Celebrity stylist Karla Welch knows the importance of having a style uniform—and what happens when you try to fight it.  

Welch, dubbed the No. 1 power stylist by The Hollywood Reporter—with clients including Amy Poehler, Ruth Negga, Karlie Kloss, and Zooey Deschanel—recently booked a crack-of-dawn flight from Los Angeles to New York for an event at WeWork 205 Hudson. Bleary-eyed at 3:30 a.m. and prepping for her flight, Welch packed exactly one outfit: a dress. At the last minute, she threw in a favorite pair of jeans. Just in case.

When she landed in New York, she slipped on the dress to wear to the panel discussion about WISHI, the on-demand personal-styling platform she co-founded with stylist Cleo O’Hana. But the dress was all wrong, she says. Backup jeans it was.

Celebrity stylist Karla Welch’s own style uniform consists of three items: jeans, a blazer, and a white T-shirt.

That’s the power of a personal style uniform. “It’s a security blanket,” says Welch, who wears a white shirt, jeans, boots, and blazer during most of her nonstop days spent styling clients, consulting on advertising campaigns, and designing custom pieces for Justin Bieber’s world tours.

There’s a reason uniform dressing is catching on: When you streamline one aspect of your life, it frees up your brain to focus elsewhere. When you’re busy or building a company from the ground up, says Welch, “your mind is needed for other things.”  

At WeWork, Karla Welch shared the stage with fashion names like WISHI cofounder Clea O’Hana (left) and B Sides Jeans cofounder Stacy Daily (right).

Famously, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Barack Obama have all admitted to wearing nearly the same outfits every day; now entrepreneurs and ambitious workers are following suit (while ditching the suit). How to begin? First, take a deep breath. “The thing is, it’s just clothes,” Welch says. “You don’t need to stress out.”

Keep it supersimple. Ask yourself, What are you looking for? advises Welch, who says it’s the first question she poses to clients. For example: “clean lines, not too fussy, something to move around the city in.” Creating a style target helps narrow your options. Welch’s own uniform consists of three items: jeans, blazer, white T-shirt. Yours could be a slight variation: stylish trousers, say, or sweaters during the winter.

Consider your days. Are you in and out of meetings? Does your commute feel like it’s 100 degrees, even in the winter—except when it’s not? Your uniform should be adaptable and feel comfortable in a variety of situations. “A uniform is a time-saver so you can do better things,” Welch says. It should never be a source of worry.

Start with what you have. Uniform dressing seems like a minimalist endeavor, yet it’s easy to think you need to buy a new wardrobe. Don’t, says Welch, who advocates wearing pieces for years. Start by shopping your own closet. It’s less expensive and more sustainable—plus, creating a style identity from familiar pieces you already own makes it more likely you’ll stick with it.

Ask one crucial question. Pick items that make you feel powerful and build from there. Ask yourself, “Do I feel good in this item?” If the answer is yes, add it to your rotation. If the answer’s no, consider donating it.

Look to the greats. Channel inspiration from artists, cinema, and celebrities. Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons dresses almost exclusively in black, save for the occasional white shirt. And the artist Georgia O’Keeffe was notoriously rigid with her self-created wardrobe—so much so that her iconic androgynous silk, cotton, and wool outfits have been showcased in museum exhibits.

Solicit a second opinion. If you’re at a loss, hire an expert. It might be a better use of your time than opening 47 shopping tabs in your browser and searching for the right piece. On WISHI, each user is matched with a professional stylist. You send photographs of your wardrobe, and the stylist sends back suggestions from your own closet and from online stores.

Beat back boredom. Growing up, Welch wore a school uniform, but instead of resenting the predictability and sameness, she says, “it pushed me to be creative.” The same goes for an adult uniform. “The goal is to feel confident, not bored,” she says. “It takes a remarkable amount of confidence to wear something over and over again.” And if repetition can breed success, then a uniform could be your strongest style move yet.

Photos by Lori Gutman

As the space between work and not-work becomes ever more blurred, questions about how to do this thing we plug away at for 30 or 40 or 70 hours a week become all the more expansive. In this column, Work Flow, we delve into the novel dilemmas created by the new ways we work, as well as timeless questions about ethics, gender assumptions, and toxic work situations (and how to escape them). How we work is an important component of how we live—and we’re here to help you do better at both.

