In Jenn Zella ’97, design seems to come alive. The cofounding principal and “chief visionary officer” of Naples-based CID Design Group, Zella has appeared on the 40 Under 40 list in her local community magazine, also on Interior Design Magazine’s 2018 List of The Top 100 Giants and has helped to put her firm on the map.
With clients in 35 states and 60 cities spanning from Canada to the Caribbean, CID Design Group has grown exponentially, guided by Zella’s creative vision.
“The turning point in our company’s growth happened after I had my first child eight years ago,” says Zella, the mother of two. “For many years, I was muscling through. It wasn’t until I had kids that I started delegating, empowering our team, and letting them unleash their own talents more freely.”
CID Design Group has been doubling its revenue, year-over-year, ever since then. The company’s growth also has been fueled by the success of its annual design forecast, where CID shares research within the industry so that others can learn from it and share ideas. It has positioned CID as the go-to expert in the hospitality design industry.
“It’s been incredible for our company and useful for training our team to focus on the things that we believe are important,” Zella says. The forecast is also a charitable vehicle, through its product spotlights that raise money for the Humane Society, a local school of the arts, The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, and more.
Being a talented designer requires strong listening and problem-solving skills, a knack for viewing things in 3D, and a timeless focus. Talented designers have a way of designing with endurance, Zella says. “They have a long-range vision that empowers them to create lasting work.”
In reflecting on Gilmour, Zella recounts the writing skills she acquired there. “I use those every single day. It was amazing how much they pushed us to be good writers, and when I went to college, I felt prepared. It's a skill I can truly attribute to Gilmour.” Zella also said Gilmour instilled in her a deep social consciousness and that her teachers served as mentors. Today, she mentors aspiring designers in that same way.