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Kelsey Brown Co-Founder & COO, Pepper Home
Why did you start Pepper Home?
My co-founder, Erin and I met in business school in 2015. We instantly bonded over our shared retail backgrounds and love for interior design. We were decorating our NYC apartments and commiserating that we couldn’t afford the beautiful designer textiles that we loved or find curtains that fit our space. We launched Pepper three years later with the dream of making custom home decor and luxe fabric more accessible for customers like us!
What has having a Co-Founder been like for you; how do you guys benefit from one another’s strong suits?
I feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing co-founder. We both have backgrounds in the retail industry but have complimentary skillsets. When you are building a company, there is so much to do and learn so it’s extremely helpful to divide and conquer. Erin oversees Pepper’s finance and marketing while I tackle operations and CX. We also have different personal design taste which is helpful when designing each collection together.
How has the covid era benefited or challenged Pepper?
Both. COVID has complicated operations but benefited growth. Like all companies, COVID has brought challenges with supply chain issues and factory shutdowns. Businesses have had to get really creative navigating the uncertain times. On the flip side, during this time, people’s homes have become their offices, schools, and restaurants. Now more than ever, we’ve found consumers have a new appreciation for investing in their homes. We also saw consumers become more and more comfortable making such purchases online.
Do you find starting a business different from what you expected - how and why, if so?
Starting a business is all about the unknown. Every day is a new learning experience and you won’t understand until you start the journey. This is also why it is so challenging but also stimulating and fulfilling.
You’re a new mom on top of running Pepper; how has motherhood fit into your already busy life?
Honestly, you just make it work. I think motherhood has made me more productive as I need to finish my tasks in order to have uninterrupted time with my daughter, Clementine every day. Her schedule is the most important and cannot be altered. Also, since becoming parents, my husband and I have become much more communicative about our schedules.
What do you like about motherhood that you didn’t expect? Dislike?
I love the everyday–the nightly baths, the hair brushing, the nail clipping. There are so many activities that previously sounded mundane but I have learned to absolutely love and cherish this time with my daughter. The hardest adjustment is scheduling social activities with friends without children. If we want to grab dinner somewhere and don’t have child care, we’re eating at 5 or 6pm.
What has community meant to you as it pertains to both business-building and also motherhood?
Starting a business and a family are both adventures where everything is new and you’re constantly navigating the unknowns. More so than ever before, I have leaned on my community of founders and mothers to help navigate this journey. The best advice you can receive is from those who have walked in your shoes before.
Why is home so important to you, and how has the idea of home changed for you since becoming a mother?
Your home is where memories are made. It’s where families and friends come together to celebrate. I appreciate this now more than ever. Your home is literally the backdrop of the photos and videos documenting your children's lives so why not make it memorable?
What have your Pepper customers taught you?
Similar to the prior question, our customers have shown me how much home decor can play an important role in life events. We decorate lots of nurseries and speak with many new parents about creating the perfect space for their little one. We also speak to customers picking the perfect wallpaper for their dining room for holiday hosting. It is so fun seeing Pepper products as the backdrop for such memorable moments!
How has your taste evolved since you started Pepper?
I have always loved pattern and color, however, I have definitely become bolder in my design decisions since starting Pepper. Similar to my fashion choices, it brings me great joy to make a statement by mixing jewel tones and unexpected patterns together. Why go safe when you can make a statement? With that, my love of wallpaper has also grown into a full blown obsession. I love transforming a room with 360 degrees of pattern. I like starting with a wallpaper and designing an entire space around it.