We are thrilled to introduce you to one of our mama idols: Shea McGee, the founder and genius behind interior design firm Studio McGee. Shea has piloted the roller coaster of quick, colossal growth with flair and grace. As an example of their successful rise, in one short year their Instagram account @studiomcgee has grown to over 165K followers. If you follow her along there you know she is a master at beautifying nearly anything. She runs her company with her husband and is also a mother to two little girls (congtrats on your newborn!). We've been so impressed with Shea, and this write up is a goldmine of gems for all you small business mamas who are hustling. Lap up her hard-earned wisdom--we for sure did:) Congrats on all your work and achievements, and thank you again Shea.
Shop Shea's Navy Maxi mat here.
Tell us a background story about how and why Studio McGee got started?
A few years ago I decided that a career in Public Relations was not for me and signed up for a few interior design classes at the local community college. We were renovating our home at the time and friends and neighbors were always stopping by to see the transformation, so I knew I was onto something. I started consulting (aka giving free design advice) which quickly snowballed into a full-blown business out of our spare bedroom. During this time, we knew that my husband's contract would be ending soon and that he needed to find a new job or startup company to dive into. After months of stress and sleepless nights agonizing over our future, we realized that maybe, just maybe, his business experience and my creative vision would make a good team.
We made a very gutsy decision to sell our home in California and move to Utah for its business friendly environment and proximity to my family (hello, babysitters!). We poured our savings into starting the business and used the power of Instagram to grow our clientele. A year and a half later and we have 16 employees and projects all over the country. Syd runs the business and I head our design team. Oh, and we just had our second baby! Between our growing family and business, it’s safe to say we don't get much sleep.
What is your biggest source of inspiration behind your work?
I feel most inspired when I get outside and feel the sunshine and fresh air. There’s something about not being surrounded by things that really pushes my creativity into overdrive.
You've blown up in the last year! What do you think has been one key to your success and quick growth?
There is no secret…we work our buns off! But in all seriousness, I think one key to our success has been that we are constantly fine-tuning. We spend many hours assessing each facet of the business and brainstorming ways to improve everything from efficiency to creativity. Plus, when we started, we made a conscious decision to never turn away good projects and just figure out how to keep up with demand. This decision made for a grueling first year, but gave us great momentum.
What are some big hurdles you've overcome or a triumph you're most proud of?
Running a business is no joke and we have made a lot of sacrifices to make our dreams a reality. When we first told friends (and some family) that we were going to drop everything and launch Studio McGee, many raised their eyebrows and gave us a look that said good luck with that. I’m most proud of the fact that we’re just making it happen!
It seems like you and your husband Syd do a great job as a husband/wife team. Is there something in particular that contributes to your making the couple entrepreneur relationship work?
Of course working with your spouse can be challenging at times, but it is also really wonderful too. We are a team through and through. A good teammate communicates well and doesn’t hog the ball. You have to trust and rely on each other’s strengths to make it work – Syd never picks out tile and I don’t develop project management systems, but we still always have the same goals in mind.
What can you gather and gather and gather and still never have enough of?
I can never gather enough fresh flowers or laughter. How cheesy is that? Really cheesy, but it’s the truth.
Do you have any tips for those just starting up? Or the best piece of advice you could offer someone running a business?
The best piece of advice I can offer is to be open to learning from mistakes. If something goes wrong, don’t make an excuse – look at how you can become better and improve your business from that experience. I have a terrible fear of failure and this is not something that comes naturally to me, but it is by far the most valuable skill I have learned as an entrepreneur.
We all have gifts. You have a gift to gather ________? What would that be?
I like to think I have a gift for gathering beautiful things.
We had to ask it :), how do you balance chasing your dreams and caring for your sweet little Ivy and Wren?
If I’m being honest, I’m always searching for the answer to this myself! I love being home with my babies so much. I also really love our design business. I’ve cried to Syd many times about feeling overwhelmed by the juggle. It’s so hard when you want to do it all…and do it well. The flexibility that comes from owning our own business has allowed me to chase my dreams and still get lots of time with my kids. I have to be a master of multitasking and okay with working late nights after the babes go to sleep. The good news is that I love what I do, so work doesn’t really feel like work!
Get Shea's Navy Maxi mat here.