15 Minutes with Estee StanleyAuthor:Lindsey Shook
From fashion stylist to interior designer and now agent for design creatives, Estee Stanley fearlessly achieves anything she sets her mind to. Her latest venture, The Eye, is possibly one of the most poignant pivots of 2020. The team works to generate new business for the talent, manage the contract process and client relationships as well as expand their brand through product development and more. Here, she shares more about the endeavor and how it will shape the future of design.
You have lived a few lives in your career working as a fashion stylist, designer and now agency owner. What inspired you to start The Eye? Being a designer for 20 years and a stylist for the same amount of time, I realized that just as I had an agent as a stylist, I also needed an agent as a designer. Unfortunately, that didn’t exist. I truly needed someone to help navigate my career, find me opportunities separate from designing homes, negotiate my fees and deal with clients. I never understood why I was having these uncomfortable financial conversations with my clients. I wanted to be the creative—not the business—part of my firm. There’s so much opportunity out there for creatives, but they don’t have the bandwidth to be searching for them or the time because they/we are busy designing projects. Hence, The Eye.
Having worked as a successful designer, what is the biggest value the agency can bring to the community as a whole? I’ve always looked at this category of creative as extremely unorganized and all over the place. I have constantly struggled with the fact that all design firms charge differently. I know clients find this to be not transparent and also confusing when looking to hire a designer. I think The Eye has figured out a system where clients won’t hire based on fees but based on who they admire and vibe with. Having lived this life for 20 years, I’m confident I’m here to change the way this industry is set up and bring in new fee structures, set up boundaries and bring a larger audience to the designers we represent.
What do you predict will be the biggest shift in the design industry over the next five years? If all goes as planned, The Eye will be able to truly match clients with a designer who can live up to their vision and execute it with no issues on either side. I never understood how clients pass around their designer to their friends and colleagues. Why would you want your home or space to look like your friends’? I know many designers design differently, but there is always a through line. To me, it’s important that everyone is matched with someone who truly is a perfect match.
Who has been the most influential female figure in your career?
Well, I can say my grandmother was the most influential with my style and how I entertain. But the person I bounce all of my ideas off of is John Eshaya, who is gay, so, well, sort of a female. 🙂 We talk about everything and he is always honest with me about all of my ideas. I also look up to female founders of great companies that are changing the way the world lives.
Do you have a favorite fashion brand right now? Always Dries Van Noten.
Any guilty pleasures you discovered while in quarantine? Banana bread! So much that I started a banana bread company called Gone Bananas Bread. It’s for charity and since I felt like we’ve all gone bananas, why not, right?
Name six people dead or alive you would want to host at dinner.
Karl Lagerfeld, Chris Cornell, Elizabeth Taylor, my grandparents and Princess Diana.
What are you most thankful for right now?
Being healthy, my family, friends and my work. And above all else, being alive!
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