Stacey Freed shares her impressions of the current temperature of the home remodeling industry. With her 15+ years of experience writing on topics related to our industry, she has a unique research and journalism perspective of where we’ve been, where we’re heading, and what will stick once the COVID pandemic is finally gone.

Full Podcast Transcript

Grace Mase 0:08

Hello, and welcome to the Revivify podcast. I'm your host, Grace Mase. Today I'm super excited to get a chance to interview an award-winning journalist, Stacey Freed. She focuses on remodeling, construction, small businesses, home design, and lifestyle topics for National Consumer and trade publications. With COVID in the backdrop, we're seeing a historical shift in the residential construction industry. And Stacey's recent articles, she mentioned that COVID has changed the way we design and build homes. How we're using our homes has evolved significantly. We learned to work from home, school from home, cooking from home, and stay-cation at home. I'm extremely excited to speak with Stacey here today at Revivify. Welcome, Stacey.

Stacey Freed  0:59

Thank you so much for having me, Grace, I appreciate this. Thanks. I look forward to chatting.

Grace Mase  1:05

So let's go down memory lane here. If we can go back to where we were in terms of home remodeling, let's say beginning of 2020. And how things are evolving. Going to these trade shows, everyone's excited at the prospect of what 2020 will bring us. And compared to where we are now, can you talk about how COVID has impacted our home remodeling industry?

Stacey Freed  1:28

Well, it's funny because the very last trip I took was to Vegas to IBS. And after that everything sort of shut down. And Vegas was great. It was full of people it was packed. And there was so much to do and all kinds of things to look at, products and the concept homes, and everything you can imagine. And it seemed really upbeat and fun. And then everything sort of turned around. I've talked to lots of builders and remodelers in the last few months, and they're all busy, I find it really interesting. They are incredibly busy. Some people are having their best years and COVID is going to shift our design focus from some of the people I've talked and we could talk more about that later. But in terms of business, I think the people that I've talked with, they're getting the masks, they're washing the hands, they're doing whatever they can, I know lots of people have gotten the PPP, the funding from the government to keep things going if they needed it. But remodelers and builders in general, I think they're pretty resilient, and they've been through the recession. And they just keep going, they take things in stride. I don't know how much their businesses will change. I looked online earlier, just to kind of see, you know, the statistics were saying, you know, "remodeling is going to be going down" and then later it was "remodeling is going to be going up," I don't think anybody actually knows what the trends are gonna be. It gets a little confusing right now.

Grace Mase  2:58

Well, which makes sense, and we also experienced a surge in this past year, like or not all of us are sort of stuck at home staring at the same four walls. So naturally, the reaction is, maybe it's a good time to do it since I'm going to be home and I can help to facilitate or manage certain parts of the process and make it livable. There's also the notion of everyone is at home, schooling, work, and doing other things, all in one home. And so there's a desire to expanding further. These changes, in some ways, should be good for the industry, right?

