When I think Lisa Jarvis, I first think sweet soul, the light of the world, passionate human being. Then I think VOGUE! Then I can’t help but think of her amazing furniture hardware.
Additionally, when I just want a laugh, I call Lisa. She’s the one person that I know that can crow better than any rooster, ribbit like a frog, bark like a dog, and probably perfectly imitate any other animal that you throw at her. Not to mention, her southern dialect is down near puuuuurrrfect! And her British accent isn’t too bad either. BUT, to see the southern drawl coming from Anna Wintour’s wish-a-like is downright hilllllarious! Plus, she’s super talented and inspiring not to mention amazing at her bread + butter = furniture hardware. She’s truly a designer and architect’s hidden secret and best friend.
If you enjoy this read a tenth as much as I do hearing Lisa’s stories, you’re in for a treat. Here she is in her own words….
1.) PSTR: Lisa, aside from being the world’s most spectacular cabinet + furniture hardware designer, you are such a high fashion fashionista! For starters, you must tell us where your rockin’ wardrobe originates!
Lisa: My entire style was co-opted by the designers of old Hollywood. I was/am an old movie lover and as a child learned both fashion and interior design (and my speaking style — rapid and clear enunciation!) by osmosis. Glued to the black and white in my bedroom, I believed this was the way the real world should be: Glamorous.
2.) PSTR: You pose like a fashion model! We’re all wondering… have you ever modeled or did you ever desire a career in modeling?
Lisa: When I was 17, I submitted a portfolio of photos I had art directed to several agencies in my hometown of L.A. No go… the standard then was simple. The measurement of your leg from the kneecap to the ankle. I was short by two inches and so, was shown the door. I patterned myself after my heroines —- Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard and Jean Arthur. Now, they had style
3.) PSTR: Exactly how did you get into designing furniture + cabinet hardware?
Lisa: I have designed furniture for myself and friends for 40 years. When my husband prompted me to start a furniture company, I did. Two weeks before the launch of that venture — whoops — no hardware. My darling then said, “Draw something. I’ll get it made in time’ The Barre and the Lily were my first attempt and continue to be huge sellers. The furniture company is long gone and the hardware increases monthly.
4.) PSTR: Do you like to collaborate with others? If so, tell us how a furniture or cabinet hardware collaboration with another architect or designer works?
Lisa: I collaborate by happily creating custom hardware and other items. It’s simple, really. Either a client wants to resize one of my current designs, which only requires a new CAD drawing and mold from one of the foundries I work with or, often a designer will sketch an idea on a napkin or send a couple of photos and I extrapolate from there. It’s NOT crazy expensive. I want my art to be in the world, not “under glass” somewhere.
5.) PSTR: What projects have you worked on or designers that you’ve worked with that are you most proud of?
Lisa: I am such a new company, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities yet to expand my vision outside of what I (truly) do for myself. But I have been flattered to work with Campion Platt, Darrin Varden, Clive Christian, Donna Moss, Denise McGaha, Michelle Workman (an early adopter!), Century Furniture, Oomph, and so on. I would love to be able to give all of the wonderful people I work with a shout out. Maybe next interview — smile
6.) Where does your design inspiration for your furniture and cabinet jewelry (aka. hardware) come from? I see shapes everywhere. It has gotten so extreme lately there are several paintings in my home that have images of them that now seen cannot be unseen!
7.) PSTR: What is the most challenging thing about your business? How do you overcome it?
Lisa: Self-funding. Overcoming it is just a matter of holding to the happy mental vision of success and daily application to work. Not hard really. I have to do something with my days, right?
8.) PSTR: I rarely say this to small business owners, because I’m somewhat of a branding nazi, but here goes an ultimate compliment… you’re an awesome entrepreneur and exceptional at following suit with your brand guidelines. What advice do you give entrepreneurs who want to start their own brands or businesses?
Lisa: You are a darling! Thanks for the props. Research and careful use of credit. If you get “in bed” with the wrong vendors or overextend yourself, you will likely meet trouble. Don’t push. If this thing you desire is yours and you work toward it without demand, it will come. Slow, steady, happy=peaceful success.
9.) PSTR: You live in New York City, right? Where exactly? (without giving the address ….I thought you said near Central Park?)
Lisa: My wonderful husband, Ian of 24 years in October, and I have an apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan on Central Park West. It is a little, perfect spot with a spectacular view. I, in fact, live upstate in the Hudson Valley — Columbia County. Ian visits on weekends. We built a house six feet from a small lake 17 years ago and as I have a Standard Poodle and staff, the office space and warehousing is much more amenable here. So, I work at home and have an office and warehousing five minutes away.
10.) PSTR: What does a day in the Life of Lisa look like?
Lisa: Up around 7:30. Emails, texts and call returns that have come in the night (or ignored after 7 the previous evening!). Shower, sit at the desk all day! That’s the worst part. I am about to invest in a stand-up desk. Everything comes in over email or phone. The days fly past. I need more exercise!
11.) PSTR: What are your top recommendations for food when visiting the Big Apple? Two of my favorites have disappeared.
