We Want To Know: Laura Collins and Kelly Lynn Armstrong of Elsie & Kel
I have a real treat for you today... you're getting two for the price of one! It's my pleasure to introduce you to the design duo behind Elsie & Kel Design - Laura Collins and Kelly Lynn Armstrong. The three of us got together recently on a lively and fun-filled conference call, and though the two of them weren't even in the same room, I could really feel the chemistry and rapport they have with one another. They sang each other's praises as they told me how they met and forged a friendship that naturally turned into a business partnership, and how their parallel paths eventually brought them together.
I first met Laura several years ago when we were in classes together at George Brown College for interior decorating. Laura found her way into decorating organically - prior to entering the program, she pursued an education in PR at Concordia University, then followed that up with the fashion marketing program at LaSalle College. In her final year at LaSalle, she learned to use Illustrator for her Window Display course, but found that she had more fun using the tool for creating decorating mock-ups than using it for her fashion program. Since she was planning a move to Toronto with her now-fiancé Blayre, Laura enjoyed creating technical mock-ups of the apartment they were moving into. Around the same time, Laura discovered Anna Spiro's blog and, inspired by it, started a blog of her own, and continued to create decorating mock-ups and mood boards, using her blog as a place to share them. From there, Laura made connections with other decor bloggers and grew her readership until eventually she caught the attention of Style At Home magazine, and contacted her to publish a feature on Laura and her home. Laura had already been offering decorating services, and though the magazine feature brought more work her way, she wasn't yet quite ready to take it on full-time, as she was also heavily involved in Elle & Be Films, a wedding and lifestyle cinematography company that she co-founded with Blayre.
Client LA Chic
Kelly Lynn is also a blogger, and she and Laura initially met online, forming a relationship by commenting on each's blog posts and connecting over social media. They finally met in person at a shopping party hosted by Lindsay Stephenson, a fellow blogger and owner of Penny Paper Co.; Laura and Kelly Lynn hit it off right away and started spending more time together. It was only a matter of time before they would start a business together. Kelly Lynn had been working in the PR field for five years but was unhappy because it wasn't her dream job. She was discussing her unhappiness with her husband, Andrew, that there wasn't anything about her career that excited her anymore, and, as if the powers of the universe could hear her, she was let go from her job only weeks later, proving that sometimes you need someone else to make the decision to leave before you can move on. Kelly Lynn saw this as an opportunity, and since she always had an interest in design and the creative arts, she enrolled herself in some of the interior decorating courses at George Brown College. She then did an internship with Toronto-based interior designer Lisa Canning. Kelly Lynn was considering starting her own design business, and having previously worked with Laura on a styling project, she approached her about considering a partnership. The timing was perfect, because at that time, Laura was herself thinking about taking on more design work.
The two are now quite the pair, who work together and with their client to create a living space that reflects the client's sensibilities while infusing their own developed aesthetic. They attribute their successful partnership to their mutual respect for each other (they may not always agree on everything, but they respect each other's point of view) and to recognizing their strengths and weaknesses (they each bring skills to the table that the other doesn't have). It was delightful to hear them speak about each other - they each expressed how the other inspires her to grow, and how they keep pushing each other to get better at what they do. It was inspiring to hear how these two women elevate and support each other.
Check out Elsie & Kel's website for more information on their design services and to view the stunning interiors in their client portfolio. Fun fact: included among their clients is pop singer Kiesza - Laura and Kelly Lynn designed her Los Angeles home!
Want more? Let's hear from Laura and Kelly Lynn! Here's what We Want To Know:
I can't start my morning without... A glass of water, a smoothie, and washing my face..... I am not functional prior to these rituals!
I have a weakness for... Antique & Thrift Stores. I can't pass one without having a strong urge to see what treasures may be hidden inside!
Most people don't know that I... I lived in Munich for 1.5 years- I was an Au pair. Guten tag!
Currently reading... Big Little Lies, I couldn't get enough of the show, I wanted to learn more about the characters.
I want... To travel to Portugal, Singapore, Maine..... I have an endless list of places I want to visit, this weekend I am heading to New Orleans and can cross it off my list!
I can't start my morning without... My coffee - typical, but true!
I have a weakness for... Shoes, alllllll the shoes!
Most people don't know that I... I'm a pretty open book so this is hard but I'm going to say that I have crooked pinky fingers.
Currently reading... "Are you there Vodka, it's me Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler - It's pretty meh but at the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to read every book in my possession that I hadn't before I purchased a new one.
I want... To travel back to Bali.
Many thanks to Laura and Kelly Lynn for participating in #WeWantToKnow!
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