Chattanoogan: Jackie Howard – The Head Cheerleader

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey

Owner of Scarlett’s cabinetry, Jackie Howard doesn’t run a business – she is part of a team taking the role as head cheerleader.

Growing up in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Jackie was the middle child of Dan and Lucretia Callen. She did her best to keep up with her older sister Susan and her younger brother Danny, who both excelled in swimming.

Jackie began swimming at age six and all of the siblings competitively swam with the YMCA, AAU and CYF teams. Jackie was a petite child and, with her small frame, she found it harder to compete. She remembers the drive home from swimming competitions and how her brother and sister would share their gold medals while she would have ribbons, coming in second or third.

“I ended up being the state champion and the Jr. Olympic champion, but I was not at the caliber of my brother and sister and I had to fight for everything I got,” Jackie said.

Susan and Danny both achieved high school All-American and collegian All- American earning scholarships, but when Jackie was in middle school, she decided to find her own niche with cheerleading.

Jackie didn’t tell anyone that she was trying out for cheerleading and she practiced in the basement with one of her neighbors. When she told her parents that she made the squad, they were a little shocked and wondered how she would handle the demands of cheerleading and swimming.

“I did them both but when I made varsity during my sophomore year, I told my parents that I just couldn’t do both anymore. So I dropped the swimming. I was already driving and had bought my own car. I guess I was that rebel middle kid who just did their own thing,” Jackie admits.

She attended UTC and had married her high school sweetheart. Jackie worked part time in the athletic department on campus and became assistant sports information director traveling with the basketball, football and wrestling teams.

“That’s when UTC was division one in the top 20. I was thrust into a job that I just loved. I was in charge of media relations for all the athletes and traveled with them and I even met Howard Cosell. Here I was 20 years old with this dream job,” she says.

Jackie majored in accounting because she had goals for business and ended up leaving the dream job for financial reasons. She took a job with BCBS auditing hospitals for five years.

“My husband was a general contractor and we were building very high-end homes. I would help his clients by ‘taking them shopping’ (I would call it) for cabinets, counter tops and choosing their tile. Then he started building spec homes and I would decorate,” Jackie says.

In 1989, when she had her daughter Haven, Jackie tried to be a stay-at-home mom, but used her design skills to supplement her husband’s income which led to starting her own business with Scarlett’s.

“I worked out of my home and then decided to open a show room with a designer I had hired to work with me. I didn’t want my business to have my name because I knew that I was going to develop a team to work with. And, because Gone with the Wind was my favorite movie (and his too), we chuckled about that and decided to call it Scarlett’s Design and Interiors,” Jackie laughs.

Jackie’s interior design business took off as she sold furniture accessories, artwork, wall coverings, fabrics and cabinetry. Business took a turn when customers began simplifying their homes and using less wall covering so Jackie then focused on kitchen and baths and changed the business’ name to Scarlett’s Cabinetry.

Jackie moved in with the Tile Store and shared a showroom as the two companies worked their displays together. Jackie had gone through a divorce and in the year 2000 she married her current husband David Hulse.

While working with her team of designers and witnessing growth in her business, Jackie kept the traditional name for her business, but would create designs using various styles, from traditional to contemporary.

"The two manufacturers that I use to build our cabinets will build to our exact design and specifications. We do all the design work and the service we give is unique,” Jackie says.

As Jackie listens to her clients’ desires for their home, she works hard to custom build to their personal style while taking into account their needs to supplement other products that Jackie allows herself to be a part of the planning and assists.

“One of the craziest things I remember years ago was when a client who kept trying to explain a color to me couldn’t come up with the character of what she wanted. She had sort of an old antique old English flair in her home, so she ended up bringing me the bed post from her mahogany bed!” Jackie laughs. “She didn’t know what mahogany was and that is why we were having such a hard time matching it. We found the match and did her kitchen with that color.”

Jackie has an eye for matching color and will confidently tell her clients to bring in anything – even a favorite sweater - and she will match the color with whatever they have in mind.

Scarlett’s used to be involved with the Symphony Guild Designer Showhouse held at the Convention Center for years and now is involved with the Junior League.

“I did the home show and got best in show for a number of years. I used to tell people we should get best in show because we basically have to build a home,” Jackie teases.

“One year before Chattanooga Gas moved to Atlanta, they asked me to do their space to promote natural gas. We built a family room with a gas fire place, put a roof on it, added showers, appliances, cabinets and granite counter tops. We literally had two days to do this,” Jackie says.

The Junior League approached Jackie to do the Tour De Jour that is usually held in April. This year it will be Nov. 14th through the 17th with a holiday theme.

“I am the pinnacle sponsor and we are doing an entire home. I think it is wonderful. It allows me to ask a client, ‘Can I show off your kitchen?’ and I have never had a problem. My clients are my friends and they will open up their doors to show off their kitchen,” Jackie says. “I absolutely love my job. It is hard, but I am doing my hobby at the same time.”

Even though she views her work as a pastime as well, Jackie still enjoys athletics and is a die-hard Titans fan. She attends the Titans games as well as the UTC Mocs.

 “There is never a day I dread doing what I am supposed to do. Because my work has become my hobby as well, I have a hard time when I think about retirement. I don’t see why I would ever quit doing what I am doing,” Jackie says.

“Swimming had taught me discipline and the accounting degree helped me in having my own business - this creates a balance with my spirited personality from cheerleading in how I work,” Jackie says. “I don’t call myself a boss - I am just the head cheerleader.”

jen@jenjeffrey.com


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