Amber Lewis: “Amber Interiors Design” | Talks at Google

Amber Lewis: “Amber Interiors Design” | Talks at Google

[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER: Well, thank you all for
joining us for Talks at Google. We are very
delighted and honored to have Amber Lewis of Amber
Interior Designs here with us. She is an interior designer
based out of California and has been featured
in, honestly, probably any home and garden magazine or
TV show that you can think of. She’s been on HGTV,
“Domino,” “House Beautiful,” the list goes on and on. And she’s basically built
a loyal follower count by building, basically, an
empire and a massive brand. So I don’t want
to spoil too much. So I’ll go ahead and
just kick it over to you. And why don’t you just give us
a little bit of a background and tell us kind of how you
got started in interior design. AMBER LEWIS: Well, first of
all, thanks for having me. They’re very cute faces there. Hi. [APPLAUSE] I got started– so I had always
had a real interest in art of some kind. I didn’t really know what I
wanted to do when I grew up. Does anybody? I mean, I think I
wanted to be a vet, and I think I wanted
to be– whatever. But always, in my whole life
my dad was a contractor. So I used to live
in a house that was always under
construction of some type. And I loved it. And I remember feeling
like the first thing that I was obsessed
with was paint and color and having these
guttural responses to how I felt about my surroundings. And I still do. My husband can attest. He’s like, honey,
the light is fine. It’s all good. You’re going to survive. But I didn’t really know what
I wanted to be when I grew up. I kind of floundered
through school. I don’t even know how I
graduated, if I’m honest. I was just not a great student. I was way more interested
in being social and having friends. And I thought, I
want to be an artist, but how do I make
a career of that? So I just applied
to a fashion school, because in LA that was sort of,
OK, well, that’s the next step. I’m going to just go
to fashion school. And I went to fashion
school, hated it. I dropped out in
probably eight weeks after I had paid for six
months, which is really, like, the full semester,
which was horrible. My dad basically
wanted to murder me. And then– it’s OK, Dad. I landed on my feet. But anyway, and then
I hated it, left, and went to go work for
like a home design store. And it was there that
I really realized, I really like interior design. Whatever that was. I was actually just
doing displays. So I wasn’t even doing
any interior design yet because that’s
such a different thing. But I was just doing the
beds and doing the shelves, and I loved it. And so I found
out that there was a program at the UCLA
extension campus at UCLA, and so I enrolled in that. And I just thought– that
was where I really realized, OK, well, you can
get paid to do this. So I’m going to do it. And that’s kind of how I got
really into interior design. SPEAKER: So you
were that kid that was rearranging their room– AMBER LEWIS: Oh,
25 times a week. Yeah. SPEAKER: And your parents
were like, really? Really, Amber? AMBER LEWIS: I am
actually writing a book and in one of the
beginning chapters I talk about how I had
to have my room pink. Which is like, of
course, so stereotypical. But it had to be the right pink. And to this day, I’m
still that psycho that it has to be
the right thing, it has to be this perfect thing. And I think that was
just a personality trait that I curated
and figured out how to use it to my advantage. But I was like it since
birth pretty much. SPEAKER: Yeah, I got it. I had a green room,
so I can relate. But like very, it wasn’t– don’t freak out everyone. It was not like grass green. It was like mint green. So I can relate, you know? There are different– AMBER LEWIS: All greens
are good greens in my book. SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: It’s unusual. SPEAKER: It is. So did you know that you wanted
to be an entrepreneur coming out of school, or did you– AMBER LEWIS: [LAUGHING] SPEAKER: [LAUGHING] OK, so no. AMBER LEWIS: Let me
just rewind to that. Cute– I went to UCLA. I also dropped out of that. SPEAKER: Right. Sorry. AMBER LEWIS: Everyone
should stay in school. Gwenny, stay in school. I just got a great job for
an interior design company, and I was making
really good money and not having– what I
was learning at school didn’t feel like it
was serving need to be able to do something on my own. I was really just learning
how to work for somebody else, which was amazing. But I was cocky enough to think
that I could do it on my own. SPEAKER: Right. AMBER LEWIS: So I was like,
eh, I don’t even need school. Plus, I was getting married,
and all these other things were going on in my life. So I was working for this
interior designer for a couple years. And it was great,
and I loved it, and I was making
really good money. And then one day,
she sat me down. This is like, my husband
and I had bought a house. I’ll go back to that. But we had bought a house,
and I started a blog. And she invited me
to sit down a coffee. And I knew. It was just this gut feeling. And she basically sat
me down, and fired me in the nicest way
possible, and said, you just need to go on your own. And I was like, go on my own? What do you mean go on my own? I don’t even know how to– how do I write an invoice? How do I– I don’t know what I’m doing. And I just went on my own. And that was the beginning
of the whole thing. So that was end of 2010. SPEAKER: OK. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: But I
didn’t have any big goals to be an entrepreneur. All of this has happened– SPEAKER: It just
happened to you. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, I mean– SPEAKER: You were presented
with opportunities or obstacles. And you were like, well,
I got to figure this out. And so you just kind of took
those steps, whatever it was. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, and I’m
