Launching in 2019, The Home Page has quickly developed a cult following. Going beyond the usual interior design trends, The Home Page focuses on telling the stories of home, exploring what home means and our deep emotional connection with our homes. With interviews with celebrity chefs and designers, to stories about living far from home or surviving a house fire, The Home Page is an interior design magazine that cuts through the noise, providing a constant source of interior inspiration which frankly we’ve all needed this past year. In our interview with founders Jessica Jonzen and Rosalind Sack, both interior design journalists, we discover the story behind The Home Page, the importance of being on the same page and how the brand is expanding with the launch of Studio Home Page.
In our interview with Jess and Ros, we discover the story behind The Home Page and how the brand is expanding with the launch of @studiohomepage.
Can you tell us a little about your journey and how you met?
Jessica: I started my career on the News Review section of The Sunday Times, where I fixed the main interview for the paper each week. After a couple of years freelancing, I joined Net-a-Porter as their Deputy Editor before moving on to Matches Fashion in the same role. After moving out of London to Buckinghamshire with my family, I had to make the difficult decision to leave Matches as I just couldn’t juggle the job with childcare and a long commute so went back to freelancing. I then found a job locally as Deputy Editor at a regional glossy lifestyle magazine, which is where I met Ros who was the Editor. We really hit it off and the rest is history!
Rosalind: I started my journalism career as a roving news reporter for a well-respected news agency which covered the south west patch for a broad range of national newspapers and magazines. On moving to London I moved into the world of showbiz and worked as an Entertainment Editor at Hearst Magazines UK for a number of years, interviewing well-known names from across the world of television, film and music. I then enrolled on a course in interior design at London’s KLC School of Design which reignited my personal passion for interiors. I went on to consult on magazine relaunch projects, advise on copy and PR strategies for major interiors brands and land a role editing a regional glossy lifestyle magazine. That’s where I met Jess and we immediately forged a brilliant working relationship.
Where did the idea for starting The Home Page come from? Who suggested it?
We first talked about starting a business together in the very glamorous surroundings of Waitrose car park back in 2017! We were on our lunch break after a frustrating morning in the office when Ros said the immortal words: ‘We should do something together.’ We both really enjoyed the interiors element of the magazine we worked on but felt that there was so much more that could be said about interiors beyond the latest trends. Our homes are central to our lives, little did we know quite how central they were going to become, and we felt that if we used the home as the anchor point, there was so much more we could write about that would actually resonate with people and have some depth. We sat with the idea for a while and developed the name, it came to me on a camping trip and we both felt that it was right, and our brand values and what we wanted the look and feel of the site to be. We also knew that relying on advertising revenue alone would be very tough so Ros suggested that we should run a content consultancy alongside the magazine to offer our writing services to interiors and lifestyle businesses. Then we knew we could make The Home Page into a viable business. Ros went on maternity and we continued to develop our ideas and then in September 2018, the magazine we worked on folded and we knew it was now or never. We dived in, found a designer and a web developer and launched The Home Page on 31 January 2019.
While extremely stylish, The Home Page seems more focused on our emotional connection with home rather than being trend-led. Was this a priority from the start?
Absolutely. The emotional connection we have to our homes is the founding principle that The Home Page is built on and we believe it’s what sets us apart from our competitors. Our homes are the places where some of the most significant moments of our lives can be played out: bringing our babies home for the first time; them taking their first steps; family Christmases and birthday parties. In ordinary times it’s the place we retreat to when we’ve had a bad day, where we can truly be ourselves. Of course the events of the past year have only served to reinforce just how important our homes are, and having somewhere safe and warm where you can express yourself and your tastes is extremely important. While we do cover some interior design trends, we make sure we do it in a way which feels accessible and ‘cosy’. While the homes we feature are aspirational and beautiful, they are always real homes that are lived in and loved. Cosiness is very important to the whole look and feel of The Home Page!
You mentioned your consultancy arm, Studio Home Page, which you recently launched. Did you always have this in mind?
