I grew up in the 80s, hitting my prime in the 90s when Girbauds were the "it" clothing item. I still remember looking at those price tags thinking $110 for a pair of jeans! That's robbery! And guess what, so did my mom. So we went to Kmart and bought 6 pairs of jeans, all different colors from pink to purple to teal green, for the same price of $110. Man oh man did that give me a rush! I would be the talk of the class with so many awesome jeans and little did they know I got 6 for the price of 1.
Fast forward 25+ years and I'm still applying that same combination of frugality with high style to my everyday life. I wear jeans from Target yet splurge $150 on cool tan leather Nike high tops. I make my own countertops so that I can shell out $2500 on custom hand-made backsplash tile.
So what does this have to do with you, you ask? What does this tagline you see all over my site "Love your house, for less." mean?
Well, I never actually intended to design for anyone other than myself, you see. But I need to tell you a bit of a long story so you can understand how I approach design, and why.
I have a bunch of family members who have made crazy amounts of money in real estate all while working regular 9-5 jobs. That was my plan, too. I even went to school for architecture for awhile to carve out my niche in the family by bringing an elevated sense of style to my properties. I started out "slow-flipping" my own houses and honing my design aesthetic. I applied my desire for high style yet on a tight budget to ensure that I'd make money on each house.
Then we bought our forever home. I was making great money in my 9-5 so we threw a ton of cash into this place. Our goal was to get it done then refinance it and pull out the money so I could start buying rentals and other real estate ventures. Eh hmmm, read "invest in MY own projects."
Well, that didn't happen.
I had a daughter. She nearly died during child birth. On her 4th day of life we were preparing to say goodbye as she had suffered major brain damage and all her organs were failing. We had her baptized the night before and I howled so loud, rocking back and forth clutching her blanky that my mom made (the one I forced her to sew to match the one she sewed for me and took me home from the hospital in). I prayed for a miracle. Don't let my first born be taken from me.
The next morning she opened an eye.
Hours later. Another one.
Suddenly we went from preparing to say goodbye to preparing to take home a child who would grow to have major handicaps. When we left the NICU she had 4-5 doctor's appointments a week and needed to be quarantined as she was so fragile and couldn't afford to get sick. I sat there wondering how I was going to go back to my demanding career leading teams of 20+ people when I had a new life requiring incredible amounts of flexibility.
Our savings depleted. Fast. We couldn't refinance our home as it was under construction. We didn't qualify for any type of support as our previous-year income was too high. I had to do something. But what? I was absurdly depressed and messed up because of what happened and the hormones that go along with child birth. Yet I had the possibility of my life crashing in a MAJOR way staring me in the face and I had no choice but to do something.
I called my realtor and pitched her an idea. I saw a niche in the market. (But let's be honest, I did absolutely NO market research on said idea). I'd combine light remodel work with staging to get houses ready for sale. My clients would be realtors. She loved the idea (wait, what?). So in 4 days (no joke) I came up with a business name, created a logo, a website, some business cards and a flier. I set out a bunch of before pictures of our house and had 30+ realtors over to pitch them my idea.
The next day 2 of them called me with jobs. Well alright then. Here we go.
Fast forward 2.5+ years and I've only done 1 of those types of projects. What happened is that everyone saw what I could do and started wanting me to do traditional interior design and remodel work. Who knew? I always saw the reactions people had when coming to our house, but I never thought they'd want me to design for them. Crazy! Right?
Now let's get back to the Girbauds bit. Here I am designing for other people now. And it's pretty amazing. But that frugality combined with high-style mindset is completely engrained in me. I still renovate my own properties alongside client work. And with each project I can't help but approach them the same way. I love it. It's who I am. I still get a rush each time I come up with an idea to save someone money yet make their space amazing. But what a way to get here, right? Something tells me it had just a tiiiiiiiiny bit to do with a greater power watching over me.
So that's how olliePop Design began. And now you know how I approach design and what it'll be like working with me. I can't wait to meet you. And I'd be forever grateful if I could help you love your house, for less.
be strong: Kassina
How I'm Giving Back
Project : be strong is one of the ways I'm giving back after learning so much about starting a small business the last few years, especially after doing NO research! I am bringing together small groups of women small-business owners to create content together that we can then share out to help grow our businesses. We get to know each other, network, swap knowledge and resources, but most importantly, we support each other. What could be better! If you're interested in being part of a future collaboration, let me know.
I have a pipe dream to create homes near Children's NICU hospitals that will house family's while their child is in the NICU. I'll kit each room with the essentials (breast pumps, mini fridges, toiletries, etc). I know all too well what you need during that difficult time and I want to help as many family's as I can. I'm working on funding this project, so more info will be coming along soon. If you have any interest in helping get these house's off the ground, please let me know.
Want To Help Give Back?
$5 from the sale of each t-shirt goes to Children's Hospital, who saved my daughter's life and who continues to make an impact in so many lives each day.