definitely a go-getter. I definitely don’t just sit
back and wait for things to happen to me. I make every– it’s
not calculated, but it’s very obsessive. So once I decided that
I was going to do this, I did it with not
just 1% of my body. It became 140% of my body. And it was just everything
in me to put it all in there and really make something
of myself, basically. I’m going to be something, mom. SPEAKER: Show your dad. Dad. AMBER LEWIS: Check me out. No, I didn’t really
have any big goals. But I just knew I was
going to do whatever it was that I was going to do– SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: –and do it well. SPEAKER: So did you– what
was that initial first step? What did those look like? Did you create a business plan? Or when your boss was
like, sorry, you got to go, and you’re like, OK, it’s fine,
I’ll be fine, what did you do? AMBER LEWIS: What’s
a business plan? SPEAKER: I don’t know. I work at Google. I didn’t start this. AMBER LEWIS: Everyone’s
like, did you do that? I’m like, no. There was no calculation. It was a shit show
at– oh, sorry. SPEAKER: No, you can say that. AMBER LEWIS: OK, good. SPEAKER: Yeah, no, you’re fine. AMBER LEWIS: Sorry. SPEAKER: You’re fine. Don’t worry. AMBER LEWIS: Hi,
nice to meet you all. It was crazy at first. I didn’t have a business plan. I had nothing. I just had drive. And I had a baby, too, which
was really interesting. And I was with her all day. When she would go to sleep,
I would stay up all night teaching myself WordPress,
and teaching myself Photoshop, and teaching myself– like, obsessively
looking on Pinterest and looking at other bloggers. And when I started the
blog– and that’s basically how it all kind of came about
was that we bought this house, started a blog, started
writing DIY things, started talking
about paint colors, and I’d DIY a cork-board. And Mike and I built a shelf. It was just silly
things like that. And it started to
get some traction. And [LAUGHS] it
was out of nowhere that I just would get clients or
random people just saying like, hey, will you come help me do
this, and that, and the other. And I would. And I was saying yes a lot. And just realizing, oh, OK. Well, this will kind of turn
into whatever it turns into. No pressure. And then– SPEAKER: And here we are. AMBER LEWIS: And here we
are, sitting at Googs. SPEAKER: At the Googs, yes. That’s it. Well, that’s really amazing. And it’s also really interesting
to see how it was so organic. So I kind of want to
touch a little bit on you being a
female entrepreneur, even if you maybe
don’t necessarily identify as an entrepreneur. It sounds like you were just
like, I did what I had to do. AMBER LEWIS: Well,
now I definitely– SPEAKER: Now you’re
like, I got this. AMBER LEWIS: Well, now
I’m like OK, well, you– I 100% identify as
an entrepreneur. I mean what’s happened to me
now versus what happened to me 10, whatever, seven years ago. I don’t even– I had no plan. But now, I mean,
we’ll get to that. But now I am doing
so many things, I would say I think
you can probably label me as that, for sure. SPEAKER: Yeah, for sure. Definitely. So do you think– I feel a lot of times as
though women, especially, a lot of times will
attribute our success in life to luck or opportunities. So what do you think are– all of that aside, yes, luck
and opportunity definitely matters– do you think are
the key strengths that you have that
attributed to the success that you have right now? AMBER LEWIS: I never quit. Never, ever, ever quit. Still, to this day, I’m
not happy with where I am. I always think I could
be doing 10 times better, be 10 steps ahead. I think the minute you settle
is the minute you start to get too comfortable,
and that’s when failure happens in my mind. I 100% wake up and
love what I do. I love it every second. I mean, I get tired. I whine a lot. It hurts physically sometimes,
when you’re on an install, and you’re doing all these
things, and you’re exhausted. Or you’re on a plane
and then you’re this, and you’re talking
for hours a day. That gets exhausting,
but I don’t– I don’t really whine
about it because it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. So being in a position to
literally live out your dream is something that I’m
never going to be– I’m never going to
take for granted. So I just try to keep that
in my head a little bit. And it’s really– we’ve built
such an amazing business that now I can
support my family. We have an amazing group
of women and men that work for us– more women
than men, but– that we support. And it’s just kind of– I don’t know. I never thought that,
again, back to your question about being an entrepreneur,
never in a million years thought that that was going
to be what or who I am. But I think that
that insane drive, that never being
happy with mediocre, never being happy
with just where I am, it’s caused us to do furniture
lines, stores, e-commerce. There’s the Instagram presence,
we’re licensing deals, we’re– I don’t know. What else am I forgetting? I feel like there’s– SPEAKER: Your book. AMBER LEWIS: Oh, yeah. That little thing. You know, it’s all these crazy–
and I’m a mother and wife. I’m trying to be at home. SPEAKER: Do you think that
there will ever be a point where you’ll– I feel like I know
the answer but I’m going to ask it anyway– where you’ll look back and– AMBER LEWIS: No. [LAUGHS] No, finish. SPEAKER: So you’re never going
to be like, dang, I made it. Like, I’m at the top
of this mountain. AMBER LEWIS: No, no. SPEAKER: It’s always
the next thing, right? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, 100%. And I like that that lights
the fire under my ass. I don’t ever want
to be comfortable. Comfortable is scary to me. SPEAKER: So you
kind of crave that? AMBER LEWIS: Oh, totally. SPEAKER: Almost like the– I don’t want to say misery. But like that pressure. AMBER LEWIS: Oh,
totally sadistic. It’s weird, right? SPEAKER: Yeah, I think
