Meet Jamie R. Kern, ASID Design Theory Interiors of California Inc.

Q: Can you describe to our readers a description of your business?
JK: I am an interior designer specializing in Residential Interiors. I enjoy working on new construction, renovation and interior décor projects. I have a passion for kitchen and bath design as well as design of various types of custom cabinetry and furniture. When engaged in new construction or renovation projects I am typically hands-on in all facets of the design, guiding clients throughout the process and assisting in selection of trims, plumbing fixtures, lighting, finish materials, doors, and door hardware. When developing an interior décor project, I work closely with homeowners in the selection and purchase of all aspects of décor including furnishings, artwork, accessories, lighting, bedding and window treatments.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
JK: Having earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance with a minor in Business Law, I had been an Auditor in the Insurance industry for 15 years. After years of friends commenting on my own homes and telling me they’d like me to “do their homes one day”, I decided it was time I looked into what that meant. I decided to go back to art school to expand my knowledge and I fell in love with design from day one. I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design and went to work for a firm designing Golf Country Clubs. I earned my NCIDQ designation as a Registered Interior Designer and five years later decide it was time to try it on my own. I had made good contacts in the industry, had a strong background in business and had been lucky enough to work for a design firm that had thrown me in the trenches and taught me the practical and technical skills of the interior design business. I was lucky in that I started my business when the economy was booming. When the economy took a dive in 2008, country club renovation and construction followed suit. And it was then that I began looking into a different avenue of design. It was obvious that homeowners were not buying, selling and flipping real estate as they had been, and with that came a change of focus. Homeowners began renovating and updating their existing homes with plans on staying for the long term. I was able to tap into this market, assisting with renovations, new furnishings, custom window treatments. And from there my residential design business began to grow.

Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
JK: Be confident in your skillset and in your value - not arrogant, and not attention-seeking. Accept that you don’t have all the answers. None of us do. It’s better to say, “Let me delve further into that and get back to you with a more concise answer” than to fake it. Faking it is for the insecure, and it will always backfire. Accept that you aren’t the best at everything. And then build a team around you of people who are the best at their individual skills that differ from your own. Be honest, be ethical, and be kind.

Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?
JK: When my husband and I were young and early in our marriage we were both traveling quite a bit with our respective jobs. It was hard on a young marriage, yet we knew that work would have to be a priority if we wanted to succeed. So, we made a deal and shook on it. When we were in town and not traveling on business during the work week, we would turn our work off when we got home in the evenings and we would spend that time enjoying our time together. We understood that there would be times when duty called and there would be later nights at work, but when it was possible, we spent our evenings together unwinding and regrouping for what the next day had in store. But the thing that really helped most to maintain a healthy balance was our commitment to work-free weekends that allowed us to re-charge our batteries and grown in our relationship a little bit every week.

Q: If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?
JK: Wishing I could be doing my current job. I’m blessed to be doing something I love and look forward to every day.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you?
JK: Give. Save. Live. When that check comes in or that new job contract is signed, make it your priority to give. Then set aside some savings for the future, and live on the rest.

Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
JK: I’m an avid reader, I love cycling – on the road and on the mountain, traveling, and spending time with my husband and my dogs, Tina Belle and Dorothy Jean.

Q: What do you like the most about living in the Bay Area?
JK: Are you kidding? The Bay Area has everything. Amazing weather, no humidity, the mountains and ocean are just a short drive from anywhere, theater, dining, one of the greatest cities in the country.

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