002. Designers Hiring Designers
I did it.
I hired help. Not just clerical help. Not just an assistant. Not even just an associate. A motherfucking Art Director. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. I didn’t ask for this role to be filled. Erin Thomas appeared like a persistent little angelic mosquito, if such thing exists. Buzzing with both ideas and tenacity.
No, really. She did that thing where she follows up with you through multiple avenues to make sure you can see and hear her. I wasn’t annoyed. I was impressed. She clearly had something to say; I was going to let her say it.
I gave her a test run: styling assistant for an interior design photoshoot in Los Angeles. Photographed by the wonderful and talented Monika Ottehenning, Erin’s job was to help me clean up and modernize each vignette. If we worked well together, maybe I’d hire her for the next one. If not, I never had to call her up again. It’s like dating…BUT LIKE WAY BETTER IF IT WORKS OUT.
It worked out. I would prep the rooms before Monika would set up and Erin would follow without hesitating to come f*ck my sh*t up in the most glorious way. The placement of a vase, the orientation of a chair, the elimination of pretty much every pillow. She did all the things I wanted to do, I just didn’t know I wanted to do them yet.
Years ago, I wouldn’t dream of someone else styling my shoots. I’m the designer after all, right? Well, I don’t need to get into the nuances of styling versus designing—but I will say that I was tired of laboring over every design choice in my business. That’s a guaranteed ticket to Burn Out-Ville. A place I have been to one too many times. Yes, if given ample time and resources I could design every part of my business to perfection, but I am not one with ample time and resources. I’m a woman with a singular desire to help people thrive in their personal environments.
But how did I end up with an Art Director? The more I shared my vision for Lex Lee with ET, the more I found that I wanted her to be a part of it—that kind of mutual inspiration, respect, and belief in what I was doing was rampant during every one of our meetings. Homegirl has an exquisite and obscure grasp of what pleases all of the senses: an old soul musical taste (we are working on her DJ name), sophisticated palette influenced by high-end French cuisine, tactile knowledge of fine fabrics for my clothing selections—and you all obviously know how I feel about her dominance in the realm of all things beautiful. (Yes, I left out smell. We live like a hundred miles away, I haven’t been able to form an opinion on smell yet.)
I’m a designer who hired another designer.
And I don’t feel an inch of guilt about it...other than the fact that I wish I could give her more. She gets to thrive in her element and I get to thrive in mine.
My point is: I’m a really smart person for hiring someone to make me look good, and I feel no guilt in admitting that I’m a designer who hired another designer. I take care of the client work, and she takes care of me. And soon, she will also take care of the client work because I belong on a yacht somewhere.
P.S. My suggestion for her DJ name is “ET PHONE HOUSE”. GET IT? Like HOUSE MUSIC???? Whatever, Erin, please edit this.
All photos by Monika Ottehenning.