Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Bennett.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
With a father who was an engineer and a mother who is one of the most creative and talented people I know, I like to believe that I inherited all the right “DNA” to become an architect. While I was interested in houses from a young age, in elementary school I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be a hairdresser or an engineer. Looking at it now, in a funny way, I think I may have actually found the “happy medium” between those two seemingly disparate professions…
I received my undergraduate degree in Design from Clemson University and went on to Washington University in St Louis to earn my master’s degree in Architecture. I moved to Atlanta just prior to the 1996 Olympics and began my career in commercial architecture at firms such as Stang & Newdow and tvsdesign. Knowing that my ultimate goal was to own my own firm, I made the leap to residential design in the late 1990s by joining the prestigious Buckhead firm, Harrison Design Associates. I spent 8 years at Harrison before branching out with a former colleague from tvsdesign to found Splice Design, Inc in 2010.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In this time of movements like #MeToo, I assume it’s not a stretch to believe that in a traditionally male-dominated field like architecture, things have not always been easy or smooth. From things as simple as lack of female role models/mentors to subtle (and even sometimes even overt) discrimination, it definitely wasn’t a cake walk. But I’ve always believed I can do/be whatever I work hard for, and I am making that my reality.
As a single mom, I love that my daughter can see that I work hard and that no matter what life may throw our way, we find a way to adapt and keep moving forward. And whether she chooses a life in the design field or not, I hope I am providing her with the type of role model that was less readily available to me. That she, too, learns that the only limitations in life are the ones we place on ourselves.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Splice Design story. Tell us more about the business.
Splice Design is a full-service architectural firm with offices in Atlanta and New York City. We offer architecture, interior architecture, and Urban Design and Planning services. We provide unique and thoughtful solutions that rise out of a collaborative approach to the design process. Listening intently to my clients allows me to capture and transform their needs and desires into physical form. I give each project/client 110% and don’t take on a project I am not passionate about.
I like to think I have a reputation for being thorough and for attention to detail. I tend to under-promise and over-deliver. I can’t stand to disappoint anyone. I’m a classic over-achiever. I don’t “specialize” in any particular style or have a recognizable “aesthetic”. Even though modern is my personal favorite, I put the needs and desires (and stylistic taste) of my client above my own and give them the best home I am capable of – no matter the style. This results in a pretty wide range of work in my portfolio.
What sets us apart is probably also what I am most proud of – our commitment to our clients. There is no greater compliment than when a former client calls you years later and wants to work with you, again. Many architects seem to forget that we are in a “service” industry, but I try very hard not to. In an often ego-driven industry, I try to stay humble and focus on giving my client the very best expression of whatever it is that they are trying to achieve. If my client loves their project and is happy with the process, I have done my job.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I guess I don’t really believe in “luck”, per se. I believe we make our own fortune. By staying open to things and putting ourselves out there – taking risks and making our own opportunities. A lot of what we consider “good” or “bad” really is less about the inherent quality of something than it is about our perception of it. When I lost my job during the economic downturn shortly after my daughter was born, I really thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I had never not worked in my adult life and my entire definition of myself and my sense of self-worth was shattered.
Even though I had always dreamed of having my own firm, I almost didn’t recognize this as my opportunity to pursue that dream when it was pretty much handed to me. But, I did take a job as a consultant with my former employer shortly after and one thing led to another and before I knew it, Splice Design was born! I’ve had steady work ever since, grown my business, and also had time that I wouldn’t have had if I had been working for another employer to spend with my daughter and be “present” for her. It turned out to be the biggest blessing and now I couldn’t imagine it happening any other way.
- Website: splice-design.com
- Phone: 4043841142
- Email: email@example.com
Sarah Dorio, John Umberger