16 Candles of AJC Design

February is truly the season of the heart.  Instead of Christmas cards, I’ve been sending out Valentine’s Day cards.  February also marks the completion of my 16th year of AJC Design, and I love what I do.  When I went on my own in 2007, I had a vision of what I wanted to do with my business and the life I wanted to lead but not much else. The rest I had to figure out from family, friends, vendors, role models, and the Universe.  This month’s blog is dedicated to the “16 Candles” that have illuminated my journey as an interior designer.

  1. My dad – Pat was an engineering/math major and entrepreneur himself. He encouraged me to go out on my own gave me the business fundamentals I needed. He also fostered a work ethic in me that has helped me grow my business throughout the years.
  2. My mom – Rosemary was an NYC school teacher and also a big advocate for the arts. She even took a sabbatical from her teaching career to go to NYSID (New York School of Interior Design) to pursue interior design as a hobby.
  3. My daughter – while she may not be old enough to be on the payroll, Millicent has been a joy and inspiration in my career. I can already see her artistic interest and potential.I can’t wait to see what is in her horizon.
  4. My clients – One of the biggest joys of doing design work is you get to see how the client responds to the finished product. I am so grateful for the clients that have trusted me to carry out their plans to transform their space.
  5. My inspiration -during my final thesis at Pratt, I came across a sculptor that would forever change how I viewed design. Richard Serra was my spirit design animal. The first time I experienced his Torqued Ellipses I was brought to tears. The expression of the ellipse was magical and incredibly powerful. I admire all his work from his vast sculptures to his minimalist artwork. He and his work has challenged me to always think big and outside the box.
  6. My career in Hospitality – working with Cheryl Rowley early in my career was a stepping stone for my design career. She provided both the opportunities and foundations I needed to feel confident in my abilities. She believed in me and for that I will be forever grateful.
  7. My colleagues – interior design is a team effort in every sense. I’m forever grateful for many of my east and west coast design friends like Gino, Erika, and Vanessa who have always been supportive.
  8. My community – on the coattails of #6, the design community is one that includes peers in the same fields or adjacent ones and organizations like my Pratt, my alma mater, who have helped me feel like I belong to something greater than myself.
  9. My vendors – a vendor is behind every piece of upholstery, rug, furniture and light fixture. My vendors have helped me bring visions to life and are always there to help me push the boundaries.
  10. My staff – I’ve been fortunate to assemble a team of professionals who make what I do look easy. From production to my social media and HR team,  I am truly blessed to have a team committed to the success of AJC Design.
  11. My travels – the primary reason I went out on my own was the freedom to travel anytime.  Travel isn’t just a passion, it’s how I find inspiration, relaxation, and inner peace.
  12. My city – New York City has been my home for more than 20 years.The city’s vibrant street corners, colorful communities, and plethora of opportunities allow me to see and experience art intern push me to create and dream BIG!
  13. My creativity – I wouldn’t have chosen the tagline “Creativity is Everything” if creativity wasn’t in my DNA. I am grateful for the ability to imagine, dream, and actualize new design concepts.
  14. My design icon- Working for a Design Icon like David Easton was an absolute honor. He was a wonderful teacher and always had the ability to light up the room.
  15. My first Hospitality project – The Westport Inn, I worked in tandem with VM Design. Collaborating with old colleagues made the project such a joy. The growing pains of learning how to run a business and manage new projects was a challenge. However, I am forever grateful the project provided me tenacity and grit to keep on going.
  16. My passion project – The New York Harlem Renaissance was a decade labor of love to see the project to fruition.  It was a project that shaped my design career. I am forever grateful for the gifts of inspiration and love from the Harlem community.
  17. (Bonus candle for good luck) My future – No one knows the future but I am ready to receive the gifts the universe has in my horizon. So bring it on!

This reflection on my last 16 years proved to me that I have even more to be grateful for than I previously thought.  Each of these candles brought me to where I am today.  It also made me realize that passion for something can help you go far beyond what you’re good at.



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