Creating interest is something Venus Williams has not had to worry about. Tennis fans have been hooked for years. She turned pro in 1994, has held the world No 1 ranking and won 21 Grand Slam titles in her career.
So when Williams launched Florida- based V*Starr Interiors in 2002, her celebrity drove instant name brand recognition to the company. And a recent commission to design a new model residence at luxury oceanfront condominium One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton, Florida, marks her growing success from an entrepreneur to an interiors expert.
While Williams' coming of age on the tennis court has played out publicly, her growth as an interior designer has been more subtle. "It's been one of the best kept secrets," she said. Only, not really.
The V*Starr portfolio has a steadily growing clientele that includes the Florida homes of NFL and NBA players in Davie and Miami, model residences in Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens; a hotel chain in Miami; Burr Athletic Facility at Howard University in Washington, DC; and the Tavis Smiley show set in Los Angeles.
Williams likened the pressure of proving one's ability on the tennis court to one's ability in the boardroom. "You start at the bottom and learn along the way. That still doesn't mean they believe you can do the job," she said. "But I enjoy the process. I enjoy the battle."
That's good news for Jamie Telchin, president of development for LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, who oversees a variety of marketing strategies for One Thousand Ocean. In a push to sell the remaining 12 of 52 units, his team has worked to keep the property "fresh and new to prospective buyers, and Venus is a good match," he said. Developers broke ground in 2007, sold their first unit in 2010, and have closed on 40 units since. Several contracts are pending.
The development was featured on reality TV show Selling New York and portions of the movie Parker, featuring Jennifer Lopez, were filmed on site.
High profile meets high profile, said Telchin. "With Venus' fresh vision and her celebrity, we felt she could open doors to a new market."
Designed models help people see potential, which also helps to sell unfurnished units of the same configuration. Two other designed furnished models provided similar results.
Williams' design reflects what a luxury lifestyle in South Florida looks like, Telchin said.
Muted blues, greens and yellows flow throughout the rooms like subtle balmy South Florida breezes, on palettes of tan, beige and white. "We began with a great base," Williams said. "And we wanted to continue inside what's going on outside."
Telchin said: "We're being very selective in how we create interest. So is Venus. She's putting herself out there too."
SUN SENTINEL (MCT)