katrina feature

Philanthropy and Design – A Fashionable Q&A with Katrina Peebles

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In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers. This week, Clara speaks with New York philanthropist and interior designer, Katrina Peebles.

Upon graduating with a B.S. in Journalism, Katrina began a marketing career at Carter, Hawley and Hale (parent company of Neiman Marcus) in San Francisco. Later, Katrina spearheaded the Peebles Corporation tax appeal business in the early 1990s, which became the most successful tax appeal firm in the District of Columbia. In the mid-1990s, after the launch of Peebles Atlantic Development Corporation, Katrina began preparing responses to requests for proposals, guiding marketing efforts and promotions for mixed-use developments including the Royal Palm and the Residences at the Bath Club.

Though she has invested time in the Peebles Corporation, Katrina has always found it important to give back to her community and has invested her time in various charities. Katrina has always expressed an interest in politics and has hosted and contributed to political fundraisings for the past 27 years. And though politics and charity organizations are a large interest to Katrina, she also has a love and devotion to art and design.

Katrina is currently bringing her design and marketing expertise to 108 Leonard – a collection of 156 luxury condos coming to the market in spring 2017. Katrina has taken over the responsibility of the family’s philanthropic priorities while caring for her two children and working at the Peebles Corporation. Katrina is a Board Member of the NYC Mission Society and recently chaired their Champions for Children Gala.

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When and how did you first realize that you wanted to work in the industry and business you are in?

I knew I wanted to be in the interior design field when I met my husband, who is a real estate entrepreneur. I started working with him doing public relations and marketing work for beautiful and amazing buildings he was buying and building. My degree in Journalism and previous work experience had prepared me for this, but I wasn’t prepared for the thrill and joy I experienced when I started working with interior designers for the hotels and condominiums! My husband, being an acquisitive developer, also acquired over a dozen homes for us to date and I’ve practiced my passion renovating and designing each of them, and even gave our Gulf-stream jet a new interior!  These projects all prepared me for larger projects including being on the design team for the public spaces at the Bath Club and its Historic Clubhouse in Miami Beach.

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2. When it comes to interior design, where do you find inspiration? And do you have any tips for finding original/one-of-a-kind decorative items or furnishings?

Travel and emerging artists are where I find inspiration and original ideas. I like our projects to convey a “curated” feel and pieces by new artists do just that! Additionally, keeping up with and seeking out emerging artists keeps me interacting with some really creative people who continue to push the envelope and break rules using new media, applications and combinations; being involved with inspired artists keeps me inspired and thinking in new ways.

Travel is one the greatest sources of inspiration because it very quickly immerses us in new aesthetics, living, and thought patterns. Travel helps me stay creative and not get stuck in “traditional thinking” ruts in design. Decorative elements from other parts of the globe always add geometric interest to a room, because people are naturally curious. Good design should evoke some emotions and curiosity is one of them!

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3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?

A typical day starts for me at 6:00 AM. I start the day with my 14-year-old daughter having protein smoothies and coffee. We hang out until she leaves on her school bus at 7:05. After, my husband and I have coffee and leave work. I go into the office about three days a week and spend the other days working from home and taking care of typical family needs. I really like to create a tranquil and beautiful home for my family.

Our offices are on 5th Avenue right across from Bergdorf Goodman (which provides great “retail breaks”). I spend some of my days in project design and marketing meetings outside of the office and the remainder in our offices so it makes for a really interesting day!

A day off often includes going out on our boat as a family including many of our daughter’s friends who like to go tubing. We position our boat to be close to whichever home we are using or in a destination we want to explore.  Many weekends are spent at horse shows around the country; we just recently returned from a national competition in Lexington. We also like to ski and plan some trips to Aspen each winter.

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4. What is the next big thing in your industry? What are people doing differently today, compared to 10-15 years ago?

Being green and the repurposing of existing buildings into modern day productivity are trends in interior design we are incorporating into our projects now. Many of the Peebles Corporation projects are rehabilitations of grand, historic buildings erected in the late 1800s and early 1900s in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston,and Washington DC. These buildings are generally large, limestone buildings like iconic courthouses or clock tower buildings, significant in history, size and architectural elements; they are generally historic landmarks.

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5. What are your three favorite restaurants in New York City? And what is it you like about these places?

I like Le Cirque for its elegance and tranquility. My husband and I had our first date there 27 years ago! It’s like an elegant, velvet time capsule removed from the street/human noises of the city. La Grenouille is a favorite for its quintessential classicism, best French food with amazing service. Cipriani at the Sherry Netherlands is a lunch mainstay, often multiple times a week. Cipriani’s vanilla cream cake is a must have and they make whole cakes for me to celebrate birthdays.