a lot of us at Google definitely feel
that way, as well. So like, I can– yes, I can– AMBER LEWIS: I’ll
hear someone going, oh, I worked a 10-hour day. I’m like, that’s it? That’s great. SPEAKER: You can do more. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER: Get out on
that field, Johnny. AMBER LEWIS: Good. I didn’t sleep. I win. [LAUGHS] I’ve been up
for 22 hours, whatever. No, I don’t think
I’ll ever settle. But what’s the point? Why would I? SPEAKER: Yeah. There’s always
more to do, right? AMBER LEWIS: You have to
strike while the iron is hot. I may be completely irrelevant
in a minute and a half. So I might as well
just keep going. SPEAKER: Dang. That’s true, I guess. AMBER LEWIS: I guess. So washed up– SPEAKER: So what’s
dad going to say? AMBER LEWIS: He’s
going to disown me? SPEAKER: It’s OK. I think he’s good. So what do you think– have there been any
challenges or obstacles, aside from just that tiredness
and exhaustion, that you think that
you’ve faced, maybe, that are unique to you,
as a female entrepreneur, or just in general? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. There’s always that silly
question– work-life balance. Because as women, we’re
expected to raise our kids, we’re expected to
take care of home. I have an amazing,
supportive partner and a very understanding,
awesome kid. And she– you know,
I work for them. And there was definitely
moments in my career– and still, every single
day– where I’m juggling, wow, I’m missing the softball
game and this basketball game because I’m doing
something else. And that is really
tough, because those are moments I can’t get back. But ultimately, there
is no other way. And so I’ve just had
to really, as a woman, accept that we’re
in different roles. It’s a role
reversal, in a sense. My husband’s able to do a lot
more things with our daughter than I am, which
is really tough. But this is the life that we
kind of ended up in, signed up for. And I wouldn’t really
have it any other way. And that’s the
toughest part, is, just the missing out, the FOMO. SPEAKER: Yeah, it’s real. AMBER LEWIS: It’s real. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have JOMO, too, now. SPEAKER: What’s JOMO? AMBER LEWIS: The
joy of missing out. It’s also my favorite
thing in the world. SPEAKER: Oh, you’re partying
and I’m in bed, so comfortable right now. AMBER LEWIS: 9:00
sleeping, whoa! SPEAKER: Yeah, 100%. Like watching Net– AMBER LEWIS: I don’t care if you
were sitting next to Brad Pitt. I want to– I slept. SPEAKER: And dreamed about
him, and it was great. AMBER LEWIS: I’m fine. SPEAKER: Yeah, you’re fine. Do you think that– is there any certain
piece of advice that somebody gave to you that
kind of got you through some of these hardships? Or what’s the one
piece of advice that you find yourself
often repeating to others? And are those two
things the same? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. I feel like anyone
who follows me– I feel like a broken record. But it is the one thing
in my whole career that has stuck with me
forever, which is never judge your start to someone’s middle. Every single day
I feel like I’ll get approached by
other entrepreneurs, and they think I’m
this overnight thing, an overnight success. I had busted my ass for
years, for years to get here. And it didn’t
happen on accident. I’ve worked so hard to
get to where we are today. And it’s tough to be on the
other side of that, someone who’s looking at my career
and going [GROANS] I’m never going to get there. I’m not going to
be able to do that. And honestly, I’m
looking at other people and thinking the same thing. So the biggest piece of
advice I’ve ever been given is just don’t start– I don’t even know if I was given
it, or I read it, or whatever. But it’s just don’t judge or
start to someone else’s middle. And I think also, just to not– comparison, period,
is really tough. And just always kind
of gauging your success by what others are doing. Just stay in your
own lane and stay focused on what you’re doing. And that seems to
be a good motto. SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. SPEAKER: What’s kind of
your focus right now? What drives you
every day, morning? I know you touched on definitely
taking care of your family, and you just love this work. But is there ever just
something, some focus area that you just get fixated on? AMBER LEWIS: I think
I just wanted– one of the biggest things
that I don’t want to lose is the creativity in all of it. So I try to focus on
ways to basically balance all the other things that we’re
doing, but still have this love and have this focus
on the creation. Because that is ultimately
what got me into this. I still love to do design. And I say this all the time. Nobody believes me, but I
literally am on every install, putting things together,
lifting furniture. I threw my back
out the other day. Vacuuming, Windex-ing. I’m doing all of
those things still because that’s where I
started, and that’s where– if I lose that, then I’m
really losing a big piece of what makes me tick. SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: So as we start
to spread the business into so many other facets,
not losing the ability to be able to create is a
really, really big one for me. SPEAKER: I think it’s really
interesting that you touch on that because that’s something I
think a lot of creative people experience. They have such an innate
passion for whatever it is that they’re
doing, they are so focused on making
that their career that once you turn that creative
process into a financial means, you lose a lot of that
passion and drive. AMBER LEWIS: Absolutely. SPEAKER: So what tactics do you
employ when you’re burned out? Or is it just like– AMBER LEWIS: I’m a pretty
ritualistic person. I wake up every single
morning before my family gets up, and spend a solid– like, hopefully, I try to get
at least like 40 minutes of just being by myself in the
dark, with a cup of coffee. Call it meditation or
