Tuesday, January 17, 2012

11 IHeart: Getting to Know Holly of See Jane Work

Holly Bohn is the Jane behind See Jane Work.  Yes, she is one of my blog sponsors, which is a match made in heaven, however, I completely admire Holly for turning her dream, passions and ideas into a real life success story.

Over the last couple of months, Holly and I have been communicating and we thought it would be fun to swap blog's today!  Oh yes, the sweet gal also writes an organizing blog over on her site, which is always full of fun and fresh ideas!

Before I get into the interview, let's meet Holly!

"I’m Holly Bohn-Weiss, the Jane behind See Jane Work. I love freshly painted baseboards, a good laugh, champagne, picnics at the beach and the moments when all my kids are getting along (not necessarily in that order). I’m a mother of three boys, which has made me a little crazy. I have fashion and décor ADD so my look is always changing. Although obsessed with both style and organization I can often be found working from an undecorated room underneath a pile of paperwork. With three kids, a husband and dog, it’s hard to find time to decide on a paint color let alone get my filing done. 

For me finding the perfect mix of organization and style is a journey not a destination and along the way I’ve learned a thing or two. The blog is my chance to share those ideas with you. I’m mostly imperfect, no matter how hard I try, so if these tips work for me, there’s a good chance they’ll work for you to."

"When I asked Holly why she decided to open See Jane Work, she said it wasn’t an epiphany in the middle of the night and a website launch the next day. She spent a lot of time researching the office supply market and also reflecting on how a new business would affect her family. With two young boys and a small but successful accounting business already taking up a good deal of her time, starting another business was a stretch. Not to mention the fact that friends and family thought it was risky. “Who will pay more for a pretty notebook?” they said.

Despite the naysayers and an impossibly full schedule, Holly launched SeeJaneWork.com and with a lot of help and a little luck, she took the company from a great idea to a recognized leader in the office style and organization industry {as it turns out a lot of people will pay more for a pretty notebook}.

Holly spent countless hours marketing her site, talking to anyone that would talk back {she still does this}, building relationships with the press, attending web seminars and speaking at events; her hard work paid off. Since opening in 2004, See Jane Work has been mentioned in over 500 publications including: Domino Magazine {sigh}, Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, Lucky, Martha Stewart Living, and the much coveted Oprah’s O List {three times}. 

A lot has changed since 2004, Holly gave birth to her third son in 2009 and when See Jane Work was acquired by Advantus Corp in 2010 she moved her husband and three boys from California to Florida to accept the roll of Creative Director with Advantus. She is now my new “office” neighbor and I can testify it has been a busy three years. 

Holly has worked diligently at Advantus juggling this new role, the move and motherhood; once again it’s paying off. In 2011, the See Jane Work office collection debuted at Office Depot. What an amazing experience to work with Holly and see her dream become a reality…the See Jane Work name on store shelves."

You see, Holly and I both agree, organizing supplies can be functional AND stylish.  Let's take a look at her home office shall we?

Here is the before picture.  Yep, I said before.  Pretty gorgeous right?

She recently decided to switch things up a bit, going a little more gender neutral since her husband and kids share the space with her.  Here is what her home office looks like now:

She recovered the chairs and swapped out the accessories.  And added some personalization.  No changes to the furniture or layout, just some accessorizing!  Goes to show how some pretty office supplies can make an office space go from drab to fab!

So I asked...

"I have style A.D.D.  I cannot stick to one thing.  In California, I had a smaller home that I would describe as Cottage Coastal, then I moved to Florida and went with a whole different vibe, more California Mexican style.  Over the years I have collected things, and I may change out accessories and the feeling of the space with those things, based on my current state of mind.  Quirky stuff is a must.  It has to be meaningful, not just decorative.  I am really drawn to bold and graphic statement pieces and areas that are clean and streamlined."

"These days I still find most of my design inspiration in magazines mostly.  I like to re-interpret a space in my own way.  I like to hoard magazines and often revisit old copies of my Domino and Blueprint glossies.

I also find myself turning to what's hot in fashion.  Just looking at current fashion trends may spark me to say, "Oh my, I love those studs and embellishments" and then I will translate that to adding that detailing in an office space.

When looking for color inspiration, I like to turn to nature.  You can never go wrong since nature is created from the perfect no fail pallet.  For me, I like the beach especially.  When I lived in California I was on the beach and realized it would be the most wonderful inspiration for my bathroom.  I did the floors in gray like the rocks, cabinets in the color of sand and the mirror was ocean blue." 

