Karin B. Bogardus, CDA

Karin’s life has been a classic American immigrant success story. Born in Chezoslovakia in 1943 during the peak of WWII in Europe, she was soon orphaned. Adopted into a wealthy chez family by a military officer who worked in the underground against Nazi interests, the family was forced to flee suddenly and leave everything behind when Karin’s father’s activities were discovered. The family barely escaped the Nazi pursuit by traveling at night through dense forests in a wooden cart with the help of gypsies and arrived penniless in eastern Austria after a harrowing trip in which Karin’s mother almost died. They hid with relatives near the Swiss border until the end of the war.

Puppy Portrait

After the war, Karin lived in a small spring house without indoor plumbing in the village of Dornbirn, Austria with her parents and her brother, who was also adopted. Most inhabitants in the town struggled to survive the aftermath of the war, and Karin’s father provided for the family by buying and selling automobiles and other marketable goods on the black market. When Karin was six, she contracted bacterial meningitis, and nearly died. Only a helicopter trip to Switzerland to obtain the new miracle drug penicillin saved her life. Her recuperation was long and difficult, involving daily wraps with sheets cooled by waters from a nearby spring-fed town watering trough to keep down her recurring fevers and terrible pain, but thanks to the untiring efforts of her mother, she finally regained her full strength.

When the Hungarians attempted to overthrow the Russians in the 1950s and chaos ensued, Karin’s father and mother remembered their own hard times, and the family generously took in many refugees. At the age of ten, Karin was cooking and caring for grown men and their families. An excellent cook today, she attributes this time and her mother’s constant instructions for her culinary skills. Later, when Karin and her current husband renovated, owned and operated the Flemingsburg House B&B in Nashville, Tennessee, an 1830s southern mansion house, these skills and her talent for making guests feel comfortable served her well. While in Tennessee, she also painted and donated several pieces for silent auctions to benefit the Williamson County Historical Society.

Karin came to the United States in the early 1960s as a young bride. She eventually divorced her first husband and raised her three children by herself. She returned to Austria briefly and her children were educated during this time in international schools in Europe. When she returned to the states, she settled in the Philadelphia area and honed her hair stylist skills for several main line salons. Faced with the rising costs of raising her children, she opened her own salon in West Chester, PA. Starting without money and with only the hope of success, her hard work eventually paid off, and she operated a very successful hair and nail salon for almost twenty years, while raising and educating her children. She became a U.S. citizen in 1987.

Karin received her professional training in decorative arts training from the famous decorative artist and teacher, Priscilla Hauser, and from a teacher at the University of Tennessee, Kathy Bradley. She received her CDA in 2000 and is certified as a decorative arts teacher. Today, Karin owns and operates La Jambe Gauche, a successful art studio based in her home, where her portfolio includes hand painted furniture, animal portraits, apparel and accessories. Karin is highly skilled in animal motifs, and a portion of the proceeds from commissioned pieces and commercial sales is donated to various animal protection and rescue organizations.