Want to be an entrepreneur? Here’s what this Top Thirty Under 30 has to say
February 04, 2020

Markie Tuckett, a graduate of Georgian’s Interior Decorating program, was recently named one of the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) Top Thirty Under 30 in North America. Markie just got back from Las Vegas where she represented the NKBA at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

How does it feel to receive this recognition? Being chosen as one of the NKBA’s Top Thirty Under 30 is such an honour. This has been a goal of mine for about six years, and I’ve finally reached that goal and I’m so proud of myself.

How was KBIS in Vegas? KBIS was unreal! It was my first time going to this show, and going as an event VIP made it extra special. I made so many great connections and friendships with fellow Thirtys under 30 from all over the U.S. – I was the only Canadian so I would like to think I represented us well.

There were many vendors at the show, which made for lots of walking and chatting with people about all things kitchen and bath. My favourite experiences were:

  • visiting some of my supplier’s booths and seeing all the new and interesting things they will be offering me and my clients
  • sitting down with under 30 alumni, past NKBA presidents, and other industry professionals to talk about the trade and the future of the trade
  • having an opportunity to pick the brains of all the great people I met – and ask any lingering questions

I loved researching and presenting my group’s top pick for the health and wellness category for the Thirty’s Choice Awards on the KBIS Next Stage. I was also awarded the DesignHounds Kitchen Design Influencer of the Year Award but had to fly home before I could be presented with it. This award means that I will be an influence on trends and what’s to come in the industry. The show next year will take place in Orlando, Florida, and I’ve made it a goal to attend.

A woman with short reddish hair wearing a dress and holding an award

Tell us about your experience at Georgian. My overall experience at Georgian was great! It gave me exactly what I needed to become career-ready in my field. The Barrie Campus is large and has a lot to offer for extracurriculars, amenities, and classes. All my instructors were well suited to each of the classes they taught and were very knowledgeable about our course content.

Why Georgian? One of the main reasons was because it was close to my hometown of Midland – central enough for me to drive there and still live at home. I also worked several different part-time jobs, so I was able to continue working and feel comfortable while obtaining my postsecondary education.

I also knew many other people who came to Georgian, including my husband. We often talk about the positive experiences we had and many memories about our classes, professors, and experiences. Georgian has a wide variety of programs you can take as well as graduate certificates to take your education one step farther. The Interior Decorating program gave me a wide open door to many career options but the field placement I did focusing on kitchen and bath design made that a very concrete path for me. Georgian’s program is very well structured and provided me with a huge skillset that I was able to apply after graduating.

A woman with short reddish hair holding a paint brush standing near a ladder that has a paint can on it

What were some of the key takeaways for you? Each semester focused on a different skillset, from drafting (hand and computer aided), to free hand sketching, colour theory, and even a marketing/branding course. The program has it all. It gave me real-life experience, from attending trade shows and field trips, to presenting my work to others, and of course, the field placement. I was able to apply all or most of my new skills to my career and build on what I learned at Georgian to take it a step further.

All the instructors still work in the field or have a vast knowledge of interior decorating, so they offer a ton of advice and guidance on real-life experiences.

Any professors who stood out for you? I’m sure most of the graduates would agree that Mary Dobson is quite the fountain of knowledge. She’s my favorite professor from Georgian for many different reasons. She tried to make all of her classes as interesting as possible, and jam-packed with knowledge. She has a great energy and presence in the classroom. She also took the time to organize field trips, bring in guest speakers, and offer special incentives to students upon the completion of our projects. She’s still been a great contact for me since graduating and a huge supporter of my work. I’m very grateful to have met and learned from Mary.

Were there any campus services that were helpful? The library was probably one of my favourite resources. It’s a great source for textbooks and extra information as well as an excellent place to go when looking for a quiet spot to work. There are many computers for students to access, which is also great. My laptop died halfway through my first semester and the library provided me with a place to do research and put projects together before I bought a new one. The library was also a great place to meet for group projects as it was central with lots of table space to work together with your team.