whatever, if you will. I don’t really have– I don’t exercise. I don’t do a lot of stuff. That’s just not part of
my schedule at the moment. [LAUGHS] SPEAKER: That’s OK. AMBER LEWIS: It’s
a little crazy. SPEAKER: Like what? Do you think I’m running
a marathon right now? AMBER LEWIS: I probably should. SPEAKER: I’m sitting in a chair. AMBER LEWIS: It’s all good. But no, I get up
and I try to just have quiet time for the
first half hour to 40 minutes of my life. Because I know that’s the only
way I can gather my thoughts. Because it’s like, go, go,
go, go, go, go, go all day. And then you’re home, and then
it’s like, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. And then I just
want to sit in front of the television and zone out. And then, same deal. Mornings it’s just
quiet, my own time. SPEAKER: So what does
your day look like then? Because now I know your morning. So what happens after
that 40 minutes? AMBER LEWIS: Oh, my god. I don’t know. SPEAKER: OK, you don’t
have to relive it. I’m not going to take
you to a bad place. AMBER LEWIS: No, no, no. SPEAKER: We don’t
have to go there. [LAUGHTER] AMBER LEWIS: It’s not that bad. SPEAKER: OK AMBER LEWIS: If I can,
which is my favorite thing, is to be able to
go to the office. I don’t really get to
go as much as I used to. Maybe I’m just feeling
like that lately because I haven’t been
there in 2 and 1/2 weeks, and that’s horrible. I hate it. But I like to go to the office. I like to check
in with the team. Our daughter goes to school. She does her thing
and then it’s just kind of like work, work, work. And then I try to get
home, like, 6:30, 7:00. And the days are just filled
with either meetings, phone calls, a lot of checking in. We have separate teams
that are doing projects, that are managing however many. So I try to touch base
with both at any given time throughout the day, and
anything that kind of relates to other parts of the business. Because like I said, we have
the stores, and licensing, and God only knows what else. It’s a lot of phone calls,
and meetings, and talking. That’s what I do all day long. I talk. SPEAKER: Yeah, cool. I couldn’t tell. AMBER LEWIS: So good
to be here, I guess. SPEAKER: So how does
that differ from how it was when you started? Are you working more? AMBER LEWIS: When I was alone? I was alone on my dining table. That was the big difference. Now we have a
huge, amazing team. I started actually, just
basically completely on my own, which was so isolating. But it was OK. SPEAKER: Because you
figure it out as you go. AMBER LEWIS: It was great. We figured it out. And then I hired one
employee, and they sat with me at the dining table. And then eventually, I got
a big girl office, and yeah. It’s always been we’ve
made these really crazy, pivotal moves just on a whim– always. Like, found an office, went
to Whole Foods, was like, I’m going to get
an office today. Found one, signed the
lease the next day. It’s been– SPEAKER: Wait. What happened to Whole Foods? AMBER LEWIS: There
was a– sorry. There was a Whole Foods
around this little area that we first got
our first office. And so I’m like, I’m just going
to drive by there really quick and see. There was this little
frilly sign, and I called. We got it. And then I was in an
office all of a sudden. So we had an office. And I had to fill that, and
that’s sort of what I did. We started kind of
taking on more projects. And it was, like, all this
really cool luck of the draw. And then, when we
started our store, which was another total fluke. I had no intention
of starting a store. We had an online
e-commerce business and we were fine with that. My husband actually came and
we started working together, which was amazing. And he still, to this
day, runs the whole store. And then same deal. I had an idea of this
amazing little store, kind of down the
street from our house, that someone else was occupying. I kept thinking about
it, thinking about it, thinking about it. We were skiing, and I
remember just thinking, I just want to drive
by that place and see. And sure enough,
lo and behold, they had just put a
little “for lease,” and they wanted to
sublease the space. And so that’s how
we ended up getting our first retail location–
again, totally on a whim. Like, no big
picture, no big plan. It would be cool to have. And then you’re in
the struggle of, crap. How are we going
to pay for this? I’ve never borrowed money. SPEAKER: That’s awesome. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. We’ve never– I say that. We borrowed money
from my mom to buy a house and stuff like
that, but we paid her back. But no, we’ve never
borrowed a dime to do anything business-wise. SPEAKER: That’s amazing. AMBER LEWIS: And still
to this day, we haven’t. SPEAKER: That’s awesome. AMBER LEWIS: We bootstrapped
the whole thing. SPEAKER: It’s interesting
that you mentioned that you don’t have a plan, really. But it does sound like you
definitely have a vision. Like, you’re a
very visual person. AMBER LEWIS: Oh, yeah. SPEAKER: So how does that
kind of play into your style? Because I do want
to acknowledge, we’re all after your thought
and creative process. So how does that play out? Do you picture the house
and what it could look like when you walk through it? Or what does that creative
process look like for you? AMBER LEWIS: I get asked
this question so much. And I wish that there was
just a straightforward, this is the answer. Like I said, everything
I do is very guttural. I have a real innate sense for
mixing patterns and styles. And I don’t know. When I know, I know. I don’t really know if
that’s a teachable thing. But I can break it into
a formula, I think. Usually I’ll go into a space. I try to vibe off what the
client wants, a little bit. Sort of take on board what
they’re saying, typically try to convince them to
do something different. [LAUGHTER] Do what I say. And then we sort of just
build the design from there. Every house is
