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40 Under 40 - Class of 2021
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 2 weeks ago

Alina Dolan, 39

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Designer/Project Leader, Collins DuPont Design Group
by: Beth Luberecki Contributor

Although Alina Dolan came from a family of interior designers, she didn’t originally intend to follow those footsteps. She initially went to college with dreams of being a sports broadcaster, but a summer job at her aunt’s interior design firm showed her how the field was a good fit for her creative side.

Her mom, Lana Knapp, became not only a coworker but a career mentor for Dolan. “She is always so positive and happy,” says Dolan.

By watching her mom, Dolan learned how to embrace color (“She always says that color makes people happy”) and design spaces that are not only beautiful but also comfortable for the homeowners to live in. Another major takeaway? The importance of practicing kindness.

“It certainly helps you get from point A to point B a lot quicker,” says Dolan. “In this industry, you’re not just an island. You have to work as a team, and it’s not just your internal team at your design firm, but it’s a team that branches out into so many different facets….People are always willing to go the extra mile or pull that extra string for you if you’ve built that type of positive relationship from the beginning.”

Firm co-owner Kim Collins has also served as an influential mentor for Dolan. “Kim has been there from the beginning to teach me,” she says. “I went to one of the top design schools in the country and it’s fantastic, but they can’t teach you what you learn on site and in the field. From the very beginning Kim took me under her wing and taught me all of those things.”

Collins also encouraged Dolan to take on her own projects from an early point. “She just kind of pushed me out there and said, ‘Here you go; I have confidence in you,’” says Dolan. “She made me get my hands in there and get messy. But she was always there if something came up where I really got stuck or wasn’t sure….It really helped me find my own identity as a designer.”

Collins has also shown her the value of taking chances, so much so that Dolan rarely chooses the safest route herself. “I’ve watched her do it for so many years that it just seems natural to me,” says Dolan. “Take that risk, avoid the mundane and do something outstanding.”

 

Name: Alina Dolan

Age: 39

City of Residence: Fort Myers

Employer: Collins and Dupont Design Group

Title: Designer/Project Leader

Birthplace: Tallahassee, Florida

Years in the area: 37

Marital Status/Children: Married to Shawn / 3 year old daughter named Siena

Alma Mater/Degree: Florida State University/ Interior Design

What community group or organization are you most involved with? All of my spare time aside from work is now devoted to my beautiful daughter

What's the weirdest job you've ever had? I have always worked in or around interior design.

What's your top tip for being productive? If you enjoy what you are doing and are excited by the process I think motivation comes naturally. Also, surrounding yourself with a team that inspires you and has the same work ethics you do is a huge key to success. Because when you are having a moment or time when you feel overwhelmed or stuck, having that support system to help pick you up and keep the ball rolling is so important. Lastly, make work fun and always take time to laugh!

If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Baking! I absolutely love to bake anything and everything.

What's your favorite off-hours activity? Traveling and experiencing different cultures. And of course Baking.

Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Have not been to the movies since pre-pandemic.

What's the top item on your bucket list? Traveling the world with our daughter and expose her to different cultures from a young age.

What's your favorite podcast? n/a

Where is your happy place? Anywhere with my family. Beachside/Seaside/Pool side with a chilled glass of Rose. Cuddled up with a book in hand (though I rarely have time to read anymore with a 3yr old lol)

Describe yourself in three words: Creative, Happy, Driven

Who is your mentor for your career and why? My Mom and fellow designer Lana Knapp and also CO-owner of C&D Kim Collins

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? From my mom (Lana): Be kind to people. Anything can be fun and made into an adventure. Don't be afraid of color, it makes people happy. From Kim: go big or go home. Don't be afraid to take a chance. Experience is the best teacher. She always let me get my hands dirty and pave my own way from very early on. But was always there to lean on if I felt stuck. Amazing things come from collaboration: "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

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