Erin Souder left Corporate America to channel her passion for décor and entertaining into a business.
Erin and Matt Souder were spending their first Christmas as newlyweds far from their hometown of Lewis Center.
Life had taken them to Vail, Colo. post-college, but the Souders were set on toasting the season with others.
Despite having no furniture, Erin called a few of their new friends. She would host a Christmas dinner, she swore, table or no table.
She gathered up buckets from Home Depot, topped them with a piece of plywood and a tablecloth, and tossed pillows around for seating.
"Still to this day, it was one of our most memorable Christmases," she says.
Erin, now 31, lives for moments like those-when someone comes in to her home (a rustic family farmhouse in Gahanna that she is meticulously renovating), kicks back and enjoys the moment. This passion, cultivated unexpectedly, was what led her to launch her popular lifestyle blog House of Earnest, and eventually Grandiflora, her line of naturally chic home décor and accessories.
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The two endeavors began simply: with a fervent love for The Food Network. Erin grew up without cable, so when she headed to Lipscomb University to pursue a biochemistry degree, she became enthralled with the channel's personalities and their entertaining chops. When friends invited her out during The Martha Stewart Show, she happily declined.
"I'm sorry, Martha's on," she'd say. "I'm going to have to stay in tonight."
After graduating in 2005, Erin decided not to pursue her nursing degree as planned. She instead landed a job as a merchant at Abercrombie & Fitch, where she learned product development and flexed her creative muscles.
House of Earnest debuted in 2011, at the urging of friends and family who couldn't help but ask How did you think of that? when they visited.
A few years and hundreds of DIY projects in, her readers began writing. "I don't want to make this," they would say. "Can I just buy it from you?"
So Grandiflora was born.
"It's minimal and naturally luxe," she says of her line, which includes items like gold-flecked glasses, glittered serving trays and statement rugs. "It's a reflection of my style."
Erin quit her job at Abercrombie in November of 2013 to officially launch the business. One year later, five boutiques across the country are carrying her goods, including local shop Thread.
"I just love her aesthetic," says Thread owner Miranda Boyle. "I think it's clean and simple, but it has little details that I think you come to expect from Thread."
That's the Erin effect-the ability to look at something simple, even dull, and see its potential, from a Lucite tray to Home Depot buckets.
"When people ask what I do, I don't have an answer," she says.
"I'm a creator. I love making things. I like getting my hands dirty."