Farah Merhi: Honoring Her Roots, Inspiring Homes Around the World

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Farah Merhi deeply understands the power of a warm, welcoming and comfortable home.

Having been born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Africa to Lebanese parents who previously fled war-torn Lebanon in search of a better life, she knows what it's like to be forced to leave everything you know.

"When I was eight years old, there was a military coup which forced us to leave everything behind and flee DRC back to Lebanon," Merhi recalled. "We lost everything, leaving behind our belongings, cherished items like family photos, my dad's business, our home."

The following five years had a major impact on Merhi; she reconnected with her Lebanese roots, culture and traditions, and witnessed the women in her life take immense pride in their homes, placing love and care into and making guests feel at home through family gatherings, meals and personal touches. It came from the heart and resonated deeply with Merhi.

Upon returning to the DRC years later, Merhi's father rebuilt his business, and her mother designed a home their family could feel truly safe in.

"I remember coming home at the end of the school day, walking in and feeling so much coziness ... I felt safe," Merhi said. "I watched my mother find creative ways to add her special touch to every room, bringing it to life through the little details—and it's those little details that made the difference."

Thanks to her parent's many sacrifices, Merhi eventually moved to the U.S. for college and was determined to make her parents proud. She met and married her husband and had their children while studying political science, with initial intentions of pursuing a profession in law. Merhi came to realize, however, that her current career trajectory didn't feel right. Her heart was pulling her ambitions in another direction.

"How do I face the fact that I spent years and a lot of resources working toward a career I'd now realized I didn't love?" Merhi recalled asking herself. "Anyone looking in would've expected me to be happy. As fulfilled as I was in my personal life, something was missing."

She found herself without a plan.

"With the support of my husband and family, I took a step back and gave myself a moment to dig deep to find my passion in life—I owed it to myself to refocus while learning to let go and allow myself to figure things out. We get one life to live, and waking up doing what I love every day was important."

What Merhi didn't yet realize was how an upcoming home renovation project would light a spark that would grow to burn brighter than she could have imagined.

Every single aspect of their family's home remodel excited Merhi, with the designing and styling bringing her back to the love she saw her mother pour into their family home. With her creativity flowing, Merhi began documenting the process on Instagram in 2012 under the handle @inspire_me_home_decor. Since then, Merhi has gained a massive following online (7.9 million followers on her professional page; 7.1 million on her personal) and has built "Inspire Me! Home Decor" up into an internationally recognized design and home decor brand—her glam and elegance-centric style at the forefront.

"I wanted Inspire Me to be more than another Instagram account; I wanted it to be a platform that inspired home owners but also provided the tools to make their house a home—a product line," Merhi explained. "I launched my own home decor and furniture collections in partnership with brands I'd worked with in the past, along with a home decor collection with QVC. As the years went by, I launched our website, inspiremehomedecor.com, where our customers can buy curated and handpicked home decor."

Even through the extreme highs and inevitable challenging moments of her continued success, one thing has always been certain for Merhi:

Giving up has never been (nor will it ever be) an option.

Her upbringing has ensured that she moves through life with a different kind of gratitude and perspective.

"There's something about being an immigrant, witnessing war, fleeing the country you were born in and leaving everything behind that fills you with a drive and determination to do something with yourself and succeed," Merhi said, adding that while it's natural to face obstacles in business, it's important not to take them personally. "I find hardships to be learning experiences and God's way of putting me on the right path again. It's all about perspective. Learn something from it and do something about it. I wish I'd realized this sooner in my entrepreneurial journey."

Merhi approaches her work with deep passion and a sense of gratefulness, all while being humbled by the opportunity to be able to build something for herself and her family.

When she's not traveling for work and juggling being a mom, wife and running a business, Merhi loves spending time at home cooking, reading a book, working out or reconfiguring her own home.

"I'm an introvert!" Merhi shared. "It might be hard to believe with such a large social media presence and the nature of my business, but I love nothing more than to be home with my family and spending time with my kids. I also try to carve out some alone time for myself."

Motivated by the positive messages she receives from customers, Merhi plans to continue focusing on the growth of her business and hopes to one day work with other women entrepreneurs.

"I understand the struggle of starting your own business and feeling lost," she said. "There weren't many resources for me to rely on when I started my journey. I'd like to work on that and hopefully make a difference for those on a similar entrepreneurial journey."

Her advice to those aspiring entrepreneurs?

"There's never the perfect time to pursue your dream—the time is now. Do what you've always wanted to do and don't let fear of the unknown hold you back. Understand that you will fall. Pick yourself back up and keep going. Be your biggest cheerleader and most importantly, enjoy the journey. All of it."

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Apr/May '24 issue of West Michigan Woman.

 Photo Courtesy of Kelly Braman Photography. 


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