Lisa: Spiga and Ouest were priced out of the city… Wah! I like Fig and Olive in Meatpacking. Morandi (though VERY loud) in the Village. Tarallucci e Vino on 18th and the many tiny restaurants around the city. It’s fun to simply try things while there.
12.) PSTR: I know you’re a huge vintage shopper. Please do tell us your favorite online shoes and/or brick and mortars throughout the world.
Lisa: I shop Etsy.com a lot. I travel to shows to see my hardware dealers, etc. and one of the first things I do before arriving is Google “best vintage clothing in…” Miami and Tampa, FL. Grapevine and Dallas, TX, Detroit, and Chicago have been recent forays. I usually have a couple of hours per trip to explore the offerings. It’s fun, and for me refreshing, to take a break to find a slice of the past to bring forward. I am not interested in huge price tags or looking like someone on a runway. I prefer being ME! Expressing my own style by resurrecting the past.
13.) PSTR: If you were showing me around New York for the day, where would we go and what would we see?
Lisa: Breakfast at Evergreen in Chinatown. A cavernous space serving dim sum then walk a few blocks east to one of my favorite places, The New York Tenement Museum. It is on Hester Street and has a docent-guided tour of original tenement apartments complete with the artifacts of the previous tenants. Truly a trip back in time. German, Italian and Jewish households. More than a peek into the lives they led over 100 years ago in this great and ever-changing city. Then, wander around Nolita and Soho until a subway to 59th and Columbus. Walk in the park for a bit to get some fresh air, then the Design Museum at Columbus Circle. Check out the gift store — neat jewelry — and then the exhibit there. It’s small so not exhausting. Upstairs to Robert’s for a drink and snack. Cool room and a great view over Central Park. Pop over to TKTS booth to snag half-price tickets to a show.
14.) PSTR: Aside from living in one of my favorite cities in the world, tell us about the stamps in your passport and your favorite places to travel.
Lisa: Morocco! One of the best places. Cuba! Both are musts. I lead with those as they are populated with some of the nicest humans I have ever met. Kindness and generosity in the midst of extreme poverty. Delighted to live amongst them, however briefly. Paris! I have visited many times and had the good fortune to work on a design job there for three months. Oui! Je parle un peu de la Francais maintenant!
It’s funny, I ended up in the hardware business working in India when for decades I had read tons of books about India and practiced yoga. I was always fascinated by the Indian culture. Going there is always a treat. One caution, be prepared for extremes of all kinds.
15.) PSTR: How do you prepare and plan for your travels and trips?
16.) PSTR: Your skin is flawless and you’re always so remarkably chic… bangs and all… tell us about your beauty regime. Got any tips for beauty products or routines?
Lisa: I wash my face twice a day with Shiseido cleanser (since 15), moisturize with whaddevah, keep my hands off it. Stay out of the sun. Smile a lot and have good hair scissors to keep my bang line straight between cuts. I am not a fussy gal. If it takes more than 10 minutes, I don’t need it. One exception, eyelash extensions. I nap for an hour while my adorable, Daphne applies my battable beauties once a month. Even my husband notices when I need them touched up. Nothing like being pretty (ish) in the a.m.
17.) PSTR: What phone apps are your go-to right now?
Lisa: Audible.com. Maps for GPS. That’s about it. I need to know where I’m going and be entertained while on the way. I am a book addict.
People often lament they don’t remember what they read. My attitude is I don’t remember every meal I ate either. Doesn’t mean I don’t need it daily. For me, same goes with books. Just pour them in or I am too hungry!
18.) PSTR: What do you refuse to leave home without?
19.) PSTR: What are people most surprised about when they get to really know you?
Lisa: I really don’t know? Maybe that I am deeply interested in them and kind.
20.) PSTR: What are your pet peeves?
Lisa: The overuse of the word “Like.” Cuz, ya know, it is totally, like, irritating to, like, hear the word, like, used 20 times in, like, one, like a paragraph. GAH!!!!
21.) PSTR What is your secret spice to life?
Lisa: Books and amusing myself with my silliness. I love being silly. I talk to myself a lot in foreign accents or dialects of the U.S. and do animal impressions. I make up rhyming songs and sing them to my dog. I look for beauty everywhere and practice random acts of kindness. I do my best to stay “AWAKE.”
22.) PSTR: If you could do anything over, what would it be?
Lisa: I would have been less concerned (starting at 17) with creating a beautiful home for myself and spent the money on adventure travel. I would have embraced my individual beauty instead of hating myself for not being perfect. Thankfully, I got over that in time for the wrinkling!
23.) PSTR: Do you have kids? If so, tell us about your parenting advice.
Lisa: No babies. Just a one at a time Standard Poodle. I think my advice would be the same if I did have a child. First, LOVE. Fair-minded discipline and play. Healthy food, exercise and high expectations for them to be fully themselves. Whatever form that takes.
Thank you, dear Christie. You are a light in the world
PSTR: Thank you, Lisa! You know you’re one of my favorite people in the entire world! You’re truly the happiest soul I know! Thanks for being a light and for sharing your amazing abilities to mimmick animal sounds too! BIG HUG XO ~ Christi