Defining Hospitality

Joining the show this week is a talented multi-disciplinary designer with over 25 years managing a variety of projects. As a designer, she’s led teams through the full life of a project. Our guest this week is none other than the Managing Director at AvroKO’s Miami Studio, Kimberly Jackson!

In a candid conversation with Host Dan Ryan, Kimberly shares her insights about her journey in the field of design and hospitality. She sheds light on her practice of incorporating "hospitable thinking" into all of the spaces she designs, highlighting the aspects of security, surprise, significance, and synergy, and emphasizes the role of diversity in the industry.

Takeaways
  • Hospitality extends beyond mere spaces like hotels and restaurants, and is fundamentally a mindset. It revolves around how we interact with everyone around us, including friends, family, colleagues, bosses, and employees. 
  • The concept of hospitable thinking revolves around four key elements: security, surprise, significance, and synergy. It is important to create spaces that make guests feel comfortable, delighted, and important.
  • Pushing boundaries and surprising both guests and the ownership team is a key aspect of innovative projects. Incorporating unexpected elements and layering them into the design process will drive innovation and shape future designs.
  • Collaboration between the interior design team and the brand bureau is crucial in creating a cohesive narrative and strategy for each design. By combining their expertise, they can develop a unified vision that incorporates both spatial and branding elements.
  • When crafting a spatial-heavy brand, it is important to set up a cohesive brand identity across all spaces. If a brand focuses on individuality, it is advisable to create unique and hospitable spaces that complement the brand without overshadowing it.
  • The Hospitality Diversity Action Council (HDAC) was formed to create a more diverse hospitality industry at all levels. By embracing diversity, the industry can craft more hospitable spaces where everyone feels comfortable.
  • Ensuring security in a space involves more than just the physical layout, such as not placing people in high-traffic areas. It also means creating an environment where all the elements work together seamlessly, providing comfort for everyone involved.


Quote of the Show:
  • “What is it about this project that is going to push the boundary a little bit? That's going to surprise the guest?” - Kimberly Jackson


Links:


Shout Outs:


Ways to Tune In: 

What is Defining Hospitality?

Welcome to Defining Hospitality, the podcast focused on highlighting the most influential figures in the hospitality industry. In each episode we provide 1 on 1, in depth interviews with experts in the industry to learn what hospitality means to them. We feature expert advice on working in the industry, behind the scenes looks at some of your favorite brands, and in depth explorations of unique hospitality projects.

Defining Hospitality is hosted by Founder and CEO of Agency 967, Dan Ryan. With over 30 years of experience in hospitality, Dan brings his expertise and passion to each episode as he delves into the latest trends and challenges facing the industry.

Episodes are released every week on Wednesday mornings.

To listen to episodes, visit https://www.defininghospitality.live/ or subscribe to Defining Hospitality wherever you get your podcasts.

Dan:

What I do is inconsequential. Why I do what I do is I get to shorten people's journeys every day. What I love about our hospitality industry is that it's our mission to make people feel cared for while on their journeys. Together, we'll explore what hospitality means in the built environment, in business, and in our daily lives. I'm Dan Ryan, and this is Defining Hospitality.

Dan:

Today's guest is a talented multidisciplinary designer. She spent over 25 years managing a variety of projects. She leads teams throughout the life of a project to bring hospitable thinking into every space she designs. She's the managing director at Avroco's Miami studio, Ladies and gentlemen, Kimberly Jackson. Welcome, Kimberly.

Kimberly:

Hi, Dan. Thank you for having me.

Dan:

It's so good to have you. And you what I'm excited to speak to you about for many different reasons. One of which is I know so many people that left New York to move to warmer pastures, and I think you might be one of the first that I've known, like, always known as a New Yorker, that's now down in Miami. So I I'd love to think about that and, like, the the change that you've experienced or or you're current or you're undergoing.

Kimberly:

Right.

Dan:

But, also, before we get into it, obviously, you know, defining hospitality. What does hospitality mean to you?

Kimberly:

Well, I think, you know, when one speaks of hospitality, I think in mind of, interactions and, interactions with the people around you. A lot of times we solely think about hospitality spaces, whether it be hotels or restaurants, but hospitality really is a mindset. It is how you interact with your friends, your family, your colleagues, your, boss, your, you know, employees. It's truly a part of your world view? And are you being hospitable to the people around you versus are you just building hospitality spaces?

Kimberly:

So

Dan:

So I think I'd I'd love to pull on that a little bit as far as, like because in the intro, I was saying how you're bringing the idea of, quote, hospitable thinking into every space that you and Avroco at large and through all that meteoric growth that you guys have had over the years, like, walk us through that idea. Like, how does what hospitality means to you tie into that or in weaving into that idea of, hospitable thinking into the into the projects and the teams that you're building?

Kimberly:

Well, I think with I guess, we have to talk about what hospitable thinking is. Perfect. And so it's it's really an all encompassing concept based on behavioral science and environmental psychology that talks about 4 heme moments or elements. We call them the 4 s's. But it's really how the space is, it's it's about how it is perceived by the guest.

