Wool + Twig || A Small Business Collaboration

It's no secret that our generation is flooded with entrepreneurial fervor.  By the time I graduated college, a large chunk of my peers entered the workforce with a "side hustle" or two to make ends meet in a bleak economy.  We at StyleMutt Home firmly believe that small businesses should band together instead of compete against each other because...

A rising tide lifts all boats
— John F. Kennedy

Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the large businesses that we've partnered with over the past.  But it's these small businesses that really make some serious magic happen with nothing more than their personal grit and determination.  So it's even more titillating (yes I said it) when you can combine some serious small-business-sized forces to do something really, really fun.

Wool + Twig

Vintage Rugs

Brittney Rossie

Brand and Business Strategy

The Silk Mill

Event Venue in Fredericksburg, VA

StyleMutt Home

Furniture + eDesign

So what do you get when a curated rug vendor, a brand and business coach, an epic factory venue, and yours truly band together in support of each other?  A beautiful display of small business collaboration and...

a really, really fun photoshoot

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A while back, my dear friend and business guru Brittney Rossie connected us to a new small business in our area to see how we at StyleMutt home could help them grow.  An email brainstorming session later, we had cooked up this cockamamie scheme to do a photoshoot to promote overall brand exposure and also exercise our collective creative muscles.  

But to do such a photoshoot, you need an epic location.  And I new just the place...

The Silk Mill

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which also happed to be my wedding venue

With such a large factory space, we could easily set up some fun vignettes featuring our products:

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The rugs were obviously the star of the show.

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But one of our made-to-order benches in camel + nude did get to play a supporting role to those delicious imported rugs and kilim pillows.

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As if the opportunity to play with some gorgeous rugs wasn't enough, Aly from Wool + Twig was a HOOT to work with!  She was seriously up for anything - including some fun headshots.

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Both with and without her actual head lol

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Scroll through these images to see just some of her amazing inventory:

After seeing her carefully curated collection in person, I couldn't help but bring home another pillow child.

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We certainly had a lot of fun behind the scenes

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And I'm not ashamed to admit I did a few carpet angels the first chance I got...  They were soooooo plush....

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But the fun doesn't stop here.  Wool + Twig was generous enough to offer us stylemutts a juicy discount for 3 days only!

Shop Wool + Twig

Shop Wool + Twig

Just click the image to shop her entire inventory and enter the code STYLEMUTT at check-out to get 30% off your purchase!  Happy rug and pillow shopping mutts!

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Life Happening! (Updates, Changes and Prayer)

Hi friends! It's been a while and I've missed getting on here more regularly to spend time with you! Today is the first day of school for my three and since my heart aches for the Summer behind us, I figure it's the perfect time to soak in a bit of community with you all here. I'm sure your Summer's were full but, I hope, equally as wonderful. There's nothing like a change of pace but I'm really looking forward to getting back to a schedule again!

Our Summer was absolutely lovely, (though nothing I expected) - the time with the kids was just wonderful. They, (and Matt!), are my most precious companions and I really just love spending our days together, even if it's running errands! The twins are now 7, (turning 8 in October), and Mason is 6.5, so they are so much fun to interact with now as they need me less but engage with me more! This age has been my favorite so far, indeed.

In preparation for the Summer and wanting to spend as much time with the kids as possible while they were out of school, I had arranged our client schedule to allow for flexibility and a relaxed pace. I love our clients and am so grateful that they all 'got it', even though few of them have children of their own. Plus, almost everyone had travel plans of their own so it really worked out to set several projects aside for a bit. However...

After the very first week of the kids' Summer break I got an email that would drastically change the pace of my anticipated relaxed Summer. A company named Sonder reached out asking if I would be one of their designers for the hundreds of units they are purchasing to offer for short term stay travel. They are essentially like airbnb, except without the awkwardness of staying in someone's guest room, or in their own bed while they're out of town. They purchase apartments and condos in major cities around the U.S., (with international cities in process as well), and offer them fully furnished for travelers. Though they are not a brand new company, they are just starting to work with designers who are experienced with digital eDesign on their units so they can remain competitive in their market. With hundreds of units onboarding every day to their site, the work is plentiful!

