Powered by an entrepreneurial spirit, Natasha Sexton, a Professional Landscape Architect (PLA), brings creative designs and unique exterior spaces to Upstate South Carolina and other growing regions in nearby states. Registered in both North Carolina and South Carolina, Natasha is co-founder and president of Sexton Design & Development. She launched the firm with her husband Jeremiah in May 2017. Both Natasha and Jeremiah are graduates of Clemson University with Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degrees.
Natasha’s 20 years of project experience includes park and recreation facilities; streetscape improvements; residential, commercial, industrial, educational, and institutional site development; and environmental enhancement projects.
Seeing an increased demand for creative outdoor spaces, Natasha knew the challenges of starting and running a business would create a demanding work/family life balance. Looking back, it was clearly worth taking the leap. Natasha’s special approach to design-build and creating cost-effective solutions for customers has fueled the company’s steady growth since its inception three years ago. Gross sales and net profits have grown by 75 percent annually and are forecasted to continue an upward trajectory.
Living out the firm’s identity tagline, “Where Ideas are Built,” Natasha focuses on providing customized service and exceeding customer expectations, giving each project her own personal touch. In fact, she has been known to hand-plant the last few delicate flowers and plants before an unveiling ceremony.
In addition to her private practice work, Natasha has taught landscape architecture studio at Clemson and has volunteered for multiple professional organizations.
GroundBreak Carolinas had the chance to speak with Natasha about the firm’s backstory and her goals for the business.
What inspired you to get into landscape architecture?
I wanted to see fabulous built projects and people enjoying them.
What made you decide to open Sexton Design & Development?
I had always wanted to start my own firm. My entrepreneurial spirit, combined with the desire to fill a need for creative design and unique exterior spaces, drove me. I felt there was a need for a design firm that could construct the project in a way that valued the client’s budget and the design intent. We have become known for providing creative solutions for landscape and hardscapes designs, site planning, maximizing property usage, installation, and construction management.
With a high demand for exterior spaces to be innovative and beautiful, making those spaces enjoyable and pedestrian friendly is a must. We know how to capture that “Instagram-able” space. Yes, there is such a thing! Hotel owners especially must pay attention to this new age detail.
Having a family business can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. How do you divide your responsibilities?
We work as a team on every project and meet weekly with our team to keep everyone up to speed. We also make sure our staff is cross-trained on our different disciplines to allow us to maintain a life-work balance. Jeremiah manages the construction side of the company along with much of the business development and marketing. He also is involved in the design side during the conceptual design phase, ensuring constructability of the design projects. I mainly focus on design side of the business along with the financials and long-range planning; however, I am very involved in the construction process, handling cost estimating, value engineering options, quality control and permit coordination.
What type of projects do you take on?
We work in a variety of markets, from institutional to mixed-use redevelopment and everything in between. We have found our niche is not with a specific project type, but on projects with a strong site component – whether it is working with existing site challenges or projects that need strong site design.
Can you give us some examples of recently completed and current projects?
- Canopy by Hilton Charlotte Southpark – a high-end, Hilton-branded hotel. Services included landscape architecture design and construction.
- Poe West mixed-use development in the village of West Greenville, S.C. We provided landscape architecture design and site construction services for this adaptive reuse project – the transformation of an old textile business.
- Residence Inn/Homewood Suites – a dual-branded Marriott hotel located in downtown Greenville.
- Hotel project in Nashville, Tennessee – we recently completed a design that includes a rooftop bar complete with an agave garden and succulent wall, rooftop private balconies with water walls, arbor structures and an outdoor shower, and a courtyard with a living wall sculpture and other unique features.
Name one area where you feel you “crush” your competition.
We find solutions before the concrete is poured for sidewalks. Most of the projects have a 20 to 30 percent waste to be ADA compliant; our projects have near zero. We also are very adept at creating innovative design and construction solutions to create the desired effect within our clients’ budgets.
What is your vision for the firm?
We ultimately want to be a full-service firm and we believe we have the talent in place to achieve this as the years go on. Soon we will be a Certified Women-Owned Business, which will set us apart and give us access to many government projects. Our goal is to always push the limit with beautiful functional innovative spaces.
What makes your company unique?
We can move from a large industrial project to a specialized hospitality project with ease. With industrial projects, everything is designed around workflow – very structured – and we understand and embrace the process. With hospitality, we must account for outdoor living, incorporating hotel technologies, greenery, and privacy barriers. We are extremely nimble with an innovative flare.