Kimberly:

And so the four essence that we talk about are security, surprise, significance, and synergy. So security, let's start there, being not necessarily, you know, are the doors pure or anything like that, but more are you making your guests feel comfortable? Do they feel at home? Are they relaxed? Do they feel safe in their environment so that they can kind of shrug off whatever is going on in their day and, just feel comfortable?

Kimberly:

Surprise being that element of delight. You know, you want to make sure that as people walk through your space, there are things there are little touches that kind of catch them by surprise. Significance, making your guest really feel important, whether it be remembering their birthday as simple or something like that, or having special spaces in or locations in the, in the space where people are elevated and they feel a little bit more significant. And then synergy, which really brings everything together and making the whole much greater than the individual parts. And for me, that means really taking a look at either these other individual parts of the 4 s's or looking at how operations brand, the concept of the space, the built environment all come together to make the environment greater than any one piece as well.

Kimberly:

So there's a lot of lot of little nuances to hospitable thinking, but I think it really is the backbone to how we approach projects. And when I think about it, when I kind of extract that a little bit, it's the backbone bone of how I like to look at my studio, here in Miami, with all of my team members and, you know, having them feel secure and significant and, you know, filling their days with little surprises, that that's also part of being hospitable and hospitable thinking.

Dan:

So I'm curious. This idea of the 4 s's, where did it come up from? Where who came up with that? Where how was that

Kimberly:

The Abrico partners, actually. They they are a brain trust, I must say. They have their, summits and they spend time really thinking about the work and what we do. And they they came through with this idea of hospitable thinking. And it kind of blew me away, actually, I must say.

Dan:

Yeah. I'm I'm actually quite intrigued. And especially because as the I guess what? Well, there's a lot of things that I find as, like, a fanboy of Avroco and having known you guys, maybe not since the beginning, but kind of close. What makes you guy AVRO unique also, I think, is aside from just, like, the amazing aesthetic and incorporating these 4 s's into every project, Avroco is also owner operator in a lot of different restaurants and bars.

Dan:

So it's like and it's almost as if they're, they're investing. And I say, they, you guys are investing your blood, sweat, tears, and capital into creating these laboratories of hospitality. And it's interesting that those four s's were kind of have distilled to the top of them, so to speak. And, as you were recounting security, surprise, significance, and synergy, I'm I was my brain was just going back to all of the different places, Avroco Restaurants, the and Bars that I've been to and just really thinking about each of those. And I was like, oh, wow.

Dan:

They do check the boxes on all of on all the prop on on all the on all the, on all the spaces.

Kimberly:

I think that, you know, I I think because there is the background of of ownership and operations, a lot of this kind of was distilled from that as well. Just understanding the guests in a different way than, just designing the spaces. But really thinking about hospitality as a whole, you know, from the design to or even before that, from location to design to, you know, planning to operations, to really just taking ownership of the space.

Dan:

And as we were talking about all of those, I for some reason, my brain keeps going back to public Yeah. Because I feel like that, well, all of the places that I've been to, and I think I've been to almost all of them, all of that is resonating with me in a major way. But but as I'm thinking about, like, I've had some just incredible memories at Public in particular, and it does check all of those boxes. And it's interesting how, not just from the built environment that they're incorporating those 4 s's, but also I'd love to hear about and I'm very intrigued by how you're doing that as you guys expand because, you know, obviously, New York, San Francisco. Now you're down in Miami.

Dan:

Where else are you? And, like, how are you taking those 4 s's into your places of work?

Kimberly:

We're also in London, and we're also in Bangkok. Oh, wow. So we're we're 5 studios now, all over the world. So we cover we cover pretty much every corner of the world at this point in time, which is wonderful. But I think each studio has its own managing director and we action these items in our own studios in different ways, although we are still a part each of us are part of the whole.

Kimberly:

You know, all the managing directors talk all the time. We, you know, we actually become fairly close over the years. I've known some of these guys for 11 years. So, you know, we've all kind of come up with Abreco, a bunch of us. So each of us really takes these ideas and, like I said, actions them a little bit differently in each studio.

Kimberly:

But we wanna make sure that the culture of Averco really is hospitable.

Dan:

Mhmm.

Kimberly:

That's one of our main tenants in our kind of cultural manifesto, if I must say, is is we are hospitable. And this is these are little pieces of what that means.

Dan:

And aside from being hospitable as a team in a group in all the different in the 5 different offices, it's manifesting in its in a way of, you know, winning Design Firm of the Year, working on all these incredible projects, and it seems like you're the I don't know. I just when I walk into an Averroco space, I'm like, oh, is this Averroco? Right? There's, like, a there's a feeling of it, but it's not but it's but it's also so varied. So Yeah.

Dan:

Is there a, like, how is there a methodology or it just kinda happens where those four s's get incorporated not just into the teams and the offices that you're building, but also into the projects? Like, is there a is there a thread that ties them all together?

