If you find your passion and you’re willing to work, you'll be successful.That’s the maxim of Phoebe Howard, owner of the Mrs. Howard and Max & Company interior design and retail stores in Charlotte, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach and Atlanta. She certainly knows what she’s talking about. She’s gained a national following by creating a signature design style that’s fresh and contemporary but with a traditional edge that makes the rooms she designs modern classics.Linsday Bierman, the editor of Southern Living magazine, has recruited Howard to create a new column for the magazine in which she uses her expertise to answer decorating questions from readers. It launched in November and has already been a hit.Ironically, it was another magazine editor that shaped Howard’s path to her professional triumphs.“When I was 18, I was reading Cosmopolitan magazine, back when the editor was Helen Gurley Brown, and she said that if you do the work on your desk every day that’s in front of you, you’ll achieve success. I think often we’re looking too hard for the answers to questions and they’re really right there in front of us.”Knowing that she had the answer to her professional success inside her is what I find so fascinating about Howard. As she told me in a recent interview, she was “a housewife who started a business when I was 38 and never went to design school.”Almost two decades later, she’s got another symbol of how her dreams came true by her being true to herself: a new book that’s available on Amazon now called “The Joy of Decorating.” Howard plans to do a book signing at her stores here, hopefully in the spring (we’ll keep you posted on that). You can also check out her blog filled with design advice and inspiration at www.mrshowardpersonalshopper.com.Since I started with one of her personal truths, I’ll end with another. “You should always be the best decoration in your house,” she says.