STYLE PROFILE IS AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES WITH TOP DESIGNERS AND TASTEMAKERS.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Flanders at a cocktail party this Spring. Intelligent and relaxed, Jennifer and I had fun chatting, and now see each other regularly around town at various events, not to mention via facebook and twitter. The owner of Jennifer Flanders Inc., a high-end interior design firm here in New York City, she was a natural choice for this style profile series.
A cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer cultivated her design skills and style with Ellie Cullman at Cullman & Kravis for six years before establishing her own firm in 2002. Her work has been featured in many publications and blogs, including Traditional Home magazine, which named her to their prestigious list of “designers to watch” in 2009. Jennifer is also one of the stars of HGTV’s Real Designing Women, a documentary-style program that showcases how designers really work with clients in creating their homes.
I’m so happy to have her here today!
NAME, OCCUPATION, LOCATION.
Jennifer: Jennifer Flanders, Interior Designer, NYC.
MOMENT YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER.
JF: I was not one of those people who knew what they wanted to be from childhood. While I do have memories of rearranging the furniture in my bunk at summer camp, I didn’t consider interior design until a few years after graduating college. At the age of 24, I was working as an editorial assistant at a magazine, fully aware that I was not on the right path, and it hit me one day – it was one of the “aha” moments. I quit my job, enrolled in a few courses at New York School of Interior Design, and got a great internship at Cullman and Kravis which very quickly turned into a full-time job. About six years later I started my own firm.
STEPS TAKEN TO MAKE YOUR DREAM A REALITY.
JF: When I started my business, I just wanted to decorate, and I always had a steady stream of clients to allow me to do this. But in the past five years, my aspirations have grown. I no longer want to just decorate homes; I want to run a full-fledged, high-profile design business and am taking the steps, sometimes scary ones, to get there.
One of the most important things I have done over the past few years is to really take the time to foster my relationships with my vendors. My vendors are the back-bone of my business, and I would not be as successful without the people who come to my aid when I need extra help and attention. Whether it be visiting with them in person just to say hi, attending their events to show my support of whatever they are doing, or promoting them through social media, I do what I can to continue to grow these relationships. I know that I am only as good as the people I work with, so I have made my vendor relationships a key part of my business.
In addition, I have made it a priority to attend more industry events and meet more people within the industry. I don’t see other designers as competition. I see the value in having like-minded people that I can share ideas with.
I have also learned to ask for things I want or need. It is sometimes uncomfortable to do, but it is nearly always worth the risk. Whether it be asking to get involved in a show-house, showing an editor my work for possible publication, or reaching out to a vendor to create a special signature piece of furniture, it’s all worth the effort to raise my company’s profile.
And I would have to say that one of the most important things I do is to really think about and focus on what I want for myself and for my business. Whether it be creating a vision board or just meditating and envisioning what I want, it’s been a big key to my most proud and successful moments. Sometimes just a little positive thinking can make great things happen.
SURPRISES UNCOVERED DURING PURSUIT OF YOUR DREAM.
JF: One of my biggest dreams has always been to be on TV, and last year I got the chance to make that dream come true when I was asked to be one of the designers on HGTV Canada’s “Real Designing Women”. One of the surprises I discovered about myself while filming the show was how much I loved being in front of a camera. As someone deathly afraid of public speaking, I found it ironic how easily I was able to let loose and show a sassier side to my personality when the cameras were rolling. Now more than ever I want to make TV a big part of my career.
ELEMENTS OF YOUR SIGNATURE STYLE.
JF: The standout of my signature style has to be my use of rich, saturated colors. I love to use both deep and bright colors in interesting combinations. I also love to layer lots of different fabrics, both patterned and textured, within a single room. Working with textiles is my favorite part of the job and I think this really shows in my work.
MILESTONE(S) THAT REMIND YOU: YOU’RE LIVING YOUR DREAM.
JF: Being published in Traditional Home – and getting the cover. Being named a New Trad in 2009. Filming videos for Baker Furniture and JAB fabrics, such an honor to be asked to represent these amazing companies. Starring in HGTV’s Real Designing Women.
TOOLS / PRACTICES THAT OPTIMIZE YOUR LIFE ON A DAILY BASIS.
JF: Every morning, before my day really gets going, I find a quiet place to sit, reflect and write a gratitude list. My daily gratitude list consists of at least 10 things that I am grateful for in that moment – could be anything from the hot coffee I am drinking to all the love I have in my life. I am religious about writing this list. It is something I have been doing for the past four years, and it is the single thing that has made the most impact in my life. The writing of this list is a tremendous way to keep me grounded, to keep me present and to keep me appreciative. And it is something I can reflect on throughout the day for an added boost when needed.
There is no such thing as a mistake; everything always happens as it’s supposed to.
LIFE ADVICE YOU HOLD DEAR.
JF: There is no such thing as a mistake; everything always happens as it’s supposed to.
WAY YOU LOVE TO SPEND THE DAY / EVENING AT HOME.
JF: I love to curl up in my bed with my daughters and watch cheesy reality TV shows like the Bachelor or Dance Moms. We all pile into my bed, often with a big bowl of extra-salty popcorn, and we laugh at all the silliness on these shows. My girls make me feel so loved by fighting over who gets to sit next to me, and I am often relegated to the middle of the bed so that both of them can have me close.
PHILOSOPHY ON LIVING THE LIFE YOU DREAM ABOUT.
JF: I feel so blessed to do something I love every day. I know a lot of people have jobs they can’t stand, and I just can’t imagine what it would be like to do something you hate every day. Loving my job is something that permeates into every other area of my life, and pursuing my dreams makes my life interesting and exciting. One of my favorite quotes is “Leap and the net will appear”. I think this is the best rule to live by when pursuing a dream. Just have faith and take positive action steps every day – even baby steps will eventually add up to where you want to be.
SECRET ABOUT YOU.
JF: Well I can’t decide whether to share the fact that I don’t know how to ride a bike, or that I am a Cirque du Soleil fanatic and really wish I had the talent to perform in one of their shows – so there, I am giving you two of my secrets, both equally as embarrassing.
THANK YOU JENNIFER!