Happy Friday, friends! A couple of months ago I started a highly irregular blog series of interviews with women entrepreneurs, inspiring ladies whom I’ve met through social media who run their own creative businesses. My goal with these interviews is to celebrate and inspire women to follow their passion and launch enterprises that reflect their true calling. Be it baking, decorating, gardening etc…
We started with Alison Carabasi, co-founder of Hillbrook Collections – a mother and daughter company that brings to life the most whimsical garden houses I’ve ever seen.?Next, we sat down to chat with the lovely Heather Strommen, designer, writer and founder of? the chic Vignette Box. Today, I am delighted to welcome Tessa Foley, the talented blogger and decorator behind Nine and Sixteen Home.
Tessa lives in an idyllic Midwestern village (a planned community just outside Cincinnati designated a National?Historic Landmark) with her husband and two sons. Over the last eight years, she has graciously documented slices of life and work though her widely read blog, Nine and Sixteen. As of 2014 she offers interior designer consults helping homeowners around the country create beautiful, personal spaces. Her own home was published in Midwest Living and, more recently, in the interior design best-selling book Country House Style by Nora Murphy. Although we’ve never met in person, I feel like I already know Tessa through ?her blog and Instagram account. We share a love of cozy and timeless interiors and a deep appreciation of all things European, particularly English antiques and, we’re both ?obsessed with all things Ina Garten! As you can imagine, I am thrilled to interview Tessa for a new installment of Women Entrepreneurs.
Q: Welcome Tessa! Please tell us a little bit about your background and the story of how Nine & Sixteen Home came to be. ?
A: I started my blog, Nine and Sixteen, when my youngest son was 2 years old.? I’d left a 12 year career in marketing and advertising to be a stay at home mom when Charlie was born and blogging became a creative outlet for me, almost like an online journal, to capture the good things in life. By the time Charlie started kindergarten, I was ready to expand the blog and start offering interior design consults.? Over the years I had worked and become friends with other design bloggers and felt there was a niche for me to turn my passion for classic and cozy interiors into a business which is how Nine and Sixteen Home came to be.?
Q: How would you describe your style??
A: Classic, New England inspired, cozy and timeless. I aim to create warm, effortlessly collected and layered interiors that feel welcoming and will stand the test of time.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your designs??
A: Everywhere. From vacations to fashion, books, social media, movies, the list goes on and on.? I’m like an inspiration addict, always looking, always studying, always learning. I have design books and magazine collections all over our home.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work? And the most challenging??
A: I have a couple…One of the most rewarding moments is when a client sees the design plan for the first time and I see the light bulb go off in their head.? When a space that has had them stumped comes together and they see the possibility of what it will become. ? The second is when a project is complete and I hear about the difference it makes in their lives.? Everyone deserve to love where they live, to find comfort and beauty in the place they call home is life giving and for me to get to play a role in that, however big or small, is the most fulfilling part of my job.?
The most challenging is time or the lack of it.? I work alone and I work VERY part time.? My calendar fills up quickly and I treat each client project with the same care I give to my own home, so I feel like I am perpetually behind. The design aspect is just one part of the job, there is a big administrative side too and it can be hard to juggle both and stay true to my part time schedule.?
Q: Do you have a favorite project?
A: That is like asking to pick a favorite child! I don’t have one. Those that are closest to my heart are the projects where I’ve had the privilege of working with the same client, over a period of years, on multiple rooms in their home.
Q: Do you have any advice for fellow women entrepreneurs??
A: Don’t try to be all things to all people.? Find what you are passionate about and stay true to that regardless of what others around you are saying and doing. I haven’t always done things the traditional way, I like keeping my business small and protecting my part time schedule.? I also really know my “brand” and my “style” and don’t comprise it, meaning I’m picky about the projects I take on, I want to make sure I’m the best fit for a client and their home. ?
Q: Who are your personal style icons?
A: I honestly don’t have any that I faithfully look to inspire my own personal style.? I love classics like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly when I see old photos.? Or more modern day like Ralph Lauren, but truth be told, I just kind of know myself , what I like, and what works for me.?
Q: Is there something you love to collect? (books, seashells, that sort of thing)
A: Oh yes, I’m a collector! Blue and white pottery, white ironstone, pewter, books, and shells from our summer trips.
Go-to color scheme:
I love a room grounded in warm neutrals with bits of blue worked in.
Go-to outfit: ?
I’m a dress and skirt kind of girl.? In the?spring?and summer it’s sundresses and in the winter, mini skirt, tights, tall boots and a chunky sweater.
Favorite room in your house:
Toss up between our bedroom and our kitchen,?probably?depends?on which is tidiest at any given moment.?
Favorite place to shop for your home:
Antique stores, wherever I find them.? The dustier and more hodge podge, the better.? I’ve also had a lot of luck with online estate sales at Everything But The House.?
I’m an avid reader, so this changes from year to year. Two favorites from the past few years are: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy, and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, but gosh, I have so many. ?
Favorite design book:
The Great American House by Gil Schafer is the one I probably pick up more often than any other.
I have many favorites. Gil Schafer and Tom Scheerer are two that I go back to time and time again. ?
Greatest professional influence:
Ina Garten.? I know, she has nothing to do with interior design, but I admire the way she built her brand and the way she balances her life and business.? She pursued her passion quite a bit later in life and somewhat accidentally, which I relate to.? And while I have no aspirations for fame or the level of success she has achieved, I’m inspired by her on many levels. ?
Chanel No. 5
For a special occasion: The Greydon House on Nantucket, for the ambiance as much as the food and for a cozy lunch or dinner: Salazar in Cincinnati.
1. Watching The Bachelor while texting my bestie.
2. My homemade brownies – sometimes both at the same time.?
Favorite vacation spot:
Sconset on Nantucket.
Favorite hostess gift (to give and/ or receive):?
Something edible and homemade.
What can we look forward to from you?
Our home was recently published in a book! ?“Nora Murphy’s Country House Style.” That’s still pretty surreal.?
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Tessa today, I know I did!?Not only is she a talented designer with a passion for textiles and all things blue and white, but this girl can write. Tessa, I see at least one best-seller in your future! To find out more about sbo365 zenyNine and Sixteen Home, please make sure to follow Tessa on sbo365 zenyInstagram. You’ll be constantly inspired, I promise.?Until next time!