Something messing with your flow? Unload your work problems here, and you’ll not only feel heard, but you’ll also get unbiased, real-world advice. (That’s something your work sibling/spouse just can’t offer.) Tell us everything: creator@wework.com.

I’ve been job-searching for a while. Typically, when I get an offer, I ask for a reasonable or even large sum for my salary—then the employer counters with radically less than that. At this point, I’m not really in the position to say no. Is there a way to say yes that might a) set up a path for better compensation, b) acknowledge that we both know I should get more, which might help if/when I either bounce for a better-paying job or inform them I’ve got a better offer in, like, a couple of months, and c) maintain my dignity?

Salary strategizing is worse than dating. Everyone’s keeping their cards close, trying to guess what the other person will say or do, and you’re supposed to somehow meet in the middle on the basis of being indirect. What a mess! But you’re doing things right here: Go in with a sense of what you think you deserve, whether that’s “reasonable” or “large.” Many of us have a hard time asking for something other than too little (I have made it a goal to always ask for a little more, just for practice, and I’ve found I get it more often than not). Don’t go in uninformed; do plenty of research, on the internet and among friends, into what the market rate is for compensation—and have a practiced speech making the case for why you deserve more than the average.

Also, spend some time thinking about what you really want with this job. It’s not wholly about money, generally, though, of course, work is always about money. Go beyond the realm of salary. There are ways to get “more” that don’t involve compensation: vacation days, work flexibility, office perks or benefits (phone credit? gym credit? educational subsidies?), or future opportunities to expand the role. You may be able to request a salary renegotiation after, say, six months, or bonuses for work well done (make sure this is quantitative, like selling 10,000 picnic tables in a year). The more strategic and thorough negotiation you are willing and able to do, the better sense the company has of how much you’re worth, because YOU know what you’re worth, and are willing to fight for it. A recent study found that almost 40 percent of people didn’t negotiate at all. You’re never going to get more money if you don’t ask for it.

As for bouncing for a better offer, your answer is in the question itself. That’s often the easiest and fastest way to get a company to up your initial salary, particularly if you’ve proven your worth in your time with them. If something better comes in, definitely bring it to the attention of your boss.

Dignity-wise, the best thing is to truly know thyself. If you feel in your gut a job is not going to be worth it, if you know you’re going to resent every single moment (and if you can afford to do so): Keep looking. According to the numbers, employment is up. Sure, a lot of that depends on your industry and your particular job needs—but you’re always worth more than what you do for a living, even when American society tries to make you feel differently.

In a culture that assigns social cachet to being “busy,” how do you avoid falling into the trap of chasing busyness as a badge of honor?

Sometimes I look at people around me who are accomplishing a lot, and I wonder how they possibly do it. So-and-so has written a third book before her second is even out? Does that successful person not sleep at all? Why is everyone else so good at what they do, and why I am achieving so little in comparison? I must be lazy, or bad, or bad and lazy.

It’s enough to make you waste an entire hour on Instagram, spiraling out as you view another’s portrayal of go-go-go success, feeling like crap all the while. But the thing is, we know very little about what others are truly giving up to get where they are, or how they’re doing it at all. We only know what they put forward for us to see, which is often a depiction of this “busyness” thing, whether it’s posting up a storm or being always available on Slack or constantly taking meetings or seemingly writing six books in the time it takes the rest of us to write one.  

This is the trap: the perception, the presumption. Tune out the busyness. It doesn’t matter. Tune out the sense of competition around you, of life being a race that you can never give up or back down on, and for which you have to keep running faster. Stop trying to keep up, to seem like you’re keeping up, because it’s a losing game. Instead, go somewhere quiet, somewhere away from the busyness noise, and look at the thing you want to do, and start to tackle it bit by bit by bit. You’ll actually be busy, then, but it will be real, and when you’re done, you’ll feel great about it rather than spent and thwarted and confused about what your purpose was in the first place. Chase the thing, not the busyness.

Also, spend more time away from social media. You’ll find you don’t miss it, and your life is oddly fuller. You’ll spend less time being “busy” and more time being happy, and isn’t that the point, really?

