As 2023 comes to a close, so does S3’s 20th year in business. Where have 20 years gone?
In January I wrote “Let’s Start from the Beginning”… a fitting way to start a new year. The focus was a journey of the ways S3 worked throughout the last 20 years, from two-hour “quickie” consultations to our current full design model where we design, manage, and procure.
For this blog, I thought it would be fun to go down memory lane and pay tribute to the people who have impacted S3 and places we have lived. A bit like “A Christmas Carol” — a fitting way to end the year, focusing mainly on the “Ghost of Christmas Past” …but with no actual ghosts, and hopefully I’m not Ebenezer Scrooge.
Journey with me all the way back to March of 2003. I’m on maternity leave with my second daughter, with nothing but time on my hands (said no mother of a newborn and a toddler… EVER!) After about seven months of settling into mom-mode, I started to get the itch to jump back into my design career. Prior to 2003, I spent two years working for a small design firm. I learned some of the basics, and I felt it was time to branch out on my own. I wanted to work a few hours per week to keep up my skills, make a bit of money, and get out of the house.
I brainstormed company names — understanding that I didn’t want the company named after me…something about Dyck Designs just didn’t have the right ring…LOL. Then, I landed on S3 Interior Design Consulting with the S’s standing for Spaces, Surfaces, and Swatches. Once my business name had been approved by the company’s office, my friend Kevin (a graphic designer) helped me design my first logo and business cards. I contacted my local Benjamin Moore rep, got a shiny new designer paint kit, and I was off to the races!
My first consultations were mainly for family and friends. I remember taking my infant daughter along with me to one of my first colour consults because she would need to be breastfed before I’d be able to make it home. The things we working mothers do.
I continued on my own for the first three years, working part-time so that my husband and I could juggle our schedules and minimize the need for outside childcare. But along came a big contract. A new multi-phase condo project owned by a developer out of Alberta. They needed a local professional to design the common spaces, work with each homeowner to select interior finishes and fixtures, and to complete final walk-throughs with homeowners once their suites were ready. Suddenly this solo-preneur didn’t have enough bandwidth, so it was time to hire my first employee.
Introducing Annie. Annie came to S3 straight out of University with her Bachelor of Environmental Design. We started working at my kitchen table and she would sometimes babysit if I had to run out to a meeting. Once the condo project built its first phase, we set up shop in one of its show suites so that we could be easily accessible to the new residents. With limited space for samples and another large contract with a local home builder coming our way, it was time for S3 to acquire its first office space. We signed a lease in an 800-sf space in St.James. Now we had made it big!
Annie stayed with S3 for eight years, but after the birth of her second son (she even went into labour at work with her first son… but that’s a story all on its own), Annie moved on to fulfill her passion of raising her boys. Annie will always have a special place in S3’s story.
Next came Carrie. The contract with the builder brought with it many show homes and spec homes. Too much work for Annie and I, so employee number two (Carrie) joined the team. Carrie came with experience in residential and commercial design and she has been a rock for S3 over the past 14 years — fingers crossed, she’s with me ‘til the end.
As Annie went on her first mat leave, we had a space to fill. Enter Elaina. Elaina came to S3 with a like for commercial design and a love for lighting design. She started by focusing on residential projects while Carrie worked on commercial projects. Then one day, the two of them sat me down and said “Carrie prefers residential projects and Elaina prefers commercial projects”, so right there and they swapped responsibilities. Round pegs were no longer being pushed into square holes. However, Elaina’s true passion of lighting design needed to be fulfilled, so after completing her master’s degree, she moved into a role that suited her well: Lighting Designer at an engineering firm that focusses on large commercial projects.
It’s around this time, S3 had to make a physical move to a new space. Our cute little space in St.James was facing the wrecking ball, so we packed up and travelled east, all the way to Princess Street in the Exchange District of Winnipeg. Our lovely new space had all the charm of an early 1900’s character building with exposed wood beams, brick walls, and an old service elevator (straight from a horror movie). For the next nine years, this would be our home.
As S3 pursued more commercial work, we needed a designer with more experience than any of us had in that area. Janine joined us from a large architectural firm. With a young family, S3 offered Janine the flexibility she desired and the opportunity to lead our commercial projects. She was key to mentoring all of us in the various facets of commercial interior design. Janine’s passion for project management eventually took her to an opportunity at Manitoba Hydro.
Over our 20-year history, S3 has had many wonderful team members, each one bringing something special to the team. I’d love to write paragraphs about each of them, because each has a unique story, but in the interest of keeping this blog at a reasonable in length, here is a highlight reel.
Stephanie: Our CET (Certified Engineering Tech) with a big personality who brought an engineering perspective to our team.
Heather: Strong and steady with a huge love for her dog, Hunter. She brought a wonderful eclectic perspective to design, and she had a talent for graphics. She moved on to find her niche in the movie world, working on set design — very cool.
Juca: Our summer student from Brazil, who was the first man to join a team of women. He brought an international flare.
Chantel: Our accessorizer extraordinaire. She could put any room together beautifully and haul all the stuff in her crazy old Ford pickup truck.
Tia: A bit of sunshine every day. Tia is not only a gifted designer, but she also has a huge heart. So big that she decided to follow her true calling to become an elementary school teacher.
Zoe: Fierce (in hair colour and personality). Zoe is an exceptional designer with a strong drive for moral justice. She will fight for what is right. She came to S3 while completing her master’s degree and has excelled in both commercial and residential design. She has inspired our team to push the boundaries by layering colour and texture in every space she designs.
Jessie-Mae: An entrepreneur at heart. She brought experience in the design realm and the project management realm. She was a key designer in one of our award-winning residential renovations.
Lynda: Our first office administrator. Her maturity brought a calming wisdom to our team. Her work ethic ensured that her work was always done, and our ship ran smoothly.
Josh: Straight out of university, Josh came to us with a fresh set of eyes and a passion for Japandi design. He was quiet and thoughtful.
It’s been a pleasure taking this stroll down memory lane (thank you for still being here). There have been so many good moments, great people, but also difficult moments as well. Every person and situation have shaped S3 Interior Design into what it is today. Oh…and by the way — S3 no longer stands for “Spaces, Surfaces and Swatches”, at some point in our journey we recognized that those 3 words no longer reflected the depth and breadth of our work, so we changed them to “Smart, Sustainable Spaces”.
So, what does Christmas present and Christmas future look like for S3 Interior Design?
Well, we’re in the process of returning to our roots. Our time in Winnipeg’s downtown is coming to an end and we’ll be returning to the days of working at my kitchen table. Well, not exactly my kitchen table, but my home will be our base. We require less office space and more space to store the items we procure for our clients. Covid has taught us that we can work from almost anywhere, and as much as I’ve loved our time in the Exchange, I’m ready to significantly reduce my commuting time. Renovations are currently underway at my house and it’s going to be great! (Watch for pictures and videos to come soon!)
And Christmas future?
That’s hard to predict, but we do know that our team will be changing as we enter 2024. Our current three-some is becoming a two-some. The “almost original” duo, Carrie and myself will be partnering to lead the charge of designing, procuring, and managing. We are so grateful and honoured to have had our time working with Zoe, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
What will the next 20 years bring? Time will tell, but rest assured, we will share it all with you!
Thank you to each and every one of you who have been a part of our journey and allowed us to be a part of yours. We wish you a Holiday season full of love, joy, and peace.
See you in 2024!