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Tuckernuck Girl: Erin Gates

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Meet Erin T. Gates, a designer, writer and entrepreneur who has built her business into a success spanning the design, decorating and publishing worlds. Now in its 12th year, her blog Elements of Style launched her eponymous business, which has grown to include two best-selling books, her own line of accessories and home accents, and a thriving design firm. Erin works with clients to design personal spaces that are “comfortable, elegant and timeless,” which makes her ethos perfectly in line with ours! Erin graciously agreed to answer our Q&A and let us tour her home.
When designing a house or room, make sure it’s done with items that have a mix of provenance-- antiques, new, affordable and high end. That way you get a space that feels layered and interesting not like it all came from one source.

My biggest advice in design is to always measure! Make sure that you know exactly what can and will fit and look best scale wise before selecting anything for a space. It’s no fun when you don’t measure and something is completely off scale or won’t even fit into the room.

My son Henry is my greatest inspiration. I’ll work my ass off to make sure that anything is possible for him. Also, I want him to have a mother who shows him that women can do anything and are incredibly powerful so that he goes through life with that respect and care.

I never would have had the confidence to actually start my own business without my husband’s entrepreneurial spirit pushing me forward. When I had started the blog while working another full-time job but had started getting some design clients, he told me that I should quit my job and try for a year to make my business work. If it didn’t work, I could always find another job, but at least I wouldn’t wonder “what if.


Tell us about a time you were ready to give up…and what kept you going.
I think about once a year I think about giving up. This career is AMAZING, and most of the time I feel so fulfilled and grateful for it, but there are always moments it just feels like too much. Social media has created such insane pressure to produce, be bigger, be more famous – and it’s easy to feel bad about yourself in that space. But the thing that has kept me going are my readers and fans. I have some of the most dedicated, thoughtful blog readers and IG followers on the planet. They feel like real friends, and I would hate to lose that community and connection.

Where do you hope to be in five years?
At peace. Happy. I’ve worked really hard in my 30s for a lot of things, professionally and personally, and in my 40s I want to ENJOY more. I tend to focus a lot on hitting goals and making progress and less on the actual enjoyment of living the process. I want to be a little more present and chilled out in five years.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Celebrity gossip sites – I read Daily Mail and People like it’s the NEWS.

List three new places you’d like to travel, and one place to which you wish you could return.
New places: Amsterdam, Spain and the Italian coastline. I want to go back to Paris, this time with my son, who speaks more French than I do!

What is your favorite outfit and why?
When I want to feel pulled together but a little dressed up and yet COMFORTABLE, I always reach for my Helmut Lang leather leggings (best investment piece I have ever bought) and a cute turtleneck sweater and heels or heeled booties. If we’re talking just everyday, a striped boatneck tee, straight leg jeans and Tretorns or moccasins!

Who is your favorite artist or designer and why?
As a fine art major in college, I have grown to love lots of artists. But if I could own ONE original master work of art, it probably would be a Cy Twombly. I have always loved the energy and simplicity of his pieces – and they look SO good in a well-designed room. And if I were going to the Oscars, I would most likely pick a J. Mendel gown – classic beautiful design with a little edge.

Who are your style icons and why?
These are boring answers, but true – Jackie O, Lee Radziwill, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly. For modern day, Rosie Huntington-Whitley and Gwyneth Paltrow usually create that similar vibe of polished and classic.

What’s on your reading list right now?
I’m currently reading If/Then by Kate Hope Day – my agent sent it to me and it’s really good. I also want to read the new Jojo Moyes book The Giver of Stars.

What would you describe as being your career highlight to date?
Seeing my first book on the New York Times best-seller list was something I never in my lifetime thought I’d see.