If you’re just joining in, for the month of January we were inspired to change up our content for the month to focus on women who we find inspiring and can tell us about their journey of “becoming” based on our Book Club book of the month by Michelle Obama. You can read the rest of the interviews here. Stay tuned for many more!
I’m thrilled to introduce one of my favorite people to follow, interior designer and stylist, Emily Henderson. I was definitely rooting for her when she first appeared on HGTV’s Design Star and WON! And it’s been wonderful cheering along from the sidelines as she’s grown her business and team. Yes, I love following her for all the tricks and tips she has, but even more than that, she’s got the unique talent of also being enjoyable to read and watch. She makes design come alive just in how she talks about it and for that reason, I will read every word she puts out there. Without further ado…
Becoming: Interview with Emily Henderson
What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person etc.?
Stylist/Interior Designer and writer, wait and mom. Styling was where I started and what I honestly love the most. But, as a childhood avid journal-er, I find myself writing 2-3 hours a day (which I also love).
Who helped you “become” who you are?
My mom is the first one. She is the most productive person on the planet, unable to sit down, multitasking in her sleep. Did I mention also a mother of six?? That certainly rubbed off on me. I also had a great boss in my 20’s as a stylist. Who taught me how to push it every day, creatively and gave me the confidence to go out on my own despite NOT feeling ready. I was also raised by my 3 best friends through junior high, high school, college, young professionals and now all of us are successful in our careers and moms. We built each other up the last 25 years of friendship – more like chosen sisters than friends.
Do you feel like you’ve arrived at what you set out to do?
If you asked me when I started styling if I could see myself running a full-service interior design firm and daily style blog 10 years after starting my career, I never would have believed you. But here I am, loving each and every day of it and very excited for the future. Lately, I’ve been joking that I don’t have ambition, but so much drive…it’s like I don’t know where I’m going. I just get up, work hard, get a new idea, go after it then create and produce all day every day. I always knew that I would run a creative team, but I didn’t know I would be a business owner with 10 employees and managing 401k plans.
What more would you like to “become”?
I’m continually battling with social media being at the core of my business and balancing the social good that can come of it. So while I want the business to grow, we are shooting another book, pitching a TV idea that I’m ACTUALLY excited about, etc. I think that using the platform for good is at the top of my mind. Having two kids helps this – I MUST show them how to be good to others in this world that can often feel full of selfies.
How did your childhood influence what you have become?
I was born into a Mormon family in Oregon who made their own clothes at times, canned their own veggies and fruits, and lived modestly, I learned from a very young age the beauty of thrift and how much can be done from so little. Hence my deep and intense love for vintage. But, what my childhood really taught me was how to work VERY hard of, which I am extremely grateful for because it’s one of the big reasons I’ve been successful. My parents are incredible optimists and taught us what and how to value. We had no money but, we didn’t know it because money wasn’t important. We did one big family project every summer (they were both teachers) and we did service projects on the weekends (painting people’s homes, helping people move, etc). Despite my falling away from the church and yes, causing tension in the family, those values are deep inside and now as a mom, they are coming out strong every day.
How did you get started in your field doing what you do?
In my early twenties, I moved to NYC and started working as a shop girl at the Jonathan Adler store, which back then was not as big as it is now. I had always loved and appreciated style and design but wasn’t really sure what I could do or how to really be a part of it. Flash forward to when I met a prop stylist and I felt like I found my calling. I mean, who doesn’t want to shop and play with beautiful things all day whilst getting paid for it. The blog started as a need to journal my creativity, and why not do it publicly? I started in 2010 as a New Years resolution and thank goodness I did.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day and week is different, certainly, but I’m always writing, always shopping/styling and always thinking about social media and staying innovative because it honestly changes on a daily basis.
My job is to create compelling digital content in the home and style world, both for companies, clients and our own personal projects. It means that my team and I are constantly brainstorming, creating, producing and amplifying original work – and we have to move FAST.
I am also the mother of two children under the age of 5 so they also make every day a beautiful, chaotic mess that keeps me very much on my toes.
What does your current team look like? How does it fit your goals?
In the last year, my team has doubled in size. SO exciting because they are incredibly talented and fun, but a big team also means the stakes have risen higher than ever before. This year, more than ever, we are strategizing for growth and staying super organized, which we feel will help facilitate creating awesome content that even more people will want to see and read. We have a ton of exciting plans that I am bursting about. A lot of new ideas with a big dose of OG Emily which is what both I and the audience are wanting.
How has social media influenced your work?
Social media is a HUGE part of my business. It informs us of how people are reacting to our work and how they want (or don’t) it packaged. In terms of the design work, I am of course inspired and influenced with what I see happening on the different platforms. But, ultimately I design for what I like and not exclusively for what’s on trend. If I have learned one thing in all my blog and social media years it is, that people respond best to authenticity…and pictures with celebrities. HA. I guess that’s two things 😉 .
What’s coming up for you in 2019? And your company?
I have signed on for another year with Target as their Home Style Expert which is honestly still a dream job. Their products are so good and are only getting better (can we talk about their new ceramics??) I love getting to show them off. Aside from that partnership, we have A LOT of makeovers planned this year including my mountain house (FINALLY), a handful of staff home projects, and many more. We are also doing more crash surprise makeovers (1 day, deserving reader – BEST DAY OF MY LIFE LAST YEAR). But the biggest undertaking of this year will be writing and shooting my next book which is coming out early next year. I have been waiting to have something new to say, and boy did I find it after everything I learned with the two major renovations we did last year. Folks, I have a lot to say on the topic. It’s going to be fun and extremely informative. Stay tuned.
What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?
This answer is two-fold. In terms of business, I like to live by this statement: “I don’t know the key to success, but I know the key to failure is trying to please everyone”. As for design, something I forget often is that “pretty always looks good next to pretty.” Instead, I’ve been trying to be “perfect” in the public eye. But the truth is, that when it comes to styling and decorating if you love one thing and you put it next to another thing that is also beautiful—even if they are different styles or scales—it will look beautiful and interesting. Trying to put the “perfect” things together often just ends up being stale.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field?
Put yourself out there, be persistent, be yourself, be willing to assist and learn for years and create the thing that you want to buy. Get any and all digital skills. Use your social media as daily marketing for yourself. I wrote a whole post recently giving the most practical advice for college-aged students, so any of that could be quoted here, too. Ultimately my best advice is WORK HARD WITH A SMILE. Everyone will hire someone over and over if they work hard and have a good attitude. Full stop.
What’s inspiring you lately?
I’m back at the flea market, folks. Having two kids kinda stole my Sundays for me (because I wanted to spend them with my family) but now that they are a bit older I can sneak out for a few hours. I’m reminded how much inspiration and creativity can be gleaned from acres and acres of other people’s hand me downs. It’s soul, folks and I want more of it.