Jessica McClendon bravely started her interior design business Glamour Nest in the middle of the recession of 2009 after freelancing for a while and being told she should break out on her own. Almost 10 years later, she has created a place with a casual glamour, distinctly Californian vibe. Here, she chats with us about her humble beginnings, studying theater, and what inspires her.
Looking back since 2009, did you ever dream that Glamour Nest would be where it is today?
JESSICA MCCLENDON: When I started it, I was just sort of hoping to survive. I know that sounds bleak but it was one of those things where you’re just hoping to pay your rent and car payment and go to Chipotle a couple of times a month. In the back of your mind, you always hope things are going to go well but my expectation was ‘Can I do this and survive fairly comfortably?’ When I very first moved out to LA I was just so poor. It was rough. I had been working for another designer as a freelancer and had gotten a lot of great feedback from clients. I had one woman basically say I should be out on your own. At the time I wasn’t really interested in that and was super happy working freelance. At the time, it planted the seed. That interior design firm changed how they wanted to work with freelancers. I kind of broke off after that and started my business in a recession because I thought well, what am I going to do now? I’m very proud of myself, I feel like I’ve worked very hard and hustled. I feel like anyone who’s started a business knows how much hard work there is. I also look back and see how much help I got, support from friends and family and from a spiritual standpoint, I see God’s hands working the whole way. I couldn’t have done it on my own.
On your website, you described your own personal style as casual glamour. Do you feel that that’s why you fit in so well with the Californian laid-back yet glamorous lifestyle?
JM: One of the things I love about the aesthetic in California is that a lot of people love luxury and love quality. They might go and spend a lot of money on a delicious meal but want to be able to wear their jeans while they do it. They don’t want to be too fussy. In my opinion, true luxury can only be attained when you actually get to enjoy it. To me, having a really fancy home that feels stuffy and where you can’t relax isn’t true luxury. True luxury could be having a beautiful farmhouse and being able to wear your muddy boots inside. It’s the way you look at luxury. I love to wear ripped up jeans and designer shoes. It’s the sort of high-low, it’s attainable, it’s not fussy. I’m comfortable but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate beautiful things.
You studied theater back in college. Growing up, did you always feel the connection between theatre and expressing yourself visually? Can you share a story from when you were young that made you think that maybe you were always destined to do interior design?
JM: I actually didn’t get involved with theater until high school. When I quit acting my mom reminded me that interior design was my first love. When I was younger I used to decorate shoe boxes and would take them and go to Home Depot and steal wallpaper samples—well maybe take more than they want you to take. I would spend my money on little tiles and make a hardwood floor out of popsicles. I’d get fabric swatches and samples and sew little pillows and beds. I’d always loved homes and design.
My mom and dad owned a window tinting shop growing up and we were extremely poor, so we lived in that shop for a while. It was not the most homey of places. It was very industrial. When they were finally able to afford a house, my mom made sure we decorated my room. That connection to beautiful spaces I think was because I didn’t really get to grow up in one until I was a little older. I think that’s where that love comes from, getting to finally be in a bedroom that made me feel beautiful because it was full of beautiful things. Then, theater came around. I am expressive and like to make people laugh. I was always doing Jim Carrey impressions. It really did great things for me; all of my best friends were in theater and I got a scholarship to college for theater. I think it served its purpose then I came back to what I always really loved.
What’s the best advice you were ever given about interior design?
JM: One of the pieces of advice I was given was from my college costume design professor. She always said ‘Simplify and exaggerate.’ That has always stuck with me when I’m designing spaces. She was all about simplifying the room, getting it down to the main components you need then find a way to exaggerate those components, to make them interesting and pop. That way you weren’t creating a design that was too cluttered for the eye. I think that has really stuck with me.
Where do you visit or what do you look at for inspiration?
JM: I feel like I get inspiration everywhere. I love traveling. I definitely get inspiration from some of my favorite places. Obviously, the run-of-the-mill answer, I love Paris. I can’t help but love Paris. They just make everything so beautiful. We went to Cuba recently and I love the mix of colors and use of pink. I was inspired by things there being beautiful but rough and not perfect. I love Ireland because of the feel of it, sometimes that can be very inspiring. I also get inspiration from other things—one of my recent projects was an industrial loft that we made super feminine. There’s a Barbie print hanging in it and everything. My inspiration for that was the inside of a vintage jewelry box. Sometimes my clients inspire me depending on what they love; if they’re super into Steve McQueen or love Star Wars. Sometimes that will inspire me in the direction I might go in their space.
What’s next for you in terms of projects or collaborations?
JM: The biggest thing I’m working on right now is I’m growing a baby, so that is happening. A big collaboration I’ve been working on is called the Decorettes. It’s myself and another design friend who does e-design. It’s a web show where we talk about business and hang-ups in business. We basically just want to help other people who are starting out. For me, starting nine years ago I didn’t know anything about business. I felt very isolated. I didn’t have a really good support group. With Facebook Live and all the ways things have grown, we have the opportunity to really help each other.
Another project I just started which I’m pretty excited about is a plastic surgeon's office which I’ve never done before. I’m hoping to make it sexy, maybe a little James Bond.