podcast | Jun 10, 2024 |
From first date to first project in six months: The story of the Brownstone Boys

In 2017, Barry Bordelon and Jordan Slocum bought an 1890 Brooklyn brownstone together only six months after their first date. The two met on a dating app and talked for two weeks before meeting in person. On their second date, they discovered their mutual passion for design—Slocum’s professional background was in commercial design, and Bordelon’s was in real estate. “We took a bike ride throughout the entire borough, and that bike ride was a good three, four hours,” Slocum tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “I remember we spent about two hours talking about Brooklyn brownstones.”

After purchasing their home, they struggled to find answers to many of their pressing renovation questions, so they started a blog, The Brownstone Boys, where they could document what they learned on their renovation journey—the good, the bad and everything in between. What they thought would only be read by friends and family was quickly picked up by the popular blog Brownstoner, which simulcasted the couple’s channel, leading to a sudden influx of new readers. “It really motivated us to be very consistent with writing our blog,” says Bordelon. “I think we wrote a blog post a week for like two years straight, without ever missing a week.”

The couple, who have since grown their business to include brownstone renovation and design, have used social media, specifically Instagram, to not only share their work and attract clients—all of whom have come from social media—but also craft a brand that represents them truthfully, whether the algorithm approves or not. “I love a good photo, and I love seeing beautiful design work. What we should always be doing is just being authentic,” says Slocum. “When it’s starting to not feel authentic, maybe [it’s because] we’re trying to feed into the algorithm. Numbers for brand projects can matter, but for us, it’s more about authentic storytelling.”

Elsewhere in the episode, the couple talk about playing “good cop, bad cop” on job sites; what Sesame Street can teach us about brownstone renovations; what inspired their new book, For the Love of Renovating; and what they’re doing to stay sustainable.

Crucial insight: Over the past six years, the company has expanded to a team of seven—and the duo quickly discovered that overseeing employees brings a host of its own challenges, especially as they begin to take on more client work. “Now we have to manage them managing other projects of ours, and it’s been a huge learning curve,” says Slocum. “I don’t ever see us growing to the extent that we have so many employees that we can’t have that bond with our team members.”

Key quote: “We complement one another really well, and we work together really well. [The partnership] definitely has its moments, and it is challenging, but I really enjoy it,” says Bordelon. “It’s really special to be able to build a business with your partner, and I would prefer it that way, versus not having us together in the business. It’s really something unique.”

This episode is sponsored by Loloi. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

The Thursday Show

BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus and host Dennis Scully discuss the biggest news in the design industry, including another photo theft scandal, the rise of branded residences, and why designers are having second thoughts about e-commerce. Later, The Textile Eye editor Saana Baker joins the show to discuss trends and takeaways from the spring fabric fairs.

This episode is sponsored by Loloi. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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