Venus Williams opens high-end design studio in Jupiter
By Michelle Sheldone correspondent
November 8, 2003
For Venus Williams, it's a perfect match.
She's moved her design studio, V Starr Interiors, to a 2,100-square-foot space in the Shoppes of Jupiter Creek in Jupiter.
"With the growth in the Treasure Coast area, Jupiter was a prime location to set up shop for V Starr," Williams said. "I'm excited for all the possibilities this area has to offer."
V Starr -- the 23-year-old tennis pro's full name is Venus Ebony Starr Williams -- began offering design services out of an office on Prosperity Farms Road in Palm Beach Gardens last fall. Moving to Jupiter allowed Williams to expand her studios more than fourfold.
Business at V Starr has begun to flourish.
According to director of design Bonnie Nathan, a 25-year licensed interior designer from Boca Raton and Syracuse, N.Y., the company currently serves eight high-end residential and commercial clients throughout the United States and has a near equal number of proposals out.
Gross sales, she said, are projected to approach $1 million by the end of the year.
"It was always intended that when we had enough business, it would justify our expansion," said Nathan. "We feel Jupiter is where the growth is, and that the area provides a good image and good exposure."
Williams studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and has a certificate in interior decorating. She is in the second year of a four-year bachelor's degree program in interior design and, after earning the degree, will test for a license.
According to Nathan, Williams collaborates on projects by telephone and in person. The athlete shares a Palm Beach Gardens home with her sister, Serena, and four pet dogs. Both are on hiatus from the Women's Tennis Association Tour, recuperating from injuries.
"She's in the office almost daily when she's in town, and we've been lucky to have her involved with every project we've done," said Nathan. "She has a great sense of color, texture and style, and she knows the lines really well."
V Starr's South Florida area clients include prominent bankers, attorneys and athletes from Stuart to Pembroke Pines. Nelo Freijomel of Stuart-based Foster/Freijomel Architecture is working with the group on a Hutchinson Island project.
"I gave them free rein to suggest changes to the floor plan and have followed through with some of their suggestions to give the area a better flow," said Freijomel. "But the best thing about them is that they're nice people. They're kind, courteous, and they care about their clients' needs."
Some of Williams' personal design favorites -- Asian antiques, for instance, and shades of green -- are evident in V Starr's new quarters.
The studio includes designer space, business offices, a conference room and a resource library. To accommodate a variety of client tastes, the decor fuses contemporary furnishings with antique reproductions. Oil and acrylic paintings have been signed personally to Williams by emerging artists.
"Venus doesn't collect famous artists," said Nathan. "She likes to collect artists to make them famous."
South Florida artists have been invited to paint interior murals and faux finishes in the V Starr entry hall, said project designer Meighan Coger. The studio will also showcase furnishings clients can purchase.
V Starr joined the North Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and has participated in such community events as Arti Gras. During a chamber showcase at PGA National earlier this month, membership director Andre Varona met Williams for the first time and spoke with her briefly.
"There are no other members I can think of off the top of my head that bring that kind of recognition to the chamber," said Varona, noting thatWilliams came across as "very nice and kind of shy." V Starr is planning a December ribbon cutting, after Williams wraps up the WTA championships in Los Angeles, Nathan said.