Jacqueline Downs is the owner of her eponymous design firm in Tampa, Florida, and also the founder of Jacqueline Downs Collective, a resource for artisan-made pieces for the home. We first met Jacqueline in the summer of 2021 when she visited Brooklyn while building a list of artisans and brands to represent in Florida, and it wasn’t long before we decided to participate in her new venture. Last spring, we sent her a custom 16-foot-long sofa that sits in the showroom, and Jacqueline’s team has been so kind to share our story with the firm’s clients and also designers throughout Florida. Here, we’re pleased to share a bit of her story.
Jacqueline Downs and the 16-foot custom sofa we created for her.
What made you want to start your own business?
My stepmother is an interior designer, so I grew up tagging along with her to source and install. My parents have always fostered my love for art and design even to this day. Originally, I started college in pursuit to be a fine arts painter, but switched my major to design two years in and I'm so glad I did! I worked for larger architectural firms after graduation, one in Atlanta and one in Tampa. Not long after the birth of my second daughter, I started my own firm—it started with a single residential project and snowballed from there!
What advice would you give to the next generation of female designers/business owners?
I think being a designer and being a business owner are two different roles and just because you're a good designer doesn't mean you should be a business owner. The design business is fast-paced, intricate, and complicated. For me, as a business owner, it's all about time management, boundaries, and being efficient with our time and workflow. As a designer my best piece of advice would be to travel as much as you can and experiment. Don't be afraid of failure and hone in on your signature style. Keep your side blinders on and do you; that is what will set you apart and what people will be drawn to!
Artisans that are part of the Jacqueline Downs Collective include Wud, Thomas Hayes, and Gabriel Scott. Above right: Jacqueline's talented team.
From seeing all that are part of your Collective, we know you gravitate towards soul! Why do you think that’s important?
I believe true design has much more to do with how a space feels than how it looks. We pay attention to where materials are sourced, the light a certain window placement will bring and every other small detail that you might not realize has an enormous amount of thought and intention behind it. Our job is to be our client's storytellers and to make sure that when they walk in the door, their space supports their lifestyle and well-being. I think every piece and every person you bring into your home is sacred and brings with it/them an energy. I encourage my clients to know where their furnishings are coming from, who is making them and who they are supporting with their purchase(s). My goal with the JD Collective is that we can transition away from the throwaway culture and back to supporting sustainable, intentional and handmade goods.
Thanks, Jacqueline! It’s been a pleasure working with you and your team!