It’s hard to determine what aspect of Janie Hungerford’s life stands out more: her successful career as a leading interior designer or her extensive philanthropy work in Metro Vancouver.
For Hungerford – who lives with dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it difficult to relate speech sounds to the written word – the idea of giving back to the community in areas of need is especially meaningful because she herself has gone through challenges presented to her because of her condition.
“I am a dyslexic, and my daughter is as well,” Hungerford said. “Having gone through a challenging childhood and coming out of it a better person – more empathic and more determined – and then seeing my daughter go through that struggle, I really felt compelled to give back and help less fortunate children that don’t have the financial capacity to have specific tutoring that helps with people with dyslexia.”
Among Hungerford’s volunteering portfolio are contributions to groups like the BC Learning Centres for Children with Dyslexia and Kids Help Phone’s Homes for the Holidays program. But also on the list is Hungerford’s role as a committee member for the BC Cancer Foundation Inspiration Gala.
“I think you need to lead by example and pay it forward,” Hungerford said. “I have a busy life; I have four kids. But you have to make time. Because if you don’t make time, you are not really contributing to your community in a way that makes it better for the next generation. I want my kids to see what I’m doing, and I want them to do it too when they are older, or even now.”
Hungerford’s passion for art and design took her to New York’s prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she absorbed influences that would later inform her work as principal with Hungerford Salter Interior Design. Hungerford’s projects in the luxury commercial and residential fields have won her multiple Georgie awards since 2010.
And while Hungerford credits her success partly to her ability to clearly visualize designs customized to individual spaces, the most important part, she says, is listening carefully to the needs of each customer.
Where you live now: Vancouver
Highest level of education: AAS in interior design at Parsons School of Design (interior design degree), BA (with honours) in film studies at Queen’s University
Currently reading: As someone who lives with dyslexia, I am so lucky to live in the age of audiobooks. Next on my list is No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
Currently listening to: Whatever my kids have on. We like to sing along with lyrics on YouTube. Lady Gaga and Adele are up there on the list!
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: An artist
Profession you would most like to try: Fashion design
Toughest business or professional decision: Restructuring to include a partner in my practice and, in order to ensure this was financially feasible, moving from my home office to a rental office space. The increased overhead was scary but so beneficial (and perhaps crucial) to my business and its growth
Advice you would give the younger you: Surround yourself with great people with the right attitude and values. Then pay them well. Build your team not with the goal of filling positions, but rather creating positions for people who are the right fit when you discover them
What’s left to do: Continue growing as a business, a person and an employer
Join us to celebrate the 2019 Forty under 40 Awards on January 30, 2020, at the Westin Bayshore. For tickets and event information visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40