Today is a very exciting day here at IDCO as we got to chat with Shea McGee – the founder and creative director at Studio McGee. You can’t go anywhere on social media these days without seeing an image of the Salt Lake City based interior designer, and for very good reason.
I am a brand loyalist through and through, but there are a two companies in the world that I sing praises to anyone who will listen and McGee & Co. is one of them (you can read about the other one here).
As the new year kicked off, I created a list of the 5 most influential entrepreneurs in my business’ short lifetime that I’d love to talk to. I shot for the stars – and Shea McGee was #1 (and #2-4). Not surprisingly, Shea proved the epitome of grace quickly and kindly agreed.
Let’s just say, my admiration for Shea has officially extended beyond her professional accolades as she is as charming and gracious as she is brilliant and driven. Read on to find out what I asked her + browse my must-haves from McGee & Co. right now!
IN THE BEGINNING
What was your formal education or past career experience in? How do you translate that past experience into your current business?
My degree is in communications with emphasis in Public Relations. My degree and experience in that field has help tremendously in understanding how to market our business. I only went to a few semesters of design school, but have learned the most by working directly with clients!
When did you decide to join your industry? What it a master plan or a stroke of luck?
I always had an interest in design, but I’m not an artist and was scared away because of all the drawing involved. A few years after graduating, and a little encouragement from my husband, I decided to pursue what I was truly passionate about.
We really like the term “My New Normal” as business starts to take off + exciting things start happening. What was your most exciting “New Normal” or “Big Win” moment for Studio McGee?
It was a “Big Win” moment for me when people started trusting my design eye. Early in my career it was a real struggle to convince people to go with my ideas and I’m so grateful to now have a portfolio that speaks for itself. Clients come to our firm and trust that we will deliver a beautiful result.
Who was your biggest mentor + what single takeaway could you pass on to us?
To be honest, I haven’t had a mentor through this process which has been both exhausting and liberating because it has forced me to make my own path. I have had a great partner, Syd, as my husband and business partner. We bounce all of our ideas off of each other and lean on each others’ different strengths. There is not just one way to be successful in business. Having a business partner is not always in the cards, but find someone (business coach, friend, partner, parent) to share your experiences, triumphs, and struggles with.
NOW YOU’RE HERE!
Choose one or two platforms where you are actually the one writing the content. You will always sound the most like you! Write like you talk and people will always relate to that. However, you will be stretched too thin if you think you can write everything (trust me, I’ve tried it). Hire team members with excellent writing skills and an understanding of the brand vision – it will take some micromanaging and editing in the beginning, but they will catch on to your voice.
I’m not sure if it can be narrowed down to one specific thing, but I think consistency is a big part of it. Consistency in our voice, brand, storytelling, level of design, etc.
We can’t think of an interior design brand more influential on social media than you. How do you stay motivated to produce new work as your projects are shared so widely across the web?
Whoa. Thank you! I think that the fact that our images are so widely distributed plays a big part in the motivation (or pressure at times) to want to always push ourselves to the next level. As we create and make decisions daily, I am always asking, “Have we done this before? Are we pushing it enough? What can we do better?”
Ha! YouTube has been interesting because it has really added a different dimension to our business that can’t be shared through images. I don’t think that our YouTube channel has resulted in tons of new followers, but I think that it has created a stronger brand loyalty with our customers and our design clients have a better understanding of who they’re hiring.
Ashley Beyer from Tinge Floral is so great to collaborate with because I love and appreciate flowers so much. When she creates arrangements for our projects, it just takes everything to the next level.
Syd was obviously the first person I delegated things to when we first started out because it went from me working by myself to us running the business together. He took over everything non-design related so I could focus on what I do best. He did new business, accounting, and ordering. His role as CEO of the company has changed over time and now he manages all the teams to make sure the ship keeps sailing. Our very first hire was a design assistant and she helped me with everything – selections, drawings, client communication, etc. Her role has grown significantly over the last few years.
I would not change one thing and let me tell you why…it has not been perfect. We have made mistakes, we have had crappy things happen, and moments where we thought it would all fall apart. Those moments are where we have learned so much about ourselves and how to run a business. Instead of saying, “I quit,” we pull ourselves together, make tough decisions, and keep pressing forward!
Wake up, check email/social, get ready for the day, and then we all make breakfast together and hang out for a little bit before Syd and I go to the studio. We have 2 little girls and I have found that a schedule is the only way I can juggle work and motherhood.
Entrepreneur is a hot buzz word right now – but I don’t think that fits you. You’re a design mogul with two full-time brands. If you put a label on the brand of “Shea McGee”, what would that be?
Well, thank you! To me, our brand is all about beautiful design that feels fresh and livable.
BITS + BOBBLES
Gucci Loafers. They were my first ever splurge shoe and they have been worth every penny – comfortable enough to wear while installing and beautiful enough to wear to presentations.
Install Day Must Haves:
Scissors, furniture pads, tape measure, Diet Coke
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld
Weird angles in houses.
ANASTASIA’S MUST-HAVES FROM McGEE & CO.
We learned so much getting to hear from Shea – but most importantly I was given an invaluable lesson on grace. Shea McGee is obviously a very busy mom, wife, designer, manager and business owner. But she took the time to respond to my request for an interview quickly and efficiently. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that Shea always responds to her DMs on Instagram, every photo in her hashtag #smmakelifebeautiful is seen, and liked. Her commitment to engage with her community runs deep and it is felt widely.
As a growing business, we can’t stress the importance of engagement enough. And it’s not a one way street. You can read more about our thoughts on engagement on Instagram as a brand here. But take a lesson from Shea, encourage people to share your photos, engage with those that engage with you, and continue to push out new, original content.
To Shea – this moment meant the world to me. I’ll never forget the kindness + expertise you shared with me today. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. XO
The Identité Collective is a full service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help small businesses elevate their digital presence to become industry experts. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.