take a little trip back to memory lane shall we?


You may or may not remember my brief stint on HGTV’s Design Star back in 2010.  Over 20,000 submissions that year and I was selected as one of the TOP 12 designers that would compete for the GRAND PRIZE title of “Design Star” winning both bragging rights and a featured show on HGTV to boot.

I don’t think I ever spoke in detail about this process mainly for 2 reasons:

  1. I signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which stated that I was not allowed to disclose any information before, during, or after the show aired.
  2. My time on the show was so brief I barely had any content to share

But here we are now, 7 years after Design Star Season 5 and I’m ready to spill the beans babes!  Why?  Because there is a moral to the story and I am POSITIVE that it will shed some new light on what you might consider a “Failure”…

The Backstory

I am the girl who always nails the interview.  Not to toot my own horn but that’s where I shine, lol.  I love to chat, I love to share, and I love to connect with others on a personal level that isn’t about my own life.  Mind you, I would not have even attempted to enter into the competition if I didn’t believe I would make the cut.

Belief in yourself is paramount to every successful venture.

I can thank my mother’s unwavering support of her youngest child for this one.  In her eyes I could do anything I wanted, as Mom always championed me growing up.  My father on the other hand, was the complete opposite.  Always on tilt, always prepared to rip me a new one; Dad made sure I grew up knowing that I had to work hard to have anything of value in this life.


Making Top 12

I attended the LA casting call of Design Star in January of 2010.  Got through their trial round that day and was the very LAST person producers filmed for the first cut.

I got called back round after round after round until they whittled down the 20K+ applicants to their Top 12. I learned 3 days before filming (April 2010) that I had made it!  Top 12 y’all woohoo!!!  Imagine my surprise when they even featured me in Design Star commercials that ran for MONTHS even before the competition actually started to air on HGTV (June 2010).

Because of all the national recognition, I made front page news in the Orange County Register, reputable magazines and design blogs were calling me nonstop for interviews.  It was absolute mayhem that summer and I was TOTALLY unprepared.  All this BEFORE Design Star even aired.  I was 29 years old.

From Success to Failure

Since I knew that I was kicked off first from the TOP 12 contestants, I felt like I didn’t deserve all the press.  But of course I politely obliged each interview and did my best to stay positive yet guarded so no one knew the uncertainty festering inside. How would my friends and family react to the show? Would they be happy that I made it to the top 12 or crushed that I got booted first?

Cue the insecurities.  They came rushing in like a tidal wave.  I wallowed in my own private misery until the first episode aired then everyone would know that I didn’t make it any further and life would go back to normal.

But it never did.

I did my best to stay positive yet guarded so no one knew the uncertainty festering inside

“Normal” never came and something in me changed forever and that was when it CLICKED y’all.

The Journey

I never felt bad about not making it any further.  Sure I felt I missed a HUGE opportunity to have my own design show but simply put: I was NOWHERE near ready. I nailed the interview. Got the job. But couldn’t deliver, so naturally I was let go.  Life goes on, you learn and you grow.

But that’s not how everything developed.

After the first show aired, I soon learned friends were talking behind my back.  Hell, I heard them talk when they thought I wasn’t really listening.  It started with crude jokes made amongst “friends” about how I was kicked off first. How my first challenge was a total shit show and that even they themselves could have done better without any design experience.  My “social network” was spewing all sorts of mad shit online.  People who knew people who knew me would make derogatory comments about my work on Design Star and I even came to learn that ex co-workers were making fun of me to other ex-co-workers which ALL eventually got back to me.

So what did I do?  I didn’t cry. I didn’t get all depressed.

What I got was a fire lit under my ass to work as hard as I could to rise above the chatter and simply KILL it with my subsequent designs.

Because everyone knows that “Success is the best revenge”

So I worked. And worked. And started the blog to document all my work. So that one day I would make it BIG and Design Star would have been a thing of the past.

Which it is.

What I got was a fire lit under my ass to work as hard as I could…

And then a funny thing happened while I was busy working my ass off.  I stopped caring about what others thought. I stopped taking all that blather personally and knew in my heart that the things people gossip about the most, are the things that they are most insecure of themselves.

Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.

So the next time you catch yourself gossiping about someone you know or something you read, take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself “What have I done to get people talking?” Chances are, NOTHING honey!  Stop gossiping, get to work, and give them something to talk about!

From Failure to Success

The more gossip I heard about me, the more my confidence grew. I knew I was doing something right when I was still on everyone’s radar.  While I don’t believe that all press is good press, I do believe that something has to be said for staying relevant.

