June Hawkins has been in the landscape industry for 37 years, but she majored in interior design in college. She also minored in horticulture and art. Her mother always felt Hawkins’s calling was landscape architecture, and Hawkins ended up working for a landscape architecture firm right out of college for 12 years, where she did graphics and renderings.
She started doing garden designs with native plants back in the 90s as a side job. When she started getting an abundance of calls, she realized she could do landscaping as a profession. After moving to Tennessee from Philadelphia, she got a job for a design-build company and worked there for seven years.
“It was so bad I was just going to get out of the industry completely,” Hawkins says. “It was really the way they treated clients and everything I thought ‘I do not want to be in this field.’”
It was when she met Taylor Milliken, CEO of Milosi, based in Hendersonville, Tennessee, that things changed. Hawkins liked Milliken’s ethics, goals and what he stood for so she went from working for one of the largest design-build companies in Nashville to one of the smallest at the time.
“He only had three crews, but I believed in him so much, and he told me he wanted to grow his company by a million dollars a year and he has done that and exceeded that goal,” Hawkins says. “He is now one of the largest companies in the area.”
Starting out in the design-build industry, Hawkins says it was difficult for her because it was so male-dominated.
“When you follow your passion, it just brings great rewards and those things have not held me back,” Hawkins says. “I think the field is changing and there are a lot more women working at all levels and I see them excelling. Even at my company, we’ve got women crew leaders and there are women who are running the machines on these construction projects. The guys have respect for them, so I think things are changing.”
Hawkins has been with Milosi for eight and half years now and is a landscape designer and project manager for the company. She designs, bids and handles project management. Some of her favorite things about working in the industry are getting to interact with clients, seeing their dreams become a reality and learning something new every day.
“When you’re working with land planners and landscape architects, sometimes the projects are pretty far out before you ever see anything actually out of the ground,” Hawkins says. “Design-build there is instant gratification because project turnarounds are much shorter. Also, I’m involved in the process from beginning to end, not just the design phase.”
In the past, she liked creating planting designs the most, but now her favorite projects are master plans that include pools, hardscapes and more. She says Milliken has been instrumental in training her on design-build construction.
Hawkins says she gets design inspiration from the firm Oehme, van Sweden & Associates and designer Piet Oudolf. She also uses her interior design background to her advantage. She will always put furniture in her landscape designs and it’s something she will discuss with the clients upfront about how they want to use their space to determine traffic flow and what types of furniture they want outside.
As for where she sees herself in the next five years, Hawkins plans to be retired by then. She says Milliken has offered to do whatever to keep working with her so she expects to work with Milosi on a part-time basis in retirement.
This article was published in the May/June issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.