For Jenny Zalkin and Josh Fein, friendship and interior design go hand in hand.
Jenny Zalkin grew up the daughter of an interior designer, so it’s only fitting that today, at 30, and the owner of Zalkin Interiors, she’s a rising star on the South Florida interior-design scene. But, ironically enough, the former stylist fell into her current career by happenstance when a style client inquired if the shrewd eye she had for fashion also applied to interiors. “From then on, it was one project after another,” she says. “I started getting busy; it was fun; and I never looked back.”
Enter Josh Fein, 31, Zalkin’s lifelong best pal. “We used to carpool together,” he recalls, laughing, before Zalkin quickly counters, “I was only friends with Josh because he had a license before I did.” This friendly ribbing belies a synergy that makes for the ideal business partnership. When she was starting out, Zalkin would often consult with Fein on projects while he was still in the thick of his role as the director of marketing at the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach. The two friends soon found themselves sharing the same visions and opinions, playing off each other’s strengths and thoroughly enjoying the process. “We literally finish each other’s sentences,” says Fein. An organic progression led their casual collaborations to grow into an official full-fledged business partnership, and Fein Zalkin Interiors launched earlier this year. Now their plate is full with commissions that run the gamut from yachts to waterfront estates.
Fein and Zalkin are also in sync when it comes to their philosophy on client relationships. “We want to make it pleasurable for our clients and take the negative aspects—like, say, problematic lead times—off their shoulders,” says Zalkin. “We just want to design their home, plane or boat to create the most enjoyable atmosphere possible.”
As for the notion that joining forces could take a toll on their friendship, Fein and Zalkin are unfazed. “Sometimes a business relationship is more intense than a personal relationship,” says Fein. “Our level of communication with each other is exceptional. And we’re up front with our clients too. No one likes to be lied to. Trust and timeliness are hard to come by in Miami, and we’re all about that.”
Fein & Zalkin’s Hots:
Bold patterns, tufting, Fornasetti wallpaper, Aerin Lauder fabrics
Fein & Zalkin’s Nots:
Leather sofas, shag rugs, plastic indoor plants, Venetian plaster
On Zalkin: Dress by Suno, shoes by Christian Louboutin, all at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops; On Fein: Shirt by Briono, tie by Charvet, all at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops