Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jenny Brown asks... Julie Smith

Miss Smith

I don't know about you, but I rarely read magazines start to finish. I always start with the interview: Vanity Fair's questionnaire coming to mind first and Elle Decor's Shortlist, the Times Sunday Magazine Interview to name another. I also love David Patrick Columbia's weekly House column where he interviews designers and photographs their dwellings.

Sure, we can always praise the successful and write glowing commentary about their achievements but it is so much more fun to see what people have to say in their own words, yes?

A great gift for the thinker, here.

And, I confess, whenever I read them I become a little self-reflective, wondering how I would answered if I was asked and which questions would elicit the best answers.

Thus, welcome to my first "Jenny Brown asks" post. I am not trying to do anything groundbreaking here. Just planning to ask the same questions of different people I find interesting and see what they have to say. Questions may evolve but this is a good start. And who better to start with than Julie Smith, my dear friend and first 'follower'.

Julie and I met years ago at a charity fashion show. Chic and charming, I had heard from a friend that I would love this girl, a fellow designer who had her own firm, and she was right. How could I not?

It has been such fun getting to know Julie on a personal and professional level over the years and no one was more excited for me when I started my own design firm last fall. We were on the phone for literally an hour as she rattled off all of her sources in the city. Reason alone to love her.

So lets keep it a little sexy here, a little retro, and break the ice...

What is your sign?

I am a Leo. The irony is that I am terribly allergic to cats!

Sibling? Sexes and birth order please...

I have always been the trailblazer being the eldest. I have a wonderful younger brother, Alex that just graduated from college and is following in my footsteps of having his first job in New York, albeit in an entirely different field, finance.

(So, eldest of two with a younger brother. I have one too and my mom and sister and I 'baby' him. Or, should I just say: adore him. Lucky boy.)

What time do you set your alarm for in the morning?

Depends on the season. It's a little earlier in the summer months because I like to start my day with a walk or run. 7:30 in the winter.

How do you take your caffeine?

Normally I like it mellow, green tea preferably. Occasionally I need some black coffee, I am secretly addicted to Einstein Bagels iced coffee, but that is only in case of emergency...

What do you do?

I am an interior designer at my own company, JSE Design Group.

When did you know you wanted to do it?

I realized that I wanted to be a designer after a few various jobs in New York and Chicago. The work was not as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be and I always had this urge to try something in design. It all stems from growing up in a house that was well put together. My mother has a natural eye for arranging things and I realized that after being exposed to it my whole life, it eventually rubbed of on me as well.

What was your first job in your chosen field?

My first job was for Maharam in NYC. I helped name the fabrics but my position wasn't design related.

(Okay, I am digging this company- especially their virtual library. Maybe not all my style, but sure beats having a bunch of heavy binders to lug around and store.)

My first real "design" job was for an incredibly talented designer, Dawn Helm at Ver Strate Design. I am so lucky I was able to work with her.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Learn how to flirt with the crew.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere, seriously. Nature, fashion, old movies, art, music even my dreams sometimes!

Which websites do you visit every day?

I like to read a few design blogs in the morning, YOURS! obviously. I don't read them every day but I like Peak of Chic, Habitually Chic, Inhabitat, Designboom and Gawker is a must for something fun.

What's in your bag?- or- finish this sentence, please: I don't leave home without...

My measuring tape and paint samples. I keep an extra set in my car just in case.

Shameless plug- go for it!

My website, and like my page on Facebook!

And, as if Ms. Julie doesn't have enough going on already, she and boyfriend Evan just got engaged!

Best wishes to the happy couple.


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