SLHL: Who has been the biggest influencer in your career?
Julie: Chris Berry. She gave me my first design job right after college, and I worked with her for almost 13 years until she retired. I learned more from her than I ever did in school. She taught me how to think outside of the box and push my ideas of what good design is, how to be a strong woman in an often male-dominated industry, and how to enjoy my job!
SLHL: What was a project or experience that was a turning point in your career?
Julie: Remodeling my own kitchen really made me empathize with my clients and what it’s like to go through the design and remodeling process. I experienced having carpenters, plumbers and electricians in my house everyday, dinner from paper plates for weeks at a time and sometimes getting overwhelmed by design and product choices, all of which helped me better relate to the personal experiences of my clients.
SLHL: Tell us a story from your childhood where your creative design genius kicked in.
Julie: I still have vivid memories of being on a childhood vacation in Barbados and sitting on the beach with watercolor paints and brushes, painting a series of animal portraits. My parents still have them framed in their house, and I suppose that’s when I knew I’d always want to do something related to drawing or art. In fact, I still do all of my construction drawings by hand with pencil and paper.
SLHL: What does it take to achieve a high level of success before 40?
Julie: I firmly believe in a strong work ethic and the importance of providing great customer service. It’s essential to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the design stage asking questions of and listening to clients to make sure we as designers understand their wants and needs. Having happy clients will encourage them to share their successful renovations with others and to come back for future projects.
SLHL: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Julie: I love learning about new products and design applications. It's so important for designers to stay on top of what’s new and exciting so that we don’t get into a rut.