"It's challenging sharing an office space with the entire family, especially now that some of my kids are older.  My husband also has a hard time letting go of things, so every time I clean, my husband gets some anxiety.  We now use financial and project organizers that have pockets which allow my husband to file things away, and also keeps stray papers off of the desk.  We also have specific filing in-boxes for: To Do, To Pay and To File."

"The white stacking letter trays.  The ability to stack and use vertical space is a necessity.  Also, matching pencils and magazine files.  Oh, and project envelopes.  I can't live without those.  I love that things don't fall out of them {as they would with manilla folders}, and because they are clear, I can quickly see what is inside."

"I find that many times, individuals are quick to "decorate" vs. acquiring things that you love over time.  A friend of mine in the furniture industry once said, "Only buy the things you truly love".  Purchasing nick-nacks or things that look great at the time can be too matchy matchy and not timeless.  It's the things you LOVE that will look great no matter where you are, because you love it and it makes you feel good.  Rooms are done best when they evolve over time. 

Sometimes it can take me a whole year to find the right hook.  I will keep searching and searching until it's "the one", I don't settle.

Not being able to paint and living with beige carpet is a challenge, but I be sure to bring in punches of color through my accessories, such as my throws, turquoise and white filing cabinets and art on the walls."

"I knew it was something I should do because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  It consumed me.  I started to do research and I learned in business school that if you have an idea, you should jump on it, or someone else will.  

I spent a year researching and slowly working towards a goal.  I notice that when I chip away at something I am more successful than panicking and just doing it.  I talked to everyone I could.  I love meeting and "collecting" people.  I love to hear others stories and listening to them talk about their lives and experiences, so I had a lot of connections.  It is still amazing to think about how it all snowballed.

I started out with one employee in a small 500 square foot office in California, and used my own funds to purchase products and sell them {my husband and I were frugal so I could fund the inventory for the new company}.  Within three months of opening the doors we were featured in a national publication and have been featured in a publication almost monthly since!"

"We were on Oprah's O list three times and we started to boom.  Then, we had a huge setback at the end of 2007 and suffered a series of losses.  It's amazing how fragile you are, but you have to be able to manage crisis.  We lost some ground, but then I was acquired by Advantus and now I have designed products for the Target Up and Up brand and have an Office Depot line.  It's hard at times, but I take it in strides and have my eye on the next goal.  I am also a typical gal though, and looking at everyone else and wondering how they do it all?  I know I could always be doing better."

"This is a hard one for me.  I was so dialed in when I had two kids, but adding the third has thrown me for a bit of a loop.  Traveling a lot is hard, and the kids don't always understand.  I have to make sure that I am able to engage or turn it off.  When I am at work, I am at work.  When I am at home, I am at home.  Be engaged and present in what I am doing.  I also find it very important to squeeze in some time to pack my own lunch and exercise because then I feel great, and if I don't feel great, then everyone feels it..."

The time I spent on the phone with Holly was so valuable to me.  She is funny, intuitive and full of knowledge and advice.  A very special Thank You to Holly for popping by today to answer some questions and for being such a great inspiration to all of us looking to follow our own dreams!  You can find Holly's interview with me over on her site here.

Psssst!  Stay tuned because later today, See Jane Work is hosting this week's fabulous giveaway!


  1. Lovely!
    The idea of only buying what you love is amazing. We strive for that when buying things for our home. Great tip!

  2. The whole "buy only things you love" idea has been hitting home again and again. In a way, this is what I've always done, but it has only been over the last year that I've settled into my own style and discovered why it's worth it to wait until you can afford to buy what you will keep for much, much longer. One of the blogs that I read (http://pancakesandfrenchfries.com) did a whole series back in October about the "William Morris Principle", which has turned into a weekly series for 2012. The whole idea is that you have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful - it has shaken the way I decorate, shop, and clean out all the things that I know are neither useful nor beautiful (to me). Delightfully freeing!

  3. Really great to hear about her story. I love See Jane Work, and it's interesting to know how she got to the place she is. :)

  4. I totally have that Tivoli radio in her bedroom magazine shot. Love that little thing. Such beautifully clean and old school lines.

  5. I'm wondering which of her items will wind up in your new office space...

  6. This is inspiring.. thanks jen for this feature :)

  7. I loved the old office color.......but everyone likes change!

  8. Wow. This was really inspiring to read. Thank you Holly for letting us get a peek into how your company came about and more about you. I loved this. Thanks, Jen.

  9. Thanks, Jen, for sharing this lovely lady with us. She is truly inspiring!

  10. As an aspiring entrepreneur I really appreciated this interview! So insightful. Thank you!

  11. What a powerful woman. Thanks for this post. It shows us that a "Jane" can do anything that she puts her mind to. So why not reach for the stars ;)


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