Creating beautiful, purposeful, sustainable spaces with a Black aesthetic
“Starting my business was a natural extension of my lifelong passion for architecture. It was ignited when my parents began building a new home back in 1996,” said 39-year-old Jernell Rochelle, who opened 5enses Design and Home Staging in 2019.
“I was just a 12-year-old kid,” she recalled, “but I was so excited when they asked me to help choose finishes, paint colors, and flooring. That experience made a lasting impression on me, and right then and there I knew I wanted to be an architect.”
The company, which is located in Minneapolis’ North Loop warehouse area, provides interior design, home furnishing, and real estate services to residential clients and businesses, with a focus on sustainable materials and solutions that incorporate all five senses—sight, sound, touch, scent, and even taste.
MSR: What inspired you to start your business?
JR: The idea of transforming spaces has always inspired me. Even now, when I work on creating a customized layout for a client, that same feeling of excitement rushes back. It’s a remarkable sensation when an idea that started on paper becomes a tangible, beautifully crafted structure that will change the lives of the people who live in it. There’s really nothing quite like it.
That’s why I decided to launch my own business—to have the freedom to bring my ideas to life and create functional, meaningful spaces that leave a lasting impact. It hasn’t always been easy, but the satisfaction of seeing my clients’ dreams become a reality makes every challenge worth it.
My goal is to continue pushing boundaries, designing spaces that blend aesthetics, functionality, and the unique needs of every individual, while making a positive difference in the world of design.
MSR: How does your business impact the community?
JR: My business is all about making a positive impact on my community. Approximately 75 percent of the projects I take on are dedicated to helping hard-working individuals and families transform their spaces into something truly special. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I’ve played a part in creating a home that brings pride and having the opportunity to let clients build cherished memories.
Beyond the joy of designing beautiful spaces, my work also has a deeper significance. As a Black woman designer in the Midwest, I’m proud to be part of changing the narrative and breaking down barriers. Representation matters, and by showcasing my skills and passion, I hope to inspire others who may not see themselves reflected in this industry.
In addition to my design work, I am also a realtor. This role allows me to help clients not only find their dream home, but also transform those spaces to align with their unique vision. It’s a rewarding experience to witness the full-circle journey of helping people purchase their homes and then seeing their spaces come to life through our collaborative efforts.
Ultimately, my business is a reflection of my commitment to serving the community. By providing exceptional design services, promoting diversity in the field, and helping individuals create homes that bring them joy, I strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around me.
MSR: What is your most popular service?
JR: I often find myself receiving requests from homeowners who are eager to repurpose their space for the future. Whether it’s creating a fun and inviting space for family gatherings or giving a fresh facelift to tired rooms, I take great pride in designing solutions that not only enhance functionality but also breathe new life into a home.
My mission is to provide my clients with spaces that truly reflect their aspirations and accommodate their plans. These transformations have the power to improve their daily lives and create spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and purposeful. It’s this approach that drives me to find innovative and practical solutions, ensuring that each client’s journey towards their ideal space is a fulfilling and memorable one.
MSR: What has been your biggest challenge in your business?
JR: The biggest challenge I faced as a business owner was finding a work-life balance, especially as a mother of five children. Juggling the responsibilities of nurturing my babies and nurturing my business can be incredibly exhausting. Countless sleepless nights have been spent working late while everyone else is asleep.
But when you have a clear vision and a burning passion, you somehow find the energy and determination to make things happen. No matter how long it takes, I’m committed to seeing my projects through to perfection. It’s all about finding the right balance, making sacrifices, and prioritizing both my family and my business, so that I can create a fulfilling life for myself and provide for my loved ones.
MSR: What has been the most rewarding part of your business?
JR: The most fulfilling aspect of being a business owner is the ability to create something out of nothing. When I first launched 5enses Design, I was a complete novice fresh out of design school. I was navigating the changing climate of real estate and building a business entirely on my own.
On top of that, caring for my young children. And just as I was starting to find my footing, COVID-19 forced me to temporarily halt all projects. I truly felt defeated. However, I refused to let the pandemic define my success.
Despite the challenges, I remained focused on my ultimate goal, and kept pushing forward. Slowly but surely I began to rebuild and regain momentum. I started to see my business gradually take shape and flourish. The process of transforming an idea into a thriving business has been incredibly rewarding.
Every setback and obstacle has only strengthened my resolve. As a business owner, I have learned that success is not just about achieving financial gains. It’s about overcoming adversity, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and staying true to my vision even when faced with adversity.
Looking back, I can say with confidence that the most rewarding part of being a business owner is the sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something meaningful and valuable. It is the joy of building a venture that not only supports my family but also brings positive change to the lives of my clients. The journey is ongoing, and I am excited to continue building, growing, and making a difference through 5enses Design. Onward and upward.
MSR: What’s your vision for your business? What does success look like for you?
JR: Multigenerational design and creating spaces that stand the test of time has always been at the heart of my work. I’m passionate about designing and building homes that cater to the diverse needs of households today and in the future.
It’s about envisioning how a space that is currently used for children can seamlessly transform into a safe and comfortable haven for elderly parents down the road. Or, taking an empty basement and turning it into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that offers privacy and serves as a separate income-generating space.
The key is to maximize the potential of every area, ensuring that it provides the highest level of comfort and functionality. It’s about thinking ahead and considering the evolving needs of homeowners, creating spaces that can adapt as families grow and circumstances change.
By embracing this approach, I strive to design dwellings that have a timeless quality, where every square foot is thoughtfully utilized and serves a purpose both now and in the years to come.
I believe that designing for multigenerational living is more than just a trend; it’s a reflection of our changing society and the desire for homes that can accommodate a variety of lifestyles. I’m dedicated to crafting spaces that foster connections, promote well-being, and provide the flexibility needed to adapt to whatever the future may hold.
MSR: What advice would you give to your younger self about the journey toward entrepreneurship?
JR: If I could go back and give advice to my younger self on the journey toward entrepreneurship, I would say, “Stay the course and trust in your abilities, even when faced with doubts and challenges.” It’s essential to have determination and persevere through the ups and downs that come with building a business.
Embrace the learning process and continuously seek knowledge about your industry, because it will allow you to discover your unique strengths and understand the value you bring to your clients.
As a young entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the journey ahead. However, by staying focused on your goals and continuously learning, you can gain the confidence and expertise necessary to navigate the issues that come your way. Embrace every experience, both success and failure, as valuable lessons that will shape your journey.
Remember, entrepreneurship is a continuous process of growth and self-discovery. Trust in your abilities, stay curious, and never stop learning.
5enses Design & Home Staging is located at 121 N. Washington Ave., Suite 351, Minneapolis, MN. For more information, go to www.5ensesdesign.com.