This opportunity came during a time in the year that I really didn't want to work, but after talking things over with my ever wise husband, Matt, we both had faith that this was the right 'yes'; the opportunity I have been waiting for. (By the way, Matt's encouragement to move forward was not without a heavy load of help on his end - time and again he will say to me, 'Just let me know what I can do', when I'm feeling like my hands are tied between kids and work. He is a jack of all trades and none of this would exist without this dear man I get to walk life with). It's been a tricky balance pursuing a dream, figuring out how that dream could possibly turn into some helpful income, while meanwhile trying to give the loves of my life the best childhood I'm capable of giving. With the kids home this Summer I often worked early in the morning and then late into the night so I could keep the days open for wherever the wind took us. It was exhausting. I'm exhausted. With the kids back in school I am grateful for the possibility of balance once again, where I can work while they're in school and then be free for them when they get home! I do want to give a big ol' public Thank You to my dear friend, Kate Good. She has three kids of her own and in my first week doing work for Sonder she took my kids for an entire day so I could learn the ropes. Supportive friends and family are a total game changer, I tell you!

This opportunity doing freelance design work with Sonder does not replace client work. I absolutely love working with clients and will continue to do so, but it has proven a difficult profession to make a full-time living from for two big reasons:

1. We don't want to increase our rates just to make a full-time living. Our desire from the beginning has been to make design services attainable for another tier of people, predominantly young adults looking to go from hodge-podge college furniture to a sophisticated, soulful home.

2. We have realized our capacity for clients at one time. Although we currently have a client wait list that reaches to the Holiday season, that doesn't necessarily mean we are making a full-time living from our current clients. There is so much that goes into working with clients; the communication, waiting for decisions to be made, edits and re-edits, tweaks and re-tweaks. It's so incredibly important to us that each client completely loves their space when it's finished, but getting there takes so much time. Our capacity is roughly 10-12 clients at any given time, depending on the depth of the job. Depending on the project, some are finished within a month, others closer to 8! We can only move as fast as our clients are able, so if their plates are full, the project might take on the longer end.

Since realizing this capacity for client design work, we have been praying for a way to turn this fulfilling work into a fuller-time income. It's been a test of patience, for sure, to wait for the right opportunity that would be consistent with our work with StyleMutt Home, but offer the financial support that we need. For me, this opportunity as a freelance designer with Sonder is a dream come true in so many ways. I will continue to work from home, and I get to design to my hearts content. As for Cate, she has welcomed an awesome opportunity with Apartment Therapy that I'll let her tell you about soon. :) But we are both so encouraged about these opportunities that have only been made possible by StyleMutt Home's own growth, (and I CANNOT wrap my mind around how this all began with a small furniture refinishing business right outside in our garage after Mason's birth! Every door that's opened has been a gift; I don't know why or how, but I'm runnin' with it!) Our hearts are exceedingly full by the countless blessings the Lord has shown us with this business and we've both been reflecting on all that we are so grateful for.

Perhaps the best news with these new ventures is that there will be more content for the blog! For every 5 client spaces we finish, we might get one job that we can actually take pictures of and share here! But in my work for Sonder, every unit I design for them will be professionally shot and I am free to use the pictures however I wish, so I'll have a lot of fun spaces to share here!

I'll be back on Wednesday with my first Sonder design reveal for a unit I completed in Boston! Think big black factory windows. :) It's a good one and I'm so excited to see it in completion!

Thank you so much for joining Cate and me on this exciting adventure! We started StyleMutt Home with completely open hearts to whatever the Lord would guide it to be, and the friends we've made along the way are of the most unexpected and treasured blessings we've enjoyed. You are so dear to us and hope you know we count you as part of the StyleMutt Home team!

Thank you for stopping by!

