Speaker 1 00:00:06 In a world where transitional design can feel saturated and buzzwords like organic and modern or thrown around, it can feel impossible to distinguish your brand with a certain aesthetic. Dynamic duo. Amy and Molly of Light and Dwell have mastered the art of defining a signature style. As of lately, I have seen a major level up as they carry that signature style from physical spaces to digital platforms and beyond. Today we are getting a masterclass in leaning into a signature style as an interior designer and using it to differentiate yourself online. Hello ladies of Light and dwell. I am so excited to have Amy and Molly with us. We are longtime friends and business buddies and it's really exciting to get a formal time to get to catch up and more exciting that you all get to listen into it.
Speaker 2 00:01:00 Yeah. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:01:01 We're so
Speaker 2 00:01:02 Excited to be here. So thankful that you're on this platform and sharing your wisdom, your pearls with everyone.
Speaker 1 00:01:10 Well, I know you guys have so much to share, so I wanna go ahead and dig in, but I think it's always helpful for anyone listening to get a little bit of background. Can you talk us through the inception of light and dwell back in 2015?
Speaker 2 00:01:26 Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Well, I think we need to start back with how Amy and I first connected. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:01:33 This
Speaker 2 00:01:33 Is Molly speaking. You'll start to recognize our voices here shortly. But Amy and I first met when I was a student at Oregon State University back in the day, and I approached Amy to be a mentor of mine. She was a couple stages ahead in life, had young kids and I just really had admired her. And her home was always incredibly hospitable, warm, as you can imagine, welcoming, always having tons of people over. Aww. And so I wanted to know more. I wanted to hang out with this amazing woman and glean from her. So I asked her to go to coffee and she said no. She told me no,
Speaker 1 00:02:20 I'm dying. Because that dreaded coffee invite is like constantly in my dm. And now I'm like, wait, I should be taking those coffee invitations. Look at what they made of it.
Speaker 2 00:02:31 <laugh>. Well, well you have a lot of, you're like busy and you know, I with like business, but I just was overwhelmed with my own kids. Okay, yeah. Okay, okay. Well mind you, she said yes to other girls my age and she said no to me. So we're gonna continue <laugh> the interview
Speaker 1 00:02:52 Behind us and we're moving forward.
Speaker 2 00:02:54 It's just back in my mind because I don't like people tell me me. No. So I kept persisting and asking, finally she said yes to hang out with me. Started hanging out. She realized I was pretty cool. Yeah. And I started hanging out with her and we just became friends more than mentors. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I think we just started hanging out and realizing, wow, we actually have a lot in common. We both like a lot of the same things. And then from there we ended up working together for a little bit of time. And then fast forward to 2015, I had started a blog back in college, A lifestyle blog. And it was something that Amy had been watching Evolve and Grow. And this was when blogging was the thing. It was cool. You were really figuring out your creative niche per se. I think about like Emily, for example, I've been following her for so long and her blog. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Julia and all these people that you were just watching from a distance early on and developing this online creative community. So I did a little bit of home, I did, I did lifestyle and I talked about my personal life as well. And Amy had approached me because she had a friend who actually wanted some help with her own home. Mm-hmm.
Speaker 1 00:04:27 <affirmative>,
Speaker 2 00:04:28 And asked me if I would be interested in going into business together. It was totally out of the blue, I mean actually out of the blue. And I said, yes, let's do this. Let's try this thing out. So we went ahead and tried on this project with a local friend. I look back and horror <laugh>. I don't the first, you know, the first project Kevin. But what was so cool and from the beginning what was really clear is that Amy had all of these local connections with people who were willing to pay for consultations or help. And I had already established an online presence, so I had all of these online connections with other creatives. So with that, we were really able to establish this sort of intangible of local consultations, clients, and then this online stream of revenue through linking and blogging and, and other sorts of online avenue. So together that's how we formed and started Lighten. Well,
Speaker 1 00:05:46 <laugh>, Amy, do you have anything to add to that?
Speaker 2 00:05:48 That's, that's the tea. I don't think so. I think you got it all. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:05:54 So I have a question. You went from not even wanting to have coffee to then out of the blue saying, do you wanna go into business together? <laugh>, that seemed like a jump that you're choosing to skip over. And I'm gonna ask you to go ahead and rewind and not skip over that. Like, as someone who was looking to get into business or if that was even on your radar, like what were the qualities or what were the things that you saw in Amy that made you feel like, Hey, I'm ready to initiate even this conversation, let alone this business.
Speaker 2 00:06:24 Yeah, so I, I, I, it's funny she talks about that. I said, no, I don't remember that <laugh>. And it's not really, I'm almost a little bit proud of myself for having a boundary. I must have been really overwhelmed because I
Speaker 1 00:06:40 We're proud of you too,
Speaker 2 00:06:41 <laugh>. I just think, I think I usually am such a yes person. So I'm ta I'm taking her word on it. What does that say about, no, I'm taking her word on and I think I must have been so overwhelmed or something. Must have been, I must have been at a crisis. I don't
Speaker 1 00:06:56 Know. I mean, it sounds like it's a core memory of Molly's
Speaker 2 00:07:00 <laugh>. I know, I know. I'm not used to rejection. So the rejection was really, anyways, yeah, we started to hang out and spend more time together and yeah, just Molly talking about that connection that we built and I had been watching her blog. I was a fault I, this just a funny little side story. I actually, when we'd been hanging out for a while and I said to Molly, Molly, I got a lot of like middle-aged mom outfits going, is there any way you can take me shopping and I will pay you? So it's so funny. Like, she's been dressing me and styling me since before there even was a light bulb. Anyway, so I was washing along with the blog and I just really believed in her talent, everything she did, whether it was flowers or food or clothes. And really that was more the focus of the blog, a little bit of home.
