Despite how easy bloggers make it look on Instagram, decorating a house or apartment that looks cohesive, stylish, and personal is hard. You have to think about color, silhouette, texture, scale and your budget. But, that’s why people pay tens of thousands of dollars to interior designers, because not everyone is capable of pulling together a flawless home on their own. Of course, not everyone has tens of thousands of dollar to spend on interior design, either.
So what’s a gal to do?
It was this exact question that lead Emily Motayed to start her company, Havenly. She wanted a space that looked “adult” and put together, but she also couldn’t afford to pay a pro to do it for her. Havenly connects its clients with professional interior designers, but everything is done completely online, allowing the cost of an entire room design to start at just $79 (…you can barely buy a cute throw pillow for that much these days!). Genius, no?
Read on to find out about Emily’s business success, her career advice, her hurdles as an entrepreneur, and more.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE IDEA BEHIND HAVENLY.
Havenly provides beautiful design services, all online, starting from $79 a room. We truly believe in everybody having access to amazing designers, and we have lowered the entry price point to interior design by creating an online design process that matches up clients with our highly trained and vetted designers. The way it works is easy—fill out a quick style survey to reveal your style profile, choose from a variety of handpicked designers who suit your style, tell him or her more about your room and upload some photos, and then receive two initial concepts boards and then a full room visualization, as well as personal product suggestions which you can shop (at best price guarantee) through the Havenly platform.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH IT?
Havenly was born out of a personal need: I had just moved into my first “big girl” apartment in New York City (first time without roommates!) and wanted just someone to help me buy big furniture pieces that tied together well. There was no convenient, and affordable, service that approached the interior design industry. And, on the flip side, there were many young talented and educated interior designers who were looking for ways to build their portfolio and get new clients. It seemed like a natural idea to leverage technology to match these two sides of the marketplace, while lowering the entry price point of interior designer by cutting out the in-home consultation.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE MAJOR STEPS YOU HAD TO TAKE BETWEEN COMING UP WITH THE IDEA FOR HAVENLY AND ACTUALLY LAUNCHING THE COMPANY?
I think the biggest step between ideation and launching a company is truly taking the next step and doing something about the idea, rather than just thinking about starting it. It’s all about action and getting things rolling and making it happen. Rather than saying “one day I will start this!” it’s “I’m doing it now.”
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE HAVENLY?
Before Havenly, I was in consulting.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE YOUR PREVIOUS CAREER BEHIND AND PURSUE YOUR IDEA FULL-TIME?
I was relatively young (25) when we started Havenly, but starting a company and living an entrepreneurial life was something that I had set my eyes on since I was in college—growing up with an entrepreneur of a father means it’s really in your blood. I spent the first few years out of college in more traditional jobs, but I was always thinking and coming up with ideas for ventures— and then went for it.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF GETTING THE COMPANY OFF THE GROUND?
The ambiguity of a new startup – never knowing where you will be in 2, 6, 12 months is most likely the hardest thing to grapple with in the beginning of launching a company, and throughout the early stages as well. It’s hard on a personal level, but also hard to make decisions without having perfect information— a lot of it is working with your instinct and gut.
WERE THERE ANY NEW SKILLS YOU HAD TO LEARN TO START THE BUSINESS?
I think the most important thing is to always be learning when starting the business – this is our first venture, and therefore there was a lot of “learning on the job” if you will. Getting up to speed on what can be done and what needs to be done in order to growth the company exponentially is something that needs to be done quickly.
HAVENLY IS COMING UP ON ITS TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY. HOW HAS THE COMPANY GROWN IN THAT TIME?
We have grown in all senses of the word – our customers are growing exponentially, and our team is as well! We’ve changed offices a few times as well – I can’t think of one area where we haven’t grown!
WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN RESPOND SO WELL TO THE IDEA BEHIND HAVENLY?
You know, with the advent of Pinterest and HGTV, we are all bombarded with beautiful images of homes, but no information on how to get that home in our own place, especially at an affordable price that doesn’t break the bank. Havenly provides the process and the way to make your home beautiful, so I think women are really responding to Havenly because we are making these beautiful homes accessible to them!
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE SKILLS THAT ARE MOST CRITICAL TO SUCCESS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Resilience and the knowledge that everything will work out 🙂
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN COMPANY?
My favorite thing is stepping back and seeing how much growth we have accomplished in the past two years! Also seeing photographs of our clients being happy in their Havenly homes is always special.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Be proactive, not reactive. If you don’t know how to do something, figure it out yourself before someone asks you to learn it. Always be curious – about your jobs, other people’s jobs, so that you know how the company works on a macro level and you are always cognizant of the big picture.