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Interior Design the C Warner Way: Making a Name in the Male Dominated Construction Industry

Building a home can be a stressful venture and a major financial investment. While many may have architectural drawings that guide the construction of their homes, they are left with the task of making that shell a livable space.

Interior designer Carissa Warner, of C Warner Design, specializes in helping clients to do just that. Warner explained,

Most times an architect will give you a shell of a building but they do not stay on project until the end, focusing on every single detail… such as the type of knob, handles, tiles logistics. As well, because we are in Antigua, we have to source everything, packing containers and doing detailed layouts.

She noted that, often, homeowners do not take into consideration the cost it will take to complete the interior of their homes, including the furniture they will need “so they end up back in the bank having to refinance”.

The young entrepreneur always knew she wanted to be in the construction industry, undertaking courses in technical drawing and building technology at Pares Secondary School.

After high school, Warner became a draftswoman at the Public Works Department and was later encouraged to become an interior designer by her boss, Wesley James, who realized there was scarcity in the market.

Warner, who returned to the country in 2004 after studying in the UK, has been running her business for the past seven years.

The businesswoman said networking played a key role in attracting clients, noting that she positioned herself where clients who needed her services would be, as well as offering her services for free to several architects to expand her portfolio.

My first project that I did that made people notice me was Sunglass Hut in Heritage Quay and they are an international company… when I got the contract to that one even I was shaking.

Her design aesthetic, which she describes as European modern and eclectic, is not only stamped in many residential homes but can also be seen at many establishments to include the Inet flagship stores and Premier Beverages.

Warner’s residential style takes on a modern contemporary style or a cottage feel.

The designer said in her years of experience, the biggest mistake residential customers often make is not employing the right expertise to execute plans.

A lot of my residential clients would say I have a friend who can make that and the friend does not have the skillset to finish the project and they get disappointed.

Warner is urging residents to invest in the right people to complete projects to avoid possibly spending more than expected to correct mistakes.

The entrepreneur, who acknowledged that there were difficulties operating in a male dominated field when she first started, said she had to “double know” her work, since a slip up for her as a woman would mean losing respect from her male colleagues.

I spent the first part of my career on the job site, not just doing designs but I can sand, I can use power tools, everything, so the guys know that now. Of course, there are one or two that would pass their place, mainly the younger ones, but I know how to put them in their place.

Warner is encouraging women to explore opportunities in the construction industry and become more knowledgeable and is looking forward to expanding her business in the near future.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Observer.