You know you’re passionate about something when you spend your collegiate years devouring books on the subject matter. This describes Jackson Strom’s passion for architecture. In 2019, Strom chose to take the dive and start his own business, Strom Architecture, after 10 years working for local firms. To learn more about his passion for his profession, we sat down with Strom for a little Q&A.
Can you walk me through how you decided to start a business? Was there an outside influence?
My career path was greatly influenced by the positivity and encouragement of my parents. Growing up, I watched my Dad run our family farm, and had the opportunity to see how his work ethic, drive, and love for what he does, provided for our family. My mom had a very positive outlook on life, and encouraged me to follow any and all of my interests. With those mindsets instilled in me, I’ve long had the plan of starting my own business. Throughout college, I would accumulate business and architecture books that would both teach and inspire me to keep growing in my profession. I was fortunate to gain over 10 years of experience from two respected firms in the area, and upon getting married, and having our son, it felt like the perfect time to make the leap.
How do people benefit from your services?
We design to reflect our client’s style, enhance their daily rituals, and promote memorable moments. We communicate with clarity by developing relationships based on honest, upfront, and clear communication. We also pay uncommon attention to the details to get the best possible solutions. We approach each project holistically, considering the interior layout just as much as the exterior. Our designs maximize sun exposure, enhance the best views, respect the local context, all while providing the client with the lifestyle, aesthetic, and budget they desire.
What roadblocks did you face?
I have been very fortunate not to experience many ‘roadblocks’ yet, but I have experienced many firsts – having an attorney set up the business entity, developing relationships in banking and financial fields, and seeking business advice from friends, colleagues, and other professionals. I have benefited greatly from keeping an open mind, and tapping into the expertise of people around me.
When were you able to really sit back and take a breath?
I was fortunate to hit the ground running. I had numerous clients early on, and my biggest challenge was ensuring I kept on top of the work. People care about good design, but this is a service industry. Unless we can provide great service to our clients, we’re not succeeding in our role.
What drives you?
I’m driven by my clients and family. My dedication to my clients drives me to continually strive to provide better service by being devoted to the details of both the design and their lifestyle. My dedication to my family drives me to strive to provide a lifestyle similar to how I had growing up on the farm. I want to put in extra time when necessary, but always be available for family events and functions. I want to set an example for my kids that shows them that if you are lucky to find what you love to do in life and dedicate yourself to it, you can make your dreams come true.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs out there? How can they get ahead?
Pick one thing and dedicate yourself to it. It may take years to figure out what your one thing is, but once you find it, the quicker you can dedicate yourself to it, the quicker you will excel at it. I would recommend that you study the ones who’ve already achieved what you’re after – study the books, watch the documentaries, and read the interviews. All of the information is out there, and it’s up to you how much time and energy you’re willing to dedicate to grow in your profession. Loving what you do is an added benefit, as most of it will not feel like work.
What led you to architecture? When did you start thinking of it as a goal or career option?
My guidance counselor pointed me towards architecture, and my Mom supported and nurtured that journey. I started to set career goals in architecture upon attaining my first internship during college. I loved the real-world experience that the internship offered, and I was eager to start my professional career.
What have been some of your greatest challenges in starting your business?
My greatest challenge so far has been dividing my time between the business start-up aspects and what I really enjoy, which is developing relationships with clients and creating their designs.
Who are some of your inspirations for design?
We are inspired by our clients and the aesthetic that they desire. We review the details, proportions, and scale that are true to that aesthetic, and ensure that our design reflects that. We also have an ever-growing collection of architecture books that we reference for inspiration. Although there are many architects whose work I admire, I have become more inspired by a certain architect’s approach to the profession rather than their specific style or projects. I gravitate towards the architects who have had much success, yet still, discuss the profession and their careers in a very modest way.
What’s it like approaching a new project?
Exciting! We believe that great relationships build great projects, so our first step is to get to know the client and understand their vision for the project. Every project is unique, and it’s our goal to bring each client’s dreams to reality. After visiting the site, we develop the initial design that consists of a floor plan and a 3D model. We like to provide our clients with a 360-degree view upfront so they fully understand the proposed design.
Do you have a favorite?
My favorite is whatever one I’m working on at the moment. We have been fortunate to work with clients who we share a mutual trust and respect with, allowing us to maximize our creativity.
What are some of the most inspirational books or resources you have come across personally?
Relentless by Tim Grover
Life, on the Line by Grant Achat
Principles by Ray Dalio