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Meet Kathryn Mickel of Monogram Hospitality Interiors at BBGM in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathryn Mickel.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kathryn. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I actually kind of evolved into working in the Design field. I had a very focused career in theatre and dance. After receiving my MFA in the field of dance, I went on to perform and to run a College Dance Department for 5 years. A career in Dance is generally short-lived and not particularly lucrative, so in my early 30’s I started exploring other fields. In my previous career, I had extensive exposure to set design, lighting design and of course choreography which is really sculpting space. Looking at a future in the design field seemed like a natural transition. I was fortunate to be able to attend RISD’s 5 year program and managed to get through the BFA and BIA programs in 3.5 years. It was an amazing experience and in many ways life changing. It was at RISD that I discovered my passion for the Hospitality Industry. I was fortunate to find work in the early years with some great Specialists and very quickly worked my way into senior positions. My biggest break was landing a Design Director position with the then International Hospitality Design firm BBG-BBGM. I had a great mentor there and was given free rein to grow my own team of designers. I was made a Partner with the firm within 2 years and within 5 years was given the opportunity to open an Architecture and Interior Design office for the firm in Arizona. That was 15 years ago and many of my original Team members are still with me. We have transformed and evolved over the last several years and about 7 years ago, our Team collectively decided we really wanted to create our own brand and focus our work on highly creative unique projects. Thus, the MONOGRAM Hospitality Interiors Brand was born. It has been a labor of love for all of us and we are all equally dedicated to the success of the Team and the growth of the Brand.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, I wouldn’t say it was a smooth road by any means, but it is in overcoming life’s bumps and challenges that make the effort worthwhile. Coming from the East Coast to open a new practice in the West was certainly a challenge. I knew no one personally and had no Client base. My firm gave me 18 months to make it happen. People thought I was crazy, but I love a challenge and I guess with youth comes fearlessness and energy.

I think the other really big obstacle was universally felt. The economic downturn in 2009 hit everyone really hard, but our industry nearly came to a standstill. We managed to keep our Team afloat, but it wasn’t easy.

Please tell us about MONOGRAM Hospitality Interiors at BBGM.
Our Firm is made up of two Brands under one roof. BBGM is the mothership and the Architecture and Workplace Interiors end of the Practice. MONOGRAM at BBGM is a specialty Hospitality Interior Design Group and our focus is on design for upscale, luxury and lifestyle hotels and resorts. This really includes a broad range of projects including amenity areas like spas, restaurants, conferencing facilities, and country clubs, which may be independent or associated with a hotel or resort. The Firm has offices in Washington, DC, Scottsdale, AZ and we are testing the waters with a small presence in Seattle, Washington. The locations are strategic and allow us to easily service Clients all over the country and even some international locations.

What we hear from our Clients that sets us apart from other similar firms is that our design is really focused on each Client’s business strategy and adapt each design challenge to that particular strategy. Our approach is not formulaic. Each challenge and each Client is a little different, so you need be flexible and attentive. We are highly collaborative and understand that, at the end of the day, the design we put forth needs to meet the goals of the Client economically and functionally as well as aesthetically. I think the fact that we are small also allows us to be selective about the projects we take on. The Principals are all very involved in their projects from beginning to end, and because we have been together as a Team for so many years, we all know each other’s strengths and complement each other’s particular talents.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I think life is more about a having positive attitude and a personal vision than it is about luck. I have always been a dreamer and believe that with focus and hard work you can make dreams come true… or at least come close.

If there was any luck in life that I can turn to, it was being lucky enough to be born to great and loving parents. They encouraged me to believe that anything was possible. Being blessed with good health is certainly luck as well.

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