Former TP student bootstraps her way to an award-winning interior design studio

All the spaces are divided, and connected, by arched walls – a nod to the historic Elgin Bridge.

Finally, we arrive at the luxurious private office of White Jacket’s founder, Patricia Ho Douven.

Her desk, made of wood and leather, is sculptural and expansive, and unexpectedly just save for a MacBook and some brand-name stationery. Even the freestanding playpen, for Ho’s new dog, looks rich. For one, it takes up half the room.

It was hard to believe that someone could start all of this from scratch. It was even harder to believe that the award-winning White Jacket studio, with clients like Intercontinental, JW Marriott, Shangri-La and Starwood, was a one-woman show that started in an apartment just 12 years ago.

But sitting down with the 44-year-old founder, I began to understand.

“I DIDN’T TELL ANYONE”

He had always wanted to have his own design studio. It wasn’t just a pipe dream either. She had spent her twenties working for interior design firms and saved what she could knowing that she would one day leave to start her own business.

That day came unexpectedly.

In 2009, she was retrenched from her position as a design director, which came with a clause barring her from working with the company’s clients for 12 months.

“That put me off-track a little. For a couple of months, I mostly stayed at home,” said Ho.

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