completely different. If you are familiar
with a portfolio, hopefully you would think that
no two houses look the same. SPEAKER: I can
name those hashtags like nobody’s business. AMBER LEWIS: Good. SPEAKER: I think you’re
the follower of them, and then I’m the
follower of them. AMBER LEWIS: Good. SPEAKER: So I got you. AMBER LEWIS: Amazing. Yeah, I don’t know. There’s no method
to the madness. I think it’s just all
guttural and all a feeling, and just over the
years of really learning what my style is and
being able to hone in on it. Where we were even
seven years ago is totally different than now. SPEAKER: Yeah. And I also think it is
amazing because you can really look at a photo of your work,
and everybody knows either who it is or who they
tried to copy, right? So it’s very much
your trademark. And so I think that that’s
really unique because there are so many times where
you might have an idea, especially for creative people. You have an idea in
your head, but you don’t know what that
looks like to execute. You know what you want,
but sometimes you do it and you’re like, this isn’t what
I thought it was going to be. So it’s amazing
that you can really achieve that result, as well. Do you– I was
going to ask, so you have definitely an anesthetic. And I think Instagram
has probably helped kind of
refine that, or made it very digestible for
a lot of your followers. How did you grow
that brand presence? What do you think your brand is? AMBER LEWIS: This
is where it gets to, I think, a little bit
of luck and timing. Because you can’t really– you can be the hardest
working Instagrammer ever, and have four followers
and they’re your parents. There’s nothing– [LAUGHTER] I don’t know how. You really– [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: That one
hurt me a little. But, yeah, I can relate. AMBER LEWIS: I wasn’t
referring to you. I don’t even know– SPEAKER: It’s like, OK, Mom. I’m an Instagrammer. AMBER LEWIS: I think
I was in a really– I was right at the
beginning of when it started to become
a thing, and because I was documenting all the
aspects of the interior design. But also, it was like– this is back in the day when it
was acceptable to take pictures of your food. SPEAKER: And your feet. AMBER LEWIS: And
your feet on rugs. SPEAKER: Why not? AMBER LEWIS: And
that was my jam. That was what I did. I used to basically
take pictures of my cute boots on cute rugs. And so, then people would
go, where’d you get that rug. I was like, well, you want it? And then– SPEAKER: I’ll sell it to you. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. And that’s literally how– SPEAKER: OK, so some
of it was hustle, too. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. I mean, it kind of
became that because I don’t get emotionally attached
to objects, believe it or not. I’m a hoarder, but I don’t– I could let it go just as well. SPEAKER: Do you
just want it all? AMBER LEWIS: I’ve
learned to let it go. SPEAKER: OK, yeah. AMBER LEWIS: I like to
collect and collect, and then know that they’re there. And then, if I forget
about it, then you can really definitely get
it from underneath me. But yeah, I like to shop. I like to get stuff. I really love things. Like, things make me– it sounds awful. Things make me happy. SPEAKER: No, but it’s sad
because I can so relate. And even just now, when
you were saying like, oh, yeah, and if I forget
about it– it’s like me when I go shopping,
every single time. Well, if I forgot about
it within 15 minutes, then I don’t really need it. AMBER LEWIS: Right? Or your stuff still
has tags on it. I have, like, 17 black shirts. I’ve got those, yeah. SPEAKER: Yeah. Not me. AMBER LEWIS: But
anyway, I don’t know. My aesthetic just
kind of evolved. It just is what it is. I put out there what I like. I don’t really even know what
I’m heavily influenced by. I feel like I’m just
influenced to do better than whatever we did last time. SPEAKER: Do you think that your
style is changing or evolving in any way? AMBER LEWIS: Every single day. SPEAKER: OK. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, 100%. And I think, as I
grow up, I’ve kind of grown up with whoever
has been following me for years, which is a lot. a lot can change in
a 7, 10 year span. So as I grow up, my
style sort of changes. Whether or not it becomes
more refined, more funky, whatever I’m feeling with
that client specifically, it changes, for sure. SPEAKER: So what do you think is
your favorite part of your job, or of the design process? Is it styling? Is it the actual build? What is it? AMBER LEWIS: I love to build. I really do. I like to be able to determine– I don’t love the stress
that comes with it. I think if you have
an amazing team and everybody has
their part in it, then it can be an
incredible production and you can get
the best results. So it kind of– I like to build with
the right people, I guess is the
right thing to say. But being able to choose
the details is so awesome. Being able to choose how
the tile is going to lay and what that’s
going to look like. Because I believe that
with the stuff in it, the house also needs
to look as beautiful without the stuff in it. And the only way to do that
is sometimes by the builds. A heavy remodel also works. And I say heavy remodel. It’s like taking it
down to the studs, literally gutting the
whole thing, yeah. But that’s my
favorite part still. SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: That’s
my favorite part. SPEAKER: So that’s
interesting, too, that you just kind of outlined
one of your design principles of– the house should
look beautiful with or without whatever is in it. Do you have any other ones that
you kind of carry with you? Like beliefs or just principles
that you apply almost to every house that you do? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. As I’ve grown, sort
of, I like to think– you get recognized for a style. And by the time you start to
get recognized for that style, you hope that style