Stacey Freed  3:35

I think so. And it's interesting that the housing industry and the remodeling and building industry everything seems to rise together, right? So housing is at a premium, people want to move, oddly enough. So housing has gone up and remodeling goes up. When that happens, you know, people move in and they make changes. So I think this is actually a really good time for the industry or could be a good time for the industry. Things are going up and people are making changes and then, of course, COVID is going to affect what they are looking for in their homes. So the ADU piece, and if you want to talk about that, now we can, but that came out of the idea that people need all these different spaces. There were people who don't want their elders to go to nursing homes. And so they thought they could build an ADU an accessory dwelling unit either something that's attached to their home or some small place behind their house like a tiny house or something like that. So that's how that story came about. And there apparently are a lot of people who are interested in that because the story I did which was for AARP got 426,000 hits on the first weekend it was out. So I think there are a lot of people out there looking around for what to do. And it wasn't just about aging parents obviously but one guy I talked to, his home office is now in this tiny shed behind his house. And people have kids at home who were back from college or doing their high school stuff and they wanted to get them all out of the house and have space. Because I mean, you can't really see my space here, but I've got a wire coming out, you know some router wire that runs up the stairs behind the pictures on the stairs into a bedroom over there where my husband has his office setup. I'm in a former bedroom that I repainted and put all my stuff in. I've got a kid home from the Peace Corps. He's in the basement, I have a mother-in-law who is now living with me because she broke her foot. So we are just-this is what everybody is going to be facing as we go forward. So they need more space, they need different kinds of spaces. And I think builders are responding to that. And certainly ADUs are one way to go about it. And then I recently interviewed Alaina Money-Garmin, and she was part of this charrette in which they talked about, you know how houses are going to change going forward based on COVID. And, and the one thing I found interesting was that she said that as they went through the charrette. And she talked about previous models she builds right like some people will walk in and now they won't recognize like a consumer won't recognize why a house feel feels comfortable, like the builder and the remodeler will understand why the space feels comfortable to you. But a consumer might just walk in and say god, I feel really at home here. Or wow, that sink is right in the on the middle Island. And if I stand at the sink, this is something Alaina had come up with it, the sink in their island is in the middle of the room. And so you can look out into your family room. And you can have your head like on a swivel. Okay, there the kids are in the family room, I can see down the hall this way I could see this way, rather than sometimes, you know, we like to look out the window when we do dishes. Well, that's not going to work now with kids at home doing schoolwork in one area and somebody else doing something elsewhere. But people walked in and said, Wow, that's so smart. It's something they thought about. But builders and remodelers don't often know that they think here's what's going to work. And if I think that we have to be is more customer-centric. And I think that's what's happening with this design push for the post-COVID design. When I spoke with Alaina Money-Garman, and some other folks that had put together this American at Home study, and they talked to 4000 people about what they like about their homes, what they were going to like, what they needed. And they made it very customer-centric when they did their charrette, their design charrette, right? They created a model family, one parent worked outside the house, maybe they were a first responder, the other parent was working in the house, they had two young children. You know, what would they need? They came up with this great idea was, it's called the family bathroom, if you have a bathroom in your bedroom, and you have kids, they want to use your bathroom because it's really cool and fun and nice. So this way, they made a larger bathroom, on the floors with the bedrooms, and the kids have a great bathroom for themselves, right. And often you're bathing your child, so you're in there with them. So there might be three or four people in a bathroom at one time when you have little children. So it's sort of brilliant. Like, why do we have tiny little bathrooms at the top of the stairs that people share? Anyway, I think that the idea of being customer-centric and new thoughts for what's going to happen with COVID, I think is going to change the design.

Grace Mase  8:20

I love it. Customer-centric is the way to go because we're in the service business. And when your service business, you're serving somebody and to address their needs their problems. And to create just like even simple thing is having a sink right in the middle island where you have access to see your little ones at home. That's brilliant. And maybe there's still an opportunity or secondary sink to face the backyard when they're playing. Those are all really good solutions. End of the day it's all about addressing their lifestyle, does their lifestyle need those customizations to make it happen. And I think also looking at history, the nucleus family arrangement has changed too. And then the hierarchy of parent-child relationship, but there's a lot more equal ground where you do want to be part of their life as well. They want to be part of your life. This is definitely the way we should all design home building homes for the customer's lifestyle. You kind of mentioned briefly about being focused on health, safety. And that's a big deal now as we're still in the middle of a pandemic. So what kind of things that trends that you're seeing now would relate to health and safety?