My whole office is moving to a new building, and my friend has a plan to take over a spare empty desk with her plants. Our other co-worker is vehemently against it. What should my friend do? What kind of person hates plants?!

Alas, unless you have permission from the boss/human resources/Mother Earth herself, it’s poor form to co-opt another desk, no matter how nice one’s plants (or portraits of clowns, or Rubik’s Cube collection, or ant farm) might be. Plant-haters might be allergic, they might be jerks, they might have prasinophobia (fear of green!), they might just prefer the peace of an empty desk in the midst. Whatever it is, your friend should focus on her work and work on her green thumb at home, and you should do the same … but if you want to keep a plant or two at your own desks, so be it.

Illustrations by Alana Peters / The We Company

Startup founders have infamously unpredictable daily schedules as they work to establish and grow their businesses. What does such an entrepreneur’s weekly, daily, or even hourly routine look like when sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day? In The Startup Diaries, founders walk us through a week in their lives and show what it really takes to get a fledgling business off the ground.

“It was completely irrational and crazy, but I wanted to do something that I could be passionate about.” This is how entrepreneur Jurrien Swarts explains his decision to leave a lucrative job in finance to work full time on Stojo, a line of sustainable collapsible travel cups, in 2015.

He and some co-workers came up with the idea a few years earlier, but it wasn’t until 2014, when they had a prototype in hand, that they launched a Kickstarter campaign. “The prototype took us two years of working nights and weekends—we weren’t superserious at that point,” says Swarts, a member at WeWork Labs at WeWork 81 Prospect St in Brooklyn, New York.

When they raised $128,000 ($118,000 more than their goal!), Swarts got more serious. “It was another signal that there was pent-up demand for what we were trying to make,” he says. By the following summer, he pulled the ripcord and threw himself into Stojo full-time.

“It was a pretty wild ride,” he says of the first three years. “Hard, long hours. Stressful. I was one guy doing everything.” (His co-founders have equity in the business and weigh in on big decisions but don’t work on it full time.) “I had to build it from the ground up”—scouting manufacturers, securing a warehouse, building a website, setting up sales channels, raising more funds. “It took until spring 2018 before I finally knew it wasn’t going to fail.”

“It was completely irrational and crazy, but I wanted to do something that I could be passionate about,” says Stojo co-founder Jurrien Swarts.

Stojo sold 70,000 cups in 2017 and nearly 1 million last year. (Products are available at Stojo.co and Amazon and via retailers like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s.) This year, he says he’s on track to sell more than 5 million, possibly double that. Swarts—who’s focused on expanding his line to include an 8-oz. cup, a 24-oz. cup, a collapsible salad bowl, and a water bottle—shares the details of a recent workweek.

Monday

5:30 a.m. Wake up. Was supposed to go to hot pilates, but I have a headache, so I take two ibuprofen and go back to sleep.

8 a.m. Wake up for real. Drink my alkalizing green juice, Yogi joint-relief tea, and black coffee. When I’m in the office or at home I use ceramic mugs. I only use Stojos when I’m traveling or going to the park on weekends.

8:15 a.m. Turn on WQXR classical radio 105.9. Check emails, review calendar, and prep for Monday morning team meeting.

8:45 a.m. Hop on my bike to make the 10-minute commute to my WeWork in Dumbo.

9 a.m. Grab second coffee. Start meeting. Teammates share whatever they want about their weekend. I read an inspirational quote by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS: “Life is more fun when you stop caring what other people think.” We go through high-level priorities for the week.

10 a.m. Executive-coaching session with Amy Jin. We delve into relationship-building, personal and professional development goals, and actualization exercises, then set our curriculum for the next month.

1 p.m. Grab third coffee of the day. Interview potential operations hire. Went great. The candidate has an incredible pedigree, used to work at Warby Parker, and is aligned with the Stojo mission. Given our small but growing team (I’ll have nine full-timers by the time this runs), everyone needs to approve a hire.

3 p.m. Head to Mulberry & Vine for lunch. I eat the same vegetarian meal most days (raw spinach bowl with brown rice and baked sesame tofu).

