Photography by Bethany Nauert, Tessa Neustadt, and Zeke Ruelas, Courtesy Homepolish
Dear Aspiring Designers,
People are constantly asking me what my relationship to Homepolish is. “Did you start that company?” “Do you work there full-time?” “Do you take on non-Homepolish clients?” (The answers are “No, I wish!” ” yes,” and “no.”). Most people in my life, including my closest friends, have no idea what I do. They see me playing with throw blankets and fluffing pillows online and assume that’s what I’m up to every day. Since my relationship to Homepolish is shrouded in mystery, I thought I’d write a bit about what my role is and what it’s like to work as a designer for the company.
A fun fact about my relationship with Homepolish is that it actually started when I reached out to them about applying to be one of their designers. Through my work with Emily Henderson, I’d heard about their exciting new business model and I was intrigued. When it came time for me to start taking on my own clients, I found the whole process befuddling. Like how was I supposed to charge taxes on my services? How was I supposed to keep track of how much money I was making to report to the IRS? The State of California doesn’t necessarily make it easy to figure out all of these issues. Should I be an LLC? How do I register my business? Basically figuring any of this out is impossible and, on top of all that, as a designer just getting started I was also figuring out how to interact with clients, how to present them with ideas, and how to charge them.
Luckily, I didn’t design on my own too long before I started designing for Homepolish. Homepolish has made charging clients, figuring out taxes, and keeping track of my hours a million times easier. And instead of having to constantly invoice them, payment is facilitated through a simple online system (which clients can pay for by credit card, btw). My role now is West Coast Creative Director, which is a fancy way of saying I am a brand ambassador for the company, I help them develop content for Homepolish Magazine, I work on influencer projects, I work on designer community building by hosting events for our designers, and I represent Homepolish by speaking at conferences and interacting with press. I also work with real clients, which keeps me pretty busy.
Homepolish was started because of a frustration with the interior design system as it was before (i.e. furniture markups, secrecy about adding in fees, difficulty for new designers to gain access to clients, and difficulty for mainstream consumers to be able to find and afford interior designers). One of our founders, Noa Santos, is a designer who was fed up with the system as it was. So our company is just as focused on making sure designers have a great experience as it is on making sure our clients get the results they want. In our minds, if we can provide a working environment where our designers needs are met, they will provide even better service to our clients.
When people ask me advice about how to get started in interior design, I almost always give them the same advice: Do whatever you can to build up your portfolio. In the design world, your portfolio is your lifeblood. Before I started with Homepolish, I pulled a lot of favors getting my projects photographed, asking my photographer friends to go way below their rates to shoot my spaces. I wanted to pay them more, but getting started in design doesn’t always leave your pockets flush with cash to spend on brand building. One of the biggest benefits of working with Homepolish is the opportunity to have your work shot for free by our amazing in-house photographers. We do this not only because it’s great content for our site and inspires people, but also because it helps build business for our designers.
Homepolish has experienced tremendous success in expanding over the last three years, where we’ve gone from a team of two to a team of over 40 in-house staff and nearly 300 designers nationwide. And part of our expansion has been cultural, we have a big presence online. Our large followings on Instagram, Homepolish Magazine, and our other social accounts allow us to promote our designers as well, many of whom have seen a large uptick in their social followings after we’ve posted about them. In this symbiotic system, we benefit from showcasing our designers’ talents and our designers benefit from the press we garner for them.
Furthermore, we provide an environment in which our designers feel supported. By our internal team and by each other. We host regular events for our designers to get together and meet each other. To chat design, to talk about challenges they face with clients, to just eat and drink and have fun. One of my favorite things about this company is that no one here is afraid of negative feedback. If there’s a Homepolish policy that’s not working for designers, we discuss it and bring it back to the home office to remedy the situation. We are absolutely committed to making sure our designers feel heard and supported.
Anyway, I’m sure all of this is sounding like a big ol’ Homepolish commercial right about now, but I’m passionate about what we do and excited to talk about it. If you’re a designer and you’re looking to either get your start with clients of your own, or round out your already flourishing business, I highly recommend applying to be one of our designers. To do so, check out our Homepolish Careers Site and fill out an Online Application. And if you have any questions about any of this, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GO GET IT!