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Janine Allis and Penny del Castillo: Women in business and design

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Janine Allis, founder of Boost Juice, and Penny del Castillo, founder of In design International, have both achieved great success in the careers and made their mark in the business and design worlds respectively. The women worked together on the design of Janine’s holiday house in Noosa, and united again for Janine’s family home in Melbourne, enjoying the synergy and fun of their partnership.

We spoke to Janine – our Dekton® by Cosentino ambassador – and Penny in celebration of International Women’s Day this month, asking about their careers, being women in business and design, and their advice for women entering the industry.

How did you meet and begin to work together? 

Janine: I met Penny in Noosa. She created a fantastic feel for my holiday house and more importantly she was fun to work with. She understands my style, therefore I can trust her choices.

Penny: Janine found In Design International via my website approximately six years ago and we worked together on her property in Noosa. Janine called me a few years later quite unexpectedly while I was on my honeymoon in Italy. She wanted to work together on her Melbourne home. There was great synergy being reunited on this project.

Are their challenges you regularly face as a woman in design?

Janine: No more than men. We all want to have enough time with our family and to create a secure place for us and the people around us. The challenge facing a woman in design is making sure the man does not have a say – the best designs are created with single vision. Doing a design by committee always ends with the worst finished product.

Penny: Interior design has long been a female lead profession. This is potentially why it has been so financially undervalued in comparison to historically male-dominated architectural practice. Our greatest challenge is educating the public to understand how much value interior design brings to a project. Eighty-three per cent of our lives are spent indoors. The ambience and ergonomics of our interior spaces are critical elements to the betterment of our wellbeing.

What are the opportunities of being a woman in business or in design?

Penny: Women are better at tuning into the emotional (and sentimental) underlying desires of a clients’ unspoken brief. Therefore, I am able to deliver projects that are above and beyond expectation.

I am often the only woman in the room when working on commercial and hospitality projects. Inherently women are problem solvers, and as a woman I am able to offer a balanced perspective in the decision-making process. 

How have you seen your respective industries change in regard to women? What still needs to improve?

Janine: I have been far too busy to even notice. I have never felt that there is a division.

Penny: Today there are a greater number of female-led design studios kicking incredible goals, independently from being under the wings of male-dominated practices. But what still needs to be improved? A more open-minded approach to collaborations with female-driven teams. We are not a threat; we are dedicated to the same cause, which is ultimately to deliver the best possible result to our mutual client.

What brings a feeling of reward in your career? 

Janine: To have a vision and to execute that vision.

Penny: The joy our designs bring to our clients, from the first reveal through to the day they might sell or refurbish. And the strong relationships I’ve formed over many years with suppliers, such as Cosentino, and repeat clientele, like Janine and her family.

What are you most proud of about what you have achieved in your career?

Janine: That my family is strong and that I am still in one piece.

Penny: Janine’s home of course! I could name so many beautiful projects but it’s almost impossible to pick just one. They each have their own merit.

Deep down at the core, I am most proud of who I am and what I stand for and extremely humbled by being told by current and previous employees how inspired they are by what I do and how they aspire to be like me.

What is your advice for women establishing their own businesses or entering the design world?

Janine: That your only obstacle is yourself. Anything can be achieved with the right can-do attitude.

Penny: My business advice is that old-school professional client service and respect for those around you is so important in this fast-paced technical world. Then try to find time for yourself, which can be a seemingly impossible task when running your own business.

My design advice if you are starting out is to keep chasing your dreams and be ambitious. You have chosen the perfect career because if you are observant you will realise that every hideous, boring, frustrating task you tackle in life leads you to becoming a better designer. The perfect position is out there, but don’t expect it to fall in your lap. Effort equals reward.

Read more here on Janine and Penny’s latest design endeavour and how Dekton® makes Janine’s home life easier.


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