Stacey Freed  9:32

Prior to the idea of health and safety people were all about energy efficiency and sustainability. So those buzz words came around and they start with the builders and remodelers and then there's few outlier consumers who really look into these things. But it's taken years and years and years right to kind of get people on board with the idea of that. And I think that the idea of healthy homes and wellness, I mean these are buzzwords that are going around now, it is kind of a big deal. And it's mostly a marketing thing, just as those other terms began as marketing things. And until, like from the builders and models that I've spoken within the last couple of years, I asked about healthy homes and what they're seeing from their customers. And their customers don't really, they don't really talk about healthy homes, right? It's the same story. They want to be comfortable in their house, you have to offer them the option, you have to explain to them what makes a healthy home. Although they may ask now, because of COVID, I think people are interested in indoor air quality, that's a big deal. They want to know about MERV filters, if they're looking around online, they'll come up with some terms, they might ask questions, but I think it's really going to be up to the builders in the remodelers to say, here's what's out here. And here's why you need to think about this. If your client has a kid with asthma, then you want to talk to them about indoor air quality and better filters and ionizers. And you know what ozone means you don't want to put ozone into the air. But you want to do this with your, you know, your filters and your ionizers and your UVC. And you can throw out all kinds of terms. But I think it's really important to educate people. And things will move from a marketing track to an actionable item, right? an actionable thing where people will say, I read about such and such, or I really would like this in my home. But you have to educate clients, I think all builders have to do that. And you can use that to upsell, I suppose, right? It's another way for you to create a revenue stream for yourself. But unless people know about it, they're not going to ask you about it. It's kind of like you don't know which the chicken and egg thing right, which comes first. But I think people have to be educated in order for them to ask the right questions. And then you can easily explain what's important about a healthy home. And I think some products are becoming more popular, like low or no VOC paints is pretty much the norm now. Those are regular things. I don't know if you see this also as part of a healthy home. But the zero threshold shower, you can tie that into health in terms of your personal health, if you broke your leg, you'd be happy to have a no-threshold shower, right FSC wood different types of flooring or no-slip flooring, and you can tie some of that in to make it a part of healthy homes and part of wellness. It's a huge topic. And I just really think education is the way to make that the norm. I think it will be the norm at some point. But people have to understand that it's the norm. And right now with COVID, they are concerned because it's an aerosol disease that they're concerned about indoor air quality. So you can explain about fresh air and where do you get your fresh air from? And you know whether or not you need a range hood. And where do you put the range hood? And how do you get fresh air in your home? And you can tie that into windows. And there's a lot of ways to help people understand the importance of some of these things. And then some of them I think are unnecessary in terms of like antimicrobial counters are, I mean, maybe for a commercial setting. But I don't know that you'd want to put that in your house or need that in your house.

Grace Mase  13:07

You brought up a really important point about education first of all came to my mind was Henry Ford, who asked consumers, "What would you like?" And he knows the answer will be a faster horse instead of Model-T. In some ways builders remodelers, we are being Henry Ford is pushing the envelope a little bit more pushing this discussion where they understand what the future and how it would impact their lives, and how it could help them to be better at everyday activities, and home is essentially the foundation of their lifestyle. And if we can help them to understand here are things that you can do, and the cost will be incremental or potentially not much. And the impact with long term investment is far greater than just using a regular conventional product and whatnot.

Stacey Freed  13:52

It's interesting, you just said that because it made me remember that America at Home study. Actually, it was done by Terry Slavic-Tsuyuki, and she had originated this America at Home study with some other people. But they realized the thing that they learned was that people ultimately saw the word home in conjunction with the word safety. That's what home represented to them. So I mean, that fits with what you were just saying about how do people see their homes as a safe place. And if you want to have a safe place, you want to have a healthy place.

Grace Mase  14:23

Exactly. And let's shift a little bit the top trends with our home remodeling industry. What do you see in terms of professionals versus homeowners? What do you see the micro-trends that's happening within these different segments?

