Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Downtown Magazine Spotlights Corey Damen Jenkins

Story By Hayley Beitman
07/02/2012 - Owner of Design With Vision in Bloomfield Hills and winner of HGTV's Showhouse Showdown, Corey Damen Jenkins intends to remain a loyal member of his community.

"There's already a healthy design industry in New York and Chicago, but Michigan needs resources too. A lot of people could benefit from that so I can't jump ship. I'm committed to the area and seeing it through," he said.

Jenkins grew up in Rochester Hills, where he drew for the first time at the age of three. "My mom used to cut open cardboard cereal boxes and I would watch TV and draw Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman inside the box," Jenkins said.

Helping his parents redecorate, Jenkins realized he was interested in furniture layout, unlike his two younger brothers who enjoyed playing sports, and moved to New York after high school.

"I grew up in Michigan with grass and roads. New York is all subways and concrete. At 19, I was absolutely terrified by myself but I kept pursuing my dream," he said.

He moved back home and first followed in his father's footsteps, working in the automotive industry. After purchasing furniture and designing offices for ten years and briefly working at The Michigan Design Center, he started his own firm in 2009.

"I created a position for myself where I could control my own fate and couldn't be outsourced," he said.

Jenkins parents both remain huge supporters of Design with Vision, but from opposite ends of the spectrum. "My mom is 'go for it!', while my dad is 'go for it...cautiously'," he said.

Jenkins describes his style as fresh with a continental mix of elegance and modernity, and is mostly inspired by clients.

HGTV saw his website and ask him to audition for the nationally televised design competition, Showhouse Showdown, an opportunity he initially thought was an April Fools Joke.

"I didn't call them back because the likelihood of HGTV calling me just felt a little too far fetched," he said. "When they called, I was so sarcastic because I thought it was a joke."

He competed with 52 designers from Michigan in a grueling interview process before getting the call that he was cast on the show.

"It was surreal to end up winning. At first I didn't think I really won. Even the day it aired, I kept waiting for the alternate ending," he said. "It brought tears to my eyes because it validated two years of really hard work."

Jenkins intends to remain in Bloomfield Hills. "It's a classy, sophisticated and timeless city. It's trendy and cosmopolitan, but also has old world class. It's like a little mini elegant New York," he said.

His dreams extend to having his own television show and launching an exclusive furniture line.

"I'd like to do it all. I don't see why I can't. If people say you can't sail your boat, sail it anyways. Not to prove them wrong, but to prove yourself right," he said.