Ariel is one of my favourite Interior Designers, specialising in luxury residential, commercial and hospitality projects across the US. During the six years since Ariel established her New York based brand she has burst onto the scene working on some incredible designs for celebrities plus featuring in numerous notable design publications and their listings. In addition to Ariel running her eponymous firm, she has two young daughters, two namesake capsule collections and has just re-launched her brilliant home and lifestyle website Fenimore Lane! I hope you enjoy reading more about Ariel’s journey.
Tell us your story and what inspired you to set up your company?
I went to college for journalism and got my Master’s in Strategic Communication with a track in Public Affairs – I wanted to work in politics, and after graduate school I was working in education in the public affairs/communications department, when I started designing for friends on the side for fun.
Friends would come over to my apartment and ask me to help them with theirs, and I quickly realized that I was spending all of my free time reading shelter magazines and scrolling Pinterest – any down time I had to relax, I spent looking at interiors. After taking on friends’ projects for free, I realized how much I loved interiors and decided to shoot my own apartment to start a portfolio, and create a website.
Once I had the website up and running, I sent an email out to all my friends saying I was taking on projects and if they needed help to let me know. I got a bunch of projects from that, and then that led me to start freelancing with Homepolish.
Homepolish doesn’t exist anymore, but at the time it was a great way to pair up and coming designers with clients. I freelanced with Homepolish on the side while I still was at my day job for about 2.5 years, until I built up a book of business big enough where I could go out on my own.
In those 2.5 years at Homepolish, I went from an entry level designer to one of their premier designers in the US. After a year as a premier designer, I left to go out on my own, and I’ve been running my own business now for almost a decade!
What do you love most about running your own business?
I never was going to enjoy being in a cubicle setting, and the freedom to be your own boss is, to me, especially as a parent, the best thing in the entire world. I am so grateful every day for my team, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with five amazing women who help make up Ariel Okin Interiors and Fenimore Lane. I’ve learned so much about time management, efficiency, and streamlining in the almost decade that I’ve been running my business, too. Mostly, I love that I get to be creative every single day – it never feels like I’m “working” – I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love (especially after having had a job that I did not love!)
What is your company mission statement?
The ethos of Ariel Okin Interiors is to create timeless homes that reflect their owners – homes that are warm, welcoming and comfortable. Fenimore Lane’s purpose is to highlight interesting creatives and happenings in the living space – be it in interiors, travel, art, cooking, etc., as well as offer a curated shop, edited with the integrity of the AOI eye.
What are the most rewarding aspects of what you do?
Being able to create the “movie sets” that our clients live their lives and make their memories in is an absolute privilege that we do not take lightly! Seeing our clients happily using their spaces is the best gift.
What is the best piece of career advice you have been given?
Outsource the things you don’t excel in to spend time doing what you’re best at!
Do you have any daily routines?
Every morning I get up, check email, scroll Instagram, and try to meditate for ten minutes before I get my girls situated. After I take my older daughter to school, I come home and work out, have breakfast, and start my day – emails, calls, meetings, etc!
What have you learnt over the last two years?
In the past two years I’ve had my second daughter, so a lot of learning has been about how to “balance” being a mom + working (though there is no such thing as balance!) I've found you won't have balance every day all day, but you can try to even it out over the course of the quarters in a day, or over a week, etc.
What is your greatest personal achievement?
The family my husband and I have created together and building my business.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Unfortunately, check my phone! (I try to meditate first but then I fall back asleep sometimes!)
How do you unwind?
Reading shelter mags and interior design books, working out or going for a walk outside and listening to a podcast or calling my mom or my girlfriends, meditating, taking a bath, having a phone free meal and a glass of wine with my husband!
How would you spend your perfect day?
I would love to go somewhere by the beach with my husband and our kids, hit the farm stand, take a dip in the pool, and have friends over for an early BBQ at our house.
What are your wardrobe staples?
Tailored blazers, crisp white tees, airy linen button downs in white and blue and white stripes, high waisted jeans, block printed flowy cotton dresses, Stan Smiths, and Lululemon leggings for school drop off & pick up!
Where is your favourite place to travel to?
Palm Beach, Capri, and Watch Hill, RI
Where do you find inspiration?
I collect vintage interior design books, so I find a lot of inspiration in those; I also find inspiration in nature, in terms of color palettes, as well as Instagram and Pinterest! I also love looking at historic homes.
What are the beauty and wellness essentials you can’t live without?
Westman Atelier foundation stick and brushes, Merit brow gel, TanLuxe drops, 40+ oz of water a day, meditation, Sculpt Society & Melissa Wood Health, and SPF 50 (always!)
What does living well mean to you?
Being happy with who you are, lots of time with friends and family, and a career
Image copyright. First image Laurel Creative. Second image Seth Caplan. All other images Donna Dotan