Speaker 2 00:08:08 But once we, we started to talk and she was like, you know what I really love and what I'm really passionate about is home and interiors. And I was like, wait a minute. I have this, we've been flipping homes and, and always just had such an interest in redoing things and creating, you know, beautiful spaces. So I, I didn't even know we also had that in common. So that's when I had friends coming to me saying, is there any way I could help? I'm like, oh my gosh, I, this seems really hard. She's like, gosh, I actually love this part. It was just such a Yeah, that's kind of how it came from. Yeah. You know, zero to hundred <laugh>.
Speaker 1 00:08:44 Yeah. Yeah. So I'm hearing a lot of it is that Molly had proven this quality and consistency and ability to execute. Just watching how she was able to maintain this lifestyle blog and really execute that creatively, but also get the actual work done to produce that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is definitely something that you need to bear witness to in someone as you're thinking about making that leap together.
Speaker 2 00:09:12 Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I, I would say too, just to add to that is, you know, with being a creative brain, just constantly creating, trying out new things, but never having the, the thought to actually make money off of something like that. Amy really came in and had that mind and really believed in what I was already doing. And I've never had anyone walk alongside me. And I mean, since day one, I'm not even kidding you. Since day one with nothing to show has always believed.
Speaker 1 00:09:53 That's so sweet.
Speaker 2 00:09:55 Yeah, it's, I, I mean it, you're gonna make me cry, <laugh>, you're gonna make me cry.
Speaker 1 00:10:01 This is question one. We need to keep it going before you make me cry. Okay. But that is a very good transition to fast forwarding to today. Operating as business partners can be such a challenge and really scary, especially when you're coming from a place of friendship, but y'all seem to manage it so gracefully. Can you walk us through your corporate structure as co-founders?
Speaker 2 00:10:23 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, I'll take this one. This is Amy, Molly is the creative director and I'm the c e o. And overall we have those defined roles, but we're also really collaborating and communicating, asking for the other's input. And we really value that. And ultimately it comes down to, to really trust each other and like Molly was saying, believe in each other in our roles. And that's, I mean, that's been such a, I think just in your life, it's such a gift. I know my husband is always like, man, you're so lucky that you have this cuz he's in a business by himself and, and he's like, gosh, to have a partner that's, you know, equally as like involved in talented, you know, Molly is so talented in in what she does. So yeah, there's just a lot of synergy, trust, communication as we lead the teams in those two, two really big overarching roles and responsibilities of creative director and C E O.
Speaker 1 00:11:32 Can you give us a little rundown for those who are maybe a sole opener or thinking about bringing someone on? What are like specific responsibilities that you're like, okay that's gonna be c e o, that's gonna be creative director? Because for someone who's doing all of it, it can be a little bit tricky to be like, how do I start putting 'em in different pots? Mm-hmm.
Speaker 2 00:11:51 <affirmative>. Yeah. Hmm. Yeah, that's a great question. It really now to me goes into what our team looks like, how we've divided and conquered as we've grown from the get-go. We established anything creative design, marketing that's under me. This is Molly talking anything business in terms of financial, I mean Amy and I are communicating constantly about the business. We're co-founders we're equally as invested and care about the business equally. But Amy's mind, she is so, so good at people relationships. She does all the onboarding, connecting with people, making people feel welcome and important. She just has that kinda it factor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and she works with, you know, all of our financial team and I'll let her speak more to that. But in terms of dividing and conquering the teams I can speak to on the design marketing side. So I oversee the design team, I'm principal designer.
Speaker 2 00:13:07 I'm still very heavily involved in most of our projects. The lead on most of our projects, we have a junior designer on jobs and then we have a full-time CAD technical designer and an execution designer, which is unique to our business. We hired somebody who was in construction for over 10 years, owned her own company with her dad. So she has the knowledge of all of the construction execution. She knows how to be on site, she knows how to communicate really well and effectively with the construction team. So that's our design team. And then we have our marketing team. We have just an incredible marketing and branding director right now that we hired a few months ago, feel so aligned, so much synergy with her that it's just been an incredible partnership in that because for years it was just me running the ig, the dms, the website, I mean all the things.
Speaker 2 00:14:13 And so to have someone who is equally as invested and so talented is incredible. And then we also work with a PR company. Right now we're working with Dada Goldberg and they've been a huge ad to our team. So that's what the creative director umbrella looks like. And then I'll let aim speak to the operations side. Yeah, we have a standalone. I know cuz I've listened to all the podcasts and <laugh> and I take notes during it. Just so you know, we have a dedicated procurement team. So and and anything operations strategy. Yeah. CPAs, bookkeepers, attorneys, business consultants, that, that's all the team that I am overseeing and working with on the daily.
