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Carolyn Pressly-Ryan

Interior Designer

Years as a Camper: More than I can count!

Positions Held: Aquatics

Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities? I am a residential interior designer for homes in the New York area, specializing in bold colors, layered textures, and imbuing spaces with a fun sense of whimsy and surprise. Our family has observed and seized some silver lining opportunities that come amid all the changes of this year, and now we are embarking on the next chapter or work, school and living on the island of colorful Palm Beach, Florida.

Do you have any career advice for members of our Camp community? Stay curious. Unlike Camp, with a tough but clear path to going after your Admiral or General, life has no playbook. Sometimes your true passion and career calling don’t emerge until after seemingly unrelated twists and turns to get there, Design is my passion, but my first job was as an investment banking analyst. I thought the safe and secure job was best, but I yearned for creativity and design so I ended up going back to school at Parsons to start a second career.

What have been your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Or what is a goat that you are currently working toward? Lately, I’ve gotten a kick out of having my space featured on Million Dollar Listing New York. Two of the co-stars are vying to sell the property. Seeing them interact on TV, in a space I’ve designed, has been surreal and fun. Kirsten Jorden and I are teaming up to do a feature for Architectural Digest on working women in real estate and design.

How do the values or skills you learned at Camp show up in your everyday work and/or personal life? I was so inspired by the select few campers who earned their General or Admiral rank each year. Seafarer is an amazing place to teach girls determination, hard work, teamwork, and how to be goal-oriented. While I never earned those high ranks before becoming a CILT, the life lessons stayed with me forever.

What person or situation influenced you most at Camp and why did they/it impact you? Cille used to get up on the dais in the middle of the mess hall, amid a sea of campers, and the clatter of utensils on melamine plates would quiet down. She said some things up there that have stayed with me to this day and I tell my own daughters: “character is who you are when no one else is looking,” and “always leave a place a little better than you found it.” I love taking hikes with my family or going on long beach walks, and we always aim to pick up anything we find not meant to be in nature.

What advice would you give your younger self? Failing doesn’t mean failure; it means you’re growing. Don’t be afraid to fail- stretch yourself so much that you fall down and have to pick yourself back up. Those are the best learning opportunities. I knew design, but opening and running a business from scratch was something else entirely!

Favorite book: Most thought-provoking lately – Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam; Caste by Isabel Wilkerson; and New York Splendor, by my friend Wendy Moonan.

Favorite holiday: Christmas for the coziness, old holiday music on heavy rotation, and the delight in my daughters’ eyes.

Dream vacation destination: Family Camp!

Something you’re obsessed with: Cometeer Coffee (on-the-go subscription espresso pods) + oak milk…better than having your own personal barista.

What are you watching on Netflix? Lupin. It’s like a French James Bond. I love a good caper.

What would be your intro song for every time you walked into a room? I’m sure no hip-hop talent ever had me in mind, but 90’s rap and hip hop always does it for me.

 Do you have a hidden talent? I first learned golf at Seafarer, and now I can drive my tee shot 220 yards.

What three words best describe you? Curious, fun-loving, and creative.  

What is a goal on which you are working? Starting a new home-based business with my new partner…excited to share more down the road! We are pivoting to this in our spare time, but one thing is for certain: women get things done!

Text or call? Even my mother knows to text me.