Hometown: Newport Coast
Family: Husband, Eric, two sons and a daughter
First job: When I was in third grade, my mom taught me how to sew, and I used to make a lot of my own clothes. When I turned 16, Cloth World was the perfect first job for me.
Worst job: The worst job by far was when I was still in high school in Houston. I worked at a store that was kind of like a Kmart, but it was some smaller chain. I was a part-time switchboard operator and also worked part time at the snack bar. The only problem was that the snack bar sold donuts and caramel corn – two things I love. I quit the job mostly because after some time, I was gaining too much weight!
Biggest break: I was working in the commercial design industry, and a friend of mine had a split with his partner. I had the skill set that he needed for his business, and he gave me the opportunity to join his partnership. I worked with him for a few years, and this position was instrumental in introducing me to the new housing development industry. When we sold the company in the early ’90s, I opened up Chameleon Design, which I’ve had now for more than 20 years.
Secret to your success: I’m optimistic and I never give up.
Advice to other women in business: Learning how to run a company and manage people is never over. I’ve been on my own for over 20 years, and there are still things to learn.
Seeing the economic downturn’s impact on commercial design and the housing industry, Lowey – whose 20-year-old Chameleon Design services top homebuilders and commercial developers – decided a few years ago to expand her business into private residential design and the retail sector by opening Studio Chameleon with a focus on furnishings and private design consultation.
“I’m happy to say, though, that Chameleon Design and Studio Chameleon are strong and solid during a time when I’ve watched other businesses and industries collapse,” Lowey says. “I’m thankful that I took the risk to expand, and it’s paid off.”
This year, she’s launched an online store and expanded her design services to projects internationally.
“It’s been a thrill of a ride,” she says, “and I’m looking forward into a bright future doing what I love to do.”
OC METRO'S 20 WOMEN TO WATCH FOR 2011
Carol A. Taylor | Staci Brillhart | Kay S. Napier | Eve Lowey
Julie Lim | Kate Klimow | Monica Wise | Marcy McKenna
Victoria Wade | India Hynes | Farrah Emami | Lisa Wolter
Mary-Christine “M.C.” Sungaila | Shirley Balarezo
Renee P. McLeod | Laura Khouri | Alyson Noël
Brenda Brkusic | Cathy Thomas | Sue Swenson
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