Kimberly:

I think I mean, obviously, each of the studios have their regional variations. A project out of Bangkok is not necessarily going to look exactly the same as a project out of Miami or New York, for that matter. But at the same time, because Abraco has really come from this operational side as well as the design side, We do think about these, whether it's consciously at the top of our mind saying, okay, here are the forces. We need to make sure we're doing that or just out of, a method of trying to create spaces that are hospitable. And I think this foundation is there.

Kimberly:

But if you're truly thinking about your guest in a manner to be the most hospitable, some of this comes naturally.

Dan:

I think in hearing you say that and thinking about my experiences of being in an Avroco hotel or restaurant. Okay. I get the security. I get the significance. I get the synergy, but I do think somehow you guys are really excellent at incorporating that idea of surprise.

Dan:

And and to me, if I were to, like, layer them all out, like, the surprise one, just speaking from my experience, is like is like the heaviest or the, the, has the largest gravitational pull from my experience because there's it's it's really I don't know. There's always something at each of these properties that really just surprises me, and it's not like it's slamming you in the face. It's so there's, like, this subtle but powerful surprise. And that's gotta be, like, a really difficult balance to achieve on a project.

Kimberly:

It it is. I think that we that's something that I know we consciously do. It's usually top of mind. Okay. What is it about this project that is going to push the boundary a little bit that's going to surprise, as you said, the the the guests or even, you know, the ownership team.

Kimberly:

How can we how can we throw something in there that's a little, out of left field?

Dan:

Mhmm.

Kimberly:

It's also built into our design process a little bit, in the way that we start our narratives and our concepts. We always look for that one extra little thing on the side that we can layer into our narratives, to make that a driving force of, how we design going forward. So it starts from the very, very beginning.

Dan:

So then I'd actually love to dig into that a little bit because you also have a branding company, a branding agency, a creative I don't know how whatever you wanna call it. It's a brand bureau. Right? And Yeah. They you're you're working on so many different projects.

Dan:

It's not oftentimes, brand bureau is not the first onboard to set up the pillars of the brand, and sometimes they are. But when you're when you're really establishing that narrative, whether is there a difference between when you guys do it yourself from brand bureau level to have working with a 3rd party branding agency? Or sometimes I'm I'm sure there's just not even, You're just going into the project. Like, is there a difference in how you establish that narrative, and, is there a preference?

Kimberly:

Yeah. I think the narrative that I'm speaking of is really about the specific space. And that typically comes from the interior design team. When we're looking at Brand Bureau, whether we're looking at their strategy department who are who are really creating that that grounding for a brand. I think that's quite different because then you're talking about a brand narrative and a brand strategy.

Kimberly:

What I mean is a specific spatial strategy and a spatial narrative for each design that we go into.

Dan:

Understood.

Kimberly:

And then we also do work. We do have our brand bureau does have a graphics team that then would come in and does some of the environmental graphics and the branding as far as the brand stamp or logo, other brand fonts and things like that. And sometimes they will pull that from if it's an existing brand that they need to change, they'll look at those tenants, or they'll look at our original design narrative and and kind of take cues from the interior design narrative as well. So we both work in different streams. But when we're working together, we try to collaborate and bring a single idea, but from 2 different sides.

Dan:

And, you know, time being the most valuable asset all of us have, is there a difference in a in a project makeup or timing or efficiency or or power where you guys are doing where Brand Bureau and Avrocore are involved at the same time? Like, do you do you feel a difference in that? And then what would that be?

Kimberly:

I do. It's actually I've worked on a couple of projects with Brand Bureau where we started together at ground 0. It's it's really exhilarating. They have a different process than we do, obviously, from the interior design side, especially the strategy team. And when those two sides get together, whether it's, you know, the the strategist working on the overarching strategy for the ownership team, And then they have with that a powerhouse senior designer, interior designer who can reinforce but have their own narrative as far as how the architecture is coming together.

Kimberly:

I think those two things aligned from the beginning just creates such a powerful moment in, both environmental space and just mental space where you get you're watching these 2 teams, create things like a giant brand book or complete, you know, strategy guide for an entire, complex of buildings and spaces and, you know, just hospitality, a giant hospitality region. So it's it's really neat to to see that come together. You know, alternatively, when we're just the ID team is designing a space for a particular owner and having grand bureau come in and do the environmental graphics and things like that. It's also really neat to work with them in that manner as well. It's really great having a sister company that can can can fill both roles with you alongside of you.

Kimberly:

So yeah.

Dan:

Yeah. I'm curious about that because I've, like, anecdotally, more and more, I go, you know, going to conferences, and I've always known the importance of the idea of brand, especially in, like, in the independent world. Okay? I've always understood the importance of brand, but I I had always assumed, okay. Yeah.

Dan:

I'm sure there's a branding company. But more often than not, I would think that interior design would drive really what that space wants to be. But I've been hearing more and more success stories of ownership groups in the independent space who bring on a branding agency at the very beginning to just really set it up and create those the pillars and, like, the super high level, the top of the pyramid, if you will, about what's trying to be accomplished. And then that disseminates amongst architecture, interior design, I don't know, kitchen from kitchen equipment to just mechanical elect like, it just rolls all downhill and creates, like, a a a more well, what I would think would be may from what I've been hearing and how people have been waxing on and on about it. Just a more aligned experience from from the beginning.

