Ever since the eighth grade, Regenia Payne '92 knew she wanted to work in the home and furnishings industry. When school would be canceled because of snow, she would sit inside and make up floor plans. "My parents recognized my interests, found my talent and encouraged me all the way," said Payne, a creative design consultant for Taylor King Furniture. "They were huge influences."
During her time at Appalachian State University, Payne was inspired and mentored by professor Dr. Jane Harb. Payne got her foot in the door after Harb, now retired, helped her find an internship with Alderman Studios as a set designer, which gave her a job opportunity after graduation. "I've always had great people take me under their wing," said Payne. "I've always shown them that I'm willing to go the extra mile."
"Everyone would remember Regenia," said Harb. "She was a student every teacher wanted to have." While Payne attended Appalachian, she assisted Harb as her student helper. "Regenia always kept my office organized, knew how to handle people and was a great designer. What more could a teacher ask for from a student?"
Payne recently was named as a "Woman to Watch" by WithIt Organization, the women's leadership development network for the home and furnishings industry.
In 2011, Withit launched its newest Women to Watch annual program. The program honors individuals like Payne, along with 38 other women across the nation, who have made an impact with their profession by making noteworthy contributions to their industries and communities. The Women to Watch program acknowledges each recipient through their social media each business day.
Since 2006, Payne has been a member of Withit. She has helped plan the organization's annual education conference in August for the past three years.
Payne has always considered the High Country her home. She grew up in Boone, N.C., and graduated from Appalachian in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in housing and interiors. Payne's late father, David Payne, graduated from Appalachian and worked as the university's purchasing agent. Her mother, Betsy Payne is currently Appalachian's budget director and will have been with the university for 41 years in October.
Payne lives in Blowing Rock and works in Taylorsville as a creative design consultant for high-end upholstery manufacturer Taylor King Furniture. Payne assists with the creative direction, product development, fabric-to-frame applications and showroom presentation. She has also worked with companies including Henredon Furniture Industries, Vanguard Furniture and the Ralph Lauren Home design team.
"If I could give any advice to students coming out today it would be, you have to work hard," said Payne. "True success is making a difference in the lives of other people. Striking a balance between your professional and personal life is another huge component of success."