Tell us a bit about your field placement. It was a huge opportunity for me. It gave me a lot of real-life experience outside the classroom as well as a taste of what my future could look like. Working with cabinetry is a huge passion of mine now, but when I started out in the Interior Decorating program, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go. Completing my field placement at Lindsay Schultz Kitchens and Cabinetry in Midland helped me discover my love for kitchen and bath design as well as custom cabinetry. After graduating, I was offered a full-time position there, which also gave me a great amount of experience to move on to working in the GTA.

It was also the number one experience I took away from my time at Georgian. Field placements and co-op opportunities really help kick students into gear to do better in their courses so they can excel in their future careers. I really enjoyed all of the real-life scenarios I was given that you generally don’t get from sitting at a desk in a classroom.

A woman with short reddish hair standing in a kitchen

Any other favourite memories? One of my favourite Georgian memories was presenting my work to fellow classmates and our instructors. It was fun but also provided us with different challenges and obstacles. Every assignment we were given was really unique and gave me the opportunity to put my own spin on it and get really creative with what I was presenting.

And I would definitely recommend the program to anyone who enjoys working with interiors and décor. The program itself is tough and tons of work goes into it, but it helped me get where I am today and I feel equipped and ready to progress further into my career.

What have you been doing since graduation? After graduating in 2013, I was hired by Lindsay Schultz Kitchens and Cabinetry, the company I did my placement with. I started out as a design assistant and then soon grew into a working designer. After several years of working there, I moved on to work in the GTA. This is where I gained knowledge dealing with larger-scale residential clients, commercial clients and builders. After gaining that experience, I was hired by another company to be their principal designer and to manage their team of designers. It was at this point in my career where I felt confident in my own shoes to move forward with opening my own business, and that’s when Timber + Plumb was born.

Tell us about your company. I opened Timber + Plumb Kitchens and Cabinetry almost two years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. Timber + Plumb is a full-service design, supply, and install custom cabinetry company that specializes in designing kitchens and other spaces in the home or office. We work with clients to bring our concepts to life in their homes. This means focusing on aesthetic, form, and function in our designs so they serve each and every one of our unique clients.

A kitchen with a dark grey island and stainless steel fridge

What were some of the challenges you had in starting your business and how did you overcome them? I worked on getting my business started for about six months before officially launching it. In those six months I was focused on things like: what do I want to specialize in, what brands do I want to carry, how do I want my brand to look, etc. I was concentrating mainly on how I was going to do it all since I didn’t have much savings to contribute. This is when I started to contact my local small business centre – Windsor Essex Small Business Centre – and Futurpreneur to obtain a loan and apply for some grants. I was delighted to receive funding and grants within those six months and was able to officially announce to world what I was planning.

Running a business is never easy. There’s a lot of ups and downs and you have to be quick to adapt to new habits and learn about things you never knew about before. But it’s amazing. I love it and I think it shows!

A livingroom with wood floors, fireplace and wood floor

What advice would you give other graduates? Stop using the words, “don’t” and “can’t.” I used to tell myself, “I can’t start a business; I don’t know what I’m doing.” It was a toxic way of thinking but it limited me to only working for other people, which wasn’t as fulfilling. I eventually stopped saying and thinking that way, and instead of saying “don’t” I started saying “will” and “want.” And instead of saying “can’t,” I started saying “can.” In the past two years I have surpassed all of my goals, like being awarded the NKBA’s Top 30 Under Thirty. I’ve now begun to set new goals. And if I could impart another great piece of advice it would be to use the resources that are out there. There are so many people who specialize in helping others start small businesses and I honestly think if I didn’t have that help, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Being an entrepreneur is a whirlwind experience with a huge learning curve, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel so accomplished in my career so far and this is only the very beginning.

Are you interested in learning more about entrepreneurship? Georgian’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre assists entrepreneurs in four main areas: training, connections, funding and mentorship.