Tag Archives: Yvonne Claveloux

Jen Berniker Makes Designport “Home”

Thanks to the internet, anyone can ask any question — and get a quick answer.

Westport Front Porch is Facebook’s source for finding plumbers and airport drivers. Here at “06880,” I field queries like “What’s up with those library steps leading down to the river?”

But let’s say you need to know how to light your dining room. Remove dog poop stains from a rug. Or style the top of an antique icebox.

Those design questions — and many, many more — are asked and answered on the Designport Facebook page.

Launched by Westporter Jen Berniker, it became a judgment-free zone where anyone can discuss any big (or little) issue that homeowners face.

Jen Berniker (Photo/Maya Porrino)

Now she’s expanded. Designport has evolved to include a website, newsletter, video content and Instagram (@my_designport).

Designport (a combination of “design” and “Westport”) began during the pandemic. Berniker — a Brown University graduate, and former producer and writer for lifestyle television shows on HGTV, TLC, PBS and CBS (with a few personal renovations under her belt) — often fielded questions from friends: Where should I shop? What should I choose? Who should I hire?

Staring at paint chips, tables without chairs and dysfunctional work spaces, she had the same questions.

So she launched a Facebook page. It quickly became a place where everyone from do-it-yourselfers to professionals shared advice.

Screenshot from the Designport Facebook page.

Berniker — an expert writer and photographer — began posting stories and tips. Seeking something more permanent than social media, she launched the website.

It’s focused on Fairfield County (and a bit beyond). But it’s attracted interest from far beyond.

Recent stories included tips on gardening in a drought (from Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran) and a tour of artist Yvonne Claveloux’s home. Landscaping tips come from local pros like Allison Feuer and Maura Cotter.

Berniker has also done “Saturday Snoop” video home tours with Westporters like best-selling author Jane Green (her “secret garden”), CTBites blogger Stephanie Webster (“Eating In”), and photographer Stacy Bass, plus other female entrepreneurs and creative types.

There are before-and-after stories, from homeowners and interior designers.

She partnered with Aitoro and Ring’s End, for “ask the expert” Q-and-As.

Berniker also organized an art drive for paintings to brighten offices at Bridgeport’s Center for Family Justice.

Her goal is to “uplift, discover and promote up-and-coming art and design talent, and lessen the stress of homeownership, while connecting like-mined community members.”

In the works: local resource lists.

You’ll still have to go to Westport Front Porch to find those airport drivers. But interior decorators, landscape professionals — maybe even plumbers — will make Designport an even more valuable destination.

Yvonne Claveloux’s house and artwork, on the Designport website.


Westport’s Cubans React To Thaw

Yesterday’s announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro of a new relationship between their 2 nations surprised Americans and Cubans alike.

The news was particularly stunning for the small number of Westporters with Cuban heritage.

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux is a 1983 graduate of Staples High School. She grew up here, but her parents are Cuban. She says:

I think it’s time, but I have very mixed feelings. On the positive side, this gives hope that it will open dialogue to address issues in a diplomatic level.

On the negative, it will give the Castros a lifeline at a moment when they are desperate due to Venezuela’s crash due to decline in oil prices. There are also no concessions regarding the human rights of the Cuban people.

Tony Hernandez is 80 years old. He was born and raised in Cuba, but left in 1960. He says:

I feel that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba’s communist regime is a very positive step. It ends 53 years of isolation, and simultaneously eases all the vicissitudes and misery the Cuban people have been suffering.

His daughter, Maite Hernandez, says:

I  just read that 7 million tourists are expected to visit Cuba, as opposed to 2 million in the past year. On the one hand, the flow of visitors and the money they bring will definitely boost the economy of Cuba, at a time where they have run out of countries to support them. I just hope this will translate to a better economic level for the local Cubans.

It remains to be seen whether  human rights issues will be addressed. There can be no compromise regarding this matter. Otherwise this move by President Obama will be seen as political, with the only purpose of securing himself a place in the history books.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.