Laura Keeler Pierce is the owner and principal designer at Keeler & Co., a full-service interior design firm in Boston that specializes in custom interiors and project management. Laura quickly became a friend of the store when we opened, and we love helping her style her projects with decor and flowers!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Boston? Sure! I grew up moving around North America - Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Connecticut, Montreal, back to Connecticut - with my family. I then went to Pomfret, a boarding school in Connecticut, where I fell in love with painting, and then to Colby for college, where I had the opportunity to hone in my creative energy. While I spent those years so close to Boston, I always said that I would never move here! But after two years post-college in New York, I moved north and haven't looked back. I love the accessibility to culture, education and the outdoors that we have here.
You now own an amazing interior design firm, Keeler & Co., however, you originally did not go to school for interior design— how and why did you make the transition? Ah, you are too kind! So I graduated from Colby with a BA in Art studying both art history and painting. I started my career selling art, and quickly realized that I wanted to be on the creative side of things. Selling the creativity of others wasn't for me. When I moved to Boston I pursued a career in event planning and spent four amazing years working for Corinthian Events downtown - the perfect mix of being impeccably organized and creative-minded. I then took that experience and applied it to working at two independent schools, and after three years in alumni relations and fundraising, I realized that I needed to get back into being creative.
It all circles back to my childhood, which was spent surrounded by sawdust. Every time we moved, my parents would either substantially renovate or build a new home and then my mom would beautifully decorate them. And so I finally realized that I should explore interior design as my next career. I took one class at RISD with my now friend and mentor, Josh Shockley, and I was hooked. I knew this was what I was supposed to be pursing. 16 classes later, I had a certificate in Interior Design from RISD.
Can you explain why you decided to start your own business versus working for a designer? This is a great question, because I spent a lot of time in my final year of RISD's certificate program battling this exact question. I had some fantastic internships and shadowing opportunities while I was in school, but there was still so much for me to learn. Ultimately the decision was made for me, when one of my dearest friends bought a condo in Charlestown and asked me if I would be interested in helping with her renovation. Of course I said yes, and there is not a wall in that place we didn't touch! I've been running fast ever since and I am so grateful for the support the business has received.
What is something that surprised you about starting your business? Gosh, these are great questions! First and foremost, I'm surprised how much I care about everything. About watching the business grow. About my clients and their experience working with us. About my vendor relationships, the location of every outlet, the trim on each pillow. And with that, I don't think I fully comprehended how much work it would be! I'm writing this from my dining room table on a Saturday afternoon - I'm often catching up on evenings and weekends. But I love it and have not a single regret about starting Keeler & Co.
Where do you get your design inspiration from? One of my favorite things about New England is the appreciation for history and the wealth of original architecture here. While the way we live has evolved, there is nothing more exciting to me than being able to celebrate the spaces that still exist and adapt them to our current life styles. And of course, I fall asleep most evenings reading shelter magazines and design books, I take every chance I can to travel and explore new cultures, and I am obsessed with color and pattern. Thus, the bones of the building and fabrics are usually the launching off point for most of my designs.
You recently hired your first employee, congratulations! How did you know you were at that point? Thanks! Growing the team has been a scary but exciting experience. I reached the point where I had enough new business consistently coming in that I felt confident that I could afford to support an employee, and I was on the verge of potentially turning away new opportunities because I didn't have the bandwidth to take them on. Ultimately we are now able to work more effectively and efficiently, which means we can take on more exciting projects.
What’s next for you and your business? Well, we're certainly not slowing down, that's for sure! I am planning to continue to grow the team this year and next year we're opening a seasonal furnishings and home decor shop in Maine!
Photography by Jared Kuzia