has been forgotten and now they’re recognizing
you for something else. And it’s not that
it’s completely crazy. Like it’s one thing, one day
I’m painting things orange, and the next day I’m
painting everything white. It’s always been
pretty consistent. There’s consistent elements
throughout my whole body of work. But, yeah, I think traditional,
beautiful, classic design is really– I mean, you can’t go wrong. So if you choose elements that
feel like they’ve been around for a really long time and
don’t do things that are trendy or in the note–
people always say– I’ll specifically
talk about brass because that seems to be
one of these hot topics. If you’ve ever traveled in
Europe or if you’ve ever traveled anywhere
outside of the US– we’ve only now
just adopted that. That is everywhere
else, marble and brass. And you go to Italy, and
it’s marble and brass. And it’s one of those things,
if you treat it like that, and you’re treating it more as
an element that isn’t trendy, and you mix it with
the other right things, I think it can become
classic and not– just stay away
from trendy stuff. SPEAKER: Yeah. So you definitely take more
of a global perspective and keep that in mind, as well. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, 100%. We import furniture
from all over the world and tile from all over the
place and different stuff. SPEAKER: How do
you narrow down– I just feel like that
would be so overwhelming, to make all those decisions. And I’m sure you have so
many people contacting you, asking you to use their title. So how do you navigate that? How do you say no, I think
is another question, kind of within that. AMBER LEWIS: Well, there
is a two-part there. It’s really hard to narrow down. We’re actually building
our house right now. SPEAKER: Like,
your personal home? AMBER LEWIS: Yes, we’re building
our own personal house right now. I am the worst client. I am the worst client. I can’t make up my mind. I change every day. I don’t know what I
want because I also don’t have my clients’ funds. [LAUGHTER] So I have to kind of reel it
in and ask for favors a lot. I’ll be like, you know that
one time when I tagged you? Can you maybe hook me up? So there’s a little bit
bartering and trading going on. So that’s one part
of your question. The second one was
how do I say no? SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: That’s really tough
because the social gal in me wants to just
answer and say yes. But then the professional in me
realizes that that’s something that I get paid to do, is to
pick these things for a paying client. So I have to be very, very
careful with what I share, because I can get
in a lot of trouble. I mean, my clients
could be so mad at me that I told every secret,
because what’s the point? SPEAKER: Yeah. AMBER LEWIS: So
I’ve just learned to respect that it’s
intellectual property, in a way. I want to share. And that’s why we have
started another blog, just to really put everything
I can out there into the world. This is why I’m
writing the book. Anything that I can
share I want to share. But when it’s specific, specific
things, I have to say no. And it’s just out of
respect for longevity. And relationship with my client
is a really big deal for me. SPEAKER: How do you balance
that degree of visibility that you have on social media? And you have people who are
asking you paint colors, and where are you got
this piece of furniture, and all of those details. And it sounds like you are
kind of releasing the book, and you launched the blog. But how do you handle those? AMBER LEWIS: I don’t think
I have a lot of friends, sometimes. I think people
get really pissed. And it’s a hard thing because
just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean that you’re
entitled to the answer. And I’ve learned that the
hard way, too, where I get asked questions all the time. Just because it’s there doesn’t
mean that I have to tell you. And it’s not that
I’m withholding it because I’m an asshole. I’m literally not telling
you because I can’t. Or because I’ll give
it to you later, or we’ll talk about
it later, or DM me. It’s like sometimes I’ll get
kind of slated on comments, you never answer. Well, OK– SPEAKER: I got a job. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah,
I got a job, A. And I want to answer
but I have to be respectful to the clients who
just paid me to not answer. And it’s a tough one. It’s tough one. So I try to just– when I can share
the information, I want to be able
to do that, which is where all sorts
of the new blog really comes into
play, because that’s where we’re going to share
so much stuff, and the book. SPEAKER: Yeah. So we’re getting ready to come
into Q&A, so y’all get ready. But I do want to ask
you one more question that I want to end on. What do you want
your legacy to be? What’s the impact
that you kind feel like you’re on the path to
making and want to achieve? AMBER LEWIS: It used to be to
be recognized for the creativity and to be recognized for being
a killer interior designer. And it’s shifting quite
in front of my eyes. It’s all sort of shifting. I think having a daughter
and watching her life evolve and everything else, I want
to make sure that, especially because of my presence
on social media, that we’re practicing
being kind. One of the biggest things
to me is making sure that any little bit
I can do to spread love, and kindness,
and the right energy out into the world,
whatever that means, by showing people pretty
things, by whatever I can do, that’s kind of what
I hope to leave. Obviously, the pretty
things, as well. But I think as we get into
this insane social media, digital world– get into it? We’re in it. We have a big– especially with a platform,
I have a big responsibility to share kindness, and being
lovely, and spreading joy. So I hope that’s
more what I get– maybe along with
the pretty stuff. SPEAKER: Yeah. Well, so far, I think
everybody approves of you here. Seems like you’re a