3:15 p.m. Weekly marketing meeting with my CGO (chief growth officer), Megan Markey, who is responsible for all sales verticals and oversees marketing while we build out our marketing team.

4:30 p.m. Grab fourth coffee. Start cleaning the office in preparation for new graphic designer starting Wednesday. This is the first time we’ve attempted to clean since spring 2018. What a mess!

5:15 p.m. Catch up on emails, schedule investors meetings, reply to questions from our global VP of sales.

5:30 p.m. Finish cleaning the office. It feels great to have it behind us.

6:30 p.m. Meet with WeWork Labs manager to discuss investors and networking opportunities.

7:15 p.m. Hop on bike to ride home to Fort Greene.

7:30 p.m. Decompress and eat dinner.

8 p.m. Binge-watch season eight of Suits and eat half a bag of Garden of Eatin’ blue corn chips and some of my kids’ chocolate coins. Don’t judge.

11:30 p.m. Sleep.

Tuesday

6 a.m. Alarm goes off. Time to get ready for pilates class. Ugh. Snooze.

6:10 a.m. Second alarm goes off. Ugh. Snooze.

6:20 a.m. Third alarm goes off. Double ugh. But I can’t bail on class two days in a row. Get up.

6:45 a.m. Hop on bike for 2-mile ride to pilates studio in Williamsburg.

7 a.m. Inferno Hot Pilates at YO BK—all HIIT [high-intensity interval training] exercises, kicks my ass.

8:20 a.m. Respond to work texts and messages from one of our two factories in China.

8:30 a.m. Get ready for work, listen to WQXR classical radio 105.9, and review calendar, to-do lists, and emails.

9:10 a.m. Take B69 bus to work. Continue to text and email.

9:30 a.m. Grab coffee and say good morning to the team.

9:45 a.m. Chat with a WeWork Labs founder about testing their meditation product—a favor to a fellow entrepreneur—then start working on investor reports.

11:15 a.m. Inspect trade-show booth we used in 2018 to make sure it’s structurally sound for the April Speciality Coffee Expo in Boston.

11:35 a.m. Depart office to attend to a personal matter. I have a 2-year-old and 4-year-old, and I’m going through a difficult situation at home. Life happens, even when you’re building a company, and I try to be a great dad.

2 p.m. Call with Lonely Whale, an organization dedicated to protecting our oceans, to discuss a possible partnership. We’re working on partnerships with Unicef, 1% for the Planet, and others. It’s part of our commitment to educate people on the impact of trash and end disposable culture while also reaching new audiences and getting our brand out there.

3-3:30 p.m. Email.

3:30-5 p.m. Meet with brand-strategy consultant. We want to take our brand to the next level, to have people think of us as a sustainability/lifestyle company that is more on par with an All Birds or an Away or a Warby Parker. We need our social media, our press releases, our website, and our listings on other company websites to be cohesive and unified.

5:15-8 p.m. Pick up kids. Cook, homework, shower, bedtime. I leave the office at 5:15 on the nights I have my kids, no matter what I’m doing. I shut off the phone and stay present. My life wouldn’t have as much meaning if it wasn’t for them.

Swarts, a WeWork Labs member in Brooklyn, left his job in finance in 2015 to work full time on Stojo, a line of sustainable collapsible travel cups.

Wednesday

5 a.m. Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

5:09 a.m. Get up and make my usual—juice, tea, and coffee—then review calendar and reply to email.

5:40 a.m. Leave for yoga.

7:30 a.m. Shower and leave for work.

8:10 a.m. Arrive to work; coffee No. 2.

9 a.m. Call with my top distributor. I can’t give too much detail, but I had to make a tough strategic decision, which I had to communicate with her while keeping her motivated. I do not like confrontation, but I am getting really good at it and advocating for the brand.

10 a.m. Work on investor reports. I’ve had “investor reports” on my to-do list for about a month. This is a classic example of me overthinking stuff and not getting it done in the two hours that I should because I’m a perfectionist.

11 a.m. Tour new office space. With our staff growing, we’re scoping out a 10-person office in the WeWork at Navy Yard.