Kimberly:

Well, I think that depends on the type of space you're crafting.

Dan:

Mhmm.

Kimberly:

Really, if it's a brand that is kind of spatial heavy with their brand, you know, these are this is the brand, these are the graphics you're going to see. These are the colors we're gonna use. This is how the interiors will be across the entire brand. That's one thing. And it works very well that way when you start with the branding companies, set that all up.

Kimberly:

If it's a brand that has more individuality with spaces, they might have their brand tenants, their brand strategy. They're, they're looking at who their, you know, consumer, their their customer mix is. They're really kind of planning all of that out, as well as their brand logo, the graphics and everything. Mhmm. If their spaces are more individualized, I think that's where Averco typically comes in with our narrative for each individual space.

Kimberly:

Then each space we crafted in a way that doesn't fight with the brand, but sets up an individual hospitable space, that has its own narrative and has its own identity.

Dan:

Yeah. And it it's more in alignment with that 4th s of synergy. Right? Yeah. Maybe that's where I was trying to go.

Dan:

I I feel like it it really creates a more cohesive experience that and also if done like, when you have all this surprise in the projects that you're working in, it's not like you're getting hit in the face with the surprise, so to speak. Right? There's, like, a subtlety about you there, and it's like, oh, wow. Like, there's a glow. I feel like all the Abraco projects I've ever been into, there's just, like, this glowing feel that I get from there.

Dan:

Does that make sense?

Kimberly:

It does. It does. I felt the same way before I start working at Brooke. And I still do. You know, I'll go into a space now and then, yep.

Kimberly:

This is we did this and this is you know, I can see the mark and the history of, you know, how Avroco has developed over the years in design. You can see that coming through projects very clearly.

Dan:

Well, I I've also heard you say a couple of times, talking about the team and just recruiting and finding people to join your team in all the different in the different in the 5 different cities, it must be challenging to find the right kind of person that kind that can embrace those 4 s's in hospitable thinking. It's kind of like that Danny Meyer, the, what does he call that? The hospitality quotient. Right? There's a I'm I'm curious.

Dan:

How do you as you're recruiting and growing, how do you find and attract those people that you have those synergies with?

Kimberly:

It takes a lot of effort. I just, went through a recruiting effort here in Miami just recently, and, you know, it is remarkable. There actually are really good candidates out there. And, you know, finding them, making sure they've got that hospitality, drive. That's one thing.

Kimberly:

You know? Are they driven to really, be hospitable, through their work and through their interconnections with the team? That's really important to me. And so it takes a whole bunch of interviewing and a bunch of portfolio wrestling, but they're they're really good candidates out there who have come through school seeing hospitality firms, you know, putting out such amazing projects. I'm not just gonna say Africa.

Kimberly:

There are other there are other firms out there putting out great projects too. But, you know, I think it's inspiring to that next generation seeing projects come forth that are just, you know, make people feel special, significant. And that then, you know, breeds a different type of designer who really want to focus on hospitality.

Dan:

So I've also and I've heard you say it in just now, like, being special and significant. And you said earlier this kind of it's not as not a zero sum game, but really, like, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Mhmm. And I think that's a very difficult balance to attract, achieve, maintain, and grow into. Having been in New York, and I'm sure you visited other offices of, or other offices of Averco as well.

Dan:

What's the most exciting part about building the team and infrastructure that you're experiencing in Miami?

Kimberly:

You know, most exciting part really is, I guess, seeing the joy in people to when they truly kind of embrace being a part of Africa, which usually happens right away, which is good. But it's really exciting to inspire the next generation of Abrico designers, senior designer you know, the next gen of the senior designers, the design directors, the managing directors of the world are, you know, people in our studios right now. And that's exciting to be able to mentor and, help foster them.

Dan:

And for you personally, how do you deal with the humidity?

Kimberly:

Well, I I went to high school in New Orleans, and I swore I was never gonna deal with the humidity again, and here I am.

Dan:

Oh my gosh. What where'd you go wrong?

Kimberly:

I know exactly. I think, spending 20 years of New York winters is kind of like, yeah, maybe I can be across the humidity a little bit more. Yeah.

Dan:

And if you if you think about the the, you know, coming up through the the New York office at Avroco over what is it? 11 years? Yeah. What do you miss most about the mothership in New York?

Kimberly:

The people.

Dan:

The people.

Kimberly:

You know? Luckily, we all stay in touch. The app the offices, as I mentioned earlier, are really interconnected. And, of course, with Miami and New York being in the same time zone, we are very interconnected with our I mean, our global team is still in New York. So our technical direction, our, finance team, our HR team, they're all in New York.

Kimberly:

And so we talk all the time, which is great. But, yes, there are some, you know, individual folks who I kind of came up with in Everco are still back in New York. So

Dan:

And then how how often are you getting up there, and are other people looking to escape from New York to come down, like, in the depths of winter to get some remote work done?

