Most people start a blog as a hobby to share their recipes or projects with family and friends. For Emma Rae Thomas, the 27 year old Co-Founder and Creative Director of Deco & Grace, she set out to grow an empire. Thomas, has, in one short year, assembled a small team of digital mavens bent on releasing 18 Major Websites, 12 Apps, and multiple books all before they blow out the candles on their second Anniversary cake. Recently, we sat down with our busy founder to discuss the release of her Personal Site, her upcoming projects, and her vision for Deco & Grace.
For our readers who don’t know your background, please explain what your role is at our parent company Deco & Grace.
It is so strange to be on the other side of one of these interviews! Deco & Grace is a small company that focus on building stylish and modern lifestyle brands for the real world that emphasize our core values of social awareness, altruism and earth sustainable business practices.
As a Co-Founder of Deco & Grace, I tend to be the team work-a-holic. I start out on a project by examining the things I interact with in my everyday life and try to create ways to make them better, more efficient, and more user friendly.
I design all of the original concept art for our team, make a detailed description of the projects functionality, and organize the team along the way. As well as managing team productivity, all company social media accounts and marketing efforts and keep up to date on the newest and most effective techniques in S.E.O
D&G has so many new projects coming out in the upcoming year. What are some of your favorites.
While Each Project is unique and special, I’d have to say Vintage & Kind is my current favorite to work on. We’re literally building a community which will buy and sell vintage, second-hand, artisan, and upcycled home decor and furnishings from the ground up! It’s such a passion of mine to make sure that these perfectly good pieces don’t just get thrown in a landfill somewhere and being able to shape a socially responsible community, who loves decor as much as I do, is beyond anything I ever dreamed I’d be creating.
Additionally we’re coming out with a project this winter named LaceSidewalks that will be pretty amazing in the clothing space. You tell it what you’re looking for, and it not only tells you where to find it, it takes you to it! It’s very exciting!
You have so many irons in the fire. How do you find time to balance a healthy work/life balance?
Like most small business owners, including my co-founders, I’m always on call. If a server goes down, if a website glitches, if something’s wrong, I always have my hand in fixing it. I officially work 6 days a week for between 10-12 hours a day, but that can grow drastically if it’s a launch week or if there is a big event in the office.
I try to keep Sunday as a day of comfort and peace around our home. We tend to play board games, or make a day trip to the flea market in the city. It’s when we make our big fancy meals that take hours and catch up on the latest tv that the DVR recorded through out the week. It’s our little time to refresh who we are, so we can give everything we have throughout the rest of the week.
I love what I do, and I’m fortunate enough that most of my family and friends all work for D&G as well so when I’m working it feels like home. There have definitely been days where I’ve fallen asleep with my computer on my lap or woken up with an Ipad in my hand, but I treasure those days, for making me strong enough to direct the company to where it is today.
You’ve just released your new personal blog, Pretty as Pie. With your history of creating sites like Deco & Bloom, Vintage & Kind, and Vintage & Curvy, what can readers expect to see on your personal site that is different from your current projects?
As the Creative Director of Deco & Grace I am part of the small team that decides the original vision for any of our projects. From the font, the color scheme, and the layout, to the subject matter, blogging style, and advertisers, I have always, and will always have a major hand in every project that comes out of D&G, so those projects will always reflect part of who I am in their end form.
Those projects, however, have always been a team effort. Even if it is my original design and concept that initiates those sites, our team refines my drawings (bless their hearts!), uses their own judgement, and in the end, even though I make regular appearances as a blogger on most of our sites, the voice of each site’s community is much greater than just mine. Those sites bring experts to the table and let them share their experiences with the world.
Pretty as Pie, in contrast, is the Purest form of me. It’s based off of my experiences from my personal life. It provides an outlet where I can talk about my professional life and provide advice to young bloggers who are just starting out and then jump right in to telling a funny story about my day, sharing my favorite recipes, DIY projects, or fashion trends, and sitting down with my readers to discuss our book club.
