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Kate Turney

Kate Turney

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I fell in love with landscape design long before I realized it—like discovering you're in love with a close friend. First I studied art and worked in graphic design. I studied international relations while living in other countries. Wherever I went, what defined that place for me was its parks, the gardens, when its trees all bloomed at once, or how the seasons express themselves through landscape, whether urban or rural. I launched my design/construction business in 2014. I've been in the field since 1998, and practicing as landscape designer & project manager in NYC since 2005.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

The first time I attended an Innovator Luncheon was lovely. I was used to an elevator-pitch, timed-speaking sell-sell-sell kind of formal networking event and here instead was a shared meal and time enough for conversation to naturally develop. An interesting group of women, each running a business from a variety of industries, shared overlapping concerns and triumphs. From that first meeting I began to form friendships and also to receive business referrals.

What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?

A need to create, a love of art and nature, a lot of flexibility and patience, attention to detail, curiosity, lifetime learner, an ability to work well with others, enjoyment of collaboration, and a willingness to learn the business-side and project management (a challenge for artists, who often feel intimidated by business).

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I was a member of the local host committee for the annual North American green roof conference in 2016. Based in Toronto, it came to Brooklyn that year and I helped to raise funds for the legacy project which joined designers together with a community to plan green architecture and its many benefits for an NYC neighborhood.

What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?

One of my favorite projects is a landscape design / build we created for a private equities firm on the 16th floor terrace of a glass midcentury building in midtown. When you enter that office, you look through a grey interior to a lush, green, inviting exterior of trees and grasses and flowers moving with the breeze. My clients call it their "oasis," and I am happy that it supports their well-being, from reducing stress to boosting productivity.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

That what was once just a dream has come into full existence; and the happiness of everyone involved with this now-real beautiful environment.

What is your favorite social media site? Why?

Instagram, hands down. It's perfect to share the process of creating a garden, the sites that we work on, to recommend plants, or just to share about something happening locally or in the world of design.

What does success look like to you?

Love for my work; love for the people involved in a project; setting great boundaries; surpassing clients' expectations and delivering a garden they adore; prosperity and abundance; that the crew assembled for a project get to bring their expertise to bear and are happy working on it; staying up-to-date with research and learning. Enjoying the process, not just the result, and earning abundantly along the way.

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

I combine things. I have a home office. If traveling, I make sure to add vacation days if it's for work and to add garden tours and the like, if on vacation. I delegate where it makes sense to do so. I block out time for important aspects of my non-work life and treat them as much a commitment as I would a meeting with a client.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

Intern. Work part-time during a busy season. Volunteer. Informational-interviews with people who have years in the field. Even if you are working full-time, it is a good idea to spend time in the industry before choosing it, because its reality may surprise you! Try to experience a variety of different aspects of the industry before choosing how you want to engage with it, for example : a botanic garden, a wholesale nursery/grower, an engineering firm's landscape architecture department, a landscape design/build firm, a client representative/project management firm, a garden care firm. For example, it may come as a surprise that a landscape designer often communicates with about 50 people per week about projects, from clients, to the construction team, to suppliers, to the business team. So it's not peacefully abiding with plants, or drawing and coloring all day!

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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