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Publication Date: 2019-08-22

Design Insights

Designer Robin Baron on Building an Authentic Brand

With her design practice, furniture business, and various media appearances, designer Robin Baron is constantly pursuing new ideas and new projects. Despite her busyness, the designer has made it a priority to grow with gratitude. “Gratitude practice is critical," she reflects. "You get through work and life by being grateful." In an article originally appearing on Go Design Go, she reveals how she became an interior designer and how she crafted her personal brand.

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Baron is a born-and-raised New Yorker. She always knew she would be a designer. “I had two loves: fashion and interior design," she says. "As a young girl, my parents had a cousin who helped with the interior design in their home, and I always put my two cents in, and I was always sketching clothing. I just knew my life was going to be a life as a designer.” But she had another love that wound its way into her everyday life: theatrics. “Just give me a mic and a camera, and I am happy.”

Dedicated to her design trajectory, Baron moved to Los Angeles to take fashion design classes at UCLA. “There was this guy next to me in classes who I became friends with. He was a fashion designer, selling to Neiman Marcus, and I thought ‘If he can do this, I can definitely do this.’ I quit school, went downtown to the fashion district, rented a space, hired a pattern maker, and I started my first collection in fashion. My very first season, I was on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily in LA and started selling at Neiman’s and Bergdorf’s,” she says. “If you’re an entrepreneur, I always say ‘if you don’t take a chance, you don’t get one’. I was so young, so I had to fake it till I made it. I had to act older because I was so young.”

After a successful start in the fashion industry, she returned to New York and gravitated back toward interiors. “I realized fashion is a tough-to-take business," she says. "Always having two loves, I got more and more into interior design. I went back to Parsons to take classes, and again, I started a business before I finished. People already knew me from fashion, and I had many requests to do their homes, so I started designing apartments. A year after going into interior design, I had enough clients to start myown design firm. I’ve never looked back since.”

One of Baron’s “Robinisms”, as she likes to call her own exuberant mantras, is that "you need to know your goal, so you know how to get there." She says, "you always need to keep your eye towards the future." Around 1999, Baron surveyed the design scene and outside industries – which she believes is a critical practice – and decided to bring her business to the Internet.

“I thought, ‘How do I take the design business I have and expand it and make it bigger and have other revenue streams in other avenues for my own creative sensibilities?" She says. "In 1999, I saw that the Internet was going to be what it is now – important to everybody in every business. I started Robin Baron Home, an Internet-based furnishings business. I had a lot of resistance because I was so early in the market. Everyone said to me ‘who’s going to buy furniture online?’ Clearly a non-issue today."

She was also an early adopter of blogging. It gave her business a voice. Now, the social media age has only helped Baron further brand herself. “There’s still that actress in me," she says. "Over the last five to six years, the social media, the videos, the getting on TV, has been very important because we live in a celebrity pop culture world. I knew that I had to propel myself into the forefront as a personality because that’s what people are looking for and impressed with in today’s market. That said, it is also authentic to who I am. If you’re more introverted, then you have to find a way to do it in your own authentic way. It’s important to be true to who you are.”

For Baron, being in front of the camera means more than getting exposure to her design and work ethic – it fulfills her. “I’m driven by the law of attraction, positivity, and being able to influence people in a positive way. If you can touch one person and make one person happy, you can change the world,” said Baron, who has made appearances on HGTV, Bravo, and NBC. “I don’t do what I do just because I want to make things beautiful (which I do!). I want to help people be better and happier in their lives. That is my driving force. It’s why I want to be in the public eye and have the ability to influence people in those ways."

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