Maryline Damour

Co-founder and Principal Designer, Damour Drake; Founder, Kingston Design Connection

Although Maryline Damour is a designer by profession, she is also a designer by heart. She and partner Fred Drake co-founded the successful Kingston-based interior design and construction firm Damour Drake, at which she is the principal designer, known for her attention to detail, distinct cultural flair, and enthusiasm for collaboration. She works to improve homes and communities near and far, and her impressive portfolio ranges from an airy Brooklyn loft apartment with custom furniture, to the redesign and renovation of an 18th-century cathedral in her native Haiti that was badly damaged during the 2010 earthquake.

Thanks to her labor-of-love creations, networking community Kingston Design Connection, and its showcase project Kingston Design Showhouse, she has brought together a community of fellow designers, makers, artists, and retailers, who connect, collaborate, promote, and support one another. Damour supports local businesses through the Kingston Design Connection, which has grown quickly and steadily — thanks in part to her background in marketing, business development, and PR — as well as the annual Showhouse event, which brings hundreds of guests to Kingston to view the works of local designers and artisans.

And her work in Haiti continues: She has developed a curriculum for the development of a multidisciplinary vocational school, focused on teaching safer building techniques and practices for the construction industry.

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You’re working with four female architects to build the vocational school in Haiti; why did you choose this mission?

This was not a stated mission. My goal was to engage architects with practical experience building in Haiti, as well as the best education internationally. I began with two young women architects working in Haiti, one who worked as an architect in New York and returned to Haiti after the earthquake, and the other who was educated internationally, but grew up working in Haiti. One definite mission was to engage the younger generation. But at the end of the day, we have me and four women architects because they are incredibly gifted and qualified.

What advice do you have for the next generation of female leaders?

Focus on what you do best. I had a boss a long time ago, after a performance review, tell me that it was better to lean into my strengths than to work on my weaknesses. It literally changed my life.

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