In 2013, Lee Mayer moved from a small New York City rental apartment to a five bedroom home in Denver. Overwhelmed by all the furniture and decor choices to be made, and the challenge of creating a cohesive look, the new home sat empty for months. She was willing to hire an interior designer for help, but she couldn’t find someone who was a fit with her budget and she was left feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. She knew others had to be experiencing a similar problem.
Lee used her pain point as inspiration to launch Havenly, a virtual interior design company that can work within any budget, big or small. Customers eager for beautiful homes can pick a designer from the platform’s network or take an online style survey to be matched with the perfect designer. The humble beginnings of Lee’s startup have evolved into a dedicated team of over 100+ vetted interior designers who filter through 400 furnishing partners and millions of products.
In this episode, Monica talks with Lee about the importance of making mistakes and how to use them to your advantage. She also reveals how word of mouth referrals were crucial to the company’s early success and how team building has been Lee’s most difficult— yet favorite—part of building the business.
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“It was one of those moments where I’m like, ‘I’m willing to spend thousands of dollars right now if someone can tell me what to do’. Then I realized that enough people are similar to me, and that’s how [Havenly] came to be.” – Lee Mayer
“We probably spent that entire first year not knowing at all what we were doing.” – Lee Mayer