Simply put: It means you’re doing something. Anything is better than nothing my friends.

Being in the public eye is not for everyone.  You must have thick skin. You must remain positive. You must keep your eye on the prize and never falter at the slight sign of impending failure.  Because what you deem as failure, I look at as success!  Perception is EVERYTHING and never discount looking for that silver lining, no matter how far or futile.

Each challenge is a stepping stone to reach higher grounds.  Each step is wrought with insecurity, uncertainty, obstacles, and obstruction. It’s the climb that matters.  If it were easy, everyone would be at the TOP already.  The higher you go, the thinner the air up there. Not everyone can breathe at that altitude.  Oprah taught me that.  Luckily for me, I don’t need to breathe. Just gonna soar past that bullshit and RISE y’all. Only one way I’m headed and that’s UP!

Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

Top | Bottom

When was the last time you felt like you “failed” at something?

How did you overcome it? Would love to hear your thoughts, please comment below!

Bonus: Catch me LIVE in action on Design Star Season 5 | Episode One HERE



  1. I love your look, lady! Those mustard colored pants are such a fun piece, especially with the sheer top. Thanks for sharing some of your story, too. Feeling live we’ve failed is never fun but it really can create a great opportunity for growth. I’m glad you learned so much from the experience!

    Kathryn • simplykk.com

    • Thank you so much Kathryn! I’m all about just GOING FOR IT no matter what the outcome! Growth = ever evolving ;D

  2. First of all, I need this entire look! Second, the fact that you made it at all is beyond inspiring. It stinks that you had to learn in such a tough way, but at least you learned from it and grew! I bet it was so amazing to even make it on that show, seriously such an accomplishment!

    Denise | Fashion Love Letters

    • Aw thank you babe! Seriously I was surprised myself that I made it on the show lol! Growing pains but now onto bigger and better!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I think that rejection and somewhat “failure” is important, often rejection at some point is necessary. Sometimes taking a step back isn’t a failure, rather a delay to set you on the right path. For me, it just made me stronger and hone in on the trajectory that I wanted to go further in my career. I agree with the Oprah lesson–keep rising, essentially and always keep a positive group of people around you. Take care,

    • You hit the nail on the head Madison! “Failure” in quotes for sure! What one sees as “failure” I see as progress! Thanks for the visit and feedback babe! Here’s to strong independent women everywhere!!! xx

  4. I LOVE this post! Yes and amen to everything! I loved reading about your journey and how you are showing the haters out there by achieving your own success. It definitely is hard to ignore the negativity, especially when it comes to your friends who are supposed to support you but I truly believe that as long as you work on your own success you can achieve anything and the haters will still be at the same place still hating. Kudos to you to even getting to the top 12! That’s such a major accomplishment on it’s own! Keep up the fabulous work babe! xoxo, Christine

    • Thank you SO MUCH mama <3 The journey is EXACTLY that! A long distance run to really get to where I am now… always on the rise, never stop improving, and waving buh-bye to those haters in my rear view mirror! Wooo! lol Thanks for the visit and encouraging words babe~ xx

  5. You look absolutely gorgeous, girl! I love that mesh embroidered top paired with the yellow, so good! I had no idea you were on that show, I don’t believe I’ve watched it before. Girl, that’s amazing!!! It goes to show how much of a talent you are and how far believing in yourself can take you. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great weekend ahead!



    • Thank you so much Jalisa! Yeah Design Star was back in 2010 and I think they only did 2 more seasons after that! Eons ago!!! Thank you again for the encouragement and support love!!! xx

    • Julie Khuu Reply

      Thanks so much Marisa! THE color of the season! Love how marigold just pops!

    • Julie Khuu Reply

      Ah! Thank you so much love! I’ve been obsessing over tulle for Fall transitional weather!

    • Julie Khuu Reply

      Thanks so much babe! Always looking on the bright side, is there any other way to live?! xx

    • Julie Khuu Reply

      Thank you Atsuna! It was perfect for this transitional weather we were having…from Indian Summer to finally Fall! I’m loving it! Thanks for stopping by babe! xx

  6. Great post lovely and well done on not giving up! 100% believe that there’s no such thing as losing, it’s just that you haven’t won YET! Keep at it xx

    Alya / moorizzla xx

    • Julie Khuu Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Alya! It’s a fight to the finish and I’m not stopping until I’m dead! lol Thanks for the support and encouragement babe!

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