Kimberly:

I've had a couple of requests. Yes. And, definitely, we've had some visits, by by some like, our our our c c our c team, have come down to do visits, you know, business, which is great. But also, they choose the timing of their visits very carefully. So I get more visits between December February than I typically do any other time of the year.

Kimberly:

But, but now that people are coming down to to say hello. And I get up to New York at least a couple of times a year, if not for conferences and then just stop by the studio, just to go up. And, we have our associate's summit up in New York and things like that. So I I do get to go ups go back up and say hello and wander around the city for a couple of days.

Dan:

Wonderful. Yeah. You gotta get you gotta get plugged in back up there in the cold.

Kimberly:

That usually is not during the winter.

Dan:

Oh, okay. Hopefully not in the summer either because any No.

Kimberly:

That's that's it. Yeah.

Dan:

Yeah. So one other thing that I've noticed about you in particular is we're all so busy. Our everyone's most valuable asset is the time that they have in the in the day outside of sleeping. Right? And we have to be very intentional about how we allocate our efforts there.

Dan:

So, obviously, you've moved to Florida. You're building an office and a great team and working on really cool projects. Some of which many of which you can't talk about because they're, like, being birthed right now, so to speak. Right. But I was also struck, not surprised, but struck because I know it must take a lot of time and you really believe in this, but, tell us about HDAC, the Hospitality Design Action Council, because I think you you were, like, one of the founding charter leaders of it.

Dan:

And what drew you to it? Like, how do you like and it's a really it's a really awesome group of people. And, like, what drew you to that? And, like, as busy as you are.

Kimberly:

Yeah. It's interesting. I you know, everybody's busy. Right? But HDAC, hospitality diversity action council, it was started as a group of individuals who we there's one particular person, Stacy Schumacher, who reached out to many, in the industry in hospitality who and she wanted to start this council.

Kimberly:

There was a small core group of us that really we just started meeting and talking about how we could better the efforts, in the hospitality industry of, you know, creating a more diverse industry for everybody at all levels. And it just grew from there. You know, I am on the board of that. There are several board members. We've expanded quite a bit.

Kimberly:

We started a membership committee. We've got a mentorship committee. We've got all sorts of things going on to really get our nonprofit organization set up so that we can really launch this to the world. We've been doing events at the Expo and BB and why. You know, we've been we've been doing talks and panels and things like that just to bring more attention to the idea of having a more diverse hospitality industry, which is it's really important.

Kimberly:

I know there's a lot going on in the news right now about, you know, DEI and kind of push back against DEI efforts and things like that. But I think this is something that's incredibly important for our industry, Just in the in the way that we need to have a diverse industry in order to create more diverse and, hospitable, I'll stick that word under there again, Hospitable spaces. Mhmm. The more diverse we are, the more diverse people feel comfortable in our spaces, because we can craft what makes more people feel comfortable.

Dan:

And I'd also say that embracing diversity or giving your headspace for diversity in anything, racial, religious

Kimberly:

Yep. Exactly.

Dan:

Economic, age related. Mhmm. It goes back to what you were saying a couple of times where it's that idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and I think that's really what it's all about. Because if as humans, we have such a varied like, we're all human, but we have such a varied life experience that we can all learn from. And I I and, again, that's also one of the reasons why I love doing this podcast because I get to talk to, like, really incredible people from every different kind of walk of life, and and I don't know.

Dan:

It just make it as a curious human, it just it rounds out my life experience that I can share with my kids and friends and family. Yeah. And, I think just allocating more time to thinking about that, and giving space to that is it's huge, and it will only pay dividends for everyone.

Kimberly:

What's really exciting about HDAT is that it's not just, council of designers. It's not focused on one part of the industry as in interior design, which is where I kind of live, breathe, and work. But it's also made up of people who are investors. It's made up of people who are are owners, you know, their own hospitality groups. You know, there are, yeah, the it's just hospitality as an industry as a whole, you know, encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, not just one section of it.

Kimberly:

And so to have all of these diverse voices in all sectors of the industry is really amazing to understand the different challenges each sector has. And it actually makes me a better person within the hospitality industry because I actually understand a bit more about, you know, what this challenge is over here and what that challenge is over there. I think it's a great group of people to put together and to know.

Dan:

And I'm I'm glad you mentioned Stacy's name, Stacy Shoemaker, Rowan because I just wanna also give her a shout out because

Kimberly:

She's She's awesome.

Dan:

She really saved me last week. We I was at the, the HD summit up in Vail. I was supposed to lead a group of skiers, as I do many years, but I woke up at, like, 2 in the morning being up at high altitude. I couldn't think my brain. It felt like an ice pick was going through.

Dan:

I was lying down on the on the bathroom floor just getting cold, like, trying to get cool, but I wasn't sick. I was just extremely dehydrated. So I let someone know I couldn't lead. I let Keisha know. And then somehow, Stacy heard about it, and she texted me, a mobile IV nurse company person who basically came to my room and poked me full of, like, saline and vitamin b and all this other stuff.