Stacey Freed  14:38

In terms of the remodelers and builders I've spoken to it's the same trend has cropped up for how many years, 15-20 years I think the entire time I've been writing about this topic. But labor is the trend, for the necessity of labor has been an issue and over the course of the years people have talked about offsite building as a possible way to get around the labor shortage, they talk about educating young people, they talk about more digitization, because that would attract more young people. And I just think that finding good labor is going to be a trend for a very long time. Lately, with a lot of people staying at home, I've seen lots of articles about millennials who want to like, repair their houses, and you know, fix them up because they're there in them. But then at the same time, I hear from builders and remodelers who say, "I can't get anyone who even knows how to use a hammer." So who are these millennials if they don't know how to use a hammer, but they're fixing up their houses? So there's kind of a disconnect? And I'm not sure, you know, maybe they can do some repairs around the house, but certainly they're not rebuilding their own spaces. So I think the labor shortage issue is, you know if you want to call that a trend, that is a problem. But also, I think more digitization is, is a trend, I think more and more remodelers are getting on board with things like I know what you do with BEYREP, I mean, sort of this interconnectedness. where you can be with your client online, and you can have access to funding and you can have access to scheduling. And I mean, there's many different programs from Autodesk or BuildingConnected and, of course, the BEYREP stuff. So I think there's going to be more and more of that a lot of more interconnectivity online through the internet And that so from professionals. In terms of homeowners, and remodeling trends are pointing to at the moment, more remodeling being done, people are remodeling their spaces they want to live in place, I like that term living in place as opposed to aging in place. And there's actually an organization called Living in Place Institute, and they do certifications for people. And that's becoming more sort of standardized. When you look at houses. Now, it's not weird to see wide doorways, people are becoming used to having wider doorways. So I think that that's actually going to continue being a trend, the zero threshold showers and things like that. And then, of course, there's always the sort of design trends, they come and go. But people have been saying that the white kitchen is going away. But so much of that is regional like I live in Rochester, New York, and we're a little bit behind, right? People still want a white kitchen, they still want granite countertops. And it just depends, there's going to be a few anchor large cities that may drive trends in fashion trends for your kitchen, but most places are behind. So it's kind of a big lag. Right? So you're still gonna see wide kitchens, you're still gonna see a lot of subway tiles in terms of design. And, you know, there might be touchless faucets. When people start thinking of wellness, they may start seeing trends like that. Some people are saying that they're going to be fewer open floor plans. Now they want walls because they want to be able to isolate. I don't know if that's true, I think everybody really has been enjoying the open floor plan. So again, I don't know how that will change or if that's going to change, right? The whole idea of the wellness space, again, as a trend, that kind of falls out in we want more windows. So the more natural light, the idea that you can get outside and better outdoor spaces. The materials and finishes, people want things that are natural things that are rustic. And these have been transitive and going on for a while. And I don't think they're going to go anywhere. I think people still want that kind of stuff.

Grace Mase  18:34

Yeah, the other thing to kind of touch upon is potentially converting ADU or some of the flexible rooms in the house to become their home gym. Because yes, these days, we're definitely seeing gyms are open and closed, fairly inconsistent. And so there's a desire to when they're expanding their home having additional space for them to convert into a home gym, that probably seemed like one of the consumer trends that we're seeing,

Stacey Freed  18:59

And media spaces and meditation spaces and office spaces. I mean, they want a lot. And I think and that is going to be a trend going forward if especially if there's going to be any other I hate to say I don't even want to jinx us, but any other viruses coming down the pike. I mean, I think this is going to stick in people's minds for a long time. And if you look back in history, I mean, if you look back at the 1920s, so after the Spanish flu, people didn't use clawfoot bathtubs, because they were so hard to clean and so then they develop the you know, flush against the wall and they change from wooden toilet seats to lacquer toilet seats, and they were white because people assumed because it was white, it was clean and hygienic and was easier to clean because it wasn't wood. So those things will stick with us.

Grace Mase  19:49

And let's look into the gaps. There's definitely in the gaps with haves and have-nots. Obviously, not everyone could afford a massive renovation and some which continue to focus on small projects. What are you seeing these kind of two almost demographic of haves and have nots, and how they're evolving in just within the remodeling industry.

Stacey Freed  20:09

I mean, I'm not sure how it's evolving in the remodeling industry. I mean, certainly, Home Depot would say they've, they had probably some really good sales during this crisis, right. And Lowe's and all of those Home Stores, I mean, people are going out and they, they're repainting the bedrooms so they can have a home office. So the have-nots who can afford builders and remodelers are doing a lot of stuff on their own. There's a lot of do-it-yourself-ers out there. But I think some of the haves and have-nots stuff is actually playing itself out in the cost of new homes. And in the cost of people throw around the word attainable housing, there are a lot of areas where if you're a builder, and it makes sense as a business model, right, because the zoning and planning says I got an acre of land, I can put one house on it. So you're going to put an $800,000 house on that acre of land, because that's how you're going to make your money. But at the same time, a lot of people can't afford that $800,000 house, but builders are not able to make money, building a $240,000 house or whatever the median price is, wherever you are. So it's understandable from a business sense. But it's becoming untenable in a lot of areas because people want to remain in their hometowns, let's say but they can't afford a house, or older folks, they would like a small home. But nobody's building a small home because they it's not cost-effective. Or the zoning says you can't have a fourplex or a triplex. So you have to have a single-family home on these lots. So I think that that's where the haves and have-nots is going to play itself out is in housing, the house, the current housing crisis in the attainability, and affordability realm. And I think there are lots of builders who are paying attention to that. And I just think more are going to have to because we have to change zoning and planning. And at that granular level, you got to get in with the little town boards and say, to continue having a really great town that people want to live in and remain in and remember the idea of community, I think that people have to start focusing on that.

