Let me Reintroduce Myself…


Let me Reintroduce Myself…

Design Week Ja 2020

Sunday, October 18, 2020

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My name is Karen Booker. I am an entrepreneur, interior designer, a finish contractor, executive producer, and blogger. No seriously, it's all true!

I graduated from Immaculate Conception High School by the grace of God, as He knew the struggle was real; I was the rebel with potential — talked too much, was too big for my age, and marched to my own rhythm. I migrated right after high school to New York and, before entering university I worked in the family bakery. Please believe me when I tell you, I hated that job!

I worked in paint stores for free to develop my craft; I worked in hardware stores to gain first-hand knowledge about tools and to get on-the-ground experience in construction. I worked at a wallpaper store to learn how to figure and hang wallpaper, and at a craft store to hone my skills in floral design. I even worked part-time at a department store as a make-up artist. Little did I know that all those experiences were preparing me for what was to become.

Eventually, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, cum laude, and years later after working double shifts and going to school, a Master's in Business Administration from New York University.

I worked as an intern, design assistant, junior assistant, then designer in various practices. My holistic and transformative approach to design resulted in me becoming the first black person and only Jamaican to earn the coveted title of director of interior design in the world-renowned Bloomingdale's department store. Believe me, it was no cake walk. I had to work harder than everybody else and constantly prove myself. I lived by a personal mantra: I am only as good as my last accomplishment. My style, a deftly curated blend of functionality, glamour, reality and a twist of fun, generally receives a nod of approval from my clients however diverse they may be.

I have participated in prominent designer showhouses, sealing my place as one of Long Island's leading designers.

My first project after returning to Jamaica was the transformation of the Cardiff Hotel in Runaway Bay, where I led the charge in sustainable décor by providing green spaces. As a newly minted foreigner, I was baptised in fire…even told I could stay on property but with no meals… that experience however did not stop me. I went on to expand my creative footprint to include clients such as Hardware & Lumber, NCB, JBDC, WIHCON and CPFSA and HEART Trust NTA, to name a few.

Karen Booker Design Group Ltd was formed in 2012 and is now a full-service interior design and finish construction company. In 2013 the first DeZign Diva Lifestyle store was opened, and in 2014 the wildly popular DeZign Diva decorating segment came to life on Television Jamaica. 2016 saw the opening of my factory, which is solely responsible for the brand Jamaica Signature Collection, a line of soft furnishings:- ready to hang drapes, accent pillows, table runners, furniture throws and most recently the aromatic collection “Scentiments by DeZign” candles made with essential oils. In 2017 the DeZignDiva Lifestyle brand opened its second store in Ligueanea. The DeZign Diva franchise was launched in 2017; the expansion to offer full-service contracting services came full circle in 2018 and 2019. Then came COVID in 2020 and I learned how to use my prior experiences to survive.

I consider myself blazing the trail in interior design and decorating in Jamaica, and I am in the process of forming the Jamaica Society of Interior Design and Decorators in an effort to standardise the practice. My Lifestyle Academy, an online campus is scheduled for spring 2021 with course offerings in décor, etiquette and life skills, to name a few. An interactive radio talk show in the works will delve into matters like life hacks and décor.

My ultimate ambition is to leave the world a much better place than I have experienced it and I will continue to pay it forward by strategically plotting my course which will always be underpinned by service.

Karen Booker
Principal/Creative Director
Karen Booker Design Group

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