Voyage LA

June 2017

Mar 9, 2007

Huh? Designs profiled in Voyage LA

 

Today we'd like to introduce Brooke Coe.

 

Brooke, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started training in home improvement projects at the age of nine. My apprenticeship began on a part-time basis as a weekend daddy’s girl doing little projects to make some extra cash. Little projects like stripping furniture, re-roofing an 1820’s 3,500 Sq. ft. house, building a barn, splitting logs for the cold winter months… and the list goes on and on. But it was my mom who gave me my eye for design. She always puts a twist to everything she does making it fun and unusual, the way good design should be.

 

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Fast forward to my professional years where I managed the big boys of entertainment’s advertising campaigns including NBC, Fox and Disney. Maintaining the entertainment groove, I took a bit of an independent turn and headed up marketing for the Mentos Freshmaker Online Tour – and oh what a tour that was. It took me around the world and exposed me to different cultures, different music and most of all – unique design yet again whetting my creative appetite.

At home, friends would ask me who did my interior design and where I got my furniture. When they found out I did it myself they urged me to start my own business. So… I did. After 13 years of advertising, I left it to start Huh? an interior and furniture design shop all my own. The business picked up a lot of momentum but in 2005 when I stumbled upon Be Jane, a home improvement community for women, I just knew that I had to be involved – they spoke my language. I worked as Director of Marketing with them for several years until I got the itch to start walking the walk again and not just talking the talk. That led me back into the realm of interior design and furniture, back to Huh?

 

I’m passionate about home design and home improvement and want to share that passion with others to let them know that design should be fun and make you happy. This led me to several television stints such as Disney’s Higgleytown Heroes where I was “Brooke the Carpenter”, the local hero who builds things out of wood. I also shared my kitchen renovation project with HGTV in their series, Look What I Did! Finally, to test my construction chops, I decided to try out for Discovery Channel’s Monster House to see if I could hang with the big boys. Well they picked me as the carpenter on the TV show and I’m proud to say – I kept up quite well, even sparkled if I do say so myself. My home improvement and design philosophies have also been featured in several print publications including First for Women Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Breeze, Lowe’s Creative Ideas and many more.

 

Yearning for more flexibility with my time so I could be with my husband and our two extremely unique boys, I decided to take Huh? Designs on fulltime. I like to live my life by the words of an old mentor, “The only truly unforgivable sin in life is to be boring.” So, taking that into consideration along with my own saying, “Do what scares you”, I’ve decided to use my design and construction talents with Huh? to make Southern California different – one house at a time.

 

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road. Everybody loves design, but not everyone wants to pay what it’s worth. So, I’ve had to put my business on the back burner several times to ‘get a real job’ to pay the bills. I always keep Huh? going in the background however and when it’s possible for me, I will bring it back out either 50% or full-time. The good thing about being a sole-proprietorship is I can turn it on and off based on what works for me. However, the bad thing about being a sole-proprietorship is that I’m a one-woman show – I do all the marketing, the design, the construction, the installation and the PR. But that’s also fun since I can control what I want my vision to be.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Huh? Designs story. Tell us more about the business.
HUH? DESIGNS is the perfect solution for someone who wants the help of a professional interior designer without the hefty price tag that oftentimes comes along with one. Brooke Coe, owner of Huh? works with each client to ensure that she’s delivering a solution that will work for them and the way they live in their home.

Her interior design focuses on offering multi-functional design that is not only aesthetically pleasing but functionally useful and fun. This sentiment is echoed in her furniture design as well. She creates pieces that are unique to the owner’s space with a bit of whimsy and fun. Unless of course it’s a tragically traditional piece you want, in which case – oh baby, it’s functional and tame and you’ll love it to bits.

Huh? operates by the following manta, “Be different!” I try and design and build pieces or do interior design that isn’t turnkey. Everything I do is unique, whimsical and often a mash-up of a few different styles to bring a fun, new creative edge to it. People often refer to me and Huh? in general as having no right angles, I really appreciate curves and swirls and flow. Furniture shouldn’t be placed against walls, it should be angled and interesting creating opportunity for intense discussions. Likewise, furniture design shouldn’t be what you can get from Ikea or Target or another big box store – it should be unique to the owner, unique to the space and dripping with sass. Otherwise, what’s the point? You can buy something standard from a store or contract Huh? for something that will live and evolve with your life story.

Furniture design shouldn’t be something relegated to only a few daredevils. It should be accessible and shared. Huh? has also had a series of classes in the past where I taught specifically women and children woodworking and proper tool usage. And when I say ‘tool’ I mean power tools! Of course, you can use a miter box with a crosscut saw, but why would you when this glorious power compound miter saw it begging you to give it a whirl?! Safety and creativity are key tenants in everything I do. Also spun off from Huh? is Her-Wear which celebrates women in the trades with fun and fashionable clothing based on their area of specialty – carpentHER, plumbHER, elec-CHICK-son, etc. I am constantly amazed by the self-confidence that knowing how to use power tools and create something from nothing brings to women and kids – and thrills the heck outta me too!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I do see a maker revolution happening as a subversive cultural shift. Or maybe that’s just me. ‘-) But with sites like Etsy, a marketplace is being created for people and businesses like Huh? to get their wares out in front of the public without having to have a huge online presence themselves. This of course aids with ecommerce and marketing as well and puts you toward the top of the consideration mix for interesting furniture pieces, especially when people are getting tired of the ‘same old stuff’ they find in stores.

 

In terms of interior design, I see a lot of the initial consultation going online as well. People can post photos of their space along with measurements and answer a questionnaire on their tastes and preferences and the interior designer can offer different levels of services – all virtually. This is something I’m working toward evolving Huh? into to expand my reach beyond my local Southern California market.

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