pretty good human. AMBER LEWIS: OK, good. OK, good. SPEAKER: So far, so good. I’ll let you know
if that changes. AMBER LEWIS: All right. Keep me posted. SPEAKER: Yeah. From my five minutes
up here with you. OK, so we’ll go
ahead and open up the floor for any questions
that you all have, if you want to
come up to the mic so that we can make
sure that we hear it. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, a guy. The dude in the room. SPEAKER: Woo-hoo. AUDIENCE: My question is
around how, as an artist, when you started,
obviously, you can’t– somebody who hired you,
you can’t say, oh, here’s my intern. Here’s who I work with. Have her sign up. It’s like, if I’m trying
to find [INAUDIBLE],, I don’t want his apprentice
to make my painting. So how do you deal with that? And then, the second part
is how you scale from there and use the brand you
created, that you developed. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. The hardest part about a
creative business is scaling. It’s one of the
things I struggle with the most, because it
is such a specific trade and it’s such a
specific aesthetic that it’s not something
that’s taught overnight. It’s something that
you have to work with me for a year,
two years, three years, longer to be able
to really absorb. At the end of the
day, I’m really transparent at the
get-go that I don’t answer every single email. I converse with
my team, and I go through the list of everything
that needs to be answered. But I’m not going to personally
write the checklist of what needs to be done. There’s so many moving
parts on a project that there’s a lot
of project management that has to happen without
me directly involved on a daily basis. However, I still am pretty
responsible for almost all of the design work. Nothing goes to a client without
passing my desk, which makes my life very busy, for sure. But that’s the
only way that I can keep control of the
aesthetic and what’s going out into the world. But it is a very, very, very
tough business to scale. It’s actually impossible. If any of you Googlers have
any advice for me, let me know. [LAUGHTER] You guys seem to be
doing OK, so let me know. AUDIENCE: Thank you. AMBER LEWIS: You’re welcome. AUDIENCE: Hi, Amber. AMBER LEWIS: Hi. AUDIENCE: Grateful
for the kwanda. AMBER LEWIS: Oh,
yeah, the kwanda. You’re a real fan. Yay. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: I wanted to
ask– you mentioned that your style, your
aesthetic is evolving. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. AUDIENCE: I’d like to
know where you think your aesthetic will go next. And also, could you
talk a little bit about what the content of
your book will be like? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. So to answer the first
part, I think it changes. We just did– if you’re
following, which clearly you know kwanda, so I’m assuming
that you follow on Instagram. We just did this
beautiful Spanish house that was very moody, and
earthy, and gorgeous, and had elements of nods
to Spanish, Moroccan. It was very cool. And then I just did a
completely polar opposite of major modern, white
vaults, black steel windows, that whole thing. I don’t want to say
what I think it’s going to be because right now,
I don’t think there is a plan. I think I just continue to
do what I really like to do, which, I think,
going really modern and that part of my creativity,
I still really love. And then, the other more
moody, earthy that whole thing, I still love, too. And then the second part was– AUDIENCE: What will the
content of the book be? AMBER LEWIS: Oh. The content of
the book will be– it comes out in Fall 2020. No, I’m just kidding. [LAUGHTER] No, I’m not that cruel. We are talking
about a lot of tips. So it’s five or six
chapters, I think. Six chapters,
five, I don’t know. Anyway, don’t quote me on it. Five or six. SPEAKER: Five and a half. AMBER LEWIS: Five and a half. Yeah. It’s a very blurry time. We’re doing a whole
like white paint roundup and how to get the
perfect white paint. We’re doing shelf styling. How to use dark paint,
texture, how to layer. I really am trying to
cover as much as possible. So it’s not just going to be
a pretty picture coffee table book. There’s going to be
some anecdotal tidbits. Hi. AUDIENCE: I was just
wondering, when you were first starting out, was there ever
a moment or something that happened that could make you
want to quit or let it go, and realized, this
wasn’t meant to be? And if so, how did you
persevere through that to become such a huge success? AMBER LEWIS: Yeah, you
know, the hardest part is, you’ve got to have thick
skin to have any business, I truly believe. Because one day
you’re an accountant, one day you’re a
receptionist, one day you’re managing insane clients,
and construction, and everything else. And the other day, you’re
just trying to get by. So when I first
started– and actually, let me just erase the
idea that I still don’t have those days like yesterday. Like where 100%, you’re just
questioning, what am I doing? This is insane. This is too much. I got to stop. I got to chill out. When I first, first
started, it was really just people and team members that
really nailed me the hardest. Feeling like this is my baby,
this is my heart and soul. And you’re giving so
much to other people and realizing that that might
not be a reciprocated feeling. Team was the hardest one. So anytime I got
burned by team members, that’s been the biggest one. Because we’re all human. We analyze like,
what did I do wrong? But, yeah, that’s
the biggest one. Yeah. AUDIENCE: Hi, I’m [INAUDIBLE]. AMBER LEWIS: Hi. AUDIENCE: To follow up on
what you actually said, which is, it’s a
human emotion that just comes about with different
activities that you have. I aspired to be an entrepreneur
when I was in 7th grade. I come from a family
entrepreneurs, and it’s a pleasure to
meet people like you and learn from your stories,
because many times I feel like part of the story
