Many business owners spend a lot of time projecting and planning for the next year without ever pausing to look back and reflect on the previous year. While future planning is critical, the past can inform the future unlike anything else. The past can help us learn from mistakes, identify what went right, and give us the courage to walk through challenges that are casting doubt on our capabilities.

Before the new year begins, I quiet my heart and take time to look back on both my personal life and my business. This has become an important practice for me, because I’m not the same person I was at the start of last year, and JAI is not the same business either. That alone is worth realizing.

Looking back also helps me:

  • Make sense of the hard moments and see how they moved me toward growth.
  • Appreciate the people, projects, and moments that are part of the memories worth revisiting.
  • Feel incredibly proud of how far I’ve come.

I also prioritize planning and creating space where I can focus on the future. I look at emerging trends in business, the hospitality industry, and design. I talk to my mentors and my support system about my goals and any roadblocks I see in my way.

Here are the highlights of my 2019 reflective deep dive, and a quick glimpse of the projections I see for 2020.

A Look Back At 2019

2019 started with a lot of potential changes in store for JAI. I knew I had two choices; I could either resist those changes, or embrace them. My past informed me that if I wanted to succeed I would need to do hard things, so I knew there was only one choice that would push me toward growth.

I walked into 2019 with my arms wide open, and it flourished into one incredible year.

The Greatest Challenge

Opening Our New Northeast Work Environment   

Taking a huge leap of faith, I decided it was the right time for JAI to expand our territory. In the spring, I officially announced our expansion into New Jersey. It has been the perfect place to start our first remote office location, as it positioned us to take advantage of all the resources in New York City—a leading hotel design market.

There was an initial learning curve, but having those remote team members has been a big win for our clients. Between the showrooms, talent, and tools available, our new location opened us to new and different ways of doing the work we love. With proximity to New York City, we also gain access to additional inspiration and resources, have opportunities to be active members in a community of world-class designers, and be able to represent JAI in a major metropolitan city.

The Most Memorable Milestones

Porcelanosa and Dinner with Prince Charles

In June, I was invited to tour the Porcelanosa factory in Spain. Porcelanosa is a global leader in the innovation, design, manufacture, and distribution of tile, kitchen and bath products.

I look back with sincere gratitude to Andy Pennington, Sylvestre Segarra, and Porcelanosa for extending an exclusive invitation to me and only four others from the industry to a very special dinner at Buckingham Palace for The Prince’s Foundation—a Prince Charles charity.  My mother was born and raised just outside of London, so I have always felt a very strong connection to England and the Royal Family. This experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The stop in London was followed by three days in Valencia, Spain, touring the spectacular factories and showrooms of Porcelanosa’s eight family-owned companies. It was inspiring to see their processes and operations and interact with trendsetting, cutting-edge designers.

Launching my First Product Design   

When visionary designer Stacy Garcia approached me about designing a customizable fabric for LebaTex, it was a dream come true. LebaTex is a commercial textile supplier for the hospitality, commercial and healthcare interior design community.

The pattern was born out of my love for palm trees. I have always believed nature is the purest form of beauty and a great design includes the perfect balance of organic and geometric elements. Being born and raised in Wisconsin, I remember how much I was impacted when I saw my first palm tree in person. I combined the palm leaf I love so much with a classic chevron pattern and threw in a bit of camo, because who doesn’t love camo.

My first fabric design launched in November!

The Project Highlights

Orlando Airport Hyatt Regency   

Located inside the Orlando International Airport main terminal, the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport Hotel is the perfect respite location for travelers, business or leisure alike. With over 47 million annual passengers bustling through, the hotel’s convenient location and 4-star accommodations make it one of the best lodging choices in Orlando, Florida.

JAI has never shied away from challenges. This was our first Hyatt Regency project, and we designed the hotel’s 445 guest rooms, suites, and interior corridors. Excellent communication and honest relationships were important for obtaining approvals and keeping the project in budget and on schedule. The hotel’s project management validated our team as more than just talented, creative people–they saw us as skilled listeners, negotiators, communicators, and mediators.

