Keany’s put her design firm on growth pattern

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Mary Jean Keany, owner of Anamika Design in Newport, looks through swatches for an interior design project. 
 / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Mary Jean Keany, owner of Anamika Design in Newport, looks through swatches for an interior design project. 
 / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

Business Women Awards 2019 | INDUSTRY LEADER, CREATIVE SERVICES
Mary Jean Keany, Anamika Design LLC


FOR INTERIOR DESIGNER Mary Jean Keany, the key to her business is focused creativity.

That means interpreting the concepts of her clients in a way that maintains the integrity of the space, the satisfaction of the client, and Keany’s own artistic vision. That’s true whether she’s working on ski condos in Vermont, an oceanfront home on Martha’s Vineyard, or an 1860s Victorian in the Boston suburbs.

“I try to keep it timeless,” she said.

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Keany is founder and owner of Anamika Design LLC, which operated in the Boston area for more than 20 years. In 2017, she moved to Newport.

Anamika, she said, comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “nameless” or “beyond naming,” which she considered an apt title for a firm that can’t be defined by any one style.

Keany had been working out of a carriage house at her home in Weston, Mass. But with her kids in college, she decided she no longer needed such a large house, and was looking to make a move. She had a good friend in Newport and had visited the city many times.

“I thought, what a cool place to live,” she said. She also sees business potential in Newport for Anamika Design to grow.

When Keany moved to Newport, she was in the midst of two major projects. One was the complete interior design of 28 ski condos at Southface Village in Ludlow, Vt. The other project was a chance to go back to one of her very first assignments, the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, Mass., where Keany redesigned the guest rooms.

Keany said she particularly likes working with hospitality venues such as hotels.

“It’s the chance for the big bang, to make an impression,” she said. “I really want the customer to feel something when they walk into their room.”

Current projects for Anamika include two condos in Boston, homes in Westerly and North Kingstown, and perhaps more work at Southface Village.

Stephan Rodriguez expects big things from Keany. Rodriguez is alumni manager for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at the Community College of Rhode Island, which Keany attended last year.

“She’s really looking to grow her business,” he said. “I think the direction she’s going will make 10,000 Small Businesses proud. She’s put the work into it.”

Keany said she heard about the program from the owner of a health club, Bridge to Fitness in Middletown, and decided to check it out.

“I’m a designer foremost,” she said. “I learned the business and marketing side as I went along. 10,000 Small Businesses is an amazing program. You’re among peers, and we all learn from each other. We all have the same basic issues – managing payroll, employees, spreadsheets, trying to market your business.”

In five years, she said, she’d like to have annual revenue of at least $2 million and five full-time employees. Now she uses mostly freelancers, as many as 10 on a project, and has one full-time assistant. Current annual revenue, she said, is about $800,000.

Keany grew up in snowy Watertown, N.Y., and got a degree in art education at the State University of New York in Buffalo, spending a semester studying abroad in Siena, Italy.

After college she moved to Boston, where she worked in corporate sales, then as a fashion stylist and events coordinator for Reebok. She started her own company, Melrose Productions, to design and install trade shows.

She said she always loved interior design and got her first job at the Beechwood Hotel thanks to the recommendation of Cambridge, Mass., architect Peter Sollogub.

Her style tends to use sleek, clean lines, sophisticated colors and high-end materials. That works beautifully in a contemporary setting, but Keany said she’s equally comfortable in a more traditional environment. “Traditional doesn’t have to mean stodgy,” she said.