Laurel and Wolf is leading an interior design/decoration revolution that is destined to bring professional living and work spaces to the masses. Their business concept is flawless because it is steeped in the desire to bring happiness to the unserved, underserved as well as the savvy go-getters who understand that living and working in beautiful and functional spaces adds to our being. Small spaces, large spaces, on a budget, don’t know what budget means – No Problem – Laurel and Wolf has you covered. There is a designer for everybody in Laurel and Wolf’s arsenal waiting to send a styleboard sure to satisfy every style and function.
We were super thrilled to connect with Laurel and Wolf’s energetic Founder and CEO, Leura Fine, who broke down the company’s model and ethos in great detail. We also want to give a special shot out to
Maytal Sharifi, Laurel and Wolf’s tireless Communications Director for making this happen.
See the interview below:
“We are determined to change the way the world thinks about the spaces that they live …”
How was the concept for Laurel and Wolf born?
As an interior designer myself, working with a variety of budgets and spaces, I saw that technology had drastically shifted the way people were approaching designing their homes and businesses. Pinterest and Houzz were often used for inspiration and e-commerce had made better looking products accessible to customers at a wide array of price-points but it still wasn’t solving the problem of putting it all together. Everything around interior design was moving into the future, except for design services. It also seemed crazy to me that I would meet people every day that desperately wanted and needed professional design help but couldn’t afford it or didn’t understand how to access interior designers. Meanwhile, almost every designer I know was looking for ways of building their own businesses. Other opaque and offline industries have successfully leveraged technology to move into the future so why shouldn’t interior design?
How does the service actually work?
First and foremost, we offer interior design services entirely online! Our talented interior designers from across the country leverage our proprietary easy to use platform which makes the Laurel & Wolf experience stand out from the crowd. Additionally, instead of paying per hour, as you would with a traditional interior design firm, you pay a onetime flat fee to receive designs and design expertise from our Laurel & Wolf designers. The best part? We know you’re going to love your final design which gives you everything you need to execute your dream design and we stand behind that promise with our 100% Money Back Guarantee on all design projects.
Here is how it works! After taking our fun style quiz and providing some information about your space (answering questions, uploading photos, etc.) you’ll launch your design project and begin receiving preliminary style boards, also called “First Looks,” from our designers. After all of your submissions are in (you’ll typically receive anywhere from 3-6 style boards) you’ll pick a winning designer. You’ll work one-on-one with your designer to complete the design for your space and at the end of the design period you’ll receive a Final Design Package which includes your final style board(s), floor plan, set up instructions and shopping list complete with links to all products.
We work with residential and commercial spaces and can do everything from suggesting new accessories for a bedroom to whole home design.
Directly below you can see the final product of Brooke Burke’s Condo – designed by Carisse Lynelle through Laurel and Wolf:
Your business model is very unique, what has been the response to it thus far?
The response has been truly amazing. Our customers commonly speak to how fun and easy our platform is to use. They love the results and we have seen a lot of growth come from word of mouth referrals! We have had all types of customers from all over the country and they come from diverse backgrounds as well. The majority of our customers have never worked with an interior designer and are able to do so because of our platform. Here is a great quote from a recent customer:
“Like many of my cohort, my fiancé and I recently bought our first home. Friends advised me that there would be nothing we would fight about more than deciding how to furnish it. I used L&W to design my living room. For a $299 flat fee, I was able to set my budget, answer a few questions, and in 36 hours received 6 different bids from certified interior designers. It was magic. We then chose the designer we liked best and after 7 days of online back-and-forth, had a fully designed living room, floor plan, and shopping list. The only bad part was that it was over as it was one of the most fun and engaging online experiences I’ve ever had. Eventually I hope to use this for every room in my home. And, no fighting at all as my fiancé enjoyed the process as much as I did! “
It seems you tapped the venture capital community for funding, why did you choose that route and how difficult was it to find like-minded investors?
In building a marketplace business you want to go out and grow as quickly as possible. Venture capital helps you do this not only from a capital perspective but also from the access and expertise they provide. We wanted to bring in smart former operators who had experiences building businesses to scale and who also had great connections that would aid in our growth endeavors. Given the many macro trends that led to building Laurel & Wolf, it was easy to translate the vision to investors.