Beaufort Hotel NC   

Since April 2019, guests have experienced a memorable stay at the Beaufort Hotel NC, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member. The 133-room boutique hotel offers relaxing accommodations and friendly staff members that introduce travelers to the unique sights and experiences in Beaufort, North Carolina.

The Beaufort Hotel provided JAI the opportunity to pour our time, talents, and passion into a design that will be experienced over and over again through the long-lasting memories made by their guests. It was an honor to create a one-of-a-kind hotel that offers beautiful guest rooms overlooking the unique sights and local culture of coastal North Carolina.

Heart Project: Iglesia Radical Pacific Bible Institute

This summer marked two years since my first trip to Jacó, Costa Rica, where I felt the clarity of JAI mission: Design that Makes a Difference. 

In August, I returned to Jacó with my daughter. We had an incredible opportunity to serve the “river kids” and their families again. I was also able to see the first of five phases completed on the Iglesia Radical Pacific Bible Institute, a heart project JAI is helping to design. It was wonderful for my daughter to meet the kids we love and to see this beautiful mission being led by Pastor David Knapp and his family.

The Big Design Trend

Biophilic Design   

There has been one notable design trend our industry saw grow in popularity this past year. It is Biophilic Design (which incorporates more nature into spaces) and understanding how biophilic design can benefit a person’s health, mood, and overall experience. I shared more ways this is influencing the hotel industry in a recent post: Biophilic Design Trend.

A Look Ahead to 2020

2019 is going to be a hard year to top, but I’m ready! Here is a quick glimpse at some of my notes as I projected what this coming year will hold. 

Good-bye Big Design Libraries

The growth of Material Bank is changing the way designers work. Thanks to their technology, hundreds of leading brands can now be accessed on a single site. Material Bank powers complex searches across hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of materials in seconds, turning hours of work into mere minutes. We will continue to downsize our physical design library and move toward ordering samples online.

Hello Remote Office Spaces

With the success of our first remote location in New Jersey, JAI (along with many other forward-thinking companies) will continue to provide greater flexibility and better quality of life to our team by reducing our office space. By expanding our remote work environment model to now include New York and Atlanta, we will continue to grow our team with more of the top designers from around the country.

More Palm Trees

My LebaTex fabric design isn’t the only place we hope to see more palm trees in 2020. We hope to extend our design services to the Caribbean again. The impact of tourism on those islands deeply affects the lives of the people who live there, so taking projects that will help expand their economy and improve their lives is a passion of mine. I hope our team can also get involved in helping to rebuild the Bahamas.

Boutiques and Brands

We have so many exciting projects scheduled for 2020, including both branded and boutique hotels for some of our best clients. We’ll keep you updated throughout the year on our project highlights.

Watch the Trends

Art Deco is making a comeback. Look for bold designs, clear lines, intense colors, geometric shapes, and vibrant patterns.

What Are Your Goals for 2020?

Ten years ago, I created a guide to help me determine my goals for each year. I’ve been using it ever since, now for my personal and family goals as well. There’s something empowering about writing down your plans, hopes, and dreams for the coming year.  This practice has motivated me to reach higher and dream bigger. My goal setting allows me to look back each year and see how far JAI has come and then plan how much further I want to go. As I look back on a decade of goals, I now have a Life and Business Plan legacy that traces both the pains and the growth that has gotten us here.

As we begin the new year, I want to encourage you to take a few moments to use my planning guide for your personal and business goals. Create an event out of it. Gather your employees or your family together and ask them to share one word that goes with each relevant category. Write down what they say and commit to encouraging one another toward growth and accomplishment. Keep your planning guide where you can see it and work toward it each day.


Highlights from 2019

Make a list of the good and the challenging things that happened last year.

2020 GOALS:

List three new things you’d like to experience this year:

List three things you would like to improve about yourself this year:

Under each applicable category, list one or more goal for this year:

Spiritual Goal:

Family Goal:

Physical/Health Goal:

Career Goal:

Recreational Goal:

Financial Goal:

Relationship Goal:

I’d Love to Talk to YOU in 2020

I am so excited about the many new opportunities ahead for you and for JAI. I would love to speak with you about your upcoming hospitality design needs. One thing will be sure to remain the same in 2020–JAI’s commitment to creating Design that Makes a Difference.