I want to kick off my 40th year in the business with a celebration of wisdom and gratitude. Pour yourself a drink, may I suggest a glass of good bourbon, and let’s begin!
I graduated from Mary Baldwin College in 1980 with a music degree and the big desire to go to MUSC to study Physical Therapy. Physics classes however changed that and soon I was looking for something else.
A great friend of mine, Dana Beach, suggested that I visit George Walker at the G. Walker Gallery and ask him for a job doing whatever he needed. Mostly what he wanted was a framer and a salesperson to man the front. I knew ZERO about framing and ZERO about selling anything either. But I am FRIENDLY so I got the job! Turns out that being friendly is a plus in business. THANK YOU, DANA!
George was the catalyst in my career, and I adored him. He taught me the basics that have carried me through these last many years. THANK YOU, GEORGE!
- How to look at art
- Proportion is key to the human eye*
- How to deal with the public
- Finish what you start
- Take Pride in your work
[Design tip: Number 2* is the basis for interior design. This is what makes the puzzle work. This is why I have always loved space planning. It’s why different patterns go together or don’t.]
After I got married, I returned to USC to get a degree in Art Studio with a concentration in Commercial Interior Design. Then I promptly had three boys.
I was working part time for a wonderful architect, JOE ROGERS. He taught me all about commercial design and architecture. Then I went to work for Corporate Concepts and Beth and Jerry Price taught me the office furniture world and space-planning. THANK YOU, JOE AND THANK YOU BETH AND JERRY!
Then I got divorced!
Suddenly, I needed money that would cover real expenses. I decided that Residential Design would be flexible and allow me to own my own business. My mother lent me some money for advertising, and I was waiting for the business to start pouring in.
That didn’t work so well for me UNTIL Lolly Dana called me to work for her and said she would spread the word that I was available. Apparently, she told a bunch of friends because then I had a real business. THANK YOU, LOLLY!
On one of those jobs, I met a marvelous handyperson. Her name was Jane Hearn and I had struck gold. She has been my best coworker and friend ever since.
We had been working out of my house, but Sandy Dillard asked me if I would set up an office in the new Madison Hall on Gervais Street. Now we had an office which made working feel real.
Over the last 20 something years, The Episcopal Retirement Home at Still Hopes has been growing and I got to piggyback on its growth. I was so fortunate to have a lifetime friend in Hazel FitzSimons who got me involved in my first moving jobs. Maria Frank Graham was also wonderful about telling potential residents that Jane and I had tailored the moving experience into a quicker and less painful event. Then Jon Keith, Jessica Elston and Stewart Rawson came along and told people about the work we do.2022 is already a great year for the KJA Team. We are busy working on many projects. We have a super team of capable women who share the load. Christine Townsley Powers, my favorite interior designer, and I work so well together. She has marvelous taste and is so much fun to work with. Harper James and Kate Bellmann are gorgeous in the many different hats they wear, and Mary Catherine Smith makes sure we get our bills paid on time. And then there’s JANE, our custom woodworker extraordinaire!