Dan:

And then I was like a rock star for the rest of the night, but she really made me feel very comfortable and kinda helped me save that trip. So I just wanna give Stacy a huge shout out. She really helped helped out a man in need.

Kimberly:

Oh, that's awesome.

Dan:

When you think about the the idea of I'll dig into some more of those s's that we didn't talk about so much. Maybe, like, the idea of synergy and security. Mhmm. Really being I guess, making everyone feel comfortable and then finding synergy. What's a good example of a project that you've worked on in the past that kinda brings those front and center that I could put photos up or but, like, what was it about those 2, the security and the synergy, that you think can be experienced in the built environment?

Kimberly:

You know, security, it can be as simple as making sure from an interior design point of view, making sure you're not putting people in a major path of travel. You know, that never makes anybody feel comfortable or secure. They're sitting on a small stool and they're kind of in a giant aisle of people walking behind them constantly. So there are many levels to security that you can talk about. That's, like, the the the smallest.

Kimberly:

You know, that's you know, if you're gonna achieve something in security, that's the smallest amount you can achieve right there. And there are other there are other ways of doing that. Synergy, I think, to me, and I think maybe everybody might think about this a little bit differently. For me, the idea of synergy is truly making sure that all of the pieces of the environment, not just the interior design, but, you know, we crafted a space where the servers can easily, you know, traverse and get around. They feel comfortable and secure where, you know, the kitchen staff can come in and out and they feel comfortable and secure.

Kimberly:

There's the interaction with people getting up and walking around versus the hosts kind of meeting people through. It just everything working together in a way that the entire experience is one that is, just it puts you in another place. You know? It it it's

Dan:

And if I'm hearing you correctly, it's not just the people who are paying to be there. It's also the people working there on their career path or how they're making ends meet.

Kimberly:

Mhmm. Do

Dan:

you have a like, do you have an exam like, does one of the projects that you that you've worked on or that Avroco's worked on kind of exemplify that in a meaningful way to you? I'm sure they all do. But, like, is there something that one of them that jumps off the page for you?

Kimberly:

You know, I think it's interesting to be have you mentioned public. And I also think back to Saxon Parole. You know, it's one where I actually knew individuals who worked at Saxon Parole, and they always talked about it being an easy space and an easy environment to, to understand, to work in that flow very nicely for them. They actually really enjoyed their experience there. And that's something where not only the guests can enjoy the experience of the space, but the employees actually enjoy the experience of the space

Dan:

and

Kimberly:

making them comfortable. I think that's a really big win for interior design.

Dan:

And then I remember the surprise there. There was a door in the back you'd go through. What was the what was the name of that bar? You'd go it was like behind the

Kimberly:

It's yes. It it went through 2 iterations. It was madam madam Geneva for a while. And then, ghost donkey. It was the first it was the first ghost donkey.

Dan:

Wow. And where where's ghost donkey expanded to?

Kimberly:

Denver, Vegas. There was one in Auckland, and not quite sure if it's still there. Okay. But, you know, we we do have we do have a few. It's it's really exciting to see that brand take off.

Dan:

Who came up with the name for Ghost Donkey? Because that's, like, one of the greatest names ever.

Kimberly:

I'm not sure which one of the founding partners, but one of them did or all of them at the same time because that's how they were, which is awesome.

Dan:

I'd like to believe it was all of them at the same time.

Kimberly:

I do see

Dan:

it actually. And they're just like, ghost. They all 4 of them said it at the same time.

Kimberly:

Oh, I'm just

Dan:

saying stonky. And then they all said, Jinx, can't talk till I say your name.

Kimberly:

Exactly.

Dan:

You mentioned that you grew you went to high school in New Orleans. Did you grow up in Louisiana?

Kimberly:

I did not. I did not grow up in Louisiana. I was in Louisiana only for 3 years. But my both sides of my family, my mom and my dad's side of the family, are all roots rooted from Louisiana.

Dan:

Cool. And then then you went up to mass Cambridge. It's in Cambridge. Right? Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dan:

I actually I think I've shared this before, but I did a couple a 3 year entrepreneurial program up at MIT, and I bought a shirt, and I could never wear the shirt Because whenever I would look in a mirror, it would say Tim, and it just upset me because I'm Dan. I'm not Tim. Do you have the same issue?

Kimberly:

I I don't. Although, it is really funny.

Dan:

I don't know why. It would just bug the shit out of me. I'm like, I'm Dan. I'm not Tim. I can't wear this.

Kimberly:

That's really hilarious.

Dan:

Yeah. As I digress. You know

Kimberly:

the mascot you know the mascot's name is Tim. Right?

Dan:

Oh, no. I didn't know that.

Kimberly:

Is it? Beaver. Yeah. The Beaver's name is Tim.

Dan:

I had no idea, but a beaver is a good engineer. Right? They're always building dams and lodges.

Kimberly:

First engineer. Yep. That's it.

Dan:

See, I just learned something. I had no idea. So you've you're down in Miami. You're building this great team. You're working on great projects.

Dan:

When you think and look out to the future, short, medium, long term, like, what's exciting you most as you're looking out there?

