My dad recently shared with me that a simple way to identify a leader is by asking an individual about the first thing they do each morning.
Leura Fine is the perfect example. Co-Founder and CEO of Laurel & Wolf, she spends her mornings refining the company’s long-term vision; Translating the big picture into tangible milestones the team can reach each quarter.
Quiet mornings structuring the team’s playbook are crucial to Leura’s role as Laurel & Wolf’s coach, a theme we discuss in her 33founders interview.
Laurel & Wolf was founded on the premise that interior design should be accessible, affordable and fun. Translation: You don’t have to be a design savvy millionaire to feel connected to your space.
Here’s how it works.
You’ll start with a free style quiz choosing your space (home or office) and the room you’re looking to design.
Next, the team will gain a glimpse into your style through designs you “love” or choose “leave.” These responses will create your designer brief.
After completing the quiz and reviewing your results, you’ll be connected with interior designers who provide “First Looks,” design ideas for your space, within a few days.
The design process officially begins after you choose a designer and pay a single flat fee. Pricing starts at $199 per room for the Light package and ranges to $499 and above for premium and custom bundles.
From then on, you’ll communicate with your designer one-on-one, whenever is most convenient for you, through the Laurel & Wolf platform.
Despite only being live for 13 months, the Los Angeles startup has connected thousands of clients with hundreds of interior designers.
Leura attributes the team’s early success to abiding by ‘Laurel & Wolf time.’
“Every week here is like another six months,” she remarked.
Leading a productive team capable of balancing speed with sustainable growth is a challenge that Leura’s embraced with open arms.
The process begins with her hiring efforts where she seeks these three traits in each individual she brings on board.
- Empathy. It’s vital that individuals recognize the human element when communicating with customers and designers. According to Leura: “People who care about people is a must.”
- Creativity. Working at a startup is hard and requires solutions to be built with little to no resources. In the words of Jason Calacanis, “Can you get there on what you’ve got?”
- Optimism. Laurel & Wolf is navigating uncharted territory; team members should not only be comfortable with uncertainty they should thrive on it.
This is how Leura describes it:
“There are a lot of people out there who if you say ‘I need you to build a bridge.’ They’ll say: ‘I can build you the perfect bridge. Here’s what I need.’”
“When you’re trying to do something that has never been done before, you need the people who when you say ‘I need you to build me a bridge. All we have is weeds and floss.’ They’ll respond by saying, ‘I can build you the world’s strongest bridge.’”
The simplest way to gain insight into an individual’s depth is to understand how and why they’ve made past decisions.
“Understanding why people have made certain life choices, how they’ve dealt with good circumstances, bad circumstances, great jobs and bad jobs demonstrates their aptitude to think outside of the box and be a team player,” Leura said.
Once individuals are brought onto the team, they’re encouraged to initiate new projects and run with ideas. The most recent stemmed from a developer who suggested Usability Lunches where the team shares a meal while watching customers interact with the site.
The process of bringing an idea to life is simple. Team members are asked to create a brief document outlining why the idea is important, what it involves, potential impact, and any required costs.
“As long as it makes sense, it’s well thought through, and there’s a game plan we usually pull the trigger,” Leura shared.
Despite being a group of initiators, Leura’s adamant that Laurel & Wolf’s culture is rooted in “an understanding and patience around how the team works together not just as departments but as a company.”
I always tell the team that I hold myself and everyone else to the same standards. We are all in this together.
The growing team of 30 achieves this through town hall meetings where individuals discuss how their previous week’s work has brought the company closer to achieving its quarterly goals.
The meetings are also an opportunity to recognize team members who helped you with a project or hit an important milestone. Perhaps most importantly, and an accurate descriptive of Laurel & Wolf’s culture, the recognitions are celebrated with props and snaps.
The fun continues at monthly team outings that have included salsa dancing lessons, indoor trampolining and murder mystery dinners.
Building an inspiring company culture while executing on ‘Laurel & Wolf time’ returns to Leura’s work as the coach.
“At every stage of the company there are different things I need to be doing. It’s running down the field as the quarterback, and playing any other position. The goal is to build out the best possible team so I can be writing the plays, linking them up with strategies and running practices.”
Here’s a glimpse of what the team will be working on to reach the startup Superbowl.
- A Laurel & Wolf mobile app featuring a unique mobile service
- A first of it’s kind interior design package (Slated for the fall!)
- Greater access for clients, including more style quizzes and customization options
- Determining how Virtual Reality can streamline the design process (Yes, this is real!)
You can also start your first design project here.