Steven Starr is an award-winning designer, published author and sought-after speaker. After working in New York City with renowned designer David Rockwell, Steve became a nationally-recognized industry leader in restaurant and retail design. In 1996, Steve moved to Charlotte and started the restaurant and store design studio at Little Diversified Architectural Consulting. Growing it into a retail design powerhouse, he worked with some of America’s most recognizable brands, including Planet Hollywood, Krispy Kreme, and Dean & Deluca. Realizing that he desired a more hands-on approach to design on a daily basis, Steve created what is now starrdesign in 2007.
And, while all that is completely accurate…… who are we kidding? This is Steve we’re talking about! Steve is a self-professed nerd. Especially when it comes to lighting, marketing, entrepreneurship or organizational behavior. He’s a sucker for anyone asking him to be on the board for almost any non-profit organization, and he has a tendency to read a new book and turn the entire office upside down. We’re quite used to hearing him walk in the office and exclaim, “So I was reading this book, and I think...” But his passion is contagious.
Steve has a high standard of excellence that influences all of his decisions in the office, although he’s often a little impatient (with a dash of ADD) to be a perfectionist himself. His energy is dynamic and abundant in excess – we tend to blame the (what seems like) dozens of cups of coffee he drinks every day, which often leads to him misplacing his coffee mug. Don’t worry; we’ve picked up the habit of hiding it around the office, just to make it harder for him to find.
Steve is a total foodie. But not just for any kind of food – Steve likes exceptional meals. From cooking at home to dining out, he won’t settle for anything less than the best. If you ever need a restaurant recommendation in any iconic city across the US – he’s your man.
Finally, Steve is always talking to people. Whether it’s in person or on the phone, he has the ability to turn a 5 minute meeting into 25 minutes. Seriously, though. We’re pretty sure he could talk to a wall. One of his passions lies in helping people make connections, and he sincerely enjoys mentoring the younger staff in the office. Steve is a genuine leader. His decisions revolve around what is best for the team. And we truly appreciate that sense of care and leadership every day.
Mimi loves to juggle. Unfortunately we haven’t convinced her to take up actual juggling yet – but she’s always working on multiple things at once. She is an eternal multi-tasker. But she says she likes it that way, and would be bored otherwise. When it comes to work, Mimi enjoys getting in the trenches and not just being a spectator. Creating, designing, collaborating ideas – she’s there. As an Associate Partner, Mimi is continuously putting others before herself, and her selfless nature is evident in everything she does. She thrives on mentorship, and constantly helps support the rest of our team. Mimi is a true leader.
Mimi graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelors of architecture, and has been working in the industry for over 20 years. At this point, she’s touched almost every sector type. The wide diversity in her portfolio was completely intentional, as she enjoys the innovation and creativity in dealing with different types of projects. Mimi works hard and laughs often. She’s always encouraging others, and even when she’s stressed, she doesn’t let it affect her demeanor. Joy seems to come natural to Mimi. Sometimes we think she might be wonder woman. But her inherent humility would hate us suggesting that.
Mimi is married to an architect and together they’re raising their two sons. She enjoys spending time with all three of her boys – from biking and camping, to playing with legos. Apparently her kids love legos. We guess they can’t help it, architecture really runs in their genes. Mimi and her husband are eternal designers, and are currently renovating their new home in the woods. Mimi says it feels like they’re always camping these days – and she couldn’t be happier. With her busy life at home, Mimi is constantly keeping her work-life balance in check. What can we say – Mimi just has that natural tendency to continuously juggle.
With two active boys and an energetic dog, Brie and her husband welcome the ordered chaos of their noisy household. Bringing back her own childhood memories, she recently rediscovered her joy of legos with her kids. Do you know how many different vehicles you can build with one set? They don’t either. But they haven’t hit the limit yet. Brie also enjoys going to the mountains often, which balances out the hectic, demanding day-to-day life in the city. She welcomes the quiet, surrounded by just bugs and owls.
Brie is one of our fearless Associate Partners. She got her bachelor of design in architecture from Clemson University and her masters of architecture from Michigan. But she’s still more likely to sport orange and purple on office collegiate days – Go Tigers. We don’t blame her. Michigan was just too cold. Brie thrives on the challenge of a fast-paced client, and she enjoys staying busy. Which is a good thing, because she’s often found leading multiple projects in the office. Brie loves being able to push the envelope, and her favorite part of design is exceeding the client’s expectations.