is that there was no plan. It just happened. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. AUDIENCE: So I’m in that phase
where I don’t know what’s going to happen, but many times I
find myself in a situation where I’m more right-brained,
more creative– less planned and structured
and more creative. I want to learn from how
to understand how you compartmentalize your thoughts. Because feelings are mostly
involved in certain activities. So right after that
activity, sometimes it’s harder to be fully involved
with another task that is completely different because
of the emotions that are just creeping in. So what do you do
in that situation? AMBER LEWIS: That’s a
really, really good question. So when you’ve just given– in my world, when I’ve just
given this crazy presentation and it’s been eight
hours, and we’ve been sitting in this
conference room, and we’ve gone heart and soul. It’s taken us, like,
three weeks to get to that point, or however many
months, and we’re showing it. And then immediately, I walk out
of those conference room doors and I’m asked to sign
checks, or whatever, or get on the phone
with an attorney, or whatever we’re doing. It’s draining. It’s 100% draining. And you kind of like, ugh. The balloon deflates. I mean, you’re already tired. So I would say that you
either have it or you don’t. And I know that doesn’t make
sense or maybe sound fair. But you either have the ability
to compartmentalize those things or you don’t. And I think that I pride
myself on being able to just– everything has a box. Funny enough, I was talking
about this with my husband this morning. Everything has a box. So if I’m dealing with this,
I know that I’m not going to– that euphoria of
creativity and fun is not going to last that
long because I’ve just got to
[MAKES SUCKING SOUND] suck back into whatever else it is. So you take the good
and the bad together. I say the bad. Anything that’s involving
invoicing or any accounting stuff I hate and I suck at. So I don’t even try to
pretend like I’m good, but it’s part of the business. It’s part of what we have to do. So I think just
acceptance, acceptance to know that it’s not
always fun and you just have to shake it off
and move on to the next whatever you’re going to
deal with that second. AUDIENCE: Let’s hope I have it. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] I hope you do, too. It’s a learned behavior, though. AUDIENCE: It is? AMBER LEWIS: I think, yeah. Just be insane, and
then we’ll definitely– [LAUGHTER] Hi. AUDIENCE: I’m here. So just sort of piggy-backing
on that thought, you’d mentioned that you’re
a very ritualistic person. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. AUDIENCE: And that really
kind of clicked with me. I don’t know if you’ve
heard of Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit.” AMBER LEWIS: No, but I will. I’ll get that. AUDIENCE: Yeah, she’s a
very big influence for me. But she talked a
lot about rituals. And you mentioned that rituals
are really important to you. AMBER LEWIS: Yeah. AUDIENCE: So I was hoping
you could expand a little bit on some of the rituals
that you partake in personally that
feed you creatively and that help kind of replenish
you as a creative person. AMBER LEWIS: I’m really
sensitive to my environment. So when I find that
things are kind of– it’s really crazy,
because my closet will be a complete chaotic mess. But then, every other thing– where my jewelry goes
on the side table has to be a certain way. Or the way that things are on a
shelf has to be a certain way. But then, another
aspect is crazy. My environment is extremely,
extremely important to me. So a lot of natural light, a
lot of going outside and getting some kind of earth– you know, that silly
getting earthed, where you put your
feet on the ground and try to ground
yourself is kind of– I try to do that. Don’t get to do it
every day, but I try to. And again, just being
really respectful that those are my weird quirks. So anybody that’s in
and around my space, I just sort of let that out. Like, hey, guys, I
need natural light. I can’t handle dirty
things on the ground. You have to pick them up. There’s certain parts
of my personality that, in order to be in a
successful partnership with me or successful business
relationship with me, those are just standards
that I put forward. And I don’t really feel
bad about it anymore. I used to be really embarrassed
about the things that drove me nuts. And I wouldn’t say it
out loud, but then I realized it wasn’t serving me. So silly things– I can’t even think. I don’t know. I’ll think of something and
I’ll find you and tell you. But just the little quirks,
I just own them, and just say this is the only way that
I can function today, if this, this, and this is going on. Meditating is a really big one. Meditating, but my meditation is
not like [MAKES HUMMING SOUND].. Mine is coffee and the
news on, by myself. And news, I mean, like,
scrolling on the phone. [LAUGHTER] Like, get off the blue light. No, I like the blue light. [LAUGHTER] Let me have my
blue light, dammit. Yes. AUDIENCE: Thank you. AMBER LEWIS: You’re welcome. SPEAKER: Any other questions? Perfect. Well, thank you so
much for coming. AMBER LEWIS: Oh, my
gosh, this was awesome. SPEAKER: It was so great. AMBER LEWIS: Thank you guys. SPEAKER: Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

5 thoughts on “Amber Lewis: “Amber Interiors Design” | Talks at Google

  1. making fun of blue light and grounding? .. that was disappointing, but otherwise … love interior design, and her work

  2. the intro says it all.. these are too really shallow and awfull persons- what idiot give them a talk.. presenter has no clue what shes doing and the topic is beyod boring and almost an ad. did you saw her decorations. its unbelievable shit and basic design. her houses look like student homes. everything puttled together at random

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