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Women Of The C-Suite: “Always put people first” with Anita Jacobi and Chaya Weiner

Always put people first. Whether it is your employees, your partners, or your clients, the people you work with every day are the foundation for your success. Be kind and make sure everyone feels heard. As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anita Jacobi, the founder and […]


Always put people first. Whether it is your employees, your partners, or your clients, the people you work with every day are the foundation for your success. Be kind and make sure everyone feels heard.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anita Jacobi, the founder and Principal Designer of Orange Coast Interior Design. She began her career on the East Coast before making her way to Southern California. Her passion for design and entrepreneurial spirit has allowed her business to flourish into the reputable design epicenter it is today. Working with a wide range of design styles, she strives to listen to her clients and bring their visions to life. She attributes her success to flexibility and longevity, and surrounds herself with people that share her passion and commitment.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I had always wanted to be a designer, even as a little kid. My mother worked in fashion and always had clothes and fabrics around the house. I loved playing with them and putting colors and textures together. I even loved building furniture for my dolls! There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be an interior designer one day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The most interesting memory I had was probably the first celebrity home I ever designed. Since I was contacted by their manager, I had no idea that the client was famous. When I came to the house, I was asked for my identification, had my purse searched, and walked through a metal detector. I was freaking out thinking, where the heck am I? But now I’m used to it!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One time, I accidentally knocked on the wrong door for a first-time design consultation for a client in Laguna Beach. The woman who answered let me know that I was looking for the house next door, but as it turns out, she was in search of an interior designer! She hired me the next week.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I love that we don’t have a “signature design” that only fits one aesthetic. All of our clients have different visions and ideas of what they want their homes to look and feel like and we are there to turn their dreams into reality!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are currently working on a fully “smart” house. It’s like building an Amazon Alexa into an entire home! From the lights, to heated floors, to appliances, to alarms, everything in the home can be controlled and adjusted through technology.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Always put people first. Whether it is your employees, your partners, or your clients, the people you work with every day are the foundation for your success. Be kind and make sure everyone feels heard.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Open communication and collaboration should be the priority in large teams. Small problems can become big issues when they are not communicated throughout the group and dealt with accordingly. In the same way, collaboration can encourage brand new ideas and diverse perspectives that leads to something magical.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It’s impossible to choose just one because it really does take a village. But of course, I have to say my life partner and husband. Without the endless support of him and my two beautiful daughters, I never would have had the courage to take the leap and turn my passions into my career.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Be YOU and never feel like you need to fit into what is popular in the moment.

2. Everything is going to go wrong. When it does, know that it’s not forever and you’ll come out stronger.

3. Change is GOOD. Be open to new perspectives.

4. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you don’t deserve exactly what you want.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ever!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I have always been passionate about helping kids and families. At OCID, we work closely with our local Ronald McDonald House chapter to provide housing to families with children with chronic illnesses and extended hospital stays. A comfortable and welcoming home is the last thing a family should be worried about when dealing with such unbearable circumstances. I would love to see more people supporting those families!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” This quote from Will Rogers reminds me that there is no definite end to success and that I should always be looking to push the boundaries in design.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Just like many others I am amazed with what Mr. Warren Buffet has accomplished. Given the opportunity I would love to meet him and learn how he manages to accomplish so much and yet give so much of his time for charitable causes. Equally I admire Bill and Melinda Gates for having done so much to improve health care for millions of people globally and reduce extreme poverty.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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