Alumnus is Owner of Christian Alexander Home Decor
After accomplishing his childhood dream of working as a performer at Disneyland, Johnathan Jordan came to FIDM after surviving a series of serious crimes that altered the course of his life. He studied Interior Design and enjoyed a successful career in retail for many years at companies such as Bath & Body Works, Restoration Hardware, Disney Cruise Line, and Brookstone. Today, he’s the owner of Christian Alexander Home Decor in Ashland, Kentucky, where he was born and raised. The boutique features a unique selection of home décor, fragrances, body care, and more, and Johnathan was recently profiled in the Ironton Tribune. We caught up with him to learn more about his unique life story and inspiring journey.
When did you first show an interest or love of design? I loved to decorate and like every child that loves design, I started rearranging furniture in my parents' house. As I got older, I self taught myself on space planning and how to design a room when I worked as a decorator for a local business.
What was your path to FIDM? I had moved to California when I was 19 years old with my cousin. One of my other passions in life was to perform. I remember seeing the performers as a child in the parades at Walt Disney World and I always said I wanted to do that so off to Cali I went. I performed at Disneyland for several seasons. I had to move back home to Kentucky because I was a victim of a kidnapping, carjacking, and attempted murder. I did prosecute the three people and they are now behind bars, but it did change my life forever. I realized life can be taken in a blink of an eye and I should do what I love to do. I could not stop the part of me that wanted to design so I did research and found FIDM. Being accepted was one of the biggest highlights of my life and so I moved to LA and my story began.
What led you to open Christian Alexander Home Decor? I always said to everyone when I was at FIDM that I was going to open my own home decor store one day and let people know that you can have luxury goods and make your home look like it should be in Architectural Digest without having to spend your life savings.
How did your past retail experience prepare you for running your own business? I worked two full-time commitments as a GM for Restoration Hardware and going to FIDM. Restoration Hardware relocated me to San Diego where I worked until I got a job at the Happiest Place on Earth again, Disney. I was an officer on the Disney Dream Cruise Line overseeing all of the merchandising on the ship. We had a total of 11 stores that included two on Disney's Private Island. Restoration helped teach me about quality and approach and Disney taught me how to be great at time management with 26 employees and working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and the process of how to merchandise table showcases.
What is your approach to buying and merchandising? First, I look at the need in the area I live in and what is being offered to the current clients. I am one who has always done the opposite of others because I wanted to be different. I do look at current trends and listen to what my clients want and need. When it comes to merchandising I am a little OCD. I am a designer that dreams things in my sleep, how something should look, be it a table display, or a living room suite. My main focus is to always group colors together in merchandising and styles, but mix in a few pieces that you wouldn't expect.
Are there any lessons you learned at FIDM you carry with you today? FIDM taught me so much, like the value of taking a space and to create whatever your dream is. There are no boundaries with interior design. FIDM helped me understand drafting, which I loved because it allowed me to use my imagination in ways I never thought possible and how to use color on the color wheel to bring an opposite color into a space I may not have thought of on my own.
What advice would you share with a student or grad wanting to work in retail or interiors? I have never been a person to buy and look through designer magazines nor what design TV shows. I have always had a very active imagination that will not turn off even when I sleep. I will design in my sleep and wake up with the most brilliant ideas. Trust this process because it helps you process something that you have been trying to awaken but you're overthinking it. Let the process of design happen when it comes to you. Take that job in a firm or retail setting, even if it is at the bottom getting coffee; you are already one step ahead and your foot is in the door, now it's up to you to show them your hard work and dedication. Never ever be late for a job, interview, or meeting with a client — always be early. This shows them you take your job seriously and they will trust you more with your work.
Anything else you'd like to share? No matter how long it takes you to reach your dreams, no matter how hard or far into the future it may be, or even if life throws you a curve ball and you think you can never get there, you can achieve and get what you want and live your dream. I am living proof of it.
Learn more at christianalexanderhome.com and on Instagram @christianalexanderhome.