There’s no doubt the design scenes in New York and Los Angeles are strong, and Memphis, Tennessee–based interior designer Sean Anderson used to worry that he needed to move to one of those coastal hubs in order to grow a successful business. Eventually, he realized that staying put in a quieter town was liberating. “I love the fact that I can sit back and create my own bubble,” Anderson tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “Maybe there’s some level of comfort [in not] feeling like I have to partake in all of these other things. Don’t get me wrong, no one loves a trip to New York and these glamorous events more than I do, but I can’t get lost in that.”
Anderson grew up in his own kind of bubble—on a 50-acre farm in Mississippi, attending school with the same 32 kids he’d known his whole life. He went to a local college, but dropped out and began pursuing a series of odd jobs, from bartender to janitor. Eventually, Anderson moved to Memphis to pursue a relationship, and it was there that he entered the world of design, redesigning a few rooms in his partner’s home. Soon, he’d land his first official client—a friend who gave him three days and $1,000 to design his workspace. Despite a crazy budget and timeline, the project was a hit: Elle Decor published it; shortly thereafter, Architectural Digest put another project of his online.
Today, Anderson has a team of five employees spread across the country in Chicago, New York and Miami. Hiring remote employees was a necessity born from the lack of local design resources, community and inspiration in Memphis. Although he was initially hesitant to become a long-distance manager, he finds that the challenges are outweighed by the benefits: Having staff based in major markets facilitates easy access to materials and reps, and hiring remotely means he can do so with a highly targeted mindset, creating a well-balanced and complete team. “We’re pulling people from different regions who are coming with a different breadth of knowledge, and the team in the end is stronger for that,” says Anderson. “Watching how successfully we have been able to navigate this thing, it is how I envision the team growing in the future.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, Anderson discusses his experience with The Expert, the importance of not getting hung up on comparison, and why seeking out a great photographer is the first thing young designers should do.
The Thursday Show
Meanwhile, on the latest episode of The Thursday Show, Scully and BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus break down the latest news in the design industry, from a greenwashing lawsuit to the debate over gray flooring. Later, the podcast takes a field trip to the 48th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House.
Homepage image: Sean Anderson | Courtesy of Sean Anderson Design