Speaker 1 00:15:06 So I have a question because Molly, you were saying how Amy has this it factor and can make everybody feel really important. And then you're the one who's doing the design, who's presenting to clients? Because I feel like it kind of goes in between, is it a combo who's, who's managing the client communications?
Speaker 2 00:15:26 Yeah. For design presentations, that's me. So Amy does all of the onboarding. If we have any interest in a potential client or project, Amy is the first face that you would see, the first person that you would talk to. And so she is great connecting with people in that way. Once they sign it then gets handed over to me where then that specific project team I'm overseeing and the main communicator presenter there.
Speaker 1 00:16:02 Got it. That was super clear. Thank you. I just wanted to understand that's something that we've done at Idco is we've like, we've moved client communication to a specific project manager role because I have found it so helpful because I get so emotionally attached to our work that having a non emotionally attached person being the one who is coordinating the project can be just overall really good for our wellbeing. And I was wondering if you have delineation like that or if you are still the person who is communicating every detail throughout the whole project.
Speaker 2 00:16:37 Well, I would say for presentations, yes. But then, you know, in the design world there is weekly, sometimes daily communications with your team. And I don't always do that day-to-day communication without an amazing team that is very talented, very communicative. But in terms of bigger picture presentation, in-person presentations, some of those more important meetings, then that's where I would be in to communicate.
Speaker 1 00:17:12 Amazing. So now that I've used, set the bulk of your time already. Let's get into the actual <laugh> factual point, the actual point of today's episode. Um,
Speaker 2 00:17:22 Keep moving us along.
Speaker 1 00:17:24 I feel that you two have just really nailed the concept of a signature style. And so when I was coming up with a topic to chat with you about, this was definitely at the forefront. I was interested in the fact that y'all are partners, but I think everybody looking in on your brand is like, how do they crush it so hard? So Molly, how do you define your signature style?
Speaker 2 00:17:51 Well, thank you. Yeah. That means a lot. It's something that been working hard for many years and sometimes can feel like an oversaturated design world. It just means a lot to hear that. So thank you. For me, you know, from the beginning it's always been about quality over quantity and creating spaces that are both innovative and timeless at the same time. Heavily, heavily influenced by nature. In my past life was a florist. So every project starts from an arrangement. That's how a color palette is established. So in every mood board a client will get an arrangement in their mood board and then that sets the tone for the rest of the project.
Speaker 1 00:18:44 How did I not know this? I, I
Speaker 2 00:18:47 Do not know, but now you, aren't
Speaker 1 00:18:49 We talking something
Speaker 2 00:18:50 You didn't know?
Speaker 1 00:18:51 Yeah, that secrets so cool.
Speaker 2 00:18:54 I'm telling you our little secret. So anyway, so it's happily influenced by natural beauty and living in the Pacific Northwest. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, we really believe in uh, bespoke, lived in aesthetic that is wholeheartedly home. And we've established six main styles under the light and dwell aesthetic. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So if someone is thinking about working with us, we have a presentation with six different styles that we show them to make sure that we're a good fit. And those six styles, you'll see a lot of our projects with hashtags or with this name in it with the six styles are Cottage, Tudor, mountain Ranch, European Earth, organic, modern and traditional. So that is under the light and dwell aesthetic and a lot of times we intermix those styles for a particular project.
Speaker 1 00:19:56 Amazing. I'm gonna have to listen back to this episode so I can write all of this down. Uh, <laugh>, one of the first impressions prospective clients have of your brand is your website. If you don't have a strong online presence to show off your work, though you're losing out on potential clients. ICO Studio offers a selection of limited edition website templates designed specifically for interior designers just like you. If you're looking for a more hands-off experience, you can add on implementation and professional copywriting and we'll have your new website up and running within a few short weeks. Visit ico.studio to choose your favorite before it sells out. Amy, how would you describe a key ethos at Light Andwell?
Speaker 2 00:20:43 Yeah, really we love anything European. That culture, that ease and warmth that goes into it. There's a feeling we're trying to create and if I was to say what's the spirit or the ethos behind it, that's it. And a little bit, we photograph these, we try to give behind the scenes looks. Ugh, I wish we could take everybody into the space because that's where you're really gonna feel that spirit, that ethos of what we're trying to create. It's a feeling.
Speaker 1 00:21:18 So this one's hard and I hope you can be super specific. I know we're all gonna say we don't like trends, we go for timeless. But there's always going to be themes that kind of have their ups and downs in our work. What are three specific elements or themes that you feel are defining your signature style right now?
Speaker 2 00:21:40 Yes. I love this question <laugh> and it is hard the first, if you are following us closely, scallops.
