On Being A Business AND A Human.

A topic of discussion was brought up yesterday within the comments section of my post and it’s something I have long wanted to write about, so I wanted to take some time today to address it and open a dialog about it as it weighs heavily on me and is an important topic to confront not only as a business person but also as a woman.

One of the most disheartening things to come out of my infrequent but passionate posts about human rights issues or topics that could be considered “politically charged” is the call from fellow women to “stay in my lane” and not post about anything political  and stick to only sharing “beautiful things”.  They tell me they only follow me to provide them with pretty images and advice on how to make their homes attractive and not to hear my opinion on anything outside of that.  Perhaps old business advice was to not partake in political discussion, and it may stand true for some more corporate entities, but I feel in this day and age, that advice is dusty and dated.  Some of the largest companies in the world have leaders that are sharing opinions and taking a stand on political issues, so I’m not sure why my tiny brand causes women (and it’s 99% of the time women who make these comments) to feel such vitriol that I do the same.

Women have long been told to “look pretty and be quiet” and these kinds of comments and requests not only are a call for censorship but thinly veiled sexism.  Yes, I am a business and now a brand name. And yes, what I do day in and day out IS create beautiful homes, products and share images that reflect that.  But I am also a person. A mother. A woman.  I am a human being who cares deeply and feels intensely.  While I make money from the decorative arts and my blog about those interests, my number one job is to be Henry’s mother and fight for what I believe in to create a safer, smarter, better world for him. If taking a stand against something I feel is morally hideous (our obsession with guns and the separation of families at our border, for example)upsets some people so much that they no longer want to follow me, fine.  Staying silent and ignoring the issue is just not an option for me, I’d rather lose a few followers and make a few less dollars than not be able to tell my child that I tried to contribute in some small way (using my platform) to help make his world better.  I also do not want to raise a son who thinks that women should just shut up and be pretty or be an example to young girls that we are only good for one thing. Quite the opposite.

When I come across a blog post or article I don’t agree with, I simply don’t read it or I read it in an attempt to understand their opinion, but I would never tell them they “couldn’t or shouldn’t” write about something that they feel strongly about. That is everyone’s right as a free American.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m NEVER going to read something by them ever again or support their business if they are producing things I like.  I know and am friends with people who voted for Trump, I have friends who own and like guns– that doesn’t mean I draw a hard and fast line and say “that’s it, you’re dead to me”.  People are such complicated and multi-layered creatures- to reduce someone to their opinion on one topic, or their job, is short-sighted and naive and in doing that we lose out on so much we all have to offer the world.

It’s hard to put yourself out in the public eye. It’s hard to be a business and a woman. It’s hard to consume the divisive messages and news constantly streaming before our eyes and ears every day and stay sane. Bottom line, this time in history is freaking HARD.  Let’s not make it harder. Let’s try to find a middle ground, that is where we are all most successful. Lets share information. Let’s execute our right to have an opinion AND also our right to disagree without hurting each other. Let’s let people run businesses but also be human. Let’s have a little more empathy for the world, for others and for ourselves.

Love & Respect,

Erin

P.S. Tomorrow I’m back to fashion, so if you have any requests let me know! :)

 

 

 

#NEVERAGAIN

I always pause and give serious thought to writing about hot button issues on the blog.  General theory is that it’s “bad for your business or brand” to comment on anything politically charged. But today I  find the topic of gun violence in America neither political or something I’m willing to ignore for the sake of my brand.  I believe that the serious issue of senseless deaths in the country from mass shootings and gun violence isn’t political but rather a humanitarian issue of the highest order. Its about moral values and what we as a people treasure above all and are willing to sacrifice lives to protect.

And as of right now, apparently thats guns.

As someone who lives in a very liberal state with rather tough gun laws (check your state grade here), I have not been as directly affected as many of you. We have a ban on high capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons and require all gun purchasers to obtain a license. However, we do not impose a waiting period (arggghhhh!).   So thankfully these issues are not something I encounter every day.  If someone were to walk through my local Target with a gun slung over their shoulder- shit would hit the fan, even though you can open-carry with a license to do so.  Guns just are not a big part of our local culture here.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to sit back and be quiet.  It doesn’t mean I’m not scared shitless to send my sweet boy off to pre-school next year.  Just look at Connecticut which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and the unfathomable Sandy Hook tragedy that occurred there. State laws are a good start, but they do not solve this problem.

I cannot look at the pictures of those sweet children’s faces and not picture my own child’s among them. And the shooting in Florida is a reminder that we did nothing about it then, and so here we are again.  And next time it could be Henry.  And that sinking feeling of dread and fear makes me want to go flip dumpsters in the parking lot in rage. For these kids. Their parents. And every other person or relative of a person killed in the over 150 mass shootings we’ve had in this country  (400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook alone!) I mean, the CPSC banned LAWN DARTS after three children were killed and a few more injured from playing with them. LAWN DARTS YOU GUYS.  And yet with guns, we can’t come to a unanimous decision that we need to do something.  It’s pathetic.

