Continuing my series, delving into personalities in the interior world, today I have Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio on the blog. Down to earth and yet with a stellar career to date, this is a fascinating story where interior design meets blogging and social media.
If you want some serious interior inspiration, you only have to look at their website to see some of the projects they recently completed, all so very drool worthy and of course there are some amazing photos through this post, including their own home.
But it is more than that, this post aims to find out how they created such an admirable career for themselves, their highlights and how you go about securing work in this market.
Link to their website through the button below
2LG is an Interior Design Studio, based in South East London, founded by creative duo, Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead. They offer residential and commercial Interior design services, design consultancy services and styling services.
1. You've had an amazing career and your blog won an Amara award, so I'm interested in what got you started with Blogging and on Social Media, which came first and why? Did you get involved in interior design first?
The award was incredible because the blog had only been going for a year at that point and we were so shocked. There were a few happy tears that night. In terms of which came first it is not a simple answer. First came our interior design business, this has always been the impetus behind everything we do, but the digital/social side of what we do was part of our working life from the very beginning too. We started our instagram and twitter when we launched our business as a way to get our work out there and spread our ideas on what good design means and why we all deserve to live in great spaces. This then picked up a momentum all of its own and it got to the stage where people were asking us about our blog and we were like “we don't have a blog”. But I think our first website had a really approachable quality and our interior projects were presented almost like blogs, with breakout speech bubbles letting you into our process. Our Instagram feed too was like a micro blog following our design travels to Milan etc in the early days of us launching.
2.You mix your blogging and social with other jobs, what time is spent on each?
The core of our work is running our interior design business. This takes up 80% of our working week in reality. It is a full time job looking after our clients needs and seeing our various projects through to conclusion. We have 5-6 projects on the go at any one time. We also attend a lot of events and travel to design shows around the world (New York, Paris, Milan, Copenhagen) because we place a high value on seeing people in person, meeting designers, suppliers, bloggers and prospective clients. It's full on, but we love it (most of the time – everything has its challenges).
3. How do you juggle it all?
No Holidays! Although we are getting better this year at taking time off at weekends. We try to manage our time in specific chunks so that we can focus entirely on the job at hand. Our job requires lots of gear changes to get into different mindsets and so we have to make time to do this as effectively as possible. We also try to take each day as it comes so that we can feel fresh each day and not bring the baggage of yesterday with us, but just treat all the tasks as new for today. Working 'in' the business and working 'on' the business are just as important. Luckily we tag team on these different roles at different times. It can be very hard to get the balance but we are trying to refine this all the time.
4. Do you have any advice on growing a blog readership or Instagram following, what specifically should people look to do?
If you love it, then write about it. If it is niggling you, then write about it. If you feel like you've cracked something and want to share the process, write about it. Chances are, if you are passionate about it then other people will feel it too. That's how we approach it. And sometimes we put out content that is challenging and takes time to settle in, but you can't constantly look to the figures and try to hit home runs. Then it becomes about numbers rather than passion.
We try to be nimble and organic with our content too. We have long streams and short streams (all sounding a bit ghostbusters), but it's good to know that each week/month we have room to throw in a last minute thing that we have fallen in love with, but also have the long lead content that gives us targets and structure to our year ahead. This year we plan to do our kitchen renovation for example, so that will give us a long term stream of content, but around that we will have our ongoing design crush series of interviews that can fit in anyone who takes our fancy in the moment.
5. How did you get involved in the interior design side of your business?
When we got together (12 years ago eek!) we got really into doing up our first flat and then we started our own stall at Greenwich Craft Market, designing and selling our own home accessories, applique cushions, bags, artwork, vintage pieces. We made and sourced everything ourselves. We taught ourselves to screen print and hired a studio space in Bermondsey to print our own cushions and bags and tea towels. They were all animal silhouettes (lots of Dachshund designs). We then got asked off the back of the stall to design two suites in a boutique hotel in Kent. It went well and the owner asked us to design the rest of the 20 bedrooms and the reception area, bar and restaurant. It turned into an 18 month project. All this time we were still working as actors (our first career). I was doing 8 shows a week in the west end in Chicago the musical and Jordan was doing lots of tv adverts and plays. We then sold our flat and bought our first house together and did a complete renovation and by this time we had caught the bug and decided to focus all our attention on design. My contract with Chicago ended and we both called our acting agents and told them that we were no longer acting. It was a scary moment but we took a leap of faith. At this point a friend of our at the BBC said there was a new interiors show coming and they wanted us to audition for it so we did. It turned out to be the Great Interior Design Challenge and after the success of reaching the final of that series we felt the time was right to launch our business. So here we are.
