Prepare yourself for some major throw pillow inspiration! We’re stepping inside the home of Elsie Home Founder, Lauren Meichtry—and as you can imagine, this pillow designer’s home is filled to the brim with combos that’ll have you re-styling your couches, beds, benches, and even dining nooks. The sweet story of how Lauren got her start is worth a read alone, and trust me when I say her entrepreneurial drive is infectious if you’re a business owner yourself. We sat down with her to talk about all things biz, motherhood, life, and everything in between. Take a scroll below to read it all between the layers of beautiful imagery by Public 311 Design.
Tell us a bit about the inception of Elsie Home? How and when did you become a pillow designer?
Six years ago, when my husband’s grandmother Elsie was moving out of her home and into an assisted living, I was gifted her vintage sewing machine. I didn’t know it at the time, but this gift would ignite a passion in me and would ultimately help me create this business. I had no background in design and I didn’t know how to sew, but that wasn’t going to stop me. With the help of a close friend and countless YouTube videos, I learned how to sew and made my first pillow. I guess it should have been a sign that the first thing I was interested in making was a pillow. I spent the next 5 years raising my two young children. It wasn’t until early 2019 when a close friend of mine asked me if being a stay at home mom was enough for me. She asked if I was fulfilled. When I was honest with myself, I realized I wanted more. Once I had that thought in my mind, I knew it was time to take action. Within weeks, I had ordered fabric and began sewing pillows. I made the first 75 on my own and launched Elsie Home in October 2019, named after Grandma Elsie.
What did you do before starting your own business? How did your previous career path help shape what you do now?
I worked in finance right out of college. How I landed that job is beyond me because my brain is much more creatively focused, and I would not consider myself a numbers person. A big part of my job was cold calling CFOs and while it was a painful process, it helped me build confidence and taught me perseverance. I might get 200 rejections in a day but that one yes was all I needed. Looking back, that lesson prepared me for running my own business. From finance, I moved into legal marketing. My job was to market our legal services to the public. What did I learn? If I can sell eminent domain services, I can literally sell anything. Marketing beautiful pillows is a million times easier than marketing legal services. My last job before having my daughter was with lululemon athletica. I absolutely loved learning about the different fabrics they used, how they performed, and the feeling they provoked. Beyond that, lululemon valued goal setting and really instilled in me the importance of creating a vision for my life and taking the necessary steps to achieve that vision. I learned that my life is in my control and if I want something, I can make it happen. That lesson was invaluable and played a big part in my decision to launch Elsie Home.
I learned that my life is in my control and if I want something, I can make it happen.
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?
Funny question because I don’t drink! I’m more of a mocktail. I like practical design, transitional decor with a hint of vintage. I’d have to go with a drink that won’t make you regret your decision making the following day and one that appeals to a large population of people. Am I a Shirley Temple?! I just might be.
Can you tell us a bit about your beautiful home that we’re featuring today?
We moved from a Coastal style home in Palos Verdes to this Mediterranean style home in Manhattan Beach just over two years ago. I always envisioned myself in a modern farmhouse with an abundance of natural light, bright white walls, and white oak cabinetry. This house was not that. Not even close. Redesigning this house really helped me flex my design muscles and branch out of the style I was comfortable with. Now I can’t imagine living in the modern farmhouse of my previous dreams because I’ve fallen in love with this house so much! I fell in love with the arches, the high ceilings, and the slightly moody aesthetic. My favorite spot in the house is the front entry room. It’s the room I loved from the first time I saw the house. This home is a happy home. It was designed to fit our lifestyle and we stayed true to who we are and what works for our family, which has really made it feel like home and not just an Instagram-worthy space.
What does your morning ritual look like? What are a few things you do to set the tone before you begin a busy day at Elsie Home?
I love starting my morning with a walk on the Strand with a girlfriend. Running a business on your own can be pretty isolating at times and I don’t make time to exercise if I don’t do it first thing in the morning. Getting the day started with fresh ocean air and great conversation really helps set the tone for a great day. I also try to get all of my social media work done first thing so I can focus on other aspects of my business.
What does your pillow design process look like exactly? Tell us about how these gems are all-natural?
Initially, I planned to release new pillows every 4-6 weeks. I liked the idea of offering new options at a regular cadence. As I began doing that though, I noticed I wasn’t always inspired and sometimes my choices felt a bit forced. Much like how I casually entered the design world, I like my pillow design process to feel natural. I usually start by gathering a fairly large selection of swatches. How I acquire them looks a bit different than it did pre-Covid, but the end result is the same. I play with about 30 swatches and start creating pairings. This process can take 1-2 weeks sometimes. I have to walk away from the table many times, eliminating prints as I go, before I come up with what will ultimately be our next collection of pillows. I consider upcoming seasons, colors/trends in the design world and look back at what has done well in the past. I also look to offer prints and colors that will pair nicely with the other pillows in our inventory. My process is very instinctual. Any time I have tried to design for what I think other people will like vs. what I think will work, I’ve come up short. Another important factor for me is the material. I prefer to work with linen and other natural fibers. Call me granola but I don’t love the idea of lounging on fabric filled with chemicals or toxic materials. Linen also has the lowest environmental impact of most textiles, giving it another leg up.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back and tell yourself in your first few months of business?
Don’t doubt yourself. There’s no reason why you can’t do this. Don’t worry about your competition. There is room for everyone.
What are three of your favorite pillow designs for fall?
Our new Sherpa pillows from our Aliso Giese Interiors x Elsie Home collection are definitely two of my favorites. The texture and color (winter white and moss green) really stand out from the rest of what we offer. Basque is another beautiful option for fall. I love that these three read very “fall” yet are versatile enough to use year-round.
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?
Having my kids home all the time has been a big adjustment. Pre-Covid, my kids were in school from 8 am to 4 pm. Overnight, I had two little helpers with me 24/7. I also had to learn to let go of some timelines and accept that things might be done exactly when I needed them to be. Ultimately, I’ve been able to keep my business moving forward and have actually formed deeper connections with my vendors through it all. I stay up a lot later these days and work a lot at night, but such is life with a new business!
Can you share a few Instagram accounts right now that are fueling your creativity?
@auslandinteriors @aefinteriors @chrislovesjulia @whittneyparkinson