I’ve been vocal about this topic on Instagram and Facebook and have heard a variety of arguments against gun control reform.  I am not someone calling for a complete 180 on our gun laws. I’m not advocating “taking all your guns away”.  With proper background checks, waiting periods, licensing requirements and common sense Red Flag Laws, I think its possible to responsibly own  a handgun or shotgun for self-defense or hunting.  I, however, think that all semi-automatic guns and/or at least high capacity magazines used with guns like the AR-15, should be banned.  There is no reason a civilian needs access to this grade of weapon. NO NEED.  And I’ve heard and read so many arguments against this practical, life-saving concept that really make my blood boil. For example:

The Second Amendment gives me the right to bear arms.

When the second amendment was written there weren’t semi-automatic weapons and America didn’t extend past the Mississippi River (and also the “frontier” was basically lawless so you HAD to defend yourself- as well as hunt for food).  It was legal to own slaves in some states and women couldn’t vote. THINGS HAVE CHANGED, PEOPLE.    The evolution of society and it’s technology require us to adapt our laws to reflect the modern day issues.  This is why Constitutional Amendments have been passed.  Other countries have changed their laws on guns after far fewer mass killings and rampant violence and IT’S PROVEN TO WORK.  The evidence lies in the numbers, which CANNOT be disputed.

Crazy People Kill People, Not Guns

Women suffer from mental health issue just as much as men, so why aren’t there a bunch of female mass shooters too?   And mental illness is just as present in other countries, so why are their numbers not as hideous as ours? Oh right– gun control laws.  Don’t get me wrong, mental health absolutely plays a part in this, we do not do enough as a country to support those that are suffering through proper health care (even if you have it, usually the coverage is basic and short lived).  But lets stop the gushing artery bleed before we address the cancer.  Mental health reform will take much longer and is much more complicated a task. Lets start by taking the really crazy weapons out of the hands of the ill.  Then lets try to help them get better.  You don’t give a toddler a knife and then slowly start teaching it how to use it, because in the meantime they will hurt themselves and others. DUH.

But Cars Can Be Used To Kill People And We Don’t Ban Them

This one really makes me want to scream.  Cars have other purposes than killing people. Transportation for one. An AR-15 has one purpose- to take as many lives as possible as efficiently as possible.  You can’t ride an AR-15 to work. It’s not going to teach your kids how to read.  Never mind the fact that cars are regulated better than guns!  I mean, you can’t just choose a military tank as your family vehicle because you think its cool.  Those kind of vehicles are to be handled by trained professionals only– for a reason.  No one is saying that banning semi-automatics is going to end all killing- there is too much hate in this world for that- but it’s a start.  Sure, someone could drive a car into a crowd. Absolutely. But why not give them fewer options on how to murder groups of people? Why not TRY???  It’s like saying- well, we can’t cure all cancer so lets not cure ANY cancer. That’s just stupid.

Good Guys With Guns Stop Bad Guys With Guns

So we should just arm EVERYONE? We should be giving our sweet kindergarten teachers an apple and a Glock? Or spend zillions of dollars on armed guards for every public place? We don’t have that kind of money, and I certainly don’t want to live in a society where everyone has to carry a gun. It would basically bring us back to the Wild West.  And there are many instances where this argument holds about as much water as a sieve– Las Vegas for one (good lucky taking out a sniper), Orlando for another (if everyone had a gun in a dark, crowded nightclub can you even imagine how many more deaths there would be from confusion and terror?)

Bad Guys Will Get Access To Guns No Matter What Laws We Put in Place

I’m going to call bullshit on that one right off the bat.  Even if that were true, WHY NOT MAKE IT HARDER???  Why not make it really, really difficult to buy an AR-15 than have it take 5 minutes in your local Walmart? And no, you can’t use heroin or some other illegal drug as an example of laws not working properly.  They don’t offer heroin at Whole Foods, you can’t just waltz into Starbucks and order a latte with a side of meth.  There are a lot of deaths from illegal (and some legal) drugs, but at least we TRY.  We recognize the danger and make policy change based on evidence. So why not with guns?

Ok, now my heart is racing and I’m typing very violently.   I have reached a point where I have to say something and do something.  And I would call on other people with a platform, large or small, to do the same.  It’s time.  We are failing our children as adults. We are not protecting them, and they are fed up with our inaction.  And in time, I do believe these changes will happen because those kids will age and become voters and politicians and will do it themselves.  But lets not wait for them to grow up and in the meantime suffer through countless more shootings. Lets do it for them and act like the responsible caring adults we know how to be.

