1up Atlanta Examiner: Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your educational background? What are your general professional and non-professional interests?
Kimberly Ward: My name is Kimberly Ward and I am from Oxford, Mississippi. Oxford is actually a small community about 8 miles north of Oxford called Abbeville. Abbeville is a traditional black community, but what makes it special is that has the 2nd largest number of black land owners in the country. Growing up in Oxford had its advantages. The University of Mississippi is there and where I spent many a summers at one camp or another. I guess that is where my formal education started. I attended the University of Southern Mississippi where I have an under graduate degree in Psychology. After USM, I went straight to graduate school at Tennessee State University, where I received a Master’s degree and began working on a PhD in art and education. I didn’t finish my PhD in education because I wanted to explore more of my creative side. I saw life going in one direction so I shifted gears. I am very interested in the psychology of the home. I love everything about creating a home. In high school, I was the president of both the Future Business Leaders of American and the Future Home Makers of America. That was a crazy combo at the time, but who knew?
1up Atlanta Examiner: When did you realize you wanted to become an interior designer?
Kimberly Ward: I realized that I could be an interior designer sometime in graduate school. I did not know exactly what an interior designer did until then. I had always enjoyed going furniture shopping with my mother, but never imagined that people paid other people to do it. I bought my college boyfriend dishes one Valentine’s day, so I guess in a way, it was always a part of me.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What was your favorite film or television show to design?
Kimberly Ward: My favorite TV project was definitely HGTV. The brand is so huge and its’ reach so vast. I was flown to Curacao a few months ago to host a seminar about global design. People showed up by the hundreds to be a part of it. I know that it’s because of the HGTV brand.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
Kimberly Ward: My biggest accomplishment as a designer is my ability to stick around. I grew up with my business. I made mistakes, tons of them, but I am still here. My company turned 10 years old last year and I had a small celebration with a few people. I remember thinking, “now that those adolescent years are behind me, I can really start to make my mark on this industry.”
1up Atlanta Examiner: What history do African Americans have in this field of work?
Kimberly Ward: Our history in interior design parallels our history in this country. But here is something that you might not know. “Gracious Living” as it is applauded, did not originate in Europe as many people think. It actually originated in the South. So house slaves and later maids were surrounded by fine furnishings and decor. They took that appreciation back and recreated homes that quite literally nature us for generations. It is written…yes, as in the Bible, when God ordered that the Tabernacle to be built, he called those who were skilled in various areas of decorating. Call those who are skilled in drapery making… etc.) so in that way, God gave me that talent.
1up Atlanta Examiner: As an entrepreneur, what is your outlook of social entrepreneurship and is that something you are interested in pursuing with your business?
Kimberly Ward: I had a life changing experience in the days following Hurricane Katrina. It involved a dome full of people, a mother and her 3 children, and a make shift home in the midst of all that chaos. I consider myself an advocate for the home. I believe in real solutions. Right now, there is a nationwide trend where designers partner with shelters to decorate spaces for people transitioning from the streets to permanent housing. I’ve participated in such charities before, but I don’t see how it’s sustainable. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta and we build homes with Habitat for Humanity. That works. I have to examine my efforts and do what I feel is a good fit socially, and not just create a charity for charity sake.
1up Atlanta Examiner: How would you define your personal style?
Kimberly Ward: I believe in luxury especially in things that work. I love the feel of great sheets. I love art. I believe in organization. I believe in things that make a home special, with being overdone or off limits. There is nothing better than down pillows, cashmere throws, and Egyptian cotton sheets. My favorite fabrics are cut velvet’s heavy linens and Egyptian cottons. I could have a single piece of furniture in each room if it were covered in a soft luxurious fabric. You might forget what you saw in my client’s homes, but you will never forget how you felt. I work with colors depending on the homeowner and the region of the world that I am working. People can say what’s in or out, but for clients with a strong sense of country or community, color is more than a fad. It’s a part of who they are. Purple and Blue are two of my favorite colors. You can always decorate with some variation those colors and still be modern.
1up Atlanta Examiner: What are the long-term goals of Kimberly + Cameron Interiors?
Kimberly Ward: My long term goals for Kimberly and Cameron includes, expanding more into TV. I’ve been out in LA working on some projects that I feel it is really needed. It’s a different aspect of my business that I can’t wait to fully develop. As I said before, I am an advocate for the home, especially in our community. That is why I speak at all types of events about diversity in design, and why it’s necessary to reclaim our homes, if we are going to reclaim our children.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Where do you get your inspiration?
Kimberly Ward: I love to travel. It is definitely where I get inspired. I was just in curacao and it was breathtaking. The entire island looks like a bag of skittles. I felt so happy there while working on a penthouse condo in San Juan. On my off days, I love to explore the island with my client. The last time I was there, we spent the day in Aguadilla. The beaches are so beautiful. I could design a million beach houses around those views. I am also working on a project in Ghana, West Africa, which inspires my soul. It has taught me a lot about myself. They are a proud people and would display the county’s flag in their living rooms if left to their own devices. Working there has taught me to be proud of everything that has gone into making me who I am. Professionally, working in Africa has taught me to be patient and trust the process. We are only about 30% complete with the project, and we have been working for over three years. It is customary to build until you run out of money, take a break to make more money and then start up again. I love going back and checking on the project. Initially, I wanted the project to be done so I could take pictures and show everyone what I’ve been working on. Now, I don’t even think about completion. I feel that God has me there for other reasons. I feel most free while in Africa.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Kimberly Ward: My website is www.kimberlywardinc.com – I also have a blog. Pinkeggshell.com – Pinkeggshell is very informal and usually has images and stories from my day to day life. I am always on twitter @Pinkeggshell and on Google+. Not a big fan of Facebook!