Outside the daily shuffle of work and kids, Brie attempts to find inner peace by giving back to the community. She serves on the Keep Charlotte Beautiful Board, working to improve the aesthetics of the city she loves. Brie was also a part of an inaugural AIA Leadership group and organizes regular starrdesign build days with Habitat for Humanity. Recently she even ran the Charlotte half marathon. Yeah, we were impressed, too. Brie strives to find that balance between work and family, while still managing to serve her community. Even if she doesn't always feel like she's succeeding - we think she's a rockstar. It’s all about embracing the chaos!
Ann has a natural gift for finding humor in every situation. She’s always making us laugh. Ann is a unique combination of Type A and Type B (personality, not blood types). She excels at analytical, numbers-based tasks – and she’s also very creative and artistic. She inadvertently discovered that she could draw portraits (Type B) by reading a book (Type A)! Ann loves creating art in her spare time. She also enjoys making her own essential oil products in her science laboratory – aka her kitchen.
Ann graduated from Elon University with a degree in Accounting / Business. She started out as a CPA in public accounting, but spent most of her career in corporate funding / risk management at Bank of America. We’re not sure exactly what all that entails – but we feel safe with her in charge of the numbers here at starrdesign! Fun Fact: a few years ago, Ann left a corporate job to start her own business, Simply Caddy, creating travel caddies and organizational products designed for competitive dancers. Her company continues to grow and Ann keeps it going, in addition to her role at starrdesign.
Ann and her husband, Rob, have two children who are partially responsible for the remaining zoo - three dogs, a bearded dragon and a geriatric bird. Ann’s happy place is either in a hammock or on a beach – possibly even in a hammock on a beach! She enjoys everything about the ocean and is always planning her next family trip to the water. At the end of the day, whether she’s working with numbers or creating beautiful artwork, Ann is determined to find the joy in everything.
If our office had its own background playlist, the top tracks might include: Whirlwind of a Plotter Printer, The Hustle of Making a Deadline, and The Ever-present Hiccups of Ashlee Jones. We can’t explain why this is (we’re architects – not doctors), but a day doesn’t pass without a chorus of hiccups sounding from Ashlee’s desk. Don’t worry; we’re all used to tuning it out by now. One thing you can’t ignore: Ashlee’s high sense of fashion. She’s constantly sporting the latest clothing and accessories – complete with designer purses and chic heels. Ashlee always looks stylish.
Ashlee originally wanted to go to med school, but quickly realized that her heart was in design. However, after graduating from SCAD, she became immersed in healthcare design. It’s funny how things work out. After a few years in the industry and knowing she needed some creative change, Ashlee switched to the fast-paced world of retail design. With a confident personality and willingness to share her opinions, Ashlee thrives in interior design.
In her free time, Ashlee enjoys hiking the NC Mountains, trying local craft beers, and eating fresh foods. She’s a bit of a health nut, and is regularly seen carrying her sleek water bottle around the office. Although Ashlee detests typical exercise, she’s recently taken up barre ballet classes to stay in shape. Ashlee also enjoys singing and creating music. If you don’t believe us, just listen for the next round of her hiccup chorus– we’re sure there will be another one within the hour.
With a love of exploring new places, Brenna has lived in a collection of cities around the US. After growing up in Birmingham, AL, she moved to upstate NY to attend Skidmore College. Through her travels during college, she was astonished at the varying architectures around the world. After graduating with a degree in studio art, she moved home and helped her dad remodel his new house. Her interest was piqued, eventually leading her to the University of Miami where she graduated with a Masters of Architecture.
Looking for a new place to settle down, Brenna discovered Charlotte and fell in love with the city. From its growing population to the differing cultures of the neighborhoods, she knew it was the perfect place to call her new home. While Brenna’s friends might describe her as meticulous, she claims that she’s just particular – she simply likes things to be done her way! And we appreciate that sense of perfectionism, especially when it comes to her work. We know we can rely on Brenna to get the job done well.