Traditional interior design services, a $50B+ market in the US, require a lot of time and money, often still not resulting in satisfactory results for the <1% of people who can afford it. Historically only interior designers had access to premium inventory and it was a 1:1 relationship between designer and client. However, in the past few years furniture has outpaced all other categories to move online and today many major retailers already sell nearly 50% online. Search for a “leather couch” or “ikat rug” on Google, Pinterest, Houzz, or Wayfair and you will get hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of results. The number of options is now paralyzing to consumers and having an accessible expert to guide them is invaluable.
It also doesn’t hurt that design is a pain point that so many of our investors understand personally!
Could you describe Laurel and Wolf’s typical clientele?
We have a wide variety of customers and great national distribution but our typical customer designs one or two rooms at a time, is often part of a couple or a young family, and is looking to design a new home/office or upgrade an existing space. We have 70% female and 30% male customers. Our customers are quite design savvy, often having Pinterest boards and Houzz idea books for the designers to review. They adore the ease of use and flexibility that our platform provides especially because they are busy working professionals and families. However, we have decorated everything from a single living room to 15,000 sq. ft. commercial spaces! Laurel & Wolf’s platform actually allows for tremendous flexibility in the type of design work that can be done.
What company does Laurel and Wolf aspire to be like and where do you see your business in the next five years?
We plan on building Laurel & Wolf into a global brand. There is a huge market opportunity for us in North America as well as internationally. It is a massive undertaking but we feel well positioned to take on the challenge and are extremely excited about the future of the company. We are determined to change the way the world thinks about the spaces that they live and work in. It is time to democratize design and Laurel & Wolf is the company that will do it.
What is the biggest myth of interior design/decorating?
That something has to be expensive to be beautiful. It’s just simply not true. I’m constantly blown away at the amazing things our designers find for our customers!
What is the one simple thing everyone can do to spruce up their living space?
The devil is in the details! Small decorative accessories actually have massive impact. At Laurel & Wolf, we call this the designer touch. Literally, it can just mean incorporating some nice coffee table books and a candle or simply changing out your throw pillows. You’d be shocked at how adding a few decorative accents can drastically transform your space.
Apartments in big cities tend to be quite small; can interior decorators really help with notoriously small spaces?
Absolutely. We have effective and seemingly endless ideas on how to maximize small spaces. We even recently designed a 72 sq. ft. tiny house! Between incredible new products on the market and a savvy sense of space, a great designer can definitely help you get the most of your space.
How accessible are Laurel and Wolf’s services to individuals who may not necessarily be the richest people?
Our design packages are incredibly affordable! Everyone, regardless of their income, deserves to finish a long day of work and come home to a space they feel proud of, that is a reflection of their life and tastes, and that creates a sense of calm. We are all impacted by the design of our surroundings whether we are cognizant of it or not. Yet, interior design has remained inaccessible and unaffordable to more than 98% of Americans. There is no reason why great design can’t come from a budget. There are now beautiful affordable options out there that a talented designer can leverage to create stunning designs. I truly believe that the sign of a great designer is someone who can work from any budget. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of very expensive design and just because it’s expensive doesn’t always make it beautiful! Laurel & Wolf breaks down the doors and opens up a new market of interior design that not only makes sense for customers but also for designers.
Also, regardless of your budget, if you need to go out and spend money on furniture and fixtures, why not have a professional guide your purchases so you know that you are maximizing your budget and making choices that will work cohesively. So many people buy items one at a time and unfortunately often look around at the end of it all and wish they had made different decisions. Bad design choices are expensive mistakes!
See Louise Roe’s Study (styleboard and actual) designed by Samantha Peters via Laurel and Wolf:
If you had only three sentences to convince someone to give Laurel and Wolf’s services a shot, what would you say?
We are the fun, affordable, and easy way to decorate your home or business.
Why not let a professional guide the money you need to spend on furnishings anyways?
We give you the power of choice, guaranteed quality of work, and consistency in outcome.
Time to design the life you deserve! (ok that 4 sentences technically)
Below, another example of a styleboard and final look of Chriselle Lim’s Nursery designed by Lucinda Pace via Laurel and Wolf:
How can people learn more about Laurel and Wolf’s happenings?
See similar Features here …