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The People and Stories Behind Design For A Difference

Experience the movement that is transforming spaces and people across the U.S. and Canada. Inspiring and informative, this blog is dedicated to all of those who make a difference with design in our every day lives.

Leaving a Legacy and Giving Back: Design For A Difference Meets Morristown

Morristown, New Jersey – If you’re a preschooler attending day programs at Morristown Neighborhood House, your morning drop-off just got a little brighter, thanks to the latest Design For A Difference makeover provided by IDG Showroom J&S Designer Flooring.

Your parents and teachers have pointed out that you have new floors, coat cubbies, and cabinetry, but to be honest, your mind is taking in a whole new perspective of the outside world:

A bright and beautiful mural of the favorite buildings in your town- your favorite restaurant, old historical facades, and even the firehouse, has been painted over the old dreary cinderblock walls with a familiar yet playful landscape, and you couldn’t be more excited.

You know these landmarks since you’ve had real life experiences at each and every one; and now you can’t wait to share your stories with classmates and teachers, and might even be imagining new adventures as soon as you hang your coat and get settled in for the day…

And this is exactly how a Design For A Difference makeover should be: It should start by making the little people happy, because they are the heart of the cause, and beyond deserving of living in an environment that serves their needs and brings joy to their lives.

Meet the Hakakian Family

And this is also how Jonathan Hakakian, part business owner of J&S, describes the “why” behind embracing the design movement.

“As a business with a conscience, it feels good to have done this because it was the right thing to do. We have a long-standing reputation of giving back over the years, and the idea of heading up an entire team of people to transform a space was different than anything we’ve ever done. It was new and exciting, and we had to learn the process, but now that we’ve done it, our hope is that others will follow.”

 

The Real American Dream

Jonathan joins his parents, Javid and Sima Hakakian in what can only be described as a heart-warming and inspiring American dream story. Starting out of the basement of their family home in 1989, Javid and Sima found themselves aspiring to be entrepreneurs and chose to stick with what they were good at- luxury flooring sales- as the means to make it happen. Nearly three decades later, they are known as the premier flooring showroom in New Jersey, boasting a showroom of over 20,000 square feet, and have proudly served thousands of customers who have welcomed them into their homes time and time again over the years.

So what’s their secret? They will tell you “hard work, integrity and an absolute passion for putting client’s needs ahead of their own.” Jonathan explains:

“My parents built their entire business on people first: Employees, customers, designers… they have always understood and operated as people of integrity, knowing that any success they would have must be built on a strong foundation of trusted relationships. Even in times when it seemed like a decision might hurt a bit in the short term, if it was the right thing, that was what they would do. And it has always benefited our future.”

 

Please Pass the Profits

One can only imagine what it must be like to grow up in a house with business partner parents. Of the three kids, Jonathan was the one to follow in Javid and Sima’s footsteps, and explains that he knows no different.

“My upbringing was really impactful because we were ALL in the business. Sitting for dinner as a family was the only time of the day that my parents could take a breather, but because they are so passionate about their work, conversations revolved around work. The dinner table was where the brain of the business came together and where decisions were made. And we loved being part of it,” describes Jonathan.

 

Back in the Hood

Ironically, the home of Morristown Neighborhood House happens to be just a block away from J&S Designer Flooring’s first location from 20 years ago, bringing the Hakakian’s back to the good old days of bringing up their three alongside their entrepreneurial venture.

The process of determining a good fit for the makeover included interviews with a number of deserving charities, landing the hearts of the design team in the preschool classroom of Neighborhood House. Jonathan explains:

“It was the one facility where we walked in and thought, ‘Wow, these good people have been passed over,’ and we fully embraced their needs as an integral part of the community to have a refreshed, nice looking and functional environment.”

 

Leaving a Legacy:

In true J&S spirit, the experts that came together to design and install the new space, including Cynthia Harriman and team (Eastern Design Group), brought the same level of care and attention given to every single client the Hakakians have served since the company was in its infancy. As a business with a conscience, not only did they create a high quality, beautiful and functional space, but they actually raised enough money to leave the charity with a surplus of over $5,000 and counting with which to make continued improvements.

As the parent of a soon to be pre-schooler, Jonathan brings it home:

“You feel the difference when you walk in the front door. Everything is new, the staff is thrilled, and you are no longer greeted by a cinderblock wall, but a beautiful scene of Morristown. As a parent, I want my kid to be here.”

And it doesn’t get any better than that.

 

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