6.. What Brands have you worked with? Did you seek to monetise your blog or has it been serendipitous?
We have worked with Ligne Roset, Nest.co.uk, La Redoute, Victoria and Albert Baths, Brintons Carpets amongst many others. And that is not to sound boastful, (hopefully not) but we are very proud of the relationships we have made. Some of those relationships have taken 5 years to grow. It it almost always comes down to personal connection.
We have worked hard to make our content authentic to our interior design work and our own home. The designs in our portfolio have caught the attention of brands and they approach us, as you say in a serendipitous way. We haven't thought of it like that but we like it. A few years back we actually went to Sri Lanka on a working holiday (sourcing antique furniture for a client) and that s the Island of Serendipity. Such a beautiful place. Content did in fact come out of that and we wrote about Tropical Maximalism and the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa. That was not sponsored content, but then it lead to an article for a magazine so it all leads somewhere.
We don't chase sponsored content. It took years before we started getting approached and now we try to only work with brands that we have a genuine affinity with and that we would genuinely use in our interiors or our own home. The passion posts are just as important and valuable to our business as any sponsored posts. Our content feeds our interior design business and vice versa.
7. If someone was looking to make money this way, without giving away all your trade secrets, do you have any advice for them?
Nurture relationships. Get out and meet people. Write about things you truly love. Over deliver. It pays off in the end (we hope).
8. What do you find the hardest and the most rewarding?
The hardest thing is the long hours and never being able to truly switch off. There is also a moment in every project that the client gets nervous and things start changing and you have to dig deep to hold the course and keep the focus for the finish line. We love designing. Those first stages of a project are so exciting and then the final styling/shoot day is always total joy because it comes together and your can really bring that look you had in your heads into reality. Some of our projects have been big builds, working along side architects, and some of our product designs too have taken up to 2 years to complete, so when you get to the finish line and see something you created in print or being shared on insta, or pinned on pinterest, it is so amazing. We have been ripped off a few times and had content taken by other blogs with no credits to us too. That can be upsetting because you put so much time and money and effort into creating a finished project. We always try our best to credit people and brands we have worked with so that they benefit from it too.
9. Have you done anything different or new in the last year to increase your social/blog following or are you spending more time on interior design?
In all honesty, we have never done anything different really since the first day we started instagraming and tweeting. Yes we have a blog now, and we are LOVING that. But we have always tried to just put out the things that we love. The moment we stop feeling that, I think we will stop. But right now we still love what we do. We are doing more design collaborations than we used to in the very beginning I suppose. We have a second wallpaper collection with Graham and Brown coming out this year and we may even have a furniture collection coming too, watch out for it. We love working on this side of our business.
10. How do you grow your blog readership and most importantly keep people coming back?
Magic. Ha ha, I honestly don't know and try not to think about it. We just do what feels right for us. I hope the content is strong enough to keep people coming back. We are lucky that our interior clients give us a great insight into what people struggle with, and what would help them so we are trying to help with that on our blog. Also, the Design House (our own victorian renovation project) is an ongoing thread that people can follow as we design each new space. That's been a great journey and if you click the design house filter on our blog, you can follow all the different before and after stages. It's not even half finished but we are loving doing it up. It's a chance for us to play and express our personal style.
11. how have you grown the interior design side of your business?
Again...magic? We really don't know the answer to this. We do put a huge amount of time and effort into photo shoots of all our projects and try hard to get them out there. It is a lot of work but if your shoot and efforts to get a project some press yield a handful of really strong clients that might be year long projects, then it has all been worth it. They say you have to speculate to accumulate and we have done more than our fair share of speculating. Photo shoots cost a lot, but we live in a digital age where images are assets and so it's important to record your successes for your portfolio.
12. What has been your biggest or favourite milestone?
Our Pink bathroom was such a surprise for us. We designed it over two years ago and when we finally got to share it with our followers it went crazy and has now been in Casa Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Living Etc....
We were blown away by the response and cannot wait to share our kitchen (if we can ever get our contractors to finish our clients projects and do ours).
Recently, our waterloo project was featured in Elle Decoration too. This was such an amazing moment for us as when we first got together we used to dream of getting in Elle Deco and for that to have finally happened really means a huge amount to us.
The Girl with The Green Sofa