12 p.m. Call with a corporate client about piloting a closed-loop system, which is a next iteration of Stojo that we’re exploring. How can we create reusable systems within corporations to give their dining services sustainable options? So we would deliver clean takeout containers, their staffs would use them and dispose of them, then we would recollect them, take them off site, clean them, and redeliver them. If we could show that system works, we’d want to scale it up.

1 p.m. Welcome lunch for our new graphic designer.

3 p.m. Call with potential ops hire.

4 p.m. Call with co-founder.

5:15-8 p.m. Pick up kids, shop for groceries, cook, shower, bedtime.

8:30 p.m. Clean kitchen.

9 p.m. Read Directorate S. I enjoy books about politics, history, philosophy, and religion.

10 p.m. Catch up with my cousin to make plans for the weekend. Since hiring my COO, Jake Kelsey—my first real employee—in April last year, I’ve been able to take my foot off the gas a little. I’m more relaxed, and I’m enjoying life more.

Thursday

5:40 a.m. Wake up, check calendar, and review to-do list.

6 a.m. Drink my green juice, tea, and coffee.

6:30 a.m. Bike to pilates.

7:45 a.m. Walk kids to school.

10 a.m. Product development call with one of our factories.

11 a.m. Email.

12 p.m. Nap at home followed by lunch.

2 p.m. Call with a branding agency.

3 p.m. Meeting with another branding agency. We’ve talked to like seven or eight different agencies at this point, and we’re trying to figure out: What bells and whistles do we need? How much hand-holding is it going to take? How likely is it that we’re going to get an amazing product?

4 p.m. Call with one of Stojo’s investors to discuss product-development and plans for next year.

5 p.m. Internal meeting.

6:30 p.m. Bike home.

7 p.m. Clean kitchen.

8 p.m. Call with therapist.

9:30 p.m. Watch Game of Thrones series premiere. I’ve never watched it before, but people are like, “You look like that guy Tormund.” He’s got this big red beard and angular nose, and I do have to admit, I look a little bit like him. So I started watching the show because of that.

Friday

5:30 a.m. Wake up, turn off the alarm, and sleep in until 7.

7-8:45 a.m. Check emails, review calendar and to-do list, and leave for work.

9-10:30 a.m. Move stuff from office into storage to make room for new hires. The more I hire and train people, the more I can focus on being a CEO with a vision. It’s so nice to be in that phase because the artistic part, the strategy—that’s really what I enjoy.

12:30 p.m. Review proposed tooling changes with one of our factories.

1 p.m. Speak with attorneys about the cost of fixing an admin issue versus leaving it alone.

2 p.m. Contact investors re: stock split. This is an easy process, but I need to tie up the legal paperwork for each of our 12 investors

3-4:30 p.m. Call with yet another branding agency.

4:30 p.m. Go over workflow process with new graphic designer.

5 p.m. Meet with WeWork Labs manager. We discuss raising capital, potential investors, and just life in general. For me, one of the best parts of running a business is the social interactions I get to have with people who I get to know over a long period of time. I focus on how they are doing and feeling, and what’s going on for them in life. We’re all on this planet trying to make our way … may as well make it meaningful with the people you spend most of your waking hours with.

5:30 p.m. Call with the marketing head of a major company to discuss our marketing hire needs. This is another fact-gathering mission because when you’re a startup, every dollar you spend counts, and I don’t want to make a bad strategic decision.

7:30 p.m. Meet a friend for dinner and drinks. When I leave work, I can turn off. I’ve learned that to keep your sanity and your health, you need to set boundaries. This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, and I’m not a 22-year-old college graduate or dropout—I’m a 40-something-year-old guy who worked his ass off for 15 years in finance. I’m obviously not afraid of hard work, but I don’t work like crazy. I don’t have ulcers. I sleep at night.

Photographs by Liz Devine

About eight years ago, Wen-Jay Ying was playing in bands in New York’s underground music scene. It was a backstage conversation at a Flaming Lips show with lead singer Wayne Coyne that altered her life’s direction; Coyne counseled that sometimes the biggest impact one can have is by supporting the local community.

That advice resonated. After reading an article about how the decline of supermarkets in New York City has forced many people to rely on bodega foods, Ying pivoted to work with food nonprofits, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and farm stands before launching her own business, Local Roots NYC, an alternative CSA model catering to lower-income New Yorkers.    

