Retired, she made her way to an award-winning studio where she created legendary designs for five-star hotels

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All spaces are divided and connected by vaulted walls – a nod to the historic Elgin Bridge.

Finally, we arrive at the luxurious private office of White Jacket founder Patricia Ho Douven.

Her desk, made of wood and leather, is sculptural and expansive, and unexpectedly bare except for a MacBook and some branded paper. Even the freestanding playpen, for Ho’s new dog, looks rich. First, it takes up half the room.

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It was hard to believe that someone could start all this from scratch. It was even harder to believe that the award-winning White Jacket studio, with clients like Intercontinental, JW Marriott, Shangri-La and Starwood, was a one-woman show that started in an apartment just 12 years ago.

But when I sat down with the 44-year-old founder, I began to understand.

“I DID NOT TELL ANYONE”

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Ho had always wanted her own design studio. Nor was it just a utopia. She had worked for interior design firms in her twenties, saving what she could knowing that one day she would leave to start her own business.

That day came unexpectedly.

In 2009, she was pulled from her position as design director, which included a clause prohibiting her from working with the company’s clients for 12 months.

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“That put me on the wrong track a bit. For a few months I mostly stayed at home,’ says Ho.

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