This was always part of our business model and we have quietly worked with leading interiors and lifestyle brands including HAM interiors, Country Creatures, Pringle & Pringle and Home Barn, since we launched. We do everything from devising a brand’s tone of voice and house style, to writing their ‘About’ pages, portfolios, search engine-optimised blogs, newsletters and more, bringing our combined 30 years of experience as journalists and editors to help creative businesses tell their stories in a compelling way. We found that more people were coming to us about this service and so decided to launch a dedicated Studio Home Page website so that our content creation services didn’t get lost on The Home Page, although there is a lot of synergy between the two.
How do you find working as business partners? Do you always agree, or do you have different ways of thinking and working?
Jessica: We have a brilliant working relationship and I think that the fact that we were colleagues first and friends second is what gave us both the confidence to go into business together. We knew we had a good dynamic and worked well together so there was no need to worry about how that would play out within the pressurised environment of running a business together. We do find that we usually always agree and are very tuned into one another’s thinking about certain issues, although we do have different ways of working. I’m quite a ‘dive in’ person and Ros is excellent on the detail. We’ve both learnt a huge amount since we launched The Home Page and our working relationship is constantly evolving as a result but I think that total trust is the bedrock of our business.
Rosalind: Trust is definitely a key quality that we share. We both trust each other implicitly. As Jess says, we are also very in tune and communicate really well, which is so important. We bring different qualities to the partnership and work in different ways, which is a strength, and I think we continue to learn from each other. We are also both really keen to learn, which has been key. Neither of us professes to know it all and we encourage continual learning and development, not only to help us grow as individuals, but also as a partnership.
What lessons have you learnt along the way?
So many! I think the main one though is that growing a business takes time. I think before we launched we had probably set ourselves quite unrealistic targets for how quickly the business would grow. Of course, no one could have predicted we’d be facing a global pandemic in our second year! Getting outside advice is also really important. When you’re at the coalface of your business it’s hard to look at things objectively. Finding a great mentor who isn’t in any way involved with your business is a really positive step to take and ensures that you hold yourself accountable. We also know more about WordPress websites, Mailchimp and hashtags than we ever thought possible!
How has the pandemic affected your business? Has it been a positive or negative experience?
Jessica: It has been a mixed bag. Our visitor numbers to The Home Page doubled during the first lockdown, which was very positive. With everybody at home connected to WiFi, our content was easily accessible and was exactly what people were searching for. On the negative side, it was difficult no longer being in an office together, and trying to fit running the business in around homeschooling and childcare has been intense. On the one hand, not being able to have face to face meetings with contacts and clients has saved time and money but Zoom calls just aren’t the same, and our event plans for 2020 had to be put on ice. We also found that initially some clients needed to put plans on hold but luckily that is changing now as businesses look ahead to the future. We’ve also benefited hugely from the fact that we’re an online business, as we’ve been able to be agile and didn’t have to change any of our production processes. I think that having faced a global pandemic we’re going to be well prepared for anything that might be thrown at us now!
What have you found to be the most effective way of marketing your business?
We have really relied on social media to market our business so far but what we’ve found is that social media often wins you fans, not customers. When it comes to Studio Home Page, more often than not it has been direct approaches which have been the most productive. In terms of The Home Page, our strong SEO means that more than 70% of our site visitors find us organically.
You’ve also done a number of brand partnerships. Do you have any advice for other businesses looking at doing this?
Bespoke brand partnerships are a really important part of our business model and means that we can avoid our site being littered with ugly adverts. Instead, we can create beautiful, compelling branded features which sit seamlessly within our editorial. To be able to do this effectively, we are very discerning about who we partner with. Our reader is always front and centre of our decisions and if the brand or its values or products don’t feel like they’d be a natural fit for The Home Page then we have to step away. This means that the brands we partner with have a chance to really make an impact with our audience. We’d suggest being very honest with yourself about the profile of the brand and ask whether it will be a natural fit for your business or if it will jar for your readers or customers. Then we’d advise being very clear about what you expect for your budget, so that everyone is clear about their expectations.
What’s next for you?
The Home Page is continuing to grow organically and attract more brand partnership enquiries which is an exciting development, and we’ll continue to create the content which we know our readers love. Studio Home Page will continue working with its roster of clients and we’re looking to grow our client base.
Images © @wendyaldissphotography for The Home Page
Joanne Burgess’ home @thecurioushouse.co.uk
Jess & Ros
Cathrine Tjore’s Scandi Home @cathrinetjore
Natalie Lee’s colourful family home @stylemesunday