Elana Karp’s heartstrings similarly led her into a food career. As an elementary school teacher, Karp became interested in the impact food had on her students’ energy and mood. She started teaching them about healthy eating and where their food comes from. That passion spurred her on to culinary school, and her current role as culinary co-founder and head chef at meal-kit service Plated, where she now teaches people how to cook and lead healthier lives.

Even Top Chef’s Gail Simmons, who joined Ying and Karp at Made by We in New York for a recent panel discussion on food entrepreneurship, found her path by taste, parlaying her love of food into a career. Writing about food brought her to culinary school to study on a deeper level. After many years at Food & Wine, she struck out on her own; a freeform life as a cookbook author, television personality, and full-fledged personal brand followed.

If the paths of these women food entrepreneurs don’t sound one-size-fits-all, that’s because they aren’t. So how can aspiring entrepreneurs interested in emulating their success find their way?

(From left) Wen-Jay Ying, Elana Karp, Gail Simmons, and moderator Daniela Galarza discussing launching a career in food.

Plan ahead, but not too far ahead. Simmons advises versatility and making smaller, more attainable goals. When she made the jump from full-time employee at Food & Wine to working for herself, she had no designs to become a TV personality. But when the Top Chef opportunity came along, she embraced it. If you look too far ahead, she said, something else will inevitably come along and redirect your well-made plans anyway.

Karp emphasized the importance of predicting problems—something you can’t do too far in advance—for near-future needs. When it comes to scaling, she says it’s essential to anticipate needs and fill them before they’re urgent. As an entrepreneur, she’s had to learn foresight. “If I want to get from A to B, I need someone to take this off my plate so I can focus on getting there,” she says.

You don’t have to be just one thing, and you probably shouldn’t. While Simmons is best known for Top Chef, filming each season only takes up about six weeks of the year; she keeps many other plates spinning so that if one falls, she doesn’t find herself without work.

“You can plan all you want,” she says, “but we won’t know what the next piece of new technology or the next platform or the next thing is. If you are an entrepreneur and have a little bit of pivot-ability, that makes you nimble and able to pivot wherever the world takes you. And that’s what I love about what I do, because I don’t have to just be one thing.”

(From left) Karp, Simmons, Ying, and Galarza posing together after their panel conversation.

Ying is also a wearer of many hats. Her daily tasks often include managing Local Roots’ social media, running operations, and taste-testing, as well as tackling emails and support requests. “We are a really small team,” she says, “so we all eventually do everything.”

Ying attributes her pivot-ability to her beginnings in the underground-music scene, but it’s a skill every successful entrepreneur should have. When you’re just starting out, you might not have the funding to hire an office manager, social-media manager, and bookkeeper, as well as a CEO; you may have to be all those things.

Learn how to metabolize harsh feedback. It’s challenging not to take negative feedback personally, but it’s something Karp often experiences at Plated. She finds it easy to focus on one negative comment about a recipe, despite ratings showing that thousands of other people tried and liked the same dish.

“In terms of recipe feedback that I get all the time, I hear one person say, ‘This was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten,’ but when I look at the ratings and I see the thousands of other people that tried it and liked it, it proves that even though that’s the one comment I remember, it’s not actually the truth,” she says.

Her advice: “Anchor yourself in data.” Feelings can be blinding, but when it comes to business, you typically have hard numbers and facts to rely on, like Karp does whenever she’s confronted with a recipe-hater. One squash-casserole detractor does not cancel out thousands of five-star reviewers.

Photographs by Liz Devine; header photograph by iStock

Startup founders have infamously unpredictable daily schedules as they work to establish and grow their businesses. What does such an entrepreneur’s weekly, daily, or even hourly routine look like when sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day? In The Startup Diaries, founders walk us through a week in their lives and show what it really takes to get a fledgling business off the ground.

If you’ve ever begrudgingly bought a sofa from a big-box store because you couldn’t afford an original piece from a boutique, Nidhi Kapur has lived your struggle. It’s what inspired her to start her e-commerce business, Maiden Home, which offers made-to-order furniture by high-end craftsmen at comparatively affordable prices.

