Mindy Gayer is a southern California designer on a mission: to infuse fresh, casual beauty into every home she (and her incredible team) step into. The Corona del Mar property we’re touring today illustrates that design aesthetic and with nearly 70 images from Vanessa Lentine, each room feels more serene than the next. We sat down with the designer for an interview you’ll want to make a priority this week—it’s a really, really good one.
Take us back to the start—how was Mindy Gayer Design Co. born?
I was born and raised in Orange County (in sunny Southern California!) where my mom always kept a beautiful, cozy, and comfortable home. I started working in the interior design realm in 2011, and I’ve had my own design studio open since 2014. Our focus as a design firm is working on full home remodels and new builds, and the majority of our projects are on the coastline here in Southern California and in Northern California. It’s a dream job, truly!
You and I both have a common career path, including professions in stationery & letterpress! How did your previous work help shape what you do now?
Yes! Before starting MGD, I owned a letterpress stationery store. My love of beautiful products, thoughtful details around the shoppe, working with clients on custom projects, and styling definitely made an impression, and led me to founding my own interior design studio a few years later where I now get to focus on many of the same things. It also taught me a lot about owning my own business and what was important to me.
A few words that describe your design aesthetic:
Collected, casual, and wonderfully curated.
This fresh Corona del Mar home we’re showcasing today is incredibly serene. Can you give us a look into the details of this project?
This home is situated in Corona del Mar, California and was completely re-imagined from the bottom up. Every nook and cranny of the house was reimagined over the course of a year and half, making it the most special place for our client to call home. The homeowner is a lover of all things laidback and pretty, and so we worked to incorporate both feminine and effortless details throughout to make it as warm and inviting as possible. We used a neutral palette for most of the finishes and decor and incorporated hints of blush as a primary accent color throughout the various spaces. Our client loves pink, and we wanted the home to feel timeless and feminine at the same time.
Tell us about your team! When did you begin hiring and do you have any tips for those out there who are thinking of expanding their team?
I truly have the best team! The MGD team is like family, and we honestly could not do what we do without everyone’s individual contributions. The best advice I have is to take your time when growing your team. I worked solo for the first two years of opening my studio, and did my best to try and do it all, to realize I can’t do it all lol. My first hire was a part-time design assistant, as well as a part-time designer who could help focus on all of the CAD work our projects needed most. Part-time team members allowed me to get my feet wet as a true employer, and slowly understand what the business needed most in terms of skill set, expertise, and all around industry savvy.
Hire the best people you can find who will add to your team both personally and professionally, and who have clearly defined gifts that allow them to contribute uniquely. It makes for the most well-rounded team to work alongside everyday!
Tell us about how you begin your days in Southern California. What sets your soul right before you begin a busy day at MGD Co.?
Living in coastal southern California, it’s pretty hard not to have a happy lil’ sunny morning before the day starts around here. Because I tend to stay up way too late (I find I’m most creative and productive at night), I’m a slow riser, and love to take my time in the morning getting ready for the day – always making time for my AM skincare ritual right alongside checking my emails, peeking at my calendar to remind myself of what’s on tap for the day, and almost always grabbing an iced tea from our local breakfast spot before heading to a job site or office meeting. On days I get up a little earlier, I love to soak up the morning views on a walk around Balboa Island, where we are lucky enough to call home.
What does a well-lived home mean to you?
To me, a well-lived home is one that is equal parts comfortable and collected. A place that you want to spend endless hours in and one that’s a gift for others to be invited into. Being at home is an experience, both for those who live there and for those who visit. Home should embody a sense of rest and playfulness, peace and a life fully lived. My passion is in creating homes that evoke both of those spectrums.
Let’s go back to your first few months of business—what would your current self tell that early entrepreneur?
I would tell myself that it’s okay to start simple and small, and not have all the answers — sometimes the best things are slowly grown with intention, and not everything can be an overnight success. There’s beauty in showing up to something day after day, year after year, and seeing what grows from there; trusting the process of hard work and diligence and having fun along the way.
Are there any timeless design elements you’re looking forward to using in your upcoming projects?
In my eyes, good design is found in all the little details. Custom millwork is a detail that we really love incorporating to add textural interest to a lot of our projects. It adds a classic charm that never goes out of style, and can be applied in so many different ways. We’re looking forward to finding new, creative ways to use it in upcoming projects.
Do you have any favorite podcasts, books, or resources that you’ve discovered lately?
It’s such an important year to fill our minds and souls with positive, uplifting, and hopeful things. Here’s a few that me and my team have loved recently:
Brene Brown: Unlocking Us Podcast – Brene has conversations that center on the idea that all of us are human, which can be so powerful in bringing people together.
On Being – I love this podcast because it again focuses on how important each of us can be during this lifetime. Brene just brings it—every single time. I’ll never forget the first time I heard her speak—she has a way of expressing the things that matter most, in the most direct and compassionate way. She’s a must-listen.
Another podcast I really love (and listen to on just about every walk) is Second Life. It’s the best interview series, and features women who are so inspirational to me as they share everything about their businesses, their experience getting to where they are today, and so many little nuggets of wisdom.
What changes have you experienced with running a business during this pandemic and how have you shifted your process to adapt to this new norm?
It’s been a learning experience to adapt over the past year and not completely panic when the world seemingly turned upside down for small businesses in particular, but I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the last year is to embrace flexibility. That encompasses flexibility with our projects, deadlines, plans to grow the business and our team, some of my dreams to step into big opportunities, and also flexibility within day to day life navigating running a business and managing a team remotely.
The past year has allowed me to focus on what’s most important to me personally (as newlyweds—we just got married in September!), and as a business. As simple as it sounds, embracing flexibility during this time helps ease the stress that naturally seeps in and wants to take over in the driver’s seat. I’m grateful we’ve all been learning how to embrace life differently this past year because I think it’s given us all a lot more grace to and for one another.
Three Instagram accounts that you’re addicted to right now:
@willowcrosleycreates – I could watch her make floral arrangements all day long. She’s a breath of fresh air, with a charming British demeanor to boot!
@the_foxalow – I love cyd’s style, love following along with the reno of her 1924 bungalow
@velvetandlinen – In another life, I live in this picture postcard setting and tend to this darling menagerie of farm animals and the like. I love their designs, architecture and a peek into their daily life around their home and property.
The Haven Workshop is an intimate, three-day learning experience for interior designers who are looking to up-level their business and build a successful brand.