Building Moxie with Elizabeth Cb Marsh :: A Month in the Life with an Associate Interior Designer :: Intro
I met Elizabeth Cb Marsh during my night out to hear Houzz CEO Adi Tatarko speak. (At the time, she, Elizabeth, was known as Elizabeth Cross-Beard and more on that in a bit.) It was only a brief encounter initiated by friend Amanda Lopez of Style House Realty. In it, though, I learned that Elizabeth is an Associate with one of Baltimore’s more prominent interior design firms, Jenkins Baer Associates.
It was only a tad ironic, too, when I told Elizabeth that we (Building Moxie) had previously published a post featuring JBA Principal, Jay Jenkins. More so … when I learned that it was actually Jay Jenkins who brought Elizabeth into the folds of the firm. With a background in architectural design, she was initially hired as one of Jenkins’ design assistants, some seven years earlier (and more on that in a bit).
Surprising really, but my next comment that night didn’t even seem to phase her. I started, “Aren’t you a little . . . young …?” Her response, as if she had heard that question before, “Well, Yes . . . I do get that….”
And yet, she still answered my email when I followed up the next day. Ha! I mean – Okay, we did, as it turned out, have a sorta shared interest. Elizabeth, it seems, was a one-time blogger, and you can find much of her work (with the Examiner) here >> http://www.examiner.com/interior-decorating-in-baltimore/elizabeth-cross-beard.
Stoked still on finding a fellow blogger, this then led to a discussion about how we might capitalize on this shared background. Guest Post? Interview? And I had mentioned to her already how I had hoped to expand my … “portfolio” this year. It was in that early discussion that Elizabeth then pointed me to this article >> Living Large. It, if you clicked, appeared in Home & Design (a leading regional magazine focused on Architecture & Fine Interiors), and it, that article, featured one of Elizabeth’s beautifully executed spaces. For me, it was the exact point at which I got an idea.
As we talked some more, I figured maybe we could do a little better than a stock shelter mag-type piece (and, of course, not a knock on the work of Home & Design). From this, though, and for the month of May, we decided that once a week (every Wednesday) I would email her a set of questions, and she in turn would respond by the end of the day. We would work to come up with a kinda “Month in the Life of an Associate Interior Designer” . . . thing.
I was especially intrigued, as this dialog unfolded, by – What it’s like working at/with a large interior design firm.
It’s important to now note that since we started our project, Elizabeth has again been featured in a well-known regional magazine. Chesapeake Home + Living and just earlier this month. Check out the wonderful story and gallery here >> Style in a Small D.C. Apartment.
In our first emails, towards the end of April, Elizabeth gave me a ten thousand foot view of some of the projects she had been working on at the time – a big three. Three projects we began playfully calling All About the Dogs, Bach Pad Redo & Long Distance Décor. (I’ll talk a little bit about some of these in the next of this series.)
But as our conversations continued, it became clear quickly that her work was not limited to just these three, or really, any set number of projects. On any given day, it seemed, Elizabeth would be in communication about, checking selections for, or just in general, she was in various stages with/for say six to eight different clients slash prospects.
AND . . . as if that all weren’t enough, Elizabeth, when we were chatting, was in the midst of finalizing the details for her June wedding. (Yep and hence the name change.) Imagine it, juggling that with this normal workload. Ha! And I do hope this is fair to say, but it was not always easy.
These circumstances in fact, for me, provided good backdrop to the discussion we were having above about personalized service, and the attention she strives to provide for each of her own clients …always.
This post is the first of four, in which I/we discuss working with clients, working in Baltimore, and finding and defining style. I/we discuss the practical challenges and the management of projects, business and billing, as well as and as promised – what it is like working in a large, well-known interior design firm. (Oh, and yes, we might even talk a little bit about design(s) too.)
To find out more or to work with Elizabeth, here is her page on the JBA website. You can also find her on Houzz. (A site that both happens to be a BMoxie sponsor – thank you, but also a site that Elizabeth credits with helping her to connect with new and potential clients.)
Today, I will leave you with an overview of Jenkins Baer (pronounced “bear,” like the one that can eat you). In Elizabeth’s words:
A top interior design firm in Baltimore, Jenkins Baer Associates was founded by Alexander Baer over 30 years ago. By the time, Jay Jenkins took over as owner – the firm was already recognized as a top high-end residential firm. Jay has continued the growth of Jenkins Baer Associates.
The most unique aspect about Jenkins Baer is the mix of amazingly talented associates who work for themselves under the umbrella of the firm. A potential new client really has a variety of design(er) styles to choose from. It’s the farther thing possible from a “one look” design firm.
Thanks for reading and hope you can stop back for updates to this series. dl: I might be shopping the remaining posts around for publishing elsewhere. Hit me on the side if this might be something you are interested in. Thanks again, and thank you Elizabeth. ~jb
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About jb bartkowiak (263 posts)
A one-time construction manager, and always handyman, turned blogger and editor. My wife, Jen, and I are on our 6th property (. . . yes, together). She is a real estate agent. We have two beautiful daughters Evyn and Eva. We currently live and are restoring an 1889 farmhouse in Baltimore's Lauraville area.