How these Nashville businesswomen became Instagram famous

By   – Editorial Intern, Nashville Business Journal
 Updated 

As Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin sat on a Gulch patio one morning, Teplin donned a slouchy grey sweatshirt with white letters across the chest that read “not a fashion blogger.” The shirt sells for $70 on the website for their home organizing company, The Home Edit.

“Do we have more followers than Marie Kondo now?” Shearer said to Teplin. Teplin reached for her phone and took a moment to check the Instagram page of the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

“She’s still 576 — we’re 50,000 behind her.”

“I mean still — who knew we could do something like that?” Shearer said.

Now with more than 537,000 followers, Instagram is a crucial part of The Home Edit’s business model. Shearer and Teplin started the company in 2015 and it has since skyrocketed. Their revenue went from $100,000 in January of 2017 to $200,000 in the summer of that year, and it continues to grow, Shearer said.

They have over 1,000 clients, including big-name celebrities like Mandy MooreGwyneth PaltrowThomas Rhett and canine Instagram icon Doug the Pug, who pay them to invade their closets, pantries, offices, etc., and make them organized, user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

“It’s the most personal job, aside from being a gynecologist, that you can have,” Teplin said.

Although the niche of those willing to pay $185 an hour to have their home organized is a small one, The Home Edit has found a broad appeal. Shearer and Teplin have tapped into a strategy to set their business apart: They’ve tied themselves and their personalities to the brand.

Through social media, Shearer and Teplin haven’t simply marketed their business, they’ve opened a window into their lives — their everyday challenges with motherhood, their love of champagne and traveling, their favorite foods.

As an audience of Instagram followers has become familiar with their lives, Shearer and Teplin aren’t just organizing people’s homes anymore. They’re selling $70 sweatshirts. They’re writing a book, and they are filming a TV show this year, although they won’t announce when and where you can watch until August.

Shearer and Teplin have diversified their business into two different kinds of customers: actual clients, and the people who want to be their best friend.

“I don’t think they’d care if we took out trash all day, which we sort of do,” Teplin said of their followers. “People get attached to a person, rather than an idea. I think following an account like a magazine, you’re not following someone’s journey.”

Teplin said when it comes to Instagram, The Home Edit operates on a “mullet” philosophy: business in the front (The Home Edit’s picturesque feed) and party in the back (Instagram stories that showcase Teplin and Shearer’s slightly messier lives).

The Home Edit’s Instagram feed is a left brain’s daydream: The photos show color-coded shelves and shoe closets, plastic bins with handwritten labels, salt and pepper shakers and bottles of spices and sauce all perfectly placed on rotating wooden platforms.

But what really drives their business are the stories, Shearer said — a newer Instagram feature that allows posters to share short clips or photos that go away after 24 hours.

“Some of our biggest things have happened because of our stories, that’s how we got our TV show,” Shearer said. “That’s how we get a lot of our sponsorship and business because people feel like they know us.”

The pair didn’t set out to become Instagram personalities, or to start a business together at all, Shearer and Teplin said.

They both moved to Nashville around the same time in 2015. Both came from California, both moved because of their husbands’ job offers, both had small children and both came from an organizing background.

“We just had the same story,” Teplin said.

They met through a mutual friend and their business began almost immediately.

“We like to say that we started the business the first day we met but really it was 12 hours,” Shearer said. “It was from lunch to kids having bath. We got the domain website, all the social handles, we started downloading all the LLC documents needed and partnership agreements. Everything happened that night.”

Shearer said the most surprising part of their journey has been the T-shirts.

“It’s truly been the most successful part of our business,” she said. “Organizing is a front for being T-shirt tycoons. It’s like a band: They make their money in merch, so do we.”

“And that has nothing to do with organizing!” Teplin said.

“But they’re our stories’ customers, not our feed customers,” Shearer said. “I think The Home Edit has become a lifestyle brand more than an organizing company. People, they trust our voices.”

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