Jillian Bookout started her business after realizing there was a niche market in Moose Jaw for contemporary home design — 15 years later, her storefront on Main Street is a go-to for consulting, fabrics, décor, finishing touches, and brand-new ideas.
Bookout offers her consulting services for any project, commercial or residential, but she finds her greatest enjoyment in combining form with function in her client’s homes. She takes into account how the space actually needs to be used day-to-day, while exploring design ideas that clients hadn’t even considered before.
“I feel like 15 years ago, people played it very safe,” Bookout said. “It’s evolved now that I’m able to do more projects that push people a little bit out of their comfort zone, which is really nice.”
Jillian’s Design Elements was born in 2007. Bookout moved home to Moose Jaw at 22 after graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s in Human Ecology — the study of relationships between humans and their environment.
She is also a certified Benjamin Moore colour consultant, and minored in marketing and design.
“I didn’t plan on staying, it was kind of a temporary thing,” Bookout said. “I just started helping out some friends and then that became word of mouth. And slowly, it just grew until it turned into a business.”
She bought the building at 621 Main Street in 2010, three years after starting her business.
“I realized the potential that Moose Jaw had,” she explained. “It was just before the boom happened, and we were missing a niche market to have a contemporary home décor store here. So, I took the opportunity and jumped in with both feet.”
A space can be equal parts beautiful and usable, Bookout believes. During her consults, she asks questions about family dynamics, daily routines, and lifestyle, in addition to obvious things such as colour preferences or favourite styles.
“There’s not one right answer when it comes to design. There are many options and many answers. … There’s a wrong answer, but there’s not just one right answer.”
Bookout can work with most budgets, she said, and while a smaller budget might present a challenge, it can be interesting and rewarding to find ways to make it work.
She’s proud of her staff, and while she remains the chief designer for her business, customers shouldn’t be hesitant to ask questions of her sales consultants when they come in to browse.
One of the things Bookout wishes more people knew about her store is that the options are not at all limited to what is on display. There are also regular changes and updates to inventory, meaning there’s usually something fresh to see.
“People don’t realize how many options we actually have,” she added. “They just see what’s on the floor, whereas we have hundreds of options in terms of ordering.”
The pandemic supply challenges have affected her as much as everyone else, but she said people are generally understanding.
“You know, I’m very grateful for being in this community for 15 years,” Bookout said. “The support that I’ve received from the community has been outstanding, and I’m really grateful and appreciative of that, as well as my staff.
“They’ve been here for a long time, Marcie and Lana, and they are extremely knowledgeable and can be extremely helpful to customers.”