When we first walked into the showroom at Tai Ping Carpets, we were in awe. The carpets are true pieces of art. We were given a tour of the office and showroom by Laine Alexandra, the Global Business Development Director. Laine studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College, but it wasn’t until a field trip to the mansions in Rhode Island when she had an epiphany and realized her passion: interior design.
In addition to working at her top choice design firm after college, she also took night classes at the New York School of Interior Design to further her education. Ambitious, hardworking, and a fast learner, Laine always gives 100% to what she is doing. When it comes to a challenge, Laine is up for it. Laine demonstrates that even if you think you are on a certain career path, you just might have a eureka moment and things can change, and that’s more than okay. You never know when inspiration will strike! Read on to find out how Laine chose her college major, what books and resources she finds most useful, and the advice she would give her 20-year-old self.
Name: Laine Alexandra
Education: B.A. in Communication and Sociology at Boston College; AAS in Interior Design at New York School of Interior Design
Location: New York, New York
Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?
Laine Alexandra: Saying yes to any opportunity to learn. Doing what scares you. Doing what you’re not good at. Making mistakes. Doing what you enjoy and seeing where it can take you.
CJ: You studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College. How did you decide what to study?
LA: I was a senior in High School on 9/11. Watching the world depend on television, and more specifically on television journalists, to both find and effectively communicate the truth about events that impact lives on a tremendous scale had a significant impression on me, and I decided to study broadcast journalism. I ended up with a minor in sociology (and almost a minor in Art History) simply because I took all the electives I loved!
CJ: What did your career path look like when you graduated from college?
LA: My career path took a 180 from what I studied. Two things happened. 1) In the years following 9/11, I grew increasingly disillusioned by sensationalism that, to me, seemed to overshadow the value of journalism. This lead to a pit in my stomach about entering the profession I had spent the last five years dreaming about joining. 2) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In the early days of my diagnosis, it was quite severe and it was critical to be near a progressive hospital with the clinical trials I needed.
With these factors in mind, my Mom gave me some amazing advice. “Please, please do what you love, not because it is prestigious, altruistic, or lucrative. You can’t be happy unless you are actually happy. And, if you start with something that makes your heart sing, you can go anywhere. (Just please go somewhere with good healthcare).”
The following week an art history elective I was enrolled in took a field trip to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. In the ballroom of the Biltmore, I had an epiphany. While I had always loved interior design and considered it a passion, I didn’t realize how significant the industry and opportunities might be until I got a taste in Newport. The next day, I emailed 50 interior designers I found in Architectural Digest. I got three interviews, and an offer from my top choice – the venerable Drake Design Associates, Jamie Drake’s firm.
CJ: You attended the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). What was this experience like and why did you choose to attend this school?
LA: Jamie [of Drake Design Associates] is both a talented and trained designer. I realized while a formal education is not always necessary in the interior design world, I felt that I needed the credibility and knowledge that comes with a degree. NYSID was fantastic for a few reasons. The professors are actively involved in the design community and offered both classical education as well as real, business-savvy perspective. Secondly, NYSID offered night and weekend classes, so I was able to complete my degree while continuing to work for Drake Design Associates.
CJ: You are now the Global Business Development Director at Tai Ping Carpets. What does your role entail? What do your daily tasks look like?
LA: I’m project managing a global distribution initiative for Tai Ping, working with people in all areas of the company and in three continents.
CJ: What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?
LA: It’s both intimidating and exciting making the road map.
CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?
LA: Handwritten lists.
CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?
CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?
LA: Long walks or yoga. Wine with friends also works.
CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?
LA: Yes, I am big believer in and supporter of Planned Parenthood (PP). My mother was a counselor there when I was a kid, so I have always admired the organization. As a young-adult facing major medical bills and insurance issues, I developed a significantly deeper appreciation for the affordable healthcare PP provides women (and men), both related to reproductive issues and also as general practitioners.
CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?
LA: What I’m working to improve applies both personally and professionally. I’m trying to get comfortable with the unknown, and learning it’s okay to be wrong and not have all the answers.
CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
LA: Take the class you might fail. Invest in travel. Don’t worry about 10 years from now, figure out two years from now, or even just next month.
Images by Carpe Juvenis