Growing up, so many of us are advised to “do what you love.” But making that happen can prove to be a challenge.
Cortney Novogratz founded design company Novogratz with her husband Robert Novogratz after renovating a townhome in New York City.
“We love what we do and we don’t know if we found our passion or if our passion found us, but building a brand is a lot harder than one can imagine,” Novogratz says. “It’s taken us time, energy, luck and we’re always excited to do more.”
Since then, they’ve spent the last 25 years developing and designing homes, offices, buildings and hotels — among other projects.
“From day one, we wanted to share what we loved with the world,” Novogratz says. “A great space is like good music, it affects you emotionally. We knew that if we could bring high-end design at affordable prices, we’d be successful. We believe everyone should have access to good design that can make their home a place they want to be.”
Their work has taken them into the spotlight. Media coverage eventually turned into television programs on Bravo and HGTV plus four books, according to Novogratz.
“Ultimately, we launched The Novogratz, which initially launched at CB2,” she says.
Now their brand is visible in many locations including Target.
“Create what you believe,” she said. “Have conviction and reach out to those you want to work with. If someone says no, don’t take it personally, keep going until you find the right partner, someone who shares your vision.”
But launching your own brand and sticking with what your vision is can prove challenging. Here are five lessons to keep in mind from Novogratz on how to stay the course:
“Keep your eye on the big picture, race horses have blinders on so they only look forward not to their left or right, don’t listen to the noise.”
Novogratz, who is the mom of seven, uses social media such as Instagram both to communicate with her audience to keep them up to date on the Novogratz family on her own platform and through the brand’s account to showcase design work.
“We’ve had a chance to connect with great people who have shared their designs using our products, which is always exciting to see,” she says. “And we love to see their take on design and creating a happy environment. We often showcase their designs—it inspires others and it inspires us.”
They also use social media to look for feedback from their audience. “It’s like a real-time focus group,” Novogratz says.
While social media can be a very useful tool that can be implemented to help grow one’s business it can also have some downsides — it’s important, according to Novogratz, to not let it have a negative impact and to keep your focus.
“We live in a world of social media where everyone shows their feathers,” she explains. “It can be fun, and always be positive to others, but don’t equate their success or failure with your own. So keep your eye on your big picture.”
“Don’t take your failures or successes so seriously.”
Everyone wins and everyone loses in a long career but it’s how one responds to those moments of victory and defeat that can benefit their career in the long run.
“People with the greatest victories are the ones who bounce back from the failures. Certainly celebrate your success because you’ve earned them,” Novogratz says. “And it’s okay if you cry for an afternoon, but don’t take it either too seriously.”
The most important thing is to continue moving forward.
“Nurture your village, you’ll need to lean on them to balance while you try to juggle it all.”
Novogratz said her “village” is made up of her family, friends and colleagues — which remain a priority, even when business gets busy.
“Be there for whoever you can, because you never know when you’ll need their support,” she says. “Give without expectation and nurture those closest to you.”
“You are your own best salesperson.”
Novogratz believes that everyone is “capable of being a one person Mardi Gras.”
“We all have it in us and nobody will do it for you,” she says.
Selling your idea or following your dream is up to you alone.
“March to your own drum, remember if you’re like everyone else then you’re like everyone else.”
Not everyone is going to be supportive of one’s goals but that can’t deter one from forging ahead.
“When we bought our first condemned building, people thought we were nuts,” Novogratz says. “With great effort we turned it into a win.”
When they did the same thing at a larger scale, they received the same reaction.
“In the end, people will never tell you to take a big risk, but they’ll be there to celebrate with you when it pays off,” she says.