Washington Business Journal Woman Who Mean Business Honoree

Original Article published on the Washington Business Journal’s Website on Oct 8, 2020. Written by Amanda Long – Contributing Writer

Paola Moya’s life has been a refutation of borders and barriers — in other words, the things that keep us apart. The projects she takes on to design and the buildings she helps to shape reflect that ethos.
Since emigrating from Bogota, Colombia, to America when she was 18, Moya has been on the move. First, delivering pizzas on the roads of Montgomery County and chasing dogs around a kennel, all while attending college. In college, she pursued architecture, landing an assistant project manager job at a firm while still in college. At age 32, she was made partner at D.C.’s Marshall Moya Design, one of the youngest women of color to do so. While there, she worked at every stage of the interior renovation of the Howard Theatre and collaborated on high-profile projects including Audi Field and Chuck Brown Memorial Park.
In 2017, the already rapid pace of both her professional and personal lives quickened. Moya launched Moya Design Partners, a boutique firm built on incorporating architecture, interior design and graphic services. She kept the door wide open, as always, working on corporate projects and deepening her involvement in housing for low-income families and women affected by domestic violence. Toward this goal, Moya has also hosted Art After Dark, a twice-annual charity event to support D.C. women and artists of color while raising funds to alleviate homelessness.In 2019, she increased revenue over the previous year in all three service categories: a 77% increase in architecture, 24% increase in interior design and a 110% in visual design — tripling net income over the previous year.
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Moya was, as she always had been, going places when the world came to a stop in March. Her business model, however, was ready for the transition to the new working world.
I wanted to be able to be productive in my business, no matter where I was — on the beach or at home, and I wanted people working with me to have that flexibility,” Moya says. She created a hybrid schedule, encouraging team members to work where they work best — including across the globe. Moya’s global staff means clients have someone working for them around the clock and designers have balance to their life.

That put us ahead of the game,” she says. The challenge, Moya says, has been to stay inspired and engaged, to keep absorbing the world around you, no matter how small it has gotten lately.
I am encouraging the team members to explore nature and to be motivated on the personal level to thrive. It’s important to have that mentality,” she says. “On the business side, we have to be intentional about who you want to talk to. More mindful. More one on one, more backyard meetings with people you really want to connect with.

She’s encouraged by the art coming out of the protests calling for racial justice — Moya Design Partners created the banners that hang in Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C. — and what feel like much more intentional efforts to be more inclusive. She describes this time as one of transition and adaptation to a new environment. Like an “animal whose skin adapts to the weather,” she says, “we are putting on a new armor.