Get involved- I signed up for Moms Demand Action locally and will volunteer my time and my money.  I’ve also donated to Everytown and Sandy Hook Promise.  It’s time to stop just talking about this and DO SOMETHING. It requires effort and time, which is hard, I know– but this is important. I don’t want Henry to grow up and ask me what I did to stop this and have to tell him “Oh,I wrote a blog post”. I will meet.  I will march. I will do whatever it takes. Even it all that effort results in just ONE person changing their stance on our gun laws.

Because I cannot and will not sit down and take it. I have to do something.

For my son. For everyone’s son.

 

With Respect,

Erin

Designers Who Yell at Their TV’s

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On Saturday I was enjoying a nice trip to the gym, working up a light sweat while half-heartedly pedaling away on the elliptical and watching HGTV, as I do every time I’m at the gym. I’ve probably seen every episode of Property Brothers, Love It or List it and Fixer Upper at least twice, and I always end up talking to the TV like it can hear me (in the privacy of my own home), with running commentary on tile choices (hideous), furniture staging (that rug is so stupidly small), property selection (LIST IT!!!  HOUSE #2 you big dummies!!!) and how much I love Chip Gaines.  But on Saturday I ended up actually yelling at the TV in public while watching Property Brothers because I forgot people could hear me and I was so annoyed by what I was seeing and hearing involving a renovation budget.

Totally unrealistic cost depictions are a chronic issue with HGTV shows, but this one was exceptionally bad and it made me so frustrated.  Jonathan and Drew were claiming that a full gut-to-the-studs kitchen renovation (new cabinets, counters, appliances, wiring, etc.- PLUS taking down two walls and putting down hardwood floors throughout  the whole first floor of a home) was going to cost a “whopping $18,000”.  Now, I know I live in an area of the country where home prices, and therefore renovations, cost way more than normal but this is absurd- the cost of labor, permits, dumpsters, the design they executed plus the products they used would have been easily $40-50k. Cabinets ALONE for a medium sized kitchen from a big box store like Home Depot would cost $6-8k easy (before installation costs!) Hardwood flooring for 1,000 square feet would be at least $6-7k for a $5 a square foot pre-finished product with installation. You can see that before we’ve even added in demo costs, appliances, lighting, plumbing fixtures we’ve almost hit their “budget”. These skewed numbers make my job as a designer so much harder.

Expectations set by clients based on these ridiculous “budgets” create disappointment and delusion.   And it does the design/ build industry a disservice to make viewers think that re-wiring an entire house’s electrical system (many days work for an electrician crew of 2 people) costs $2,000. That’s so far off it’s hilarious and probably has caused many a  electrician to curse when a client says “But on Fixer Upper that cost only $xxx…”  And as cute as Chip and Joanna are, when they say that adding a powder room to a house is $5,000 I can’t help but shake my head knowing that simply moving a toilet from one wall to another (which is a lot of plumbing work involving cutting joists) cost me that much ALONE in my own bathroom renovation! (On a side note: do you think Waco, TX has had like, a massive influx of people relocating there based on home costs on this show??)

Does this frustrate you guys too?  I still will watch the channel religiously because I love it, and Andrew and I have fun hotly debating the prices, choices and absurdity, but I can’t help but feel the budgets are getting more and more unrealistic (as all of reality TV is, I suppose!)

 

 

 

Why Is High Fashion So Ugly?

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(Like, what is this giant corduroy suit? No, really… it looks like she spent a debaucherous evening with a very large, kindly elderly gentleman who gave her this to wear for her walk of shame home.)

This weekend I was flipping through the Wall Street Journal’s fall fashion magazine, and as I have found myself doing lately whenever I browse high fashion spreads, I was left completely baffled and shaking my head.  Why is it that editorial fashion is so painfully ugly right now?  Of course, there are all sorts of people with various style desires, but I can’t help but feel that in the past year or two there is a prevalence of straight up hideous, ridiculous fashion on the runways and only a small percentage of wearable, beautiful looks.  Fashion can be art, and there are designers that are known for producing items strictly to be appreciated in that sense, but when mainstream designers start making things that just seem unwearable, and fashion magazines fill their pages with those looks, I feel frustrated!  I want to see things real people can wear- even if unattainable price-wise, the inspiration is the most important part and something we can all use to guide us in creating our own versions of those high fashion looks.  Flattering cuts, interesting patterns, colors, layers and textures, pretty dresses!  But this stuff below? No thank you.

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PSA: That is a Shirt, Not a Dress.

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Ok, this is my random thought for the week.  This has to be said, much like four or five years ago when we all had to band together as a gender and decide that “tights are not leggings” ( nice thong!) and “leggings are not pants”.  The 2015 version of this is “that shirtdress is a shirt, not a dress”.   Someone brought this up to me the other day when witnessing an otherwise pulled together woman strutting around in public in not only an insanely short shirtdress, but also a sheer one and was BAFFLED. I think I can safely say that  no woman ever wants a man to look at her and have his first thought be “Oh my God, she forgot to put her pants on this morning! Poor woman!”

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