She came up with the idea when she was director of business development at beauty-subscription service Birchbox, itself a startup at the time. “We were constantly listening to customer feedback and weren’t afraid to tweak the experience,” she says. “We were iterating on the fly, always innovating.” In late 2014, confident in what it took to build a brand online, she left her job at Birchbox to focus full-time on launching Maiden Home.

Her first step was to connect with furniture designers in New York. “I couldn’t design a piece of furniture, I couldn’t draw it,” says Kapur, a member at the city’s WeWork 222 Broadway. “But I could describe what I wanted it to look like—‘I really like the back that I found on this vintage piece and the arms that I found on this other.’”

She was about halfway through conceiving her collection in April 2015 when she traveled to Highpoint, North Carolina, for the manufacturing industry’s big trade show. “I had never set foot in a workroom,” Kapur says, “but I had researched and heard about the craftsmanship coming out of North Carolina. These artisans have raw talent, but they are lacking a way to reach the customer online. They sell through brick-and-mortar stores, they rely on those stores to do the marketing, and they don’t really control their own destiny.” She pitched them a solution: Build furniture for Maiden Home.

With three suppliers on board, she moved forward with product and site development, and in summer 2016, she launched the business in beta. (She initially invested about $500,000 from friends, family, and her own savings.) But she wanted to defer the press launch, which would be expensive, until she had more information. “I wanted to learn how people were reacting to the product. Do we want to make any tweaks?” Kapur says. She learned, she tweaked—and in March 2017, she made it official.

Today, the company is profitable (revenue hit $2 million in 2018 with a 15 percent growth rate month-over-month) and recently debuted a line of beds. Below, Kapur shares a diary of a workweek in the month leading up to her latest launch.

Nidhi Kapur, founder of Maiden Home.

Monday

5:30 a.m. Fly into LGA on a redeye from LAX. Hit the ground running after a friend’s bachelorette party in Mexico over the weekend.

8 a.m. Arrive at my home in Tribeca for a quick hug and kiss with my son, Shaan, who’s 18 months old. Touch base with our amazing nanny, Patricia, about his plan for the week. Order groceries for his meals via Amazon Prime Now (greatest mom hack). As a parent, I’m working with real time constraints for the first time in my career. I have to be so much more focused and disciplined about how I use my hours.

8:15 a.m. Hop in the shower, get ready, and head to the office. Grab an oat-milk latte at Irving Farm in Fulton Center on the way in. I order my coffee on Ritual for an easy pickup.

9 a.m.-12 p.m. I’ve cleared my calendar in case of travel delays, so I have a wide-open window to catch up on emails.

12:30-2:30 p.m. Touch base with my two direct reports. We have five people on the team, including me; three of them are on operations (one reports to me) and one is on marketing (she reports to me).

3 p.m. Meet to align on final pricing for our bed launch. We’re focused on delivering a higher level of design and quality than comparably priced, mass-market options. We use a competitive mapping exercise to gut-check our pricing, making sure we’re offering a healthy discount to a comparable quality product at traditional retail.

4 p.m. Call with SGS Agency, a new marketing agency we’ve partnered with to manage our paid-advertising efforts.

5:45 p.m. Run home to see Shaan and take over for Patricia.

6-7:30 p.m. Dedicated time to catch up with my husband and Shaan. We read some books, then do bath, bottle, and bedtime. My favorite time of day.

7:30 p.m. Call with our event stylist to discuss the creative direction and timeline for an event we’re hosting at my home for editors next week. We’re going to transform the space to showcase our newest product launch.

8-11 p.m. Dinner with my husband, followed by catching up on emails (with Netflix on) until it’s lights out.

Tuesday

6 a.m. Wake up and squeeze in a quick Peloton ride with my favorite instructor before Shaan is up.

7-8:30 a.m. Get myself and Shaan ready for the day. Head out the door.

11 a.m. Meeting to discuss how we can better personalize our internal communications flow for interior designers. About a third of our owners are coming through interior designers, but to date, we just have a blanket approach to how we talk to customers, and we realized that was a missed opportunity. So we reworked, for example, the followups that we do with customers, and adjusted them depending on whether they’re a designer or not.

