A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with HGTV’s Design Star Challenge winner Jennifer Bertrand. I have posted some of her designs (see the painted backsplash post) on my blog before and she offered some kind words, inspiration, and support for those whole love everything and anything with PAINT.
I was touched to know that there is another sassy little painter out there, working her butt of to create beauty in homes across America, and inspiring people to re-use and re-fresh with something as simple as a gallon of paint. I had heard through the grapevine that Jen was a complete peach of a person and would be a joy to speak with, but honestly, I had no idea just how truly sweet this peach was. I was inspired instantly from hearing her bubbly laughter and love for her work. Not only is Jennifer dedicated to creating beauty, she is driven to help people use there budget wisely without having wasteful spending.
Here is the conversation that Jennifer and I shared:
Firstly Jennifer, Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me, I know how hectic things must be and on top of everything you are pregnant, right? Or did you already have your little bundle of joy?
J: No, I haven’t had our baby yet, I’ve been so blessed in the past year and in life in general. Its all kind of happening in one big sweep and of coarse in the midst of everything with Design Star and HGTV I managed to get myself pregnant. Its our first child and I will be having a C-section in the coming weeks.
(Photo by husband and wife team Bertrand Designs)
L: (This is then when I stupidly expressed my fears of pregnancy…but I caught myself and the re-iterated how wonderfully blessed she is.)..It only seems natural to be blessed with a beautiful baby amidst all these other wonderful blessings you are receiving.
J: Yes I am so lucky! Its our first so its really exciting, Everything about it is new and that keeps the excitement alive, Its not the best timing, but its so exciting for us and we have been staying really busy through all of it. Our plan is to keep up with the multitasking from teaching to the design business we operate. My husband is going to be the stay at home dad while I go out and bring home the bacon. Its actually all working out perfectly. I get to do what I love by flying out to California for a few days at a time and then will get to spend even more time home with my family since my work schedule will be so flexible. We have always made a really great team, and none of this ever would have been possible without my husbands support. I am so lucky. We have a great team effort in our relationship and are able to balance everything so effortlessly. March 18th is the due date and we are naming our baby boy Winston Spencer Bertrand!
L: I read somewhere that you sent in your tape for Design Star on the last day it was due. Did you just know that you were going to get picked when you were sending it off. Did you get “that feeling” like something big was about to happen?
J: The Design Star experience for me was so surreal. It was like an out of body experience the whole time. I can remember sitting on the couch and watching Kim Myles (of Myles of Style) and thinking I could do totally do this. All of the sudden here I am, in the judging room with all of these people I had seen on T.V. The whole experience never really hit me because we had such busy schedules and were working so hard all of the time. It was like my brain was constantly on fire.
As for the video tape I sent that in on the very last day for receipt. It was on a whim, I kicked my family who was visiting us from out of town out of the house for a couple hours so my husband and I could film it. It had to be post marked by 4:00 and that was when it was post marked. I used to always say joking to him “Stick with me kid, I’m going places.” I’ve always loved what I do, and if you don’t put yourself out there, you will regret it, I guess that’s what made me make that video so last minute.
I was shocked when the casting crew called. They actually asked me who that funny English man in the background was on the video. That was my husband, we run our design company Bertrand Designs together and they loved him so much too that we both went out to California to interview for the show.
L: Has your style changed at all as a result of being on the show?
J: My style seems to always be evolving. It evolves on each job I do to fit any kind of situation or home owner. It has nothing to do with my taste and everything to do with my clients. On each job that I do my goal is to make the outcome so much more than they could have ever imagined. To really take them on an experience.
L: Beautiful! I love this! Now I also read that you actually met your husband here in Minnesota. I have to ask where?
J:I love Minnesota!!!! I go there a lot. I was just there over Thanksgiving at the Mall of America doing a demo. We met at a place called Camp Hupert at Camp Lincoln. We actually
hated each other while at camp. Its a really lovely story. Something like in that movie “Sliding Doors” . We never said more than “Hello” to each other. Then 4 years later in a different town we were having a camp get together for 2 weeks right before I was leaving to move to Italy. We began talking and instantly we both knew that this was it. Next thing I knew when I was flying from Rome over to London to meet his family. We have been together for ten years now, and its just lovely. Sometimes people think I am a liar with all my travels from being a military kid and falling in love. But its all true. I really am so blessed.
