I first met the lovely Erin Souder at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City this past January. I sat in on a panel that Erin and Alexis Mattox hosted about launching your own product line. It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about, so I was easily intrigued by their processes. I really admire how Erin gives 150% to everything that she does and how she left a steady corporate career to pursue her dream. I’m excited for all of you to meet Erin!
What motivated you to start your wildly successful home decor website, Earnest Home Co.
I started Earnest Home Co. back in 2011 because I literally had too many ideas to keep inside my head! I would always be creating something, or renovating a room, or whipping up a party and friends always wanted to know how I thought of the ideas I had. I realized that I had to share my creative process and ideas with the world.
How did you grow your web traffic + build an audience?
Slowly! For about the first 6 months my only audience was my husband (he still reads every single day), but I grew over time by interacting with other bloggers, commenting on their posts, bringing insight or some value to the conversation. I think other commenters and readers saw my name over and over and started visiting MY site.
I also used to do those ‘link parties’ where a blogger features a ton of other bloggers. Also, I invested in a good camera and taught myself how to take good photos, then put them on sites like Pinterest and the ‘gawker’ sites.
You recently launched a product line of the same name! What inspired you to start your own collection?
Honestly, years of just never finding what I really wanted in shops. I live in the midwest and I felt like the style I wanted was a little more forward than what I was able to get. I literally designed a line of things that I’d want! That is still how I design, I keep track throughout a season of things I wish I was seeing in stores but just wasn’t.
What made you finally take the leap from your corporate career to working for yourself?
I just couldn’t do both anymore. I was giving 100% to my corporate career and giving 100% to the blog and giving 10% to my product. I was overwhelmed, overextended and STILL wasn’t even giving an ounce of proper attention to my product. Something had to give. I knew that I could always go back and get another corporate career if the product didn’t work, but the reverse wasn’t true. If I didn’t take the chance in front of me to see if the product line had staying power, I’d never know.
What sorts of steps and strategy did you take to make this career change?
I worked in corporate as long as I humanly could. I worked nights, weekends, vacations, all.the.time to be sure I had enough money stashed away to fund the project and my living expenses. I also took on some freelancing roles for income during the transition. I still do those freelance projects solely to fund the dream.
What was the most important non-negotiable thing for you when designing your lifestyle and work life?
I cannot do anything less than my best work. I don’t put out a ton of new product, and this is why – it has to be my best, or it’s not worth the effort. I took a huge leap and basically cut my family finances in half by leaving my day job. If I don’t give 100% on every single project I do, then I’m taking advantage of the sacrifice my family has made for my dream. I wouldn’t be able to stomach that, so I look at every project with the go big or go home mentality.
What do you do to de-stress?
I actually kind of like being stressed out. If you’ve ever read Tim Ferriss’s book, The Four Hour Workweek, you’ll know that he separates dis-stress from eu-stress (bad, fight or flight stress vs good, adrenaline stress). I pretty much live every aspect of my life in some sort of self induced stress. I’ll put myself under crazy deadlines or challenges just because. Right now I’m trying to become fluent in Italian by the end of the year! It’s totally nuts, but I love that!
What’s your typical day like?
I get up around 7am, grab a cup of coffee and make my to-do list for the day and for the week. Then I open up email and do anything pressing or with a deadline before getting started on my daily work. At 4pm I workout with my husband and then come back and spend another 2 hours on finishing up tasks from the day.
I nominate certain days of the week for certain tasks – like Monday and Thursday I ship orders, Sunday and Tuesday I work on blog posts for the upcoming week, and Wednesday I work on shop admin, upcoming designs and wholesaler outreach! Friday mornings are usually reserved for coffee meetings, creative inspiration, and maybe an early happy hour!
What did you study in college and is there anything you would have done differently?
I was a biochemistry major and a nutrition minor. I thought that I wanted to be an OB/GYN but realized that my creative streak couldn’t be tamed, so I went into product development – first in a scientific field and later in a creative field.
If I could do it over again, I would have just gotten a general business education and also spent less money on college. I think college teaches you HOW to be a learner and HOW to be resourceful, but what you do with knowledge is less about the school and more about your goals and dreams and how much gumption you have.
Best piece of life advice to share?
Dare. Dare to be yourself, to do what you want, to make an impact, to realize the power of your dreams. Just dare, and don’t give two cents about what other people think about that.
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