Kimberly:

Because our team in Miami is is so young, and I don't mean young in age, but just we're we've only been here for 2 years. We I just I I want this team to grow and have a solid foundation. That's really what I'm looking forward to the next few years to really help nurture the team down here, and and watch it do what I know it can do. So I'm excited for that. I'm also excited to see what comes out of this team.

Kimberly:

You know? Putting putting all of these new Averco thinkers together, and seeing what they can produce is has been really exciting. So that's that's what I'm looking forward to right now.

Dan:

I love it. And then actually tying this into your experience, if you go back, like, 11 years ago Mhmm. What was it that made you say this is the place for me?

Kimberly:

No. It really was the people, and a lot of those people are still around and are kind of the foundation of our kind of design brain trust in at Abraco at large. You know, it's such a welcoming, hospitable environment. And each studio, you know, feels like a family. So that's really as many people as we have around the world working under the banner of Averco, each studio you go to, feels like its own own little family.

Kimberly:

You know, we we wanna keep that, culture, that familial culture going.

Dan:

So it wasn't William, Christina, Adam, or Greg in particular? Like, one of them that was like, oh, yeah. This is

Kimberly:

for me. It wasn't. It was all of the above. It was

Dan:

They all said ghost donkey at the same time.

Kimberly:

They all said ghost donkey at the same time.

Dan:

Amen. And yeah. Sign me up. I love it. Okay.

Dan:

So now as a leader in the industry, you, Kimberly Jackson, if you were to magically appear in front of the Kimberly Jackson you mentioned who was graduating high school in New Orleans Mhmm. What advice do you have for yourself?

Kimberly:

Ah, question. Be a risk taker. You know, push the boundaries.

Dan:

Tell me more about that. Why would you give yourself that that advice?

Kimberly:

I think I for me, looking back, I feel I waited a little bit, to really push forward what I could do. And, I needed to have a little bit more confidence in my abilities. And so yeah.

Dan:

I'm curious about that too because I I could say the same thing about my journey too, just waiting, waiting. I've done a lot of things, but I also I do remember moments of just, like, being stuck in inertia and not being able to move. What was the voice of the the clarion moment that helped you kick off those, like, concrete shoes or whatever you were wear whatever you felt like that anchor was that was holding you back? What what what what was it?

Kimberly:

Part of it was, I think, realizing that I could have a voice and that I didn't have to kind of be on the sideline. I didn't have to forever be only listening to to learn. I could start speaking up more to encourage that learning, and asking for that learning and kind of, insisting a little bit that, I I can do things and I need to do things. So I don't know if there's one one exact moment, but

Dan:

So well, I just to learn more about that because it does come up on a lot of these conversations, and one of the things I say in the beginning is I love shortening other people's journeys. So if you were to like to shorten for the benefit of others listening, and it might not have been one person or thing or moment, but Yeah. Whatever helped you cross that threshold, was it from within, or was there or was it from without? In the in the sense that was was there someone that was, like, helping you get that courage, or or did it come from within?

Kimberly:

I think a little bit of both, but there was definitely, one of my mentors definitely did help. I worked in this firm in San Francisco, and the principal there, he took a big risk. It wasn't I I mean, wasn't really a big risk. I had performed. He knew I could do it.

Kimberly:

But for me, it was a big risk. He's like, put me in charge of this job. And I've never done that before, and I didn't know what I was doing. But he's like, you can do it. You can just do it.

Kimberly:

You know? And I was like, okay. And so it was that kind of encouragement and then being able to kinda step up into that. Even though I did need a little help, I needed, you know, somebody to move over and say, let's do it this way a little bit. But, you know, as a kind of, like as, like, maybe intermediate in architecture is, like, the job captain ish sort of role, you know, giving me a large amount of responsibility more than what I would've requested at the time, more than what was happening with some of my colleagues around me.

Kimberly:

And just having that faith in me made me realize that maybe I can do this. Maybe this is the right path.

Dan:

I know you can.

Kimberly:

And and

Dan:

then so 2 part question. I like a little follow-up on that one. If you do you wanna give that mentor a shout out? Like, who was that?

Kimberly:

Sure. It was Mike McCall.

Dan:

Mike McCall. Okay.

Kimberly:

Cool. From McCall Design Group, which no longer exists. He retired. But, yeah, he was he was definitely one of my, strongest mentors Wonderful. When I was an up and coming architect.

Dan:

And then, actually, I have 2 more follow ups onto that one. How are you taking that experience of someone, like, kinda helping nudge you in a certain direction? How are you doing that, and how are you paying that forward to the team that you're building now?

Kimberly:

You know, I think you do have to take a little bit of a risk with people that you see are developing, but may need just a little bit of a push.

Dan:

Mhmm.

Kimberly:

You you obviously, you'll you'll help mentor them. You'll watch them. You make sure that they're not drowning. But you you have to take that bit of a risk and and kind of not throw them in the deep end, but kind of take them with you into the deep end, so that they can start to, you know, swim on their own.

Dan:

Or maybe throw them in with just one swimmy

Kimberly:

Yeah. On one arm. Yeah. One arm.