L: I believe you!!! That is lovely! Is your house positively fabulous? You have such wonderful style and color sense. I imagine your home being representative of this?
J: Oh my its anything but. After a long day of painting out in the field the last thing you wanna do is go home and work on your own walls. My house is sort of a hodge podge of different finishes. I couldn’t do anything for my clients that I didn’t do for myself and know was durable and solid so I have Venetian Plasters in the laundry room and Faux Painting in just about every nook and cranny. The one room that is lovely is the babies room. I’ve put a lot of love into that space and we just got the the warmer bamboo flooring installed. I am going with a more contemporary feel for the room. The colors are shiny white, lime green, milky chocolate, and then some hints of a red. I am designing the room more for my husband and I because I feel like at this age its more for the parents to enjoy, and then when he gets older I can paint whatever he wants, even if its Dora the Explorer I’ll do it.
L: Oh my goodness. I hope you will post pictures once you get that room done. I love that you are staying as far away as possible from the traditional baby blues and pinks. Its sounds fabulous!
You are such an inspirational soul and work so hard to inspire people to get creative with paint and there homes. I am wondering where you draw your own inspiration from?
J: I get inspired by anything and everything. It could be a book, a magazine article, a piece of fabric, or a shirt someone is wearing. Usually I draw inspiration from people. I watch a lot of DVR recordings of certain inspirational stories, movies or interviews. There is this
(photo by Bertrand Designs)
great movie about a French Designer that I love or the Iconoclass show where they will take two inspirational figures and have them converse and tape it. For example, Stella McCartney and a Russian Pop Artist or Tony Hawk and the director for the movie Iron Man.
L: And your incredible drive? Where does that come from?
J: Sometimes I think that my drive is a sickness. I am a really creative person and I have always had to believe in myself in order to make everything possible. Before I went onto Design Star I got a little scared that is was so much bigger than I am but I told myself I was just going to be me, to be true to myself and have integrity. When my husband was dropping me of at the airport before the show we were laughing because we were sure I’d be the first one to get sent home. We laughed and said, see you in a couple of days. You couldn’t have any contact with family during the show so you can imagine how strange it was after 6 weeks of taping and still being on the show. Most people don’t live in tv land where they have an audience, have to do everything themselves and have millions to spend, so it was a little harder to find drive when things were so different then what I had always known. Its just something that is deep within you, and tells you to never give up, no-matter how how hard things may get.
L: I know you do a lot of canvas work as well. Do you have any of these pieces in your home? Do you sell them often?
J: Yes we do have a couple in our home. They are really hard to sell but I do sell them from time to time. Our home is filled with different colors and so are my canvas works. I love champagne lustrestone, its so calming. I’m a big fan of lime green, and turquoise is my favorite color.
L: Is there anything about your upcoming shows that you want to share with us? I love the Paint over specials available on HGTV for viewing. I really hope you will be doing more of them, the potential is endless with paint. Couple that with your unbelievable free-hand and I’m on cloud nine.
J: Yes, I love doing Paint Over. I love the DIY people out there and look forward to making more Paint Over shows. It was hard because each show takes 2-3 days, and I am just so pregnant so things are really put on hold for now until after Winston is born. I have the Showdown Episode that aired in February with Kim Myles, and may be coming out with my own line of stencils soon. Tell all the other Painty Ladies from your NTA and SALI group happy painting!!!!!
Well, I have to say from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU SO MUCH JEN! Thank you so much for being out there and creating art! Thank you for your drive, your passion for paint, your wonderful personality. You are such a great face for all us painty ladies out here and we will surely be watching your shows and your next moves so we can watch in awe of your talents and designs!
Happy Painting Right back at you! and the very best of wishes with your new little honey Winston, any day now! If you would like to learn more about Jennifer Bertrand you can find her at:
http://www.hgtv.com/jennifer-bertrand/bio/index.html or you can view Bertrand Designs website @: http://bertranddesigns.com/
Hurray for Paint and Talented Happy Ladies! with a painted heart, LULU