If you’ve ever coveted a room on Pinterest, but had no idea where to start creating it in your own home, you’re going to love Gretchen Hansen. She’s made interior design accessible to pretty much everyone, through her new site, Decorist . For less than $200, you can get the expertise of one of the site’s designers, who will evaluate pictures of your room, your style, your budget and your wish list for the space, and come up with two room plans, plus a list of where to buy everything.
Here, we talk to Gretchen about her awesome idea, entrepreneurship, her best career advice, and more.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE SITE?
Decorist is all about making designing your home very easy, affordable, and all about you-meaning in your style and budget. We get to know you with our design style quiz and from there the fun starts. We deliver fabulous product finds directly from our designers daily, and when you need help pulling your space together, we offer our mini makeover, where we help you update or redesign your room, in your style and budget, totally virtually.
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE DECORIST COME FROM?
Like most women in the US, I am my own interior designer. While I find that fun and creative, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. I find that I know what I want or can get my space 80% there, but want someone to help me find the items that fit my budget or just pull it all together. This happened to me on my last remodel– I just wanted someone to make my ideas a reality, and when I looked around, there was nothing like that available, let alone for a reasonable price. So I asked a friend of mine who is a designer if she could do my room virtually- by just having me send a few photos and some inspiration ideas…she did and I loved it! So Decorist was born.
YOU JUST LAUNCHED THIS SUMMER. HOW DID THE IDEA GO FROM CONCEPT TO FRUITION? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?
We did a lot of consumer testing once I knew the idea would work…we talked to a lot off people who needed help designing their homes and tested a lot of product ideas. I am so fortunate to have an incredible product leader, Julie Thompson, as my co-founder. Julie spent the last five years building Eventbrite’s product from the ground up. She really took the product to a new level once we knew the concept was good. All in all it probably took over six months to get it to where we were happy with it, but I think the testing was worth it, our consumer er feedback is phenomenal…it keeps us going.
HOW HAS THE RESPONSE TO THE COMPANY BEEN SO FAR?
Amazing. I know people say this all the time but it’s really true when I say that our customers are the reason we do what we do. People are so happy with our service and it is something that they never could have accessed before. There is a true emotional benefit to what we do because we really see ourselves as a partner, as someone who is here to help make dreams a reality. We don’t design to our style and budget, we design to the customer’s, so a real bond is formed. It’s really great to see.
THERE ARE SO MANY PLACES TO SHOP AND GET IDEAS ONLINE. WHAT NEED IS DECORIST FILLING? WHAT SETS IT APART?
Personalization. We are one of the only sites out there that really offers a personalized experience from minute one. Our design profile was extensively researched to give the consumer great product recommendations, all free, based on their style and budget. We hear all the time that our members find items they were looking for for months in minutes on our site. One woman even ask ed if we had a camera in her living room our recommendations were so good!
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF GETTING THE SITE OFF THE GROUND?
Ha! Everything. It is all hard, from coming up with a name to forming a corporation to finding the best team- and you really need the best team.a It’s all hard, but worth every minute. Seeing our incredible team in action amazes me. And the challenges don’t end, but when you have a great team and happy customers you can’t imagine doing anything else.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART?
Building an incredible team. They are world class. And they just happen to be all female.
WHAT’S YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIKE AT DECORIST?
It really varies, but I make a point of spending some time every day building the team and customer/partner relationships, and thinking about where we want to go. Despite the best laid plans things change and you have to constantly navigate the waters. My dad is a big sailor and I feel like that is what I do every day- chart a course, read the wind, adjust, be prepared for good and bad and think about the amazing adventure we are on.
YOU’VE HELP JOBS IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT FIELDS, FROM THE FOOD INDUSTRY, TO FINANCE. WHAT MADE YOU GET INTO HOME DECOR?
It has always been my passion, from when I was little. I have always loved decorating my space whether it was my dorm room, my first apartment (all Ikea and it was fabulous!) to now. I believe you can have amazing looking spaces without spending a fortune, and I want to help others do that. Anyone can have a space one loves, regardless of budget.
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT SKILLS AND PERSONAL QUALITIES HAVE LEAD TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I think it’s the fact that I deal well with chaos and uncertainty. I stay calm. I am also willing to bend a few rules and think creatively about how to get something done. Lastly, I am also good at being scrappy, that’s important, and actually is kind of fun, and I love a challenge.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN WHO MIGHT WANT TO BRANCH OUT AND START A BUSINESS?
Just do it! It’s so easy to talk yourself out of it. Obviously, you don’t want to do anything that really puts your well being at risk, but I think women don’t take enough risks. At the end of the day ask yourself what do you really have to lose.
WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR YOUR CAREER?
Do something meaningful and don’t have any regrets!