Speaker 1 00:21:47 I'm so glad you said that cause I was gonna call you, I was gonna call y'all out and be like, if they don't say scallops, <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:21:54 Liars. Ok. If you've been calling us, you know it is in my teeth that we adore. Whether it's, you know, a true scallop or a wave. We love that organic soft <laugh> pattern. It's super eye-catching, it's playful, it works with all of our different styles. Yeah. And our furniture line has mm-hmm <affirmative> the wave scallop detail in it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So that would be the first one. The second one would be craftsmanship. Yeah. So in an age of cheap, I hate to say it, cheap non-wood products, we are all about craftsmanship and the story behind our pieces. So in every single piece that we design, every piece that we source, we really try to be thoughtful in the craftsmanship and knowing who produced the piece. It's why vintage, it's, it is such a huge key thing for our company is it has a story. It's already had a life and it has lasted lots of time.
Speaker 2 00:23:01 So, and then are, are we already only at two? That's two. I see. And then three sustainable we're, yeah, we're, we're always wanting to grow and learn in this area and we have a long way to go. But with one way that we've chosen to really attack that is with that 50 50 split of 50% new but then 50% vintage well loved with the story. Mm-hmm. Pieces also custom made pieces. Mm-hmm <affirmative> that are again with you know, beautiful real wood. Yeah. And then we love that because we wanna support local small makers. Yeah. They're just different. You hold them in your hand, you get a feel and touch 'em, you can tell the craftsmanship it's really beautiful. So we have to have that at that. That probably our three. Yeah. And with the vintage thing piece is for every single project when we're installing a project, we shop locally antique shops to fill that home. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So we, we are supporting local areas in antique shops everywhere we go. So we have a project in Nebraska, we source tons of vintage pieces there, California, Austin, it's, it's a huge part of our business and our brand.
Speaker 1 00:24:18 That is so amazing. And I, I knew y'all shopped vintage all the time, but I wasn't aware that you specifically source local vintage for projects. Cuz we'll get into your distance design and how that's like y'all are designing all over the place now. But I think that's even more special to be helping those small businesses as well that aren't necessarily makers but uh, vendors of antique and vintage pieces. What would you say, and you kind of touched on this, but I'm wondering if you have anything beyond has really influenced the evolution of your signature style?
Speaker 2 00:24:51 Yeah, great question. You know, in the beginning years we said yes to everything. We were really figuring out who we were, how we wanted to be different vintage kept coming up and European design kept coming up before those two things felt like a trend. And so as we've had more and more experience and our clients continue to trust us more and more, it's really allowed us to hone in on those two things that I think has really helped us evolve. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and be forward leaders and thinkers. Especially in that vintage space.
Speaker 1 00:25:37 Do you think that there was a specific time, can you pinpoint when you felt, okay this is when we're really honing that signature aesthetic? Was it a specific project? Was it a specific client relationship when you're like, this is it?
Speaker 2 00:25:53 Yeah. It has to be the Nebraska project. Mm-hmm. Absolutely. Nebraska, it was the first out-of-state install that we had and it was our first project where we were able to shop vintage locally that was out of Oregon. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And once we brought in those pieces for styling, yeah. The spaces had whole new life. Mm-hmm When we brought in the pieces that we had sourced online that we had some vintage but not all vintage, it was fine, it was great. But when we brought in those pieces that added so much warmth, so much depth, so much character, that was the moment that I knew this was our thing. I knew that this was gonna be our thing. Like we are now gonna do this here on out. It's nobody else's spaces are looking like this. And this is adding so much character and it's supporting, we feel great about supporting local businesses. Mm-hmm <affirmative> that that was really the project that had that stamp. I think.
Speaker 1 00:27:09 How do your clients buy into the sourcing vintage when you're like, we're gonna fill in all of this once we get boots on the ground and there's all of these elements that are sort of to be determined cuz you haven't done that vintage sourcing yet. How do you get them to buy in and say, we will find the perfect piece and you just have to trust us
Speaker 2 00:27:32 From the beginning we set that up, we talk about this 50 50 split and we've been priming the pump all along and sharing this is a big part of what we do and making sure that that's a good fit. And they do sign off on that. Practically what that looks like is when we're going through the design process, the team will design all the big pieces and some of the accessories and and decor. But we keep kind of carve off a section of the budget that's for the, that day of styling just bucket that we can get into the space, see everything and then start listing like, okay, this is what we need to go find for these spaces. And then start shopping and seeing what we can fill in with and again on a practical place because clients haven't seen what we're sourcing and we really believe like you should have the opportunity to say yes or no to things.
Speaker 2 00:28:30 We, we leave a big box and we'll come pick it up if for some reason they're not connecting with, you know, that element or that piece. But it really, gosh, it's so fun. I think of the last several installs that has been, those little surprises for clients that they didn't see and approve have been a highlight for them. And we have yet to actually have to go and return and and bring something back. But we love it so much we're like, oh it's fine, we'll bring it back. But they're like, no, no, no. I love it. This is so special and amazing. So,
Speaker 1 00:29:09 Okay, going totally off script now and I know that's gonna throw you for a loop, but I'm still so interested in like the logistics of this element because I totally get the concept of vintage accessories and smaller things like end tables. But I mean, when you're planning a project and you know it's gonna be a vintage dining table or it's gonna be a set of chairs for that table or it's gonna be a kitchen island, something that's on a larger scale, would you be showing a client ahead of time that we're looking for something like this and give them them examples ahead of time? Also follow up question, do your clients get to come with you on the local sourcing trips? Cuz I know a lot of listeners are like, I'd never let a client come shopping. And I have other listeners who are like, that's the best part of the whole project. They love having a client come shopping.
