In a Parisian cafe in August, amongst the chiming of dishes and bustle of the lunchtime laughter, Brandi Hezinger sits down to plan her week. In the midst of the busyness, Brandi finds focus. Having just arrived on a series of flights from the Gulf Coast to the City of Light, she’s preparing for a week of inspiration and growth—Tuesday will be exploration, Wednesday will be interiors and antique curating, and Thursday is the day for which she truly came, a master study in polished plaster. Also known as Italian plaster, or most commonly by the modern term, Venetian plaster, this art form of interior finishing has become trademark of Brandi’s, particularly among the Alys Beach community.
Her signature, smooth-stroked plaster walls, nearly glassy in their appearance and reflective of both light and mastery, are often defining elements within a home’s interior space. The technique is one very few have mastered in the way she has. But to meet Brandi, to know her work and her ventures, one would immediately understand her dedication to her craft is only one element of what has made Brandi so successful. Her story is one of reinvention, vision, beauty, entrepreneurship, and the strength of female leadership across multiple disciplines.
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Brandi began her career in the study of fine art and as a graphic designer. But her spirit of creativity was not fulfilled behind a desk, and through fortuitous connections and a bold career switch, Brandi began learning the ins and outs of Venetian plaster. The trowel techniques, the strength of the arm and the force applied, the burnishing process, and the study of its origin all developed over time alongside her love for the art. She traveled the world studying with masters in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Paris, and throughout Italy, and she carved out a niche and a business for herself in Oklahoma.
Nearly 15 years ago, Brandi relocated to the Gulf Coast and began what can only be described as a legacy in art, business, and vision. Having connected with the Town Architects of Alys Beach, Brandi developed the interior finishing technique that has become a staple of many Alys Beach homes. Today, at any given time, she is running her highly-trained team through five to fifteen homes a week.
“I develop and train my team slowly and carefully,” says Brandi of her apprenticeship-like process. “Through one-on-one work, I teach them how to hold the trowel in their hand, to balance and to apply pressure, and we’ll focus on that for a month or more until I feel satisfied in that skill, and we’ll move on to the next.”
She is hands-on from client relations, to finish selection, to plaster application, all while training craftsmen, managing operations and logistics, and leading a highly-productive company.
With the true mind for management, she understands not only the proper application of the medium, but also the proper application of skill sets to certain elements of the project. “I study the strong suits of my team members, and I place them where they’ll excel within a project,” says Brandi. She is hands-on from client relations, to finish selection, to plaster application, all while training craftsmen, managing operations and logistics, and leading a highly-productive company.
Much like the plaster process, with each layer upon layer within Brandi’s own life, the result is all the more beautiful and impressive, reflecting life and light and intention. While Venetian plaster work was perhaps her foray into entrepreneurship, she certainly comes by that spirit and drive honestly.
“My parents owned several restaurants in Oklahoma. From there, they owned and operated a construction company which employed more than 400 people. They owned race horses and manufacturing plants, and my mother, she really was a driving force,” says Brandi.
“She is an entrepreneur, a leader, and one in fields not typically occupied by women. She was the first female president of the Cattle Association in Oklahoma, and men would often come to our home looking to buy and sell cattle and ask to speak to her husband, of course assuming he was the head of the operation. ‘No, it’s me you’re looking for,’ she would say. ‘I’m the owner.’”
Brandi praises her mother for her trailblazing efforts, and praises her father for his leadership and his encouragement of his wife to truly shine. She has followed closely in her parents’ footsteps, particularly her mother’s, as she’s begun business ventures even beyond her notable Venetian plaster work.
In 2008, Brandi founded Hezinger’s Construction, Inc., which served Oklahoma and Texas and mirrored her mother’s establishment within a typically male-dominated field. Brandi later formed S&Y Trucking, Soyaz Construction, and BeCare Life Services, a company focusing on natural beauty and self-care products.
“The Alys Beach community, along with my parents, are really the people who encouraged me the most, not just in my interiors work but also in my other businesses,” she says.
“I’m encouraged because I’m beginning to see women in the construction field, working alongside their husbands or setting out in their own careers.”
And while she admits that the construction and trucking industries have come a long way since the days of her parents' company and the founding of hers, she says it is still is quite rare to see females on the job site. “I’m encouraged because I’m beginning to see women in the construction field, working alongside their husbands or setting out in their own careers.” And while she has diversified her offering, Brandi’s passion still remains in her art. To hear this left-brain-meets-rightbrain visionary speak about her work, her technique, as she sits down to lunch in Paris, is to hear someone ultimately dedicated to improving her craft, not just for her own edification but for the clients she serves daily.
“When you’re born an artist, there is something within you seeking to solve problems,” says Brandi. “Each house, each client, each project, and really each business is entirely different, but pleasing the client and exceeding all expectations is what drives me.”
Driven is an understatement when describing Brandi. As she finishes her lunch, she’ll move throughout Paris, studying architecture and design, fashion and art, making the most of every moment. In a way, she mirrors her art in her own life— she is brave, bright, and entirely multidimensional. Always refining. Within her is mixed together grit and strength, patience and practice, and most certainly a little shimmer.