Sharon Lee Clark – 20 Under 40

Krane Home

39 | UCLA and Cal Poly

Designer Sharon Lee Clark has a joke about her move to Dallas three years ago: She had to put her real estate agent as her emergency contact on school forms.

“I had to dive right in to make friends and create a community for our family,” she said, describing University Park as a place that quickly made her family feel at home.

She first got involved in the Hyer Preschool Association, where she met fellow moms, and Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Her volunteer experience also extends to co-chairing Partners Card for The Family Place, chairing the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Fashion Notes Luncheon, collaborating with Ese Azenabor to host a fashion show for the Children’s Cancer Fund, and serving as a Cattle Baron’s Ball new member.

Lee Clark has also participated in the Family Forum at the Dallas Museum of Art each year and served on the advisory board for Kappa Kappa Gamma at SMU.

The artist started her home decor company, Krane Home, 12 years ago. It has been named the number one Asian-American-owned home decor brand by Architectural Digest

“My art has been exhibited widely with multiple collaborations with worldwide fashion brands, and Krane Home wallpaper and home decor have been featured in every major design magazine,” Lee Clark said.

She previously worked as a designer at Michael S. Smith while the office was doing the interiors of the Obama White House.

“During my time there, I realized there was zero art of textiles inspired by the Korean art of my heritage,” Lee Clark said. “As the third in a lineage of Korean artists after my mother and grandfather, it was my mission to share Korean art with the world.”

That’s when it dawned on her that she could bring Korean art and wallpaper to American homes by starting Krane Home.

If someone made a movie about your life, what would it be called, and who would play you? 

This Korean American Life: The Life and Legacy of Artist Sharon Lee Clark. And that’s easy, my actor sister Greta Lee would definitely play me because we’re Irish twins, and she knows me better than anyone else on Earth.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why? 

My mother Jane Lee hands down. She is the best artist I know. She is an accredited Korean folk art painter with exhibits in Korea as well as the Korean Cultural Center, and she is a talented pianist trained at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. 

What (or who) motivated you to get involved in the community?

My girlfriends Katy Brooks and Kameron Westcott could each write a book about their charity leadership in Dallas and they inspire me every day. One of my very first friends in Dallas was Kimberly Whitman and lucky me because she really motivated me to get involved in charities that spoke to me and made the connection. Also my friend Claire Catrino, possibly the most involved mom in the park cities, encouraged me to co-chair a Dallas Symphony event early on and that was such an amazing experience. I am so grateful to each and every one of my friends for welcoming me so warmly even though we were new to town. Everyone is Dallas is so involved whether in their schools churches or charity work, and that is very contagious! 

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first paid job was a Getty Internship at Curatorial Assistance in Pasadena and I absolutely loved it. I got to work with three incredible smart women for a whole summer. They served as wonderful examples of being professional, driven and kind. I learned that a job can blossom into so much more based on what you put into it. I would do little things to go above and beyond and soon they were giving me jobs that were far outside my pay grade which was exciting such as writing the official synopsis for a new traveling art exhibit. I loved being nosy and asking what my bosses were doing and chime I with,
“I can help with that!”

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

I’m 12 years in to Krane Home, and 10 years from now I hope that I am even more established as the preeminent source for beautiful art, art prints, wallpaper and home decor. Last year Krane Home was named #1 for Asian-American owned home decor brand by Architectural Digest and I’m very proud of that.

What is your favorite local restaurant or shop?

I love anything at Highland Park Village. It is 5 minutes from our house so I’m there practically every day for something. I am at Bistro 31 multiple times a week. I love it for lunches and also for a romantic dinner with my husband or a fancy dinner out with the boys too. 

What’s on your bucket list?

A monthlong Europe trip with me, Max, and the boys!

What was your “lightbulb moment” that led you to your career?

I always knew I would become an artist of some kind. My parents and my grandfather curated my path as a professional artist from a young age. But, what I do today is with my art and Krane Home looks different than what they envisioned. I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, selling flowers I made to my mom’s friends, starting a jewelry company at age 16. I knew I wanted to make a product from my art to sell, but didn’t know what. One day I when I was a designer at Michael Smith I noticed we were specifying Indian fabric, Japanese art, Chinese wallpaper, in a project but absolutely nothing Korean. It dawned on me that I would be the one to bring Korean art and wallpaper into American homes.

How do you motivate yourself and others?

I used to set very high goals for myself but that made the day to day as an entrepreneur feel like I was trudging through sticky mud. For someone impatient and results driven like myself, it makes more sense to create more attainable quicker goals as well. Write down your 1 and 5 year goals as well as your 10 year goal. Break down the 1 year goal into palatable chunks. Achieving the smaller goals that lead to the bigger ones is so satisfying.

What’s a fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

If you hop on my personal Instagram @sharonleeclark you will know everything about me! But if I could point to one fun fact I would say that I was born without a sense of direction. I always have to use GPS no matter what. This is extremely ironic because I have always been very sure of my proverbial direction in life!

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I would tell 18 year old me to stop looking around and comparing myself to everyone else and that with confidence (even if you have to pretend) and a strong belief in yourself, anything is possible, but that it would take much longer than I planned.

What advice do you have for other young professionals? 

DM me and I’m happy to share my advice! My general advice is that even if you’re in a job that you don’t love right now, working hard at it part of your journey. Put everything to have into each position and the momentum will rise. If you’re working for a company, always try your best to answer your own questions before you ask them, and obsessively anticipate the needs of your boss because these are the same skills you will need if you strike out on your own. Your talent and effort will be recognized and if you’re being under appreciated or underpaid don’t be afraid to jump ship or change plans. Sometimes making sideways maneuvers can lead to upward mobility.

Is there anything else you think we should know about you?

Recent awards include: Woman of Impact by ELLA Magazine, #1 Asian American owned Home Decor brand by Architectural Digest, Arts Ambassador for the Crow Museum, Best of Big D by D Magazine, Best Wallpaper by Paper City, and Innovator in Design by the Dallas Arboretum.  

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