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Meet Betsy Moyer of The Estate of Things in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Betsy Moyer.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Betsy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in a Mennonite home in North Carolina, went to college at UNC-Greensboro where I studied art history and after some really great internships at renowned East Coast art museums, I landed a museum marketing job in my own hometown. By age 24, I was ready to see what else there was and so I hit the road for Los Angeles. I wanted adventure and a friend of mine offered it up in the form of a free place to crash in Koreatown. As I dove into life in LA, I worked hard and pushed my way to the top of each of the organizations that I worked for along the way.

As a hobby, my BFF from college and I started to blog about our shared passion for home decor and real estate. It served as a way to keep us connected from NC to LA. We had long dreamt of one day opening up a design shop together, so the blog seemed like a fun project in the meantime.

Los Angeles is complex and while a part of me requires novelty and diversity, there is a quiet version of me that takes up most of my internal space. The rigors of navigating office politics, working for hierarchical organizations and fueling all the passion one holds into something that didn’t belong to me was wearing me out and really cramping my creativity at work. Side interests like singing in a band or two, contributing to the interior design blog among other web outlets like Los Angeles Magazine, the AudioMuffin (RIP) as well as building websites for friends and family were a part of my life outside of work that ultimately fueled the jump out of the 9-5 working world.

After meeting my husband out at a bar on a Monday night… I’ve come to know Los Angeles as home and it has ruined me in all the best ways. My once thrashing pursuit to prove myself has subdued. My fortunate opportunity to pursue my passions full time has opened me up. My adventures near and dear to life events like birth, the loss of my mother and my own cancer diagnosis have unfurled my dreams, sharpening a focus on what makes me happy and what I can edit out of my daily pursuits. That leaves me content to focus my efforts on my small businesses in the home decor and real estate industries. I am an independent woman, a wife and a mother. I am a singer in a band. I am a writer. I am a dreamer. I am a business owner.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not for one moment has any of this felt smooth. It’s always high highs and lows. In 2016, my friend Sarah and I took our hobby blog The Estate of Things, and we incorporated. You will often hear us refer to the biz as TEOT. (pronounced TEA-OUGHT). We had both found ourselves free from the full-time job life and after stumbling upon a great retail spot for rent, it felt like serendipity, the time to take the leap. After almost a decade of shared daydreaming, we pursued the brick and mortar shop life that had inspired the blog.

As long-time friends, we had to confront our relationship weaknesses in the beginning to define our partnership, so that we would have a north star as life would certainly unfold in ways we couldn’t predict. This hasn’t always been easy, but it made the bumps in the road a lot easier to manage as a result. Since we’ve opened, we have seen a complete career change in a supporting family member, we’ve seen a wedding and the addition of a new family member, we have recognized the crucial need to move out of our initial tucked away destination location, and we have seen the opportunity to expand into a second location here in West LA. (find us at the MART Collective in Venice, CA, woot)

Being 3000 miles away meant lots of trips to NC to help with shop upfits, merchandising, photoshoots and more. Back in LA, I build and manage the ecommerce end, manage all of our inventory systems and strategize our marketing efforts across a number of channels. My partner Sarah does most all of our buying and picking and it’s her eye for design that makes up the majority of the brand’s signature style. We borrowed capital to make this business happen and managing that debt along with the desire for growth as we find our feet continues to be a struggle even now. Each year our reports trend toward better numbers, but we are still very much in growth mode.

I think it is important for any aspiring business owner to know that we are officially in year three and we are still putting all of our revenue back into the business for growth. It’s not an overnight success and sometimes, despite our passed thresholds, our seemingly successful expansion efforts and the goals we have met, it’s a huge work in progress still and we are still daily putting in the faith that it will level out and pay off in the long run.

The Estate of Things – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Estate of Things is a melting pot of interests that Sarah and I share in vintage, home decor and eclectibles, as well as our love for real estate and renovation. We blog about all of the above, we take on limited design consultation projects, and as far as our shops go, we specialize in global textiles, vintage picking and product development.

As a company, I’m most proud of the pivots we have made in our business model as the world of retail and ecommerce has opened up to us and revealed itself. It’s a challenge and in order to meet that challenge, we have in turn opened up our space and our knowledge to give back to other aspiring makers and vendor brands that need a foothold like we did at the start. We have a bit of a mastermind network going with other like-minded ladies that are pursuing their own brand growth. Our whole program is still rolling out in Southern Pines but we have eyes on more for 2020.

I feel like Sarah and I continue to balance the harmony between our two distinct voices. TEOT is best when both of us are fully involved. But truly what makes us distinct is our careful curation, impeccable styling and attention to detail. We have always had a knack for quickly identifying desirable design elements and working them into our own signature style, which we refer to as the Southlands. It’s a little bit SoCal and a little bit Southern. We like a neo-traditional base with an eclectic spread on top and a fair amount of vintage appreciation in the mix. This combination creates our signature style and gives us a distinct voice in the ever changing design zeitgeist.

How do you, personally, define success? What’s your criteria, the markers you’re looking out for, etc?
Well, one might say Yacht money… but this question comes on the heels of my completing treatment for a recent cancer diagnosis. This influences my answer only in that solidifies my pursuit to discard what makes my day to day operation unfulfilling. Having the room and the financial freedom to focus on the aspects of the job that keep Sarah and myself feeling creatively fulfilled is the measure for success. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep ourselves out of the mire of keeping up with the competition’s number of Instagram followers or staying on top of the gossip in the small town where our flagship brick and mortar is. I want to go to where the water flows where it comes to our business needs, I want to be able to delegate the aspects where we lack and I want to carve out the freedom to keep that shared spark. We have poured more than a decade of our lives into what TEOT has become, and more than ever I want to continue to do so, but in a way that is smart, profitable and creatively fulfilling.

I’m sure some folks might drop numbers here, specific acquisition goals, or an outline for exit. Sarah and I don’t desire for TEOT to grow into a multi-million dollar empire, we simply seek to work hard in a world that we love and have been able to create for ourselves with and for like-minded lovers of design. Sure, I’d love to be able to buy that piece of land in Topanga where I can park my vintage camper trailer and build a natural pond, or maybe I will be able to spring for the A-frame renovation that becomes a short term rental in a vacation market. All of these dreams of expanding the empire keep me working hard, but I’ll ultimately be happy and feel successful if TEOT stays alive and keeps Sarah and I working closely and happily on our shared passion together.

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Image Credit:
Portrait of Betsy and Sarah by Rachel Garrison; Other photos by Betsy Moyer

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