12-1:30 p.m. Meet with event stylist at my home to discuss layout, styling details, and logistics. A lot has to come together in a short period of time, but we always make it happen!

2 p.m. Back at the office, we pause as a team to celebrate a “miracle of the week.”  Each week we develop a running list of “miracles”—amazing things that have happened at work, big or small. This week we celebrate the successful resolution of a particularly tricky customer delivery—the team handled it so well the customer wrote us a five-star review.

3:30-5:30 p.m. Working session with our marketing manager on content planning for the upcoming month. When we hired her last summer, we decided we wanted to invest in content marketing—deciding on your furniture is so difficult, and we felt like the content could offer so many great resources. Our bar for including content in the lineup is: “Does this bring value to our customer?”

Wednesday

9 a.m. Start the day at Hudson Yards, an exciting new retail development in NYC. We are participating in a pop-up, so I’m visiting to see how the space is coming together and host a training for the sales staff.

11 a.m. In a cab back to the office. Have a check-in call with our leather supplier, Moore & Giles. Leather orders have recently exploded, and we’re working with the team there to secure higher quantities.

12 p.m. Weekly quality check-in with our operations team. Our quality reputation is everything, so we are constantly iterating based on customer feedback. If we see, for example, that one of our pieces has a higher-than-average damage rate, we might go back to check how we packaged that piece.

2 p.m. Meeting to review the new updates to our home page. We’re just coming off a big photo shoot and have a ton of beautiful content to refresh the look and feel of the site for spring.

3-5 p.m. Prepare for a team trip to North Carolina to visit our supplier partners. We’re setting agendas, printing materials, and discussing how to divide and conquer once we’re on the factory floor.

Thursday

5 a.m. Out the door to LGA.

8:30 a.m. We land in Charlotte, NC, grab a rental car, and head to our first factory partner in Maiden. (I named the company before finding my partner here, by the way—such a coincidence.)

9 a.m.-12 p.m. Review final prototypes for our product launch. We make final tweaks to measurements, upholstery details, and specifications. Everyone’s super excited about how the product is coming together.

12-1 p.m. Lunch with my team at a local Mexican restaurant. We catch up on learnings from the previous meeting and go over agendas for the rest of the day.

1 p.m. Second supplier meeting in Maiden. Our second partner is actually a sister company to the first—all in the same third-generation, family-owned business.

3 p.m. Our last supplier meeting of the day in Hickory. They’ve built the final prototypes for other new products we have in the pipeline for later this year, and we go over pricing and specification details.

5 p.m. Back to CLT to fly home. We grab dinner as a team in the airport and jot down next steps from the meetings while the information is fresh in our minds.

9:30 p.m. Finally home. Give Shaan a quick kiss (he’s been asleep for a while), and catch up with my husband before hitting the hay.

Nidhi Kapur and her son, Shaan.

Friday

9 a.m.-12 p.m. Patricia’s at a doctor’s appointment all morning, so my husband and I tag-team watching Shaan. A slower start to the day, but I’m grateful for a little extra time with Shaan, and he’s loving having Mommy and Daddy at home on a Friday morning.

12:30 p.m. Head to the offices of SGS Agency. We spend a little over an hour reviewing our performance to date on paid advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as learnings we’ve uncovered about our best messaging strategies and customer targeting. They’ll take this information into consideration when developing a new campaign plan for us.

2 p.m. Back at the office and jump on a call with a prospective investor. We’re not raising money at the moment, but I like building relationships with investors to get feedback on the business. That way we know we’re making the right choice when we choose to raise.

3 p.m. In-person interview with a final-round candidate for the operations team.

5 p.m. End the week with a new tradition: Friday snaps. Everyone on the team sends me one-liner shoutouts to their fellow team members for the week. I gather all the responses and call them out, rapid-fire, in celebration of another insanely productive week.

I really prioritize team and company culture. In the early days of a startup, you’re asking your team to dedicate themselves, with passion and hard work, to the building of a vision; in return, you hope to reward them with a career experience they can’t get anywhere else. One of Maiden Home’s greatest accomplishments is attracting the rockstar team that I feel lucky to work with every day.

Photographs by Katelyn Perry