Grace Mase  22:14

I think that's a great point. Community is the basis of how us connecting with each other and having that human connection. And nowadays with COVID unfortunate situation where some people did lose their jobs and can't afford the have-not is going to be even greater than ever before. And as a community responsibility, how do we help each other carry each other when they are needs? I think that's very important. Let's talk about the consumer experience, how to help professionals to be more mindful, more considerate of the homeowners and their needs. Obviously, there's the actual design, but there's also professional interaction of the consumer experience. What do you wish to see in the home renovation industry, changing the professionalism interaction over the next few years?

Stacey Freed  23:05

I think that the idea of these design charrettes, in which they do surveys and have consumer input, I think that's important. I think I can't remember who it was. But I spoke with some builders and they had a model in which they had people come through and point out the things that they liked or didn't like, and they took that to heart as they went forward. I think that remodelers should spend time asking those questions and educating people, whether it's digitally I mean, now we have all these can use an Oculus, you can have the 360 degree Matterport tours that realtors are using. There's all kinds of things that you can do without being face to face if you can't be face to face. But working with clients on that level to customize their houses or even if you have a production builder, get your people involved in, your consumers involved in their home, what kinds of things that they're looking for, and, and ask them questions, educate them on the products that are out there, work closely with them. And I think online interactivity is going to be really important.

Grace Mase  24:17

Even just like you mentioned millennials, they are more comfortable with technology. In fact, it is second nature to them versus the boomer generation, those kind of buying home remodeling home using technology to interact with builders and remodelers. There's different behavior, and comfort level. So we'll see more trend as millennials adapting and I think that's also the other way where the pro needs to adapt more using technology because some of the millennials more comfortable typing or on their mobile devices and they are actually comfortable talking to the builders directly and just their normal behavior.

Stacey Freed  24:54

So with a lot of builders and kind of aging out that the industry is very old. So that There's a bit of a disconnect, the new customers are very adept at using things online and using their computers. But the older generation, I mean, there's a lot of builders who still do the whole pencil thing and the handshake thing. And they really pride themselves on the old school thing, which is great, except their clients are light years ahead of them. And so they're not going to retire, they're going to need to hire younger people to work with people who are really good at computer stuff, or there's going to be a disconnect between the consumer and the aging out of the builder. And the consumers want to be online. They, I mean, I can go to probably a bunch of friends and say, Hey, what did you use to remodel your bathroom? Right? I love your bathroom, who did you use? And they could tell me, and that's great. But I could also go online, and I can look at dozens of photos. And I can use a system in which I put in my parameters. And here's what I'm interested in, here's what I'm looking for. And then it spits out a few names of some local builders. And at least that gives me a base to then say, who are the clients? And then I'll go to the clients, right? So you might go online first before you even go to your friends and family. But I think there's just a lot of older builders and remodelers who just, they're going to age out of this method.

Grace Mase  26:19

Right. And oftentimes, we think about the first impression was appearance your body language or your connectivity, it really comes down to digital. People, especially the millennial consumers, the first thing they do is they Google you, and look you up, they find you, and how you present yourself, your online presence so important. If you're not leaving this impressionable image of who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do, they may walk away, and you may never get the call, which is unfortunate, especially many of these pros have years of generations of training, the craftsmanship is just remarkable. It would be a shame for them not to continue that tradition further down, we definitely see a group of them will continue on with the next generation, their offspring end up taking over the business, which is great. And there be innovative about things. And so hopefully, I think that we're just going through a transition phase, and we'll definitely see a better output going forward. On your perspective future homes. The idea is that you kind of mentioned briefly, especially the article you wrote for the Forbes magazine is called it “Is It Time to Revisit the Central Vac?” And I mean, after I read the article, I immediately thought was like the Jetsons that once I watch when I was a kid was an animated sitcom that kind of resurrect in the 80s. I think about Rosie, the robot housekeeper would come in using central vac to clean the house. And so in some ways, it's fun to think about that. But there's some truth to it, we have to look back to understand what we did and why we did it and how can we improve upon it. So I'd love to get your perspective. Think about the future home or something like that. When you mentioned about the central vac.

