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Design Chic: Blog with local ties wins international award

By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post

Eight years ago, when they were both renovating homes, Kristy Woodson Harvey and her mom, Beth, started a blog to share ideas with one another.

On Oct. 25, the duo received an international award for their blog, Design Chic. The Amara Interior Design Awards honored 14 international blogs recognized as leaders in their categories.

Kristy, who lives in Beaufort with her husband and son — both named Will — and Beth, who lives in Salisbury with husband Paul — garnered the Best Luxury Blog award.

“It’s the best luxury blog in the world,” Paul said Thursday evening, with no small amount of pride. “I’m real proud of them. We are a hard-working family.”

“We’re a mother and daughter from North Carolina who know that home is one of the very foundations of life, that creating a space surrounded by things you love is one of the best ways to express yourself and find meaning,” Kristy and Beth wrote on the awards website.

Amara is a U.K.-based company that’s home to more than 300 of the world’s luxury home fashion brands. According to the awards website, “The Amara Interior Blog Awards celebrates and engages with the most authoritative and respected bloggers in the vast interior blogging industry. Believing that bloggers are an integral part of the interior design community, the Amara Team has worked closely with many of these talented individuals over the years and strive to give back to this vibrant community through the awards.”

The website says of the winning blogs: “Recognized as leaders in their categories, the 2017 winners’ blogs are a testament to their creator’s inspiring talent, with their knowledge of the interior industry constantly providing us with cutting edge insights into this world.”

“We can’t believe we won!” Kristy said Friday morning.

The two had considered going to London for the awards ceremony, but Kristy — the author of four novels — had an event in Pinehurst on Thursday, and was slated to be in Chicago this weekend.

“I actually watched the event streamed live,” she said. “I heard our name and I was like, what?!? It’s very exciting.”

Kristy and Beth were notified of their nomination. Voting for the finalists in 14 winners was open to anyone.

Kristy and Beth started their blog when Kristy was doing freelance writing for other blogs.

“It was fun,” she said. “We thought we’d do it for a year. There was no Pinterest. This was just sort of a hobby. We didn’t have a goal. We really didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t even tell our friends.”

Eventually, the blog grew into a business. Kristy and Beth have two employees who manage the social media, as well as public relations requests and emails.

“I give Mom all the credit in the world,” Kristy said. “She really has taken the reins. I do all the writing. She’s the one curating content, finding images — all the really hard parts of the blog.”

Beth said she 100 percent enjoys her role behind the scenes.

“It’s a good thing we are very in sync with each other,” she said Friday morning. “She can write about whatever I choose. It’s a fun venture.”

To get started, the two met in Raleigh, and Kristy showed Beth how to download photos.

“I’ve come a long way in eight years,” Beth said.

Paul and Beth credit Fibrant for helping the blog be successful.

“I’m the biggest fan of Fibrant,” Beth said. “I can do the blog in no time.”

Beth selects up to a dozen photos for each post, and then goes about securing permission to run each one.

“I’m surprised about how gracious people are,” Beth said. “It’s rare when someone says no.”

They also work to include advertisers’ content. Companies have approached them, not the other way around.

“That’s great, but we want it to be fun,” Kristy said. “We want it to be as un-businessy as possible. It’s led to some amazing things.”

Kristy writes about 300 words per blog and selects keywords for SEO — search engine optimization — which helps people find them more easily.

Beth works about a week ahead. Not Kristy.

“I write every night,” she admitted. “Most days, I am writing posts at 10 o’clock for a 4 a.m. post. That’s the honest truth.”

Kristy said that she and her mom work with “a ton of public relations companies” to keep on top of emerging trends. “The design world is changing constantly. We’re always trying to keep it fresh.”

Beth said she spends about six hours a day on the blog — early in the morning and late at night.

“Oh, I love it! I can hardly wait to get up in the morning,” she said.

Beth said the blog is like job sharing, in the best possible way. “You have a common interest with your child. We have loved doing it.”

The Design Chic website features links to other blogs on its blogroll tab.

“People who read blogs read more than 10 a day,” Kristy noted. “You just make really good friends, which sounds kind of hokey, but you do. Everybody really supports and promotes one another. There’s enough business to go around. I’ve never felt in competition. We all have very different projects.”

Kristy and Beth had the website redesigned about a year ago.

“Renovating a blog is a lot like renovating a house,” Kristy noted. Just like her home, the blog carries her favorite colors of white, tan and gold.

“We wanted it to feel clean and streamlined,” Kristy said. “We wanted to think about how people access content.”

That can be done in three ways on the website: by clicking on one of the five tabs, by doing a search, or by scrolling and clicking on content.

“It’s all very well thought out,” she said.

The website also has links to Kristy’s books. Her fourth novel, “The Secret to Southern Charm,” will be published April 3.

Learn more about the Design Chic blog by visiting mydesignchic.com.

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