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P.S. We have read this verse with the kids a few times and it lifts my heart at the start of each day. It's so common to start the day with a pit of worry in our stomach about what the day may hold; this promise always encourages me, so I wanted to pass it on.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither Slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you-
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forever more.

eDesign Project Progress: Dani's Modern Bohemian Living Room & Breakfast Nook

Hi guys! I'm trying something new today and stopping by to share....wait for it....PROGRESS! I've never been great at jumping on to let you how things are going with a particular project, but if project progress is your love language, I'm going to do my best to speak it!

At the beginning of the year multi-talented jewelry designer Dani Barbe reached out to us for help with her and her fiance's rental home. Although they are renting, they feel a deep desire to establish roots and create a home that truly feels 'them'. During our first discussion I just knew Dani was going to be a joy to work with, and I can honestly say several months later that the process has been a delight every step of the way. Maybe it's working with a fellow creative, maybe it's personality, but we're having all kinds of fun with this one, (so much so that we're keeping a good thing going and just added her formal dining room and studio work-space to the list of rooms to complete)!

If you haven't checked out our eDesign process you're going to get a glimpse of it today! After our initial consultation with Dani we took to Pinterest to pin inspirational rooms. Dani had a single leather sofa from Article, as well as a round breakfast table for her kitchen nook. Otherwise, we had some serious space to fill! It can be daunting to start with so much empty space and the impulse to fill it can feel overwhelming. But my strategy for this one was to make this space special with a few choice pieces and minimal filler.

Living Room

This was the 3D rendering I designed of her living room shortly after gauging her style through the rooms that spoke to her on Pinterest. Although we knew we wouldn't be using a lot of things for the space, we also didn't shy away from mixing antiques with modern elements.

After getting a thumbs up from Dani and her fiance on the 3D rendering, the StyleMutt Home team researched precise pieces to use for the space and we tried them on in design boards, (below). The toughest piece to find - a vintage turkish rug! The problem was not that we couldn't find the right rug; the problem was that every rug we mocked up looked SO good in the space! Ultimately, we all agreed that a warm, glowing pastel piece would suit the glowy space best. Can we use glowy to describe a space? It's my favorite adjective for this home!

See?! Glowy!!! This is a recent progress shot Dani sent and it makes my heart skip a beat every time I see it. You may notice a few key pieces still missing, (coffee table, mantle piece, plant), but those items are en route now and we're nearly there, you guys! See that big guy to the far left? 1900s Craigslist find. Isn't he a charmer! (Psst! I actually found it before doing ANY designing for this space; I saved it to my phone and it inspired a lot of other pieces that we selected).

Breakfast Nook

The process for the adjoining breakfast nook was the same, starting with a 3D rendering! We nailed down the basic concept for this space but the specific elements changed pretty dramatically when we really started researching products.

This space started with the wooden table and that was it! We wanted to incorporate some color into this space and at first I liked the idea of using patterned upholstered chairs and a neutral wall hanging in a natural un-dyed fiber. But as soon as I spotted these gorgeous vintage inspired blond cane chairs I was smitten enough to bag my original inclination and do the reverse! We paired the blond wood chairs with the warm wood table, (definitely a 'do'), and are having the incredible Filia over at Fibers by Filia create a custom piece similar to this one below! I refinished the thrifted cabinet in a simple glossy white to match Dani's kitchen cabinets that she just painted, and spared the original aged brass hardware. A timeless brass and glass multi-faceted pendant completes this cozy nook.

And here is a recent progress shot that Dani sent over! I can't wait to see it finished with the cabinet and Filia's fiber art piece on that empty wall, but as far as progress goes...I have no words. I just love this space so much. This work is the best!

We are all so thrilled to see this eDesign coming to life and can't wait to share the final reveal of these two spaces! We are currently working on Dani's formal dining room and studio space now but we thought we'd break things up to spare you from a novel of a post!

So what do you think, is a progress post your kind of thing? Because I've got more to share if you're feeling loved by it! ;) Either way, I so appreciate you coming by. Thank you!