Stacey Freed  27:58

Whenever you see a film that takes place in the future, a lot of times it's a sort of post-apocalyptic vision. That's a combination of high tech and agrarian right, like people are farming. But like in Black Panther, they have this crazy community that is both old and new at the same time. And I think that's true about pretty much everything we do as we move forward in the future. I think some of it is a lack of imagination. In terms of like, if you talk about the Jetsons, right. The woman was still making dinner, even if the woman was a robot, still a woman. There's a lot of throwbacks to kind of old-fashioned things. But when you look at like, I love the idea of the central vac because it was popular in the 70s. And it's a great idea. like nobody likes schlepping a vacuum up and down the stairs. And so then they have backpack vacuums, or wireless vacuums, and all kinds of different kinds of things. But if you just had the thing, you plug in the wall, and it collects everything up elsewhere, right? People are worried about the dust getting around the house, I mean, it makes perfect sense that it's all collected out in the garage or somewhere, and then you dump it out once a year or once every six months or something rather than every time you vacuum and there's dust flying in the air and you have to dump out the container. So I think that the central vacuum is a great idea. The problem is a little bit when it comes to expense. So it's a lot more expensive than just buying a vacuum cleaner. But if you're building a house, it's not that much of an additional expense. Right? So it seems like new homes, it should be a kind of a no brainer or architect should just ask do you want a central vac it doesn't cost that much to put it in. So put it in when you first build the house. It seems to make sense, right? And then I think about design, design happens the same way. There's a lot of old homes where I live. I live in a historic village, and there's a lot of old homes and they have a lot of very small rooms in old houses. I mean we're talking houses from the late 1800s. So there's I'm thinking of one, in particular, that was owned by a pastor or Vicar back in the 1800s, he had it built. And in the front of the house is a room where visitors would go. So you'd enter a small vestibule, right, which is shut from you can open the door to it, right. So it was separated from the house, you could contain a person that they walk into a separate room that's separated from the house by pocket doors, right, which is very similar to the kinds of things people are talking about now because you want to create a separate entry for guests so that they don't, I hate to use the word guests contaminated contaminating you, but they don't bring in any stuff from the outside. And so it's the same thing, but it's kind of a throwback to an old design. And even the ideas of you know, now everybody wants multi-gen living, right where you'd have space for your mother-in-law in the basement or whatever. Well, I grew up in Brooklyn, in a three-family three-story house that was connected to another three-family three-story house. It was called a semi-detached house. And then next, then there was an alley and then there was another set of six. In any event, in our section of the house, my family lived in the middle floor, my grandmother lived in the bottom floor, my aunt and uncle and their kids lived on the top floor, we had an internal staircase. So we had multi-gen living, which is all the rage, but it's old, right? Everything old is new again. I mean, all these things come back, people want community, and they had community. And so these are ways to bring back community. People want front porches, why do they want front porches so they can sit there and they can watch the world go by and oh, a neighbor stops by and he can talk to them. I think people really want that kind of stuff. I feel very lucky where I live because we have a village and then we have a wider suburb. And you can ride your bike along the canal to get to the village, you can walk in the village, the very human scale where we live, we're very lucky there are small home, like some houses are like 1000 square feet, and they're tiny little gingerbread things. And it is quaint. But it creates neighborliness because your neighbor's right next door to you. And the backyards are open and it's a little bit like Mayberry, honestly, but I think people react to the human scale. It's not overwhelming, it's an inviting place because we have sidewalks. And we have places where you can ride a bike. And we have houses with porches where people sit outside and wave to their neighbors. And those are things people want now in their new homes.

Grace Mase  32:35

Right, it's what you mentioned, like a pendulum, we swing one way. And all sudden we need that independence and moving to the cities and have high-rise buildings in the isolate each other you don't see your neighbor, you'll never meet your neighbor most of the time. And you're kind of in an isolated environment. And now, I would maybe with COVID, we kind of now experienced that to the extreme realizing that's probably not that healthy for us. Let's swing back to the root of the multi-generations and supporting each other and be there for each other and be kind to each other. And just even just like you mentioned, sitting on the porch seeing your neighbor, come by have a brief conversation. You don't need, you could easily have a six feet apart and have a really lovely discussion and just kind of fills you up as a person and having that human connection is so important.

