Happy Women We Love Tuesday! In this special post, we are back from the long holiday weekend full of refreshed energy and excitement for the new week, and our latest inspiring ladies. In our second week of Walter E. Smithe Furniture loving, we are featuring the other half of the powerful and talented group of sisters: Meghan and Colleen Smithe. Meghan, Director of Marketing, and Colleen, Director of Advertising, are giving us their top home decor picks for summer, tips on working with family, and a peak behind those famous (and funny) family ads.
HOW DO YOU AND YOUR SISTERS WORK TOGETHER?
Meghan: There aren’t too many people who know me better than my sisters, so I can always count on them to keep me honest! With 16 kids between the 4 of us, it’s neat to spend time together when we’re not in mommy mode, but rather in a professional environment where we’re partnering up to push our family’s business forward. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so we’re able to balance each other out. It’s always nice to grab lunch together, and the conversation will inevitably flip between work and personal.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
Colleen: I love that our team is small and nimble. When we want to do something, there are not many layers we need to go through to make it happen.
Meghan: Definitely working with my family. As an adult, I think it’s really neat to work so closely with my dad and sisters.
AND THE TOUGHEST PART?
Colleen: Keeping work and family separate. When I’m socializing with my sisters outside of the office, I like to focus on what’s going on in their lives outside of work. It’s hard to avoid work-talk sneaking in though.
WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
Meghan: The only thing that’s consistent is that I start my days early, but other than that, every day is very different. It’s a mix of days in the office, time spent out on production, meetings at our showrooms. If we’re knee deep in a makeover, we’re spending a lot of time in meetings with our agency Jacobson Rost, our designers, and our clients.
Colleen: Busy. Today started with a meeting with the advertising team to discuss upcoming initiatives, and review creative assets for our next promotion. I spent an hour in the warehouse inspecting the furniture and accessories that are going out for our next filmed Makeover feature. A quick working lunch at my desk, lead into an afternoon of prepping for our next catalog production. I’ve always been a fan of the saying “it’s better to be busy than bored” and this job doesn’t disappoint.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Meghan: As a 30 something suburban mom and business woman, I’d tell my 20 something carefree, city-living self to have more fun! The thought of being able to go out to dinner without paying a babysitter or to travel without feeling guilty about being away from my kids – that was a short lived time and I wish I had savored it more!
Colleen: Travel more, worry less. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places, but I still have a lot to check off the list. Before getting married and having kids, it’s hard to appreciate how truly carefree you are. No childcare costs, no one waking you up in the middle of the night or early in the morning, no one to cook and clean for. Without those responsibilities, why not buy that last minute flight, pack light, and see as much of the world as you can?!
YOUR FAMILY ADS ARE WELL-KNOWN IN CHICAGO. HOW DO YOU CONCEPT THOSE?
Both: Our latest campaign, Smithe Family Makeovers, was born out of a desire to tell our story in an interesting and relevant way, while communicating the larger benefit of working with Walter E. Smithe – complimentary designers who will help take your home from drab to fab, with access to all of the styles, price points and elements you need to truly finish a room. From the key pieces of furniture to the accessories to the window treatments – you really don’t need to step foot in another showroom. We have a small advertising team, and when we get excited about an idea, we work quickly to bring it to life. The next makeover story that we’re launching in June was concepted over lunch, than shared with our advertising agency, Jacobson-Rost, who is helping us bring it to life.
IS FILMING AS FUN AS IT LOOKS?
Both: Of course! When we’re filming, our priority is to capture what it is that we set out to do, but there’s always time for fun too. On the last shoot, my sisters and I had all of our kids on-set (16 and counting). It was loud, chaotic and at times out-of-control, but something we’ll never forget!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PIECES ON SALE NOW?
Both: We love the Bristow dining table and Gramercy chairs. Our clients flock to it for its of-the-now look and attainability (the chairs are a major steal at $229 on sale). Incorporating the right accessories makes this hard working dining room perfect for a more formal dining space, or kept casual. Another Smithe family favorite is the Drop In sofa. It is a beautiful mid-century design, with an exposed brushed bronze frame (also available in polished stainless steel), which makes for a really striking backside to a sofa. You definitely don’t want to put this one up against a wall!
WHAT ARE TIMELESS PIECES EVERYONE SHOULD INVEST IN FOR THEIR HOME?
Both: Trends and personal style inevitably come and go, so one thing we tell people is that you can’t go wrong by investing in a piece that you genuinely LOVE and then designing the rest of the room around it. Something like a unique case good (industry lingo for furniture made of hard materials, such as wood, metal, or glass, like a table or a dresser) that you just have to have would be a great example of a timeless piece. In our own homes, the first thing that comes to mind is this back and off-white bone in-lay 4-drawer chest that 3 of the 4 of us sisters have. It’s a one-of-a-kind Indian piece that we saw and immediately snapped up. Each of us use it in a very different way, but it’s a piece that we genuinely love having in our homes.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR SUMMER IN CHICAGO?
Colleen: I love how everyone comes out of hibernation once the weather warms up. People genuinely seem happier and less stressed, myself included. The daily grind becomes a daily unwind. I recently moved from the city to the suburbs, and it’s common to find me hanging out in the backyard with my kids and ignoring bedtime routines, or sitting on our front porch and catching up with neighbors over wine while our kids run wild in the yard. Summer is too short – I like to spend every minute outside (until the mosquitoes start biting…)