Speaker 2 00:29:57 That's cute. Everyone gets to make it their own. That's what's so fun in the design world. I, on the first part of that question, yeah, Molly and the team will put a placeholder is what we call it. So if it's a dining table, they'll, because we do want the, we do want clients to get an idea that this is gonna be old, scratched, dented, you know, potentially like we still want it to be, but that's part of the beauty. It's not perfect and it can age in patina over time so that we do have a placeholder with even an amount allocated that we know we're gonna look for something within this price point because we're always working within budgets and we really care about that. So, and then do you let people go shopping? Yeah. And then in terms of clients going shopping, that is something that we do not do. <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:30:52 We, we like to shop, you know, just because we might be going to round top or might happen online, I might find an amazing vintage piece on First Dibs or Etsy or Cherish that is perfect and we need to buy it now for that space. And our clients are busy mm-hmm. <affirmative> and have full-time jobs and really trust our design team. So if they're really into that or really excited about that, then I love to make them feel more involved by sending them pictures. Mm-hmm <affirmative> sending them a couple options. If I'm at round top saying there's these two dining tables, which one do you like better? Because I want clients to really feel apart and feel mm-hmm <affirmative> like they, it's their home. But we could be way more efficient and effective on just by shopping alone.
Speaker 1 00:31:49 Speaking of efficiency, if you're going out to get those last smaller items that you're doing locally, how many days in your install process do you do a lot for that?
Speaker 2 00:32:02 We aot for a day. So depending on where the project is, there might not be an antique store two hours away because the project is in total isolation. Mm-hmm <affirmative> out in the middle of nowhere. So before the trip we will look up different antique stores and vendors and have that mapped out plotted ready to go. So we don't get to an install going, oh no, where are some local antique stores? <laugh>, we have that ready to go so that we can be super efficient and effective.
Speaker 1 00:32:38 Okay. So switching over to marketing. I just have to say, so the last time we had dinner, I actually feel that would've been fall round top. I think it would've been like October was when we were together in person and you were just about to bring this person on. You're director of marketing and I just have to say, you're marketing and your cute website refresh have been looking so good. Like, I know that's like my world, so I'm looking heavily on that. But I really feel like the public, the, the commoners watching, watching on have been feeling it.
Speaker 2 00:33:14 Aw.
Speaker 1 00:33:14 Talk us through your intentionality with your brand elevation over the last like year.
Speaker 2 00:33:22 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Well thank you. It's something that we've been working on for a really long time and that just once again goes with finding somebody. We have a small team so, you know, finding somebody that I felt like I really jived and aligned with on the marketing branding side because it is such a personal thing. So I hit the lottery in terms of finding somebody who I felt like was really great and got the brand and is great at marketing
Speaker 1 00:33:56 Real quick, Molly, don't feel you have to answer this, but is that person in person or remote?
Speaker 2 00:34:03 Remote. Remote
Speaker 1 00:34:05 Is such a good point that sometimes you need to look a little bit beyond your backyard to find someone who's really gonna understand your ethos and your creative direction. And it doesn't always have to be someone who can be right next to you.
Speaker 2 00:34:20 Absolutely. And I probably shouldn't say this, but I'm gonna say this. I went after this person. We didn't even put the job out there because I found this person just had this instinctual feeling that they were it when after it ended up being a great fit. But I know that's not the case for everybody, but I think a lot of times if you own your business, if you, the great thing about the internet is you can look around and get to know people and get to know their work and if you feel like you would really connect with somebody, reach out, you know, there's no harm in that. And so we did, we reached out, ended up being an amazing match, having all of the qualities that we were looking for. And with that, we had already done a lot of work before this person came on to really hone in on our signature aesthetic for design.
Speaker 2 00:35:23 We already had all these amazing clients mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but we were continuing to hone in on our target audience and our ideal client. And we refer to that person as Charlie. Charlie is our ideal client. So every single message, every sort of communication, every story on IG story, every messaging that's in our emails, it's on our website, it's all geared towards Charlie. So who is Charlie? What does she about, what does she need? And once we really figured that out, it's crazy how much just even the clients that were reaching out changed and shifted and turned into Charlie's and our following At first, we actually had a large drop in following when we changed our audience and our marketing because we were no longer doing fast fashion for example, or mm-hmm <affirmative> 10 home rugs for under $500. That's just not our target audience. Our target audience is about sustainability and cares about quality over quantity. And so when we change that messaging, it drops, but then it increased in way more quality leads and quality followers that are now more loyal. And it's been really fun to see that transition.
Speaker 1 00:36:48 That is such a powerful insight and I really appreciate you sharing that with us because the fear of losing audience numbers can be paralyzing. I experienced it personally. I certainly have seen clients experience that, but I think what is amazing is that you've been able to identify who your Charlie's were mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Target specifically to those Charlie's. And even if it meant there was fewer of them, it meant that your conversion rate is probably so much higher because the people who were looking for five rugs under $500 are not gonna be the people who are gonna book your services. That's just never gonna align. And so I think if you're listening, I just really encourage you, especially with the way Instagram is today. I, I think the follower numbers is just so irrelevant. Like it just, it's really, it's really easy to say that when I have, you know, a, a decent following, it's a lot easier to say that than when you're working with your 500 followers or whatever you might be listening with.