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6. What are your three favorite bars in New York? And what is it you like about these places?

I don’t drink so I don’t go to many bars but my favorite is the Polo Bar.  My son likes it and we have many family dinners there. My daughter and I love the equestrian-themed decor.

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7. What are your three favorite locations to visit in NYC? And what is it you like about these places?

Central Park, Bergdorf Goodman for everything girlie including shoes and popovers, and Saddle River Equestrian to watch my daughter train and compete.

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8. Which three events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss? And what is so special about these events?

My husband’s birthday;

My son’s birthday;

My daughter’s birthday.

These are the people I love the most and I’m so grateful they all were born! Aside from celebrating my family, I wouldn’t miss the NYC Mission Society Gala because it raises money for great programs that really help educate young people out of the cycle of poverty; I’m on their Board of Directors.

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9. What was your best New York moment? Your worst?

My worst New York moment was when I first moved here and tried to get to an address only to realize the building numbers had nothing to do with the street numbers. One of the best moments happened right after when a random stranger walked me to the right address.

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10. Tell us something that people do not know about you.

I love playing blackjack and watching live boxing. Also, I only eat the frosting off the cake.

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11. How would you describe your personal (fashion) style?

I aim for elegant and glamorous; I like the styles of women’s fashion during the Golden Age of Film. I choose fashion that is so feminine it’s bold and I enjoy a modern and playful twist to classic silhouettes. I adore dresses with matching coats and gloves!

I have been around horse show barns since my daughter started riding a decade ago and have subsequently adopted a liking for tall boots, Jodhpurs and jackets. It’s an easy uniform when it’s really cold and slippery out, and its timelessness appeals to me.

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12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?

Grace Kelly had a beauty and style I admire very much. Her style was timelessly elegant and conservative. I like to put my hair up for black tie events and adhere to invitational attire requests as a matter of respect; old school pretty much.

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13. Who is your favorite fashion designer, artist, or architect – and why?

I love B Michael who lives right here in NYC and is also a friend. His designs are show stopping homage to the classic collars and silhouettes I love! He chooses exquisite quality fabrics and creates flawless and dramatic dresses, coats, gloves, and gowns that will always be in style! He recently made me a pair of pale pink and black opera gloves and an opera coat–dreamy and dramatic!

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14. Name your favorite… and tell us why:

a. Outfit: A sleeveless, fitted shift dress and matching swing coat which B Michael designed for me! The dress is form fitting and so proper it’s sexy while the three quarter sleeve swing coat just moves like a flourish of glamour exposing the dress underneath. This dress/coat and a pair of gloves is a standout everywhere!

b. Perfume: Classics: Chanel No. 5 and JOY by Jean Patou.

c. TV show: Breaking Bad had me transfixed! My husband and I would watch episode after episode after episode…thank goodness they killed off all the characters finally!

d. Book: I could never pick just one! Good books are like good friends who you’re sad to see go when you finish reading. I did just finish We the Living by Ayn Rand and it was great!

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15. What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What is it you love about it and what is your favorite dish?

George’s Cinq in Monte Carlo because it is an experience defined by perfection and orchestrated perfectly! My favorite dish is all of their desserts, especially those with custard or meringue!

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16. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?

An elegant yacht in beautiful blue waters that are warm is always great but my favorite vacation spot would be someplace I’ve never been before. There are many places in the world I’ve never been to and I’d like to go explore them. I took my first trip to China with my family recently and had an incredible time! The trip reignited my desire to visit new places.

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17. Which three items can you not live without?

My iPhone;

My espresso machine;

My puffy slippers.

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18. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?

The Serenity Prayer.

I say this prayer over and over to myself because it keeps my energy focused in ways I can effectuate positive change and reduces my wasting my efforts on things not within my control. “It is what it is” is another saying that works for me; they’re both dealing with acceptance.

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19. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?

I would have liked to have met and been influenced by Mother Theresa. I believe it often times takes a fair amount of living to realize how important it is for ourselves to help others and I’ve read meeting her had a profound impact on many people.  I try to remember her wise words about not judging people because it leaves no time to love them.

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20. Is there anything else you would like to share, discuss, or promote?

I would just like to encourage people to volunteer in areas where they believe they can be effective. If they don’t already do it regularly, most people are surprised by how great they feel and how important helping others will become to them.

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PHOTO CREDITS

All Photos of Katrina Peebles Courtesy of Photographer Andrew Einhorn