‘I landed my dream job’: UNK grads design luxury homes for famous clients
BIG SKY, Mont. – The employees at Alder & Tweed Design Co. aren’t allowed to publicly discuss their clients.
So, Emily Bridge and Katie Ward have to be careful when talking about their jobs.
They won’t name-drop, but a quick Google search gives you a good idea of the type of people they work for – A-list actors, popular musicians, sports stars and tech moguls.
“It’s pretty exclusive – definitely celebrities and the 1% who live there,” Bridge said of the Yellowstone Club, a private ski and golf community nestled in the Rocky Mountains near Big Sky, Montana.
Covering 15,200 acres, this members-only oasis features world-class ski trails, an 18-hole golf course designed by former PGA player and renowned course architect Tom Weiskopf and other luxury amenities.
When someone purchases a multimillion-dollar home at the Yellowstone Club, Alder & Tweed is recommended for the interior design.
“We get to go into these beautiful homes and put beautiful things in the house,” Ward said. “It really doesn’t feel like work. I think everyone, deep down, really enjoys picking out nice furniture and putting designs together.”
For Ward and Bridge, the opportunity to work for the high-end design firm is a dream come true.
“Somehow, right out of college, I landed my dream job,” Bridge said.
The 24-year-olds met at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where they both studied interior and product design. In a smaller program, they developed close relationships with faculty and classmates, many of whom took the same classes together year after year.
“We all became really, really good friends,” said Ward, an Omaha native.
“It was nice having that support system around us,” added Bridge, who grew up in Kearney.
The UNK program also exposed them to a variety of design concepts and career paths. For instance, Ward completed her internship at the Walker Art Gallery on campus while Bridge worked remotely for Jackie Barnes Design, a Cincinnati-based interior design firm.
“I think that really prepared us for this job, because everything is so different all the time,” Bridge said. “There’s no one process for everything, so it was nice to see all the different possibilities there are within interior design.”
After graduating in spring 2021, Bridge decided to “spread her wings” and pursue employment outside Nebraska.
She was looking through job openings on Indeed when she saw Alder & Tweed’s listing for a designer at the Park City, Utah, location. Naturally, she went to the agency’s website and discovered an “awesome company that’s very fancy.”
During her interview, Bridge mentioned a roommate who also recently graduated with an interior and product design degree. Alder & Tweed happened to have two openings at its Big Sky office, and Bridge and Ward were the perfect fit.
“She definitely gets credit for that,” Ward said with a laugh. “She got the bigger bedroom when we moved.”
“That was our deal,” Bridge confirmed.
Ward and Bridge currently live in Bozeman, Montana, about 45 miles northeast of Big Sky, where they’ve worked since September.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Ward said. “We have such a great team around us. It’s like we’re all friends who get to work in really beautiful houses every day.”
In addition to the Yellowstone Club, Alder & Tweed has design contracts with Montage Big Sky, a nearby luxury resort, and Wasatch Peaks Ranch, a 12,740-acre private community and club in the Wasatch Mountains near Park City, Utah. Ward designed 22 units at Montage Big Sky, which features a large hotel, several dining venues, 10,000-square-foot spa and private residences.
With a third location in New York, Alder & Tweed works with clients across North America. The firm has designed homes in Las Vegas, Martha’s Vineyard, Cabo San Lucas and Los Angeles.
Ward and Bridge both hope to advance within the company while continuing to do what they love.
“I get to do this for the rest of my life,” Ward said. “This is literally perfect. It’s so much fun.”
“The sky’s the limit,” Bridge added. “If I can do this now, I feel like I can accomplish anything.”