Dan:

They keep keep their their mouth up towards their the the arm with the swimming on it.

Kimberly:

Exactly. Exactly.

Dan:

So it's like a it's a gentle nudge out of the nest, so to speak.

Kimberly:

Exactly.

Dan:

Mhmm.

Kimberly:

And then at the same time, still being there to, like I said, help mentor or, you know, help problem solve. Or even sometimes they find out that that's not quite what they really wanted when you do that, which actually, I think, helps them as well. It allows them to see clarity in their goals, to kind of to, you know, just map out their path in a better way.

Dan:

Okay. And then as a licensed architect and going through, you know, undergrad and graduate school and then your your exam or your your exam for to become a licensed Exams. For Exams.

Kimberly:

At the at the time at the time, it was 8. I think now it's 5. What

Dan:

I mean so what what helped you chain or, like, refocus from archit I'm sure you're an architect. I'm not taking that away, but, like

Kimberly:

No.

Dan:

What helped what helped you what pushed you? Because, you know, there's often this dividing line between architects and interiors. Right? What pushed you architects and interiors. Right?

Dan:

What pushed you or pulled you into, what pulled you into, interior design and then specifically hospitality and is keeping you here?

Kimberly:

Well, that's a 2 part question I can really go into. I think with architecture, one of the things that Abrico really, thrives on is the interaction between interior designs, design and architecture. I mean, Averco, 2 of the founding partners are architects. They are interior designers. And a good portion of the Avroco team is made of people who study architecture as opposed to interior design.

Kimberly:

We don't, in the course of a project, distinguish between the 2. You know, architects, interior designers work alongside of each other. We're all designers. We're all senior designers. We're you know, we we don't make that distinction, in our day to day work life.

Kimberly:

But I think the integration of both makes Africa's work stronger. Some people are more versed in technical stuff more. Some people are more versed in FF and E and, you know, picking fabrics and things like that that I wasn't necessarily educated on specifically. But we get to the same place, and we're educating each other. And, I think that makes for stronger designs so that each person in the studio can now do much more than they could coming in with one discipline or the other.

Kimberly:

And I think that's really important to the work that we do. As far as hospitality Yeah. I actually worked in a hotel in high school. In New Orleans? In New Orleans.

Dan:

Is it still around? Have we heard?

Kimberly:

It is it is still around. It's still there. It was a big giant, has a big flag on it. I was in a program, for students who wanted to, be in the hospitality industry. And at the time, my family history, my dad, owned and operated, several restaurants.

Kimberly:

So I was already had a bit of hospitality industry background. And I wanted to check out what this whole hotel industry was about as a high schooler. And so, my senior year of high school, I was in a program that they rotated me around to different departments in the hotel. Every every quarter, we had a different department to work in. And then we also had, like, a a side class where we had to, you know, study and learn finance and all that kind of thing.

Kimberly:

And it intrigued me. It was really awesome. And then I put that aside to go to college and grad school and everything else in between. And then at the end of that, at some point in New York, I took a bit of a break and helped out a friend who, was actually ill but owned a bar and ended up helping her manage her bar for a couple of years. And so I've had all these little industry, you know, wades into the other side of the industry, right before I came to Africa.

Dan:

And that's another thing that just fascinates me about hotels. If you look at them as a platform, they have so many different channels of business and by virtue of that experience within them from gift shop to front desk to, you know, the pool or or recreation or there's always restaurants. There's so many things that you can do and experience and but all in serving others and meeting others where they are at that moment. And I think, I'm glad you came back. Kimberly, if people wanted to learn more about you, the team you're building in Miami or Avroco in general, What's the best way for them to get in touch?

Kimberly:

For me, I think it's my LinkedIn, which is the easiest way. For Averco in general, which is always we're always looking for people to reach out to Averco, you know, we we love hearing from folks. We love hearing from from potential employees. I think the best way would be either LinkedIn or Instagram. Follow us on Instagram.

Dan:

Great.

Kimberly:

Like our feed.

Dan:

And we'll put all that in there. And as you were talking, I was just looking at, like, the founding partners and leadership team page. Uh-huh. When did Tory go to San Francisco and become the managing director? I missed the whole memo.

Dan:

She's awesome.

Kimberly:

She's been there for maybe a couple years now.

Dan:

Wow. Or maybe I didn't even forgot, or is it Alzheimer's?

Kimberly:

Maybe just over a year.

Dan:

Oh, wow. I didn't know she was out there. Anyway, that's exciting. I gotta reach out to her. Well, this has been super wonderful for me, and, I'm just so glad and honored that you dedicated some of your time to this and sharing your story and experience.

Dan:

And, I can't wait to see what you're up to and and how that team just continues to grow under, under your guidance. So thank you so much, Kimberly, for your time and your story.

Kimberly:

Well, thank you, Dan. It's been a pleasure.

Dan:

And thank you to all the listeners because without you tuning in every week, we wouldn't be here talking to Kimberly and learning from her experience. So, 1 +1equals5. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And, Kimberly, thank you so much for sharing.