Updated: Jul 27
I’m Jen Mckenzie, owner of the brand Abide.
I am also the designer, builder and manufacturer, homeware developer, illustrator & interior designer, and i absolutely love that i get to do what i love to do everyday ( cliche – but true )
Five things you should to know about me:
1. My full name is Jenni – Not Jenny / Jennifer / Jennyfer or whatever other variation you can think of. Im just Jenni with an “i”
2. A good cup of coffee makes my world go round.
3. I had a pet tortoise growing up – it ran away from me 3 times before i painted a heart on its shell with nail polish so people knew who to return it to.
4. I am a Marvel comic fanatic, and my favorite character is James Buchanan Barnes, aka. Bucky – because lets be honest that metal arm is HAAWT!
5. I am 100% afraid of Geckos.
I grew up in a small town called Richmond, and had the best childhood filled with many silly stories and adventures. I am the oldest of 3 children – so naturally i am the bossiest, and i believe that’s what my parents love most about me (insert emoji with sticking out tongue here ). My mom and dad are seriously awesome, and i love them to bits and pieces. They have been incredibly supportive and encouraging over the past year of abide finding its feet, and you may have even met them already – they are my unofficial delivery team. I love that i get to call my family my best friends and that we are never too far away from one another, in fact my sisters and my front doors are about 10m away from one another and my brother is my roomie and private chef.
Growing up in the country instilled a value of the outdoors and an appreciation for nature in me ( i am by no means a camper – but i love being in my garden, getting my hands dirty and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us) so i naturally lean towards using botanicals, drawing botanicals and always being surrounded by whatever flowers and greenery i can get my hands on! I have always had the dream of owning and running my own business – the job description in this dream has changed quite dramatically over the years, but running my own thing has always been the common thread. At age 5 i was going to be a hairdresser, age 8 a teacher, age 10 a wedding planner, age 11 a florist and then – owning a coffee shop, a decorator, a fashion designer, a hardware store (i know right), a landscaper, jewellery designer, pre school teacher?
I went to high school at St Johns DSG in Pietermaritzburg, as a Border. 5 years of pure joy that i treasure and wouldn’t change for anything in the world. Being a border changed everything – it gave me my independence, challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and built friendships to last a lifetime.
After Matric i made the big move down to Durban, and i started studying Interior Design at DUT. I was introduced to Striking and the wonderful ambience of the DUT city campus & its infamous pigeons! I loved every aspect of interior design… even model making. After completing my BTech i went on to lecture part time at DUT whilst starting up a small affordable artwork company called Jen Jen. I then went on to work at Cecil Nurse as their in house Space Planner and product designer, whilst still running Jen Jen in the evenings and weekends. Cecil Nurse taught me so much by ways of furniture construction possibilities and processes, standards and regulations , spacial requirements, ergonomics and it started my love for Interior design in the Corporate Environment. After a few years at Cecil Nurse i decided it was time to give this ‘running your own business’ thing a proper go – but i ended up chickening out and started as a junior designer at DNA Interior Design, a Durban based Interior design firm that specializes in designing corporate interiors. DNA is the most incredible company, i got to work on some of the most amazing projects in some of Durban’s most prominent corporate environments and this just furthered my love for Interior Design in the corporate realm. Whilst working at DNA i realized that THIS is what i actually wanted to do! I wanted to run my own interior design firm but also incorporate the Jen Jen side to it. The practical and the pretty. … and that is how abide was born. An Interiors and homeware brand with a focus on creating bold and significant spaces that are considerate of the latest trends and your budget! With the aim of designing products that can fit into a multitude of interior spaces, with an appeal to the younger working class – providing good quality designer homeware with an affordable price tag. That pretty much sums up me and how abide happened. Thanks for reading