Speaker 1 00:37:55 But at this point, having whatever number of followers I have is completely irrelevant because of the way that Instagram in particular is putting content out. It's not even shown to your, to your people. So by making sure that you're speaking directly to your ideal client, it doesn't matter where they're finding you from, they are resonating directly or aspiring to be that version of a Charlie. And I think that that is such an important reminder. So thank you. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> for bringing that up. Yeah. Okay. So as much of a signature style that I feel you really have had for such a long time as interior designers, I think it would be misguiding to say that your signature style does not still evolve and change. So you have a signature, but obviously there's new materials that become available or new inspirations that you look towards. So how are you able to progress your design aesthetic while still keeping true to that signature style?
Speaker 2 00:38:59 Yeah. Yeah. That is a really great question and possibly doesn't have an answer because <laugh>, it is so many things. We are constantly inspired by places that we visit. We go somewhere we're inspired by something new. Creating, creating custom pieces. That's something that we're also, you know, always evolving and growing in. And we are definitely pushing the boundaries there with the pieces that we're creating that are at a higher price point because of how they're produced and because of the baker. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's huge. And you know, we really are constantly trying to evolve and be one of the top in the industry. So with that, you're constantly having to be setting up on what's new, what's what's to come, how is the industry changing and evolving because it constantly is, and styling is a big part of our work too. It's part of, you know, the storytelling in our projects and it's a huge like cherry on top of every project.
Speaker 2 00:40:15 We don't get to style all the time. I know people assume that, that you get to style all the time. It's, it's the 0.025% of the job of the end of a project. But that is really what sets you apart in the industry from finding those new clients. It is in the finish work and in the hard finishes of course that's a huge, huge piece. And then the second layering piece is how you are establishing yourself in styling. And that is constantly evolving and you have to be studying and, and knowing where the industry's growing but not be trendy and still be different at the same time. And being true to yourself. It is very hard and it is something that I feel, you know, like we are constantly like humbling ourselves when somebody recognizes our work because we have a vintage stool, you know, we've kind of established that as one of our signature pieces or the scallop accent. That's another thing that I feel like is setting us apart a little bit. So as we continue to grow and evolve in this industry, we wanna make sure that we're also doing things that are true to ourselves and setting us apart and we're not just copying the next person or copying the images that we see, which can be really hard. But I just encourage every designer to go with their gut and do what you love. And that's what people are, are going to fall in love with is your unique styling and capabilities
Speaker 1 00:41:55 As we talk about how to bring that signature style over to your digital brand. I think the scallop is such a great example. Cause if you haven't seen it, visit light and dwells website. You recently made an update for your header. And again, this is what I do professional, so I noticed these things, but you recently swapped your header to have a scalped edge and the girls in the office were all talking about it. Were like, how did they execute that? And we're like, we did some sleuthing. And we're like, ah, I get it. But it's so, such a cute signature detail. But what I think helps you too in particular carry things on to have your signature, but still so true to like your core ethos is okay. So scallops are definitely are a trend right now, but you're doing it in a different way where you're focused on natural materials that you're bringing it in, like the scalloped edge fireplace that you just did.
Speaker 1 00:42:48 And that gorgeous marble is so amazing and so not how other people are executing it. So I think that to say that people don't follow trends is, is an untruthful statement. And I think that you two are such a wonderful example of like how did we take this trend and really make it our own? And then also how have we carried this through from our physical spaces to our digital ones as well. So another thing that I am personally struggling with and excited to chat with you about is that I've watched your behind the scenes photography and videography become beautifully coherent with your professional images. And I think that there has been, again, a trend that things are going from where they used to be super bright whites and crystal clear and now they're feeling a lot moodier. Seeing your behind the scenes content feel a lot more connected to your professional moody images. And I just would like to talk through what choices you made to kind of find that cohesion and how you really execute it without having a professional photographer with you every moment of the day.
Speaker 2 00:43:58 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, I mean this is something that we've worked on for a really long time. We started to do moody a while ago before it was becoming more of a moment. And I think just with behind the scenes content, making sure that it still looks polished and making sure that it still is very intentional just means thousands and thousands of footage and, and <laugh> pictures, to be honest with you. I mean every time we are at a site visit, every moment we're doing something creative, take that moment and capture it and just create just a continual camera roll of that. And we don't use any sort of editing on any of our iPhone photos at all. So there's no editing, there's no sharpening, there's no lightning, there's no brightening. It's just what you see is true it to image and that is what we want to portray.
Speaker 2 00:45:07 That's what we want clients to see. We want people to tell that that photo or that video was taken at dawn or at desk and you should, like Amy was referencing earlier, you should feel something, you should be able to feel the photos. And so if you are constantly light lightning and brightening your photos, the colors aren't gonna be true. You're not going to be able to feel anything but light, bright and airy all the time, which there's nothing wrong with that, but we just, we want our images to really tell a story and feel as true to life as possible.