Brenna loves spending time with her husband, and taking any chance they can to go on adventures. Brenna adores animals and openly admits to having a mini zoo at her home, complete with three cats, a dog, and four chickens! Brenna is very involved in the local animal rescue community, and frequently fosters dogs in need. In her free time, Brenna also enjoys training for and participating in half marathons. Yep, you read that correctly – we were impressed, too. That’s just like Brenna though, always exploring new things!
Who has an infectious smile, loves to help others and can’t resist a silly joke? That would be Janey! She is always there to lend a hand or make us smile. When she’s nervous, Janey has a propensity to crack jokes – one of which actually helped her land her first job out of college! Although we believe her passion and talent probably had more to do with it. Janey has yet to give up on the notion that architecture can save the world. She believes that thoughtful design can transform anything, and she truly pours herself into everything she does.
Janey graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Architecture and an Honors Scholar Degree. She was awarded the Lucy and Olivio Ferrari Scholarship and spent a semester studying abroad in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Her passion lies in creating anything that improves people’s lives. Her favorite design projects thus far have been barrier-free homes for wounded military veterans. Janey spent months interviewing the families and designing the spaces down to the tiniest detail, so the vets could easily reach everything in their new homes. She even turned one design into a game so a family could virtually navigate through the space before it was built. Janey always goes the extra mile.
Now that she passed all her ARE exams (go Janey!), she enjoys photography, hiking with her dogs, eating skyline chili, sampling craft beer, and watching Antiques Roadshow in her freetime. Back in the day, Janey used to do competitive hip-hop and breakdancing. We’re still trying to convince her to show off her skills in the office. In the meantime, we know she’ll always be there to light up the day with a joke and a smile.
What do you get when you combine eight siblings, one cattle farm and the freedom to explore hands on projects for fun? Well we can tell you what we got – our dedicated and passionate architect, Jeff! Ever since building his first model in 7th grade, Jeff knew he wanted to be an architect. In high school he started a business building gazebos with his twin brother, who he’s still close with today. Jeff brags that they often communicate without saying a word – we guess that sharing a bedroom with someone for the first 18 years of your life can do that!
Jeff graduated from UF with a Masters of Architecture, and worked for the university for a number of years during the recession. One day he decided to pack everything that would fit in his car and drive to a new city. We didn’t believe it either! But he wound up in Charlotte, NC – and we are so glad he did. Having both design and construction experience has significantly shaped Jeff’s career. Seeing projects being built helps him understand how his drawings can best reflect the realities of construction. With 8 years of experience in the industry, he is a vital asset to our team.
You often don’t hear Jeff in the office, but he explains that he’s just laser focused. Combine his strong work ethic with his love for architecture, and he tends to get absorbed in his computer screen! In his spare time, Jeff enjoys spending time outdoors. Whether he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail with his Jack Russell or riding his motorcycle through the city, Jeff loves a new adventure. During his career, he once spent a number of months in India designing an IT complex. From horseback riding in the Himalayas to exploring Portuguese settlements on the Southern tip – Jeff was sure to see it all while he was there. And we wouldn’t expect anything less!
Rachel makes sure things are done correctly. Rachel focuses on the details. Rachel is a perfectionist to the core. At any given time, she may have multiple to-do lists spread across her desk, and she has a habit of completing numerous tasks simultaneously. But they always seem to get done. Rachel thrives on facilitating tasks – no matter how many times she may need to bug us.
Before joining our team, Rachel was active as a freelance journalist and the editor of a scientific research magazine. Mainly, she spent a lot of time reading and writing about how things work. Embracing her creative side, Rachel enjoys the excitement of marketing for a design firm. Rachel’s flexibility allows her to adapt quickly, and she openly embraces changes. Rachel graduated from Clemson University in biological sciences and communications, and she’ll always bleed orange.
Rachel is an explorer at heart. Her constant yearning to travel has led her to visit Belgium, Singapore, Hawaii, Vancouver… and even Idaho. Her curiosity is never at rest. She loves spending time with people, whether she’s volunteering at her church or welcoming others into her cozy little home. In her spare time, Rachel can be found exploring the woods with her husband and two dogs, delighting in exotic foods and flavor profiles, working on DIY home projects, and crossing novels off her ever-growing list of books to read. What can we say? Rachel has learned the art of balancing lots of to-do lists!