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What I have learned working with Tina
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What I have learned working with Tina

As I wind down my time in Vancouver I find I have been in reflection mode a lot.  Moving cities brings with it a multitude of emotions that need to be worked through.  There is excitement beyond measure at the changes ahead; I find myself dreaming of lounging in my new back garden and finding new little coffee spots and walking along the breakwater and there are also wistful moments as I think about leaving my beloved family and friends.  I am leaving where I was brought up and where I raised my kids. I am leaving a life behind me and at times that feels pretty raw but I am working through all the emotions and I know I will feel ready by the time the moving truck pulls up in front of my house.


One area where I have been spending a lot of my reflection time is on my journey with Designers Collective.  Tina and I met when our kids were in Swim Club together many moons ago. Tina and her husband Graham were also the architects on our house renovation back in 2001.  Tina and I had been out of touch for many years as happens when our children grow out of their childhood hobbies. Then about 5 years ago Tina emailed me asking if I was interested in sharing office space.  I had just come out of my marriage and my kids were all either out of the house or soon to be out of the house. I was looking for my next step so when Tina’s email came through I was delighted. I was also experimenting with saying “yes” to invitations that came my way.  This one was a big, fat yes! Tina had two other friends she was also asking so there would be 4 of us sharing office space. I thought this would be a great way to get out of my home office and out in the world. As time would have it, the other two decided not to join in so Tina and I decided to join forces and Designers Collective was born.  


Over the last 5 years we have done SO much!  We have done Pop Ups before people really knew what Pop Ups were and got to meet some amazing people on the way.  Vancouver has some outstanding creative makers and I feel honoured to have met them and been a small part of their process.  We have led design tours to LA, which were so much fun and also full of great learning experiences. We have led workshops on Design, Lighting, and Styling both in our studio and out in the community sharing our years of design knowledge.  We have held Creative Therapy evenings in the studio where we create a project while gathering together with other people also interested in a creative outlet. We have done Dinner By Design at the Vancouver Design show which was a huge event that was super stressful but even more rewarding.  We have blogged and instagrammed about design and lifestyle learning some how-tos from conferences we attended. In between all this we have designed some projects we are very proud of, from high-end condo renovations, new builds, and church common areas to low-income housing design updates each with their own unique mandate and design aesthetic.


Photoshoot at ALT


The window of our very first pop up shop


The 3D plans for our first pop up– so much planning!


Some of the many vendors and makers we were able to work with– such a great experience!


Prepping for a workshop


Decorating for a client’s daughter’s engagement party


DIY-recovering chairs


A traditional palette


Tina leading discussion at one of our workshops


Our Spring Planters Workshop in action


When I look back at my time with Designers Collective I am very cognizant that I would not have done any of the things we did outside of design projects had I been on my own.  Tina has ideas ALL. THE. TIME. As I plug along focused on one project at a time, she can hold many different balls in the air at the same time. I am in awe of how she comes up with her new ideas.  I even have a Google doc labeled Tina’s Ideas. This is a spot to mark down her ideas that we can’t get to yet but that just need to be documented. I mean seriously, who has THAT many ideas?!



LA Design Tour


Tina Thrifting!


Tea Towels we designed


Creating a client’s palette


Prepping a photo for a cooking blog


One of our Creative Therapy sessions


A Thanksgiving table setting


Our Happy Kitchen Project


Setting up for Dinner by Design


Opening night of Dinner by Design


Tina at a consultation


DIY-Wallpapering a powder room for American Standard blog post


There are several things I have learned from Tina over the last five years.  She has been a great teacher to me in so many ways as I so believe we have people in our lives for a reason.  A big lesson I learned is to ask for what we need. The worst that can happen is they say “no” but so often they don’t say no and are very happy to share with us.  An example of this is with mentors in the design field.  Tina would ask them questions and almost every time they would oblige and end up having a lovely conversation with us.  This is definitely something I will carry forward in my own life. People really do want to help each other and connect and it is more than okay to ask questions.

Tina is outgoing.  I am not. There have been so many times where I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and then been pleasantly surprised.  One of these instances is the ALT conference we have now attended three times. Each time I went it was hard work for me to push myself into being more sociable than my introverted self was comfortable being BUT, always, always, always I was glad I went and ended up learning so much and having fun and meeting people and being inspired. Tina has confidence in new situations and really takes the bull by its horns.  It can be infectious to be around her energy. I really don’t think I would have pushed myself to go on my own. I am still introverted but I now understand the value of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and into my growing edge. I still have the initial inward balk to many events but I don’t have that feeling that I-am-doing-it-but-digging-in-my-heels-the-whole-time kind of feeling. It feels good to be just a bit more outgoing than I was.  Thank you Tina for showing me it’s ok to put yourself out there and that the sky won’t fall!

Tina has determination that is to be admired. She does whatever needs to be done in order to circumvent any obstacles along the way.  If someone tells her something cannot be done she will very often find a way. This is a huge lesson for me. I now definitely look at alternatives when before I would have taken “no” more at face value.


Site visit during consstruction


Tina is an amazing connector.  She has such a vast network and is always happy to help wherever she can.  If someone needs a graphic designer, Tina always knows just who to connect them to.  If someone needs a lawyer, or an accountant, Tina just looks in to her phone and has just the right contact at her fingertips.


Meeting Emily Henderson at the Vancouver Interior Design Show


From a design perspective I have learned a lot from Tina.  Because she is an architect, she has a different way of looking at things.  She sees space a little differently than I do so I have mined that knowledge for all it’s worth and will definitely take those lessons into any new projects I have moving forward.  We have been able to do bigger projects than I would have been able to do on my own which has been very exciting for me. I love being able to work on a project from the ground up and working with Tina as an architect has allowed me to do just that.  I have a much better idea of what goes into a project from an architectural perspective.


At our wreath-making workshop


Adding the finishing touches


Another LA Design Tour


All hands on deck as we work towards a deadline!


I feel humbled and honoured to have served in Designers Collective over the last five years.  I will miss the day-to-day camaraderie we had in our office. We had SO many good conversations over the years as we lamented over kids leaving home or the mundane of what to cook for dinner.  Conversations from our latest design ideas to aging parents, to mid life and beyond were mainstays in our office. Not only has Tina been a design partner but also she is a friend who I will miss.  I do know, even though I will be in Victoria, I will be messaging her and texting and phoning to get her opinion on my own design projects in Victoria. I am so grateful for all the experiences I have had with Tina and with Designers Collective.  It has been an amazing ride and I will miss it tremendously!


Our latest venture– custom benches

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