Speaker 1 00:45:48 I feel that your photography, even your behind the scenes photography just evokes such emotion and I just think there's so much depth and so much warmth. I just really look to you ladies and your incredible teams to just be like they're doing it. And like that's the epitome. I just think I just really applaud you so much. I feel like it has been looking so amazing and it's always looked amazing. I mean, I'm a long, long, long, long, many year follower, but things are just like hit and hard lately.
Speaker 2 00:46:18 That's nice. Thank you.
Speaker 1 00:46:20 Uh, one of the things I think you also do really well that I'd love for you to share some tips and tricks to those listening. You have a really good balance of always being professional, polished and knowing the appropriate ratio of when to like show up on camera. And for me personally, we were just at our work retreat last week and we had this big bold discussion with each other. Some people saying, you need to be showing face on camera all the time. Like you need to go influencer route and that's what you want. And then other people on the team, myself included, feeling like, I want this to be editorial and a destination that yes, I'm a part of, but I've always thought of the collective as a collective. How do you find that ratio, especially when you have a partner. So it's not just you deciding to show up, it has to be a collective showing up.
Speaker 2 00:47:10 Yeah. This is why having a good brand and marketing director is so important. I have to give credit where credit is due. It's something that before she came on, I was feeling the same way as you. I just just didn't know when to show up. I felt annoying. I felt like I was, you know, showing up too much. How, how do I get, you know, both Amy and I on there, what, how, you know, what do we do? How, how does this whole thing work? And so having a great creative and director has really helped us know exactly when to show up and exactly what to share just to make <laugh> my job easier honestly than just because you want your, your content to be intentional, right? You don't wanna just have content and show your face to show your face. You want to be incredibly intentional and if leads are down, for example, you have to be intentional about what you're doing on social to get leads back up.
Speaker 2 00:48:25 If you know your leads are really high, but your reward style sales are down, how are you counteracting that? So it's a constant game of, it's not a off the cuff, oh, I'm gonna hop on and, and do the story today. It's very intentional and planned out and thought out and having a larger picture in mind with Charlie in mind, what does Charlie wanna see? That is incredibly helpful and just making sure that we're putting out good content. But honestly it's something that we are still evolving and, and we, we have the same questions all the time. Like, yeah. So, so yeah, it's a good, it's a good question. We've also, we've also just gone with a new photographer as well that's kind of helped that more of that editorial route that you talked about. That's something that's on our mind as well.
Speaker 1 00:49:21 Okay. So you've given us a lot of insight into what makes your signature set aesthetic, how you've been able to like really lean into it. I have no doubt that your clients are now coming to you for that signature aesthetic. How do you filter out clients or potential clients that aren't subscribing to that? I hope that this hasn't happened to you, but we've had a lot of questions from listeners who say, this person came to me, said they love our vibe, like love our aesthetic, but then when it really comes down to their approvals, like there's a miss
Speaker 2 00:49:55 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so much empathy <laugh> for, for all of us because that does happen and that still can happen to us today. But we've, we've tried to work really hard on the front end onboarding, getting to know each other, talking a lot through images and not words. We do also hear, we love everything you do. We so see ourselves in your work. And I think they, they really believe that and yet we can miss each other with what that really means. So for, for me, since that's a lot of the part that I am, I'm trying, that's one of the main things I'm trying to sort out is are we a good fit? Can we, we want, we're such people people, we want our clients to be really happy with the final product, but also the experience, it takes years sometimes to go through this. So if we're a good fit and if we're aligned, you are gonna have less revisions.
Speaker 2 00:51:01 It will be more efficient and co cost less money. But it takes a lot of trust and again, that fit that. If it's not us, we wanna, we recommend our friends all the time that have a different lane and look than, than we have even within the six styles. We do have a modern, you know, more of a modern mountain or a more modern just direction or more traditional, there is some width in that design lane, but we're not, you know, somebody comes to us, we're looking if they're like, gosh, I really love really, you know, neon colors or like man, we don't do, yeah even sometimes mid-century, but you know, you gotta show the pictures of like, this is what tell us what you think of when you're saying mid-century can we see the fo? Cuz often we're like, oh, okay, that we can do that or we can't do that and we gotta let those, these people seem great and it's a could be a great project, it's not gonna be great unless it's a great fit.
Speaker 1 00:52:07 Something that Jake Arnold said on his episode, or maybe it was at camp, I can't remember, but he said anytime he's onboarding someone or getting ready to onboard someone he thinks to himself in two or three years when this project is done, will this project have propelled me forward or will it have held me back? And I
Speaker 2 00:52:24 I remember that
Speaker 1 00:52:27 Powerful
Speaker 2 00:52:27 It was on a podcast. Yeah, it is. It was so the amount of true projects that we have said no to, that we could have said yes to for that reason. Yeah. Thinking the exact, a lot of times that's where it's good to have both of us, right? Because we're both mm-hmm <affirmative> business minded, thinking about the business in different ways and creatively design wise, that's where my mind goes is, is this project, when it's done going to propel us forward. We have a small team, we don't have a large team, so we have to be really mindful of the projects that we are taking on. They have to check a lot of boxes. But when you get those great projects, those great fit that you know are going to propel you forward, you know, our villa with the view project that we just wrapped, we were on that job for three years Pre pandemic. That job was designed two and a half years ago. So the furniture was selected a year and a half ago. So everything that you will be seeing in a, a couple months when photos are done, that in in the mind was already thinking how is this project going to propel us forward because it's so much time and energy and it's an amazing project and opportunity. Is this project going to propel us forward, forward or not? Because what people don't realize is that you work on these jobs for years and years, so
Speaker 1 00:54:04 Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:54:04 You know.
