Turning 20—With More Than A Little Help From My Friends

JLI 2018 Valentine Napkin 180108 AM Artboard 1

JLI 20th Anniversary graphic designed by Thirst.

Only 30% of businesses survive their 10th year in business, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So what does that have to do with luxury interior design? I started Jessica Lagrange Interiors 20 years ago. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I’m picking Valentine’s Day as my anniversary because it’s the ultimate time to celebrate friendship, romance and passion.

For me, these three concepts hold deep meaning, and aren’t limited to just my significant other. Friendship is everything in life; without my friends—who often started out as my clients, competitors, suppliers, vendors and team members—Jessica Lagrange Interiors wouldn’t exist today. And I think we need to find romance and passion in everything we do—from relating to our friends and the rest of the world to our professions.

I’ve been lucky enough to find friendship, romance and passion in so many avenues of my life, but especially in my work. An old adage says to do what you love, but few of us are lucky enough to really get to do what they love. I was lucky enough to fall into doing something I love when I dropped out of college in my junior year because I couldn’t pick a major, and ended up in the resource library at SOM. I was seduced by interior architecture and design, and went back to school to get a degree at SAIC.

Today, I’ve been in the luxury interior design business for 35 years—and 20 as the head of Jessica Lagrange Interiors. And what I’m most passionate about is the friendships I have built with the people who have helped me make my business so stimulating, rewarding and robust over the past 20 years. My entrée to design, and passion for this field, has been nurtured and expanded by all of my clients, collaborators, vendors, fellow designers and teammates.

I still have many of the same clients today as I did when I started; they’ve come to me to do new places, tweak their current homes once again or design their children’s homes. My clients have helped me see that every problem has a solution and every shortcoming can become a strength. I am deeply grateful for their trust, support and business.

I’m also deeply grateful to my collaborators. These are the hardworking, brilliant architects, builders, contractors, vendors, suppliers and consultants who have allowed us to offer our clients the best guidance, quality and service possible. They’ve helped us become better designers, and opened our eyes to so many new possibilities.

So have my friendly competitors, who are now, in many cases, my close friends. We share knowledge in every facet of design, and knowledge is power. I am thankful for their friendship, counsel, empathy and support.

I always save the best for last, and I am most proud of my immensely talented and equally passionate JLI teammates—both past and present! It is they who have helped Jessica Lagrange Interiors survive and thrive. Some of my very first employees have their own businesses today, and I am so proud of their successes. This firm wouldn’t be here today without each and every one of them. This talented bunch of professionals is the key to the success of Jessica Lagrange Interiors; they keep this firm going, especially since I’m always in transit to discover new sources around the world.

So today we turn 20, with more than a little help from our friends—and the benefit of hindsight, which we know is 20/20. And that hindsight tells me we’re really lucky to be here. That’s because when I looked up the exact stats for businesses founded in 1998, only about 20% exist today. So clearly 20 is our lucky number.

14 Feb 2018

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