My dad was an artist and graphic designer. I inherited his artistic talent and, nurtured by my mother, combined it with my interest in home design. I chose to major in Interior Design at the University of Oklahoma, which focuses on commercial design. Upon graduation, I started working for an architecture firm as a junior interior designer. What inspires me to design is the opportunity to solve problems in a way that is both efficient and beautiful.

There were times that I had to downplay my experience and intelligence in order for a male teammate to listen to my ideas. It can be dehumanizing to have to choose between representing my capabilities and the improvement of a project.

I find that female designers tend to focus on how a space affects a user. How does the user feel when they first enter the space? Is moving through the space intuitive for the user? Does the space make them feel relaxed or anxious?

I’ve had many role models over the years, but the ones who’ve made the biggest impact have been my female clients who are leaders in their respective industries. I’ve learned from them how to be firm, yet kind, and unapologetic about taking up space in rooms often dominated by men.

I would advise women to know their strengths and be proud of them. Ask questions and soak up as much information as they can.

One of my favorite projects was the remodel of a law firm. I got to work closely with a female partner of the firm who was obviously very intelligent, but also very warm. She made everyone on the team, from principal architect to lighting subcontractor know they were important and vital to the project. I enjoyed soaking up her knowledge and energy, and collaborating on a successful project.

Building Enclosure Celebrates International Women's Day

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Jacqueline Beckingham Melvalean McLemore Lisa Haude Erin McDannald Ashley Smith Samantha McCormack Rachael Lewis Taylor Starr Stephanie Lafontaine Christine Faverio Erin Carlisle Melissa Strickland Lisbeth Jimenez Ula Bochinska