EQUITY. DIVERSITY. INCLUSION: Xiomara C. Paredes, AIA’s Culture Has Shaped Her Practice

September 26, 2018

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EQUITY. DIVERSITY. INCLUSION: Xiomara C. Paredes, AIA’s Culture Has Shaped Her Practice

I earned my bachelor’s degree in Architecture at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. That’s where I’m from. After graduating, I decided to come to the United States for my Master’s Degree. It was a difficult challenge for me to continue my studies at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, so far from the world I knew, but I did it. After RPI, I started my career in the New York area where I eventually met my husband…of course, the rest is history.

My biggest challenge was passing the exam for my architectural license.  I said to myself, “I have 5 years of Bachelor’s and 2 years of Master’s, and I’m still just an assistant in somebody else’s office. I’m not doing this anymore. I want my own license. I want my own business.”

So, a few months after my daughter was born, I sat for the week-long licensing exam.  It was a hard, technical challenge, and even more difficult for me to take the exam in English, my second language…and I had to request a special seat because I was still a nursing mother!

After finishing my license in the early 1990’s, I started my practice out of the basement in our Westwood home.  Six years later, we moved to Glen Rock and my business really took off!

I believe that my heritage plays a big role in my success. I lived a childhood where we emphasized thriftiness, being resourceful and using every bit of what you have. That shows in my work. Many of my clients own older homes with small spaces and they are looking for solutions that are luxurious in function and feel but integrate seamlessly with the existing home.  Because I view design through the lens of my unique personal experience and different from a traditional American perspective, I am able to give clients just that.

My good listening skills and my willingness to put my client’s needs first are also big parts of my success story.  Is that because I’m a woman? Maybe. I never put my ego before my client’s interest and it shows in the results.  Years later, my clients still say the additions or renovations that I designed are their favorite part of their home!

I have worked hard on the balance of personal life and my business.  When my daughter was growing up, I asked, “Xima, did you feel like you missed out? Not having me home as I was out working while many other suburban moms were making cupcakes and volunteering at school?” My daughter replied, “Mom, no! I was always so proud of you, seeing the work you created!  You are my role model; my hero!”

And with that, I know that I was a success at work at and at motherhood!

On the construction side of the business, I enjoy proving myself to contractors and I have developed many good relationships with GC’s over the years.  More recently,  I find that being of Hispanic descent is a nice advantage as more construction crews are made up of Latino workers and bosses.  In my experience, the construction phase flows more smoothly when the crews connect with a Spanish speaking architect!


Xiomara C. Paredes, AIA
Paredes-Grube Architecture

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