Speaker 1 00:54:05 Well ladies, you've been so, so, so generous with your time. I've got two key questions I wanna make sure we get before I let you go. Do you have any tips for designers listening who are looking to double down on their signature style but are so worried that they're going to lose business by doing so?
Speaker 2 00:54:23 Yeah, I, and we've kind of touched on that, that man it is scary. I would just first say that's a good question and it is scary. I am, I can only speak from our experience that we're enjoying ourselves so much more. It's helping us be that much just realistic that you can't serve everybody. You gotta really think about what you love and what you see. And I think, I mean that's just something I would applaud Molly on that you can't be an expert in all the things. You've gotta kind of hone it down and say, I just, it kind of goes back to that feeling, this is what this really adds to what I'm trying to create. And I feel like that is the leap of faith that you have to make. And people say this all the time, you gotta kind of narrow down your focus and you can only, we're all limited by how many people we can actually serve and, and connect with. So it'll, they'll be enough and yeah, go deep. Go deep.
Speaker 1 00:55:28 I was thinking about this question last night at three in the morning as one does <laugh> and I thought a really good sort of benchmark takeaway for someone who doesn't necessarily have the number of inquiries coming in that you two have have earned at this point would be to have two projects lined up that are great client relationship even if they aren't the perfect signature style. So that you can have some cushion built in to from that point forward, say no to inquiries that are not aligned with the signature style. I think having a little bit of a boundary set with a little bit of a fallback plan is gonna be a really good way for someone to actually start putting that into practice.
Speaker 2 00:56:17 Yeah, absolutely. And the first five years of our business, I'd say a very small percentage were actual ideal 100%. You know, in terms of checking all the boxes and it takes years, just don't be discouraged cuz I remember feeling so discouraged. Mm-hmm <affirmative> being like, eh, why are all of our clients sending us Pinterest images of other designers? When will that be us? I remember wanting that so bad and having that be a goal to say we are different. What is the point in doing this if we are going to be the same as everybody else? That is a goal to get to a place where clients are no longer sending us images of other designers or other work and saying, oh I really like so-and-so and I think you guys can kind of do that. We've all been there and we've all had to go through that and that hurts as a creative as a designer. But just continue to believe in yourself, continue to push the limits, push the boundaries when you can on those projects that let you do that. And pretty soon you will have an established portfolio and images for your online social media and you'll just start to create your own identity in the industry if you just continue to push forward and propel forward.
Speaker 1 00:57:49 That is so beautiful and encouraging. Molly, thank you so much ladies, as always, I like to break fun news with our podcast guests. I know you just launched a beautiful collection of custom furniture available on your website. Can you share any exciting projects in the works at Light and Dwell coming up soon?
Speaker 2 00:58:11 Yes. I'm gonna give you two general words, <laugh> products and filmed. That's all I can say. We had to check in, we had to talk about this before we knew you were gonna ask this question.
Speaker 1 00:58:25 You had to go to Legal
Speaker 2 00:58:26 Said, we need to make sure we don't overshare because we tend to do that. So film and products, Anastasia.
Speaker 1 00:58:35 Wow. Those stay chance, those are big words. I am excited.
Speaker 2 00:58:39 Sure. I mean it to give you the inside scoop. Keep you on the edge of your seat.
Speaker 1 00:58:43 <laugh>. Well ladies, thank you so, so, so much for your time. You've been such wonderful friends to me since the infancy of my business and just watching you grow is so incredible. You are my ultimate grand supreme dream designers from an aesthetic perspective, so to have you on the show today just means so much. I really appreciate it.
Speaker 1 00:59:06 You can follow along with Amy and Molly at Light and dwell on Instagram and get lost in their gorgeous [email protected]
. If you weren't able to write down everything you heard today, you can find all of the links, charts, and images we referenced and other details from this episode of the Interior Collective on our website at idco.studio/podcast. If you loved this podcast, please leave us a review season one proof to be a huge help to interior designers around the globe and we really hope to keep on carrying on. If you have questions or topics you'd like to hear next season, email me [email protected]
. Again, that is podcast idco.studio. Tune in to all of season one available now as I walk you through elevating your client experience top to bottom. The rest of the season is filled with a star settled lineup, including Jake Arnold, Kelly Lamb, Gail Davis Blairmore, Clara Jung, Lauren Lee, Beth, Diana Smith, Shay McGee and Lindsay Borchard. This season we're welcoming Julia Miller of Yawn Interiors, Allison Geese, and so many more. Until then, I'm your host, Anastasia Casey, and this is The Interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living.