Feb 18, 2015

Designer Watch | THE HOAJ Events & Décor

One of the awesome things about blogging is the ability to introduce my readers to new and fabulous services and products. My main focus as a blogger is just that----making sure that you, --the reader-- get inspirational and valuable information that increases the value of your Fashionably Fabulous lives. 

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the fabulous Jamila "J" of THE HOAJ, an events and décor company located in the Tampa Bay area. I've attended many events that her company has provided the design and décor services for ----loved her work, and thought it would be great to spotlight the budding Interior Designer. Go inside and check out some of her fabulous work.

Q: Where are you from originally?
A: I am originally from Queens, New York, but I also spent a large part of my life living in Florida.

Q: Do you feel like your creative process is influenced by where you are from?
A: Yes…most definitely. I believe my upbringing in New York has had the most influence on me as an artist and designer. New York is a fashion and design mecca, a designer’s candy store. Fashion is within the DNA of my brand which was directly inspired from the runway shows you would see at New York Fashion Week. I wanted to be a part of that in some way. Additionally, from the beautiful old buildings with original architecture to the vibrant colors of graffiti on the walls, it was all art to me. I grew an appreciation for the craftsmanship and the artistry. I remember when I was young being really influenced by the music as well. There was something about the rhythm of old school hip hop and the creativity of the music videos that sparked my passion for the creative arts. You can see elements of hip hop culture in my designs translated through my use of color and patterns to create a statement.

Q: What inspired you to become an Interior Designer?
A: My inspiration of becoming an Interior and Events Designer was definitely inspired by God. I am an artist so naturally I gravitated easily into the interior design world as another outlet to express my creativity. As a young child I was very artistic whether it was drawing, painting, decorating it was something that I have always done for fun. My problem was I never felt confident enough to share fully what I could do yet alone have the guts to pursue a profession in the arts. Being from a strict Caribbean household, the focus was always on going to school and getting a “career “ and nothing in between.
Throughout my adulthood I found myself always doing creative projects on the side and the fulfillment it gave me to do it was always a rush. There were times when I tried not to focus too much on it, but it would always pop up in some way or form and I had to acknowledge the call. I believe the inspiration to actually step out and pursue design professionally was a divine intervention that kept pushing me in the direction of my passion. I became exposed to other self-taught designers like Nate Berkaus and the Novogratz’s who gave me insight into the design world and the confidence I needed to go for it. And that’s what I did…never really expecting anything except my ability to release the creativity I had within while helping others. I must say it has all been well worth it and for the first time I feel in sync with what I am supposed to be doing in life. The HOAJ stands for “The House of Alima J.” (hence Alima J. is Jamila backwards.) It has become my creative alter ego allowing me to live out all of my creative passions. Through my design house I hope to inspire others to find and live out their own passions, create beautiful spaces, and to have fun too!

Q: Give three design principles that you live by.
A: The three design principles that I live by are balance, function, and focal points.
Balance- Have you ever seen an episode of “Flipping Out?” Well, I am not quite the Jeff Lewis, but I can truly understand the feeling of being “off” when a space is unbalanced. I can’t function. A well-balanced space will have good symmetry. Obtaining balance is definitely a skill. It is somewhat of a visual recipe. You need the right amount of space, colors, and textures to fulfill an appetite for a well-balanced room. Not to say that everything has to line up perfectly, however the overall balance of the room needs to be in sync.
Function- Whether I am designing an event or an interior space, the most important goal is to create a space that is functional. It is important to me that the space not only looks good, but will be able to work with the client’s lifestyle and needs.
Focal Points- When designing a space the best way to make a statement is by creating focal points. I always look for that one wall that is going to stand out in the room and create interest. Then, I build the room off that focal point by adding in details with color, textures, patterns, and objects.

Q: What are some of your favorite interior design retailers?
A: I love to create spaces that are affordable yet unique and a mix of old and new. I find my favorite pieces from local thrift stores and vintage shops. These pieces are normally one of a kind or rare and are great ways to add interest and detail to a space. Discount stores such as Ikea, Home Goods, Ross, Target, and Marshalls are my saviors! You can always find great accents without breaking the bank. I also love shopping online. It saves a ton of time, and you can’t beat the deals that sometimes can be doubled up with additional discount codes. Sites like Amazon, Overstock, West Elm, and Cost Plus World Market are some of my favorites. There are also tons of specialty shops for items like wallpaper, tile, and other details that I like to source online. For my mid to higher end clientele-- shops like First Dibs, Restoration Hardware, Pieces Inc., Z Gallerie, One Kings Lane, Jackson Charles|Atl, are among my tops just to name a few.
Q: What is your personal interior design style?
A: My personal interior design style is a colorful mix of eclectic and classic with a touch of modern edge and glam. I like the feeling of clean lines mixed in with bold textures and shiny accents for a chic look.
Q: Name two inspirational interior designers who have inspired you.
A: No fair! There are quite a few that have been a big inspiration, but if I need to name the top two it would be Kelly Wearstler and Michel Boyd (and I will sneak in Nate Berkus…absolutely love him). I admire Kelly’s innovation when it comes to creating interest in a space. She was also one of the first interior designers that I witnessed to expand their brand into other outlets. Her brand goes far beyond interior design as she also creates clothing and other specialty items. Designer Michel Boyd has mastered the “art of interior design.” His designs are always in perfect harmony with well thought out custom details that are not only beautiful and luxurious, but are also functional and cozy.
Q: Favorite event to decorate for?
A: Each event that I create holds a special place, but there is always something about your first. My first major event was a fashion launch event for a luxury clothing line. It was so much fun designing an event based on their brand of clothing inspired by fairytales. The event design featured a 10ft tall handmade paper flower wall with a giant crystal beaded web as the main feature for the runway set. Additional elements such as lighting, catering sections, and décor were carefully selected to carry out the vibe of the event. The best part of the event was watching my client's eyes light up with excitement…it was such a fulfilling moment that reminded me of my purpose.
Q: What is your vision for the THE HOAJ brand?
A: My vision for The HOAJ brand overall is to not only be known as a key source for unique stylish events and home décor, but also to become a lifestyle brand helping to promote social engagement, connections, and world change through the implementation of social events and charity services.

Make sure to connect with THE HOAJ here. It was a pleasure learning more about your design principles and background. I see nothing but great things in your future. On another note....I think we may be interior design BFFs---we share a lot of the same principles and perspective on design. I am looking forward to working with you on some of my upcoming projects. Until next time. . . . Peace, Love & Blessings!


  1. Great interview!! Jamila was definitely in a league of her own in high school. Her style and pleasant personality is a force to be reckoned with. Much love classmate...PBHS '96

  2. Awesome interview! She has great style

  3. This is such a good read! I can relate to her in many ways! Very inspirational and great style!

    Edwige | http://www.hypnozglam.com

    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading! xx