It appears as though Pretty as Pie covers a very wide range of topics. Most blogs (including some of yours,) tend to find a niche and stick with it, what aided in your decision to serve such a broad audience of readers with this site?
It really came down to asking myself the question “What do I want to read on a blog?” As women we are so multifaceted, we’re beautiful, we’re strong, we’re nurturing, we’re successful, it just made sense to me to speak about all of the aspects of my world. Yes, real women cook amazing meals, but we also manage households, schedules, and Fortune 500 companies.
I love nothing more than to attend an enlightening church service on a Sunday morning, read a great business book on a Sunday afternoon, and then watch an episode of The Real Housewives with a glass of wine and a couple of friends on a Sunday evening. Our personalities are made up of such varied interests, hobbies, and preferences, I really feel that our entertainment should be written with those experiences in mind as well.
Visually, your site is very pink and feminine. What was your inspiration when it came time to design the layout for Pretty as Pie?
It’s actually kind of funny, in the same way that some children in large families will act vibrantly and become more extroverted to separate their individual identity from that of their other siblings, I now realize that I unintentionally did the same thing to Pretty as Pie!
I’ve designed so many websites that are notably “my style” that I wanted to re-imagine and reinvent what “my style” really means to me. I knew immediately that I wanted it to be feminine, stylish, and a lovely place for my readers to spend their time.
I am a very feminine person, but I also have all of these hard edged characteristics that come from running a company, and loving to get my hands dirty. I love the look of lace and leather paired together in fashion or a pretty floral arrangement sitting on an old worn antique wooden table in home decor so it’s only natural that I wanted to express that same dichotomy on my site. I wanted Pretty as Pie to overtly reflect my feminine side on first glance, and then really rock the hard edges with the articles and photography.
You’re incredibly vocal about the topic of being a very feminine woman in the male dominated world of business. How do you feel that being a woman has affected your overall perspective of business and the growth of your company?
As a child I always wanted to be a weird mix of Martha Stewart and Donald Trump circa 1990. My mother was handicapped and my father worked Construction, so I took care of the household, as best I could, from a very young age. Ironically, I think that extreme exposure to typical gender roles and the pressure that comes with them left me a little immune to the smaller gender stereotypes (like girls being bad at math, or not being physically strong) that other people tend to believe.
I have, however, noticed that people tend to be surprised when they see this short, curvy woman with a bow in her hair commanding a group of programmers with one hand and baking cookies with the other. There is this weird gender stereotype in which people take a woman in an ill-fitting, outdated pant suit more seriously in the business world than her well dressed friend. For men, however, a tailored suit and expensive watch is more indicative of a higher paying position. I’m not sure where we’ve gotten these ideas of what “business people” should look like, but I think it’s complete nonsense to judge anyone’s ability to work based on their ability to coordinate clothing, well, or otherwise.
What would you say to the people who are reading this article and thinking about starting a company of their own?
I’d say ‘please understand that it’s not all pink blogs, interviews, and creative decisions. Most of what I do, most of what any blogger or small business owner does is time consuming and incredibly detail oriented. It is a balancing act in the beginning to steal enough time away from your life or work to create the foundation for something big to be built on. There will be things you don’t know, things you can’t understand, and things you just don’t feel like doing. Don’t give up. It is a balancing act that I will never regret. I have grown as a person, discovered myself, and really understood what it means to be a strong woman because of my journey with Deco & Grace. If there is any part of you that feels called to do something bigger, even if it’s just grabbing a WordPress template and sharing stories about your day while maintaining your current job, it would be robbing yourself of the privilege of learning just who you could be if you don’t at least explore it.’
Thank you to Emma Rae Thomas for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to sit down with us today. To Visit her personal blog pretty as pie follow this link www.PrettyasPie.com and to visit the other projects mentioned in this article please follow the links accordingly. www.VintageandCurvy.com and www.DecoGrace.com. If You have a website, blog, or brand in the Home or Food spaces and feel that our audience would benefit from your story, apply to be apart of Behind the Brand here.