Most of you reading this are doing so because I asked you to in one way or another. Maybe you found me on Instagram where I begged you to subscribe to my newsletter. Maybe you heard me on a podcast. Maybe something you clicked on from Pinterest linked to something else that linked to something that brought you here. WHO KNOWS??? But I figured I’d chat about why I decided to start a Substack when I already have multiple online outlets (mostly my Instagram feed and personal blog).
I began blogging pretty much the second I moved to LA in 2007. I was right out of school and Perez Hilton was a huge thing - blogging had become a business. I think part of me probably wanted to recreate his viral success. Another part of me has just always had a thing about communicating. I’m not a particularly outgoing person, but for some reason I’ve always had a strong desire to tell my story and to have it understood. I think some people just have this impulse, despite being shy in other ways. And throughout my career writing has just always been something I have gone back to. When I was in high school I read “The Andy Warhol Diaries” and ever since I’ve had a diary of some sorts. Writing down my ideas and thoughts has helped me categorize and understand them. But I’m also hoping that in writing them down, I also allow people to access their own stories if they see themselves in what I write.
My intention with creating a Substack is to get back to the kind of writing I enjoyed doing when I was new to LA. Blogging, content creation, and social media have changed so much since 2007. And I miss the simplicity of blogging’s early days. Blogs used to basically be just diaries. Like “hey look what I found” [a design photo from the internet] or “guess what happened?” [some random anecdote about life]. Bloggers would find whatever photos we felt like posting, chat about whatever we felt like chatting about, and call it a day. It was a much simpler time (though I will admit the content pales in comparison to the quality we see today).
In the years since I started writing online, the whole ecosystem has changed. Now I’m known mainly as an interior designer and successful interiors-focused blogs are essentially magazines now. Creating interior design content is expensive, time consuming, and oftentimes incredibly taxing. First, you have to design and facilitate some sort of notable home makeover. Second, you have to pay a photographer to shoot the space and edit the photos. Then you have to resize the photos, upload them, and then link EVERY SINGLE ITEM visible (an often impossible task given it’s hard to remember where most things came from by the time of the photo shoot).
I love sharing interior design content because it’s inspiring to people, relatable, and fun. But since my interior design career took off, I’ve always seen interiors as a sort of conduit to talk about what I actually want to talk about: human life.
My career has meandered quite a bit (I’m sure I’ll write about this more extensively at some point). I went after so many opportunities that eluded me. I had so many doors shut in my face. And while I’d been designing rooms since I was a little kid, I never really thought about being an interior designer until it found me. I will continue designing spaces until I die - it’s just an innate part of my personality. But my online and TV “design expert” persona is only a small part of what constitutes who I actually am.
I’m starting a Substack because I want the freedom to write and share ideas without having to produce an entire home makeover to do so. I’m also hoping that over time I can make my way out of the sponsorship-backed kind of work I’ve been doing for most of my career. Basically, I’m trying to stop being an “influencer.”
When I was growing up, influencers (or content creators, whatever you want to call us) weren’t a thing. I could never have known that Instagram would become an economy of people monetizing their identities to get by. And while I’ve been so thankful to have the audience I have, I’ve also felt at times that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be because it would be “off brand.” I’ve gotten the “stick to designing” comment so many times, which is frustrating because I see myself as a thoughtful person who has opinions on a lot of things completely unrelated to design. I spent too much time and energy on my studies to be told I’m not allowed to have opinions about things.
As someone who’s always struggled with Imposter Syndrome, it took me a while to get to a place where I felt that I was worthy of having a Substack. It seems like every time a content creator tries a new avenue these days, they get a lot of feedback about it and it’s usually negative. The whole energy around podcasts in the past few years has been “Oh, SHE has a podcast now? Everyone has a podcast.” Why are so many people going out there making Substacks and Podcasts? Probably because the opportunities that existed for writers and other creatives thirty years ago are dwindling. Writing for a magazine wasn’t even an option when I got out of college almost twenty years ago - the industry was already failing and entry-level jobs were for trust fund kids.
I’ve been lucky to partner with brands I love on my Instagram and for a few years on my blog, Hommemaker. I created Hommemaker after shooting “Secrets from a Stylist” with Emily Henderson in 2010. It was, for its time, a relatively successful blog. But my career took me elsewhere. First to a job as a creative director at a startup, then as an author, then as a TV host. It’s been years since I’ve had bandwidth to write on a regular basis and quite honestly it’s been such a detriment to my sense of creative fulfillment.
A few months back, I began writing about my cabin, Londo Lodge, on my friend Emily Henderson’s site and it reminded me of just how much I love this type of writing. I have this desire to communicate. Maybe because it makes me feel more connected to other people. So what I’m hoping to do here is chat with you about life. And while part of me thought it was a little pompous to be like COME READ (and maybe pay for?) MY SUBSTACK, I think we are better when we tell each other our stories. And when we listen.
In that spirit, I’d love to know if there’s anything you’d love an outside perspective on. Are there topics you’d be interested in hearing my particular perspective on? Growing up gay in a national park? Body image? My hatred of Family Style dining experiences? Why I hate LA drivers so much?
FOLLOW ALONG WHY DON’T YOU AND SEE WHAT I COME UP WITH!
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I don't begrudge people trying to make a living as Influencers or what have you but Instagram is over-saturated with them and quite honestly, I don't need any more home decor items! I get disappointed when an IG story is a sponsored ad and not just something cute that someone's cat or dog or goats or chickens are doing. So yes, please stop making me redecorate rooms in my house and give me something else to think about, like the cute things that your dog does!
Please write about your hatred of family style dining experiences!! Write about your family’s dining experiences. What you like to cook, if you do like to cook or even if it’s just one dish and why. The best meal you ever ate, if you can remember. The worst. Where you are with food rn, given your genetics, where your body wants to go. You can always write about table settings. But wait, you hate family style dining so we won’t make you do this. I’ve always enjoyed reading what you write, even more than the interior design part of you (my style is different) So glad you’re doing this. xx Deb