Stacey Freed  33:22

I think those big houses from the 80s are just, I don't know, I don't think people are gonna go back to that.

Grace Mase  33:29

Yes, right. And it's not personalized. It's not, it's not unique to yourself. And I think now, as we revisit, I mean, maybe it's just like any time when you go through a difficult time, you have the greatest learning opportunity and stretching your limits and questioning your assumptions. And this is this past year maybe is that period that we needed in an industry to revisit, what can we do differently? And what was so good about it, that we can find a way to bring it back to bring more successful lifestyles and better home design?

Stacey Freed  34:01

I think that’s a really important point.

Grace Mase  34:03

All right, I'm gonna do a quick lightning round. What's the secret recipe for your success?

Stacey Freed  34:08

The secret recipe for success is lowering your expectations. I got laid off from a publisher. So I worked for Hanley Wood for many years for almost a decade as a senior editor for remodeling magazine, one of the senior editors. And there was a big round of layoffs, of course, you know, just after the recession, things were bad in the industry. And I thought, "Oh my God," this was seven years ago, you know, "what am I going to do? How am I going to manage?" And sure enough, you know, I picked myself up and I just started emailing and sending stuff on LinkedIn and telling people I was out of work and people wrote back and people said, "You know, I need this done or that done" and I just started writing and I started freelancing and I've been fine for the last seven years. Things are okay, so I feel successful in that I was able to take what I had learned about the industry and the things that I had learned about writing, I had great editors and colleagues. And so I feel successful in that. And I don't know that there's a recipe for success other than to believe that you're successful. And that you're, you're able to balance the things that you want and have a certain passion for what you're doing in terms of you're making income.

Grace Mase  35:25

And I really respect that and going through a challenging situation and nothing that you have control over. But you bounce back and be resilient and continue to really focus on ways to evangelize and really make this industry to be seen and to be heard. That's so important. So thank you for doing that.

Stacey Freed  35:45

You're welcome. I always find it odd that I really not odd, but I really enjoy writing about the industry. And I love talking to remodelers and builders, I find them, maybe it's because I'm a writer, and they're happy to get the word out. But they're always engaging. I always learn something, they're always open, they will spend an hour on the phone, I can call someone and say, I don't really understand how the HVAC system works. And somebody will explain it to me. And I just had wonderful experiences with everyone in the industry, architects, designers, remodelers, builders, plumbing people, it doesn't matter. Everybody's been really great.

Grace Mase  36:25

That's great. Now, because you've gone through 15 years of covering this industry and talk to 1000s of successful builders remodelers of the world. What would you tell a young woman who's interested or considering going to this space? What would you advise them to do?

Stacey Freed  36:40

I think it's a really great industry. I have heard from women who are in the industry, obviously, about sexism that exists everywhere. But I would say don't be afraid. And don't be afraid to ask questions. And as long as you build confidence in yourself, and you understand what you're doing, you're going to be fine. And if it's not a traditional type of job, it is an exciting and interesting field. And you're always going to be doing something different and always learning something. So I say just don't be afraid. Go for it.

Grace Mase  37:12

That's awesome. Thank you. Now I know the listeners probably interested to follow you. So if you don't mind share with us, what's the best way to read your articles and follow you and see your next articles coming up?

Stacey Freed  37:25

The best way to do that would probably be on LinkedIn. I'm not really great with Twitter, any of those things. So like, I post most of my stuff on LinkedIn. And I have a portfolio at a place called Contently. But I'm easily Google-able. And you can read lots of lots of things I write to you just Google my name, but LinkedIn would be a great place.

Grace Mase  37:47

Wow, thank you so much, Stacey. I learned so much from our conversation today. And I hope many of you guys on the call or listening to this will also enjoy just as much as I did. So thank you for joining us at this episode of Revivify podcast where we speak with Stacey Freed with a lot of great knowledge about the industry and what's coming next. So we'll see you next time.

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