The meaning behind Stripe Street Studio’s name is twofold. First, the phrase “stripe street” invokes an image of a straight path to a destination, as opposed to a winding road, indicating the firm’s mission to provide a smooth journey to help clients move from one chapter of their lives to another. And the second meaning? “I love stripes. I always have,” says Stacey Herman, the studio’s Founder and Chief Transition Officer.
Stripe Street Studio works primarily with divorced dads, helping them transition from one phase of their lives to the next. Located in New York, Oklahoma and Miami, Herman travels frequently, going where the projects are.
“We don’t really think of ourselves as just a design firm for them,” Herman says. “We really think of ourselves as solving a lot of emotional turmoil that they’re in, so they can come home in the evenings and rest and have just a comfortable place to sit and think and be with their children.”
Herman began her career in publishing more than 25 years ago, working for large publishing houses like Condé Nast and Hearst. After renovating her own home, friends started coming to her for design advice, which inspired her to start her own design business — Fluid Design + Relocation — in 2015. After realizing that many of her clients were divorced dads looking to transition to a new chapter in their lives, Herman shifted her business in late 2020 to Stripe Street Studio to focus solely on these men.
Divorce can bring about a lot of emotional and financial burdens, which Herman addresses in her design process. Stripe Street works with men from a range of financial abilities, providing as much or as little guidance as the client needs based on their budget. Once Herman learns her client’s goals, she puts together a proposal that explains how to meet them within the given budget. This can be as simple as providing a list of recommended furnishings or as complex as Stripe Street handling all design, moving, unpacking and organization logistics.
“The number one goal is to help divorced dads so that they can enjoy their new home, especially with their children,” she says. “It helps everybody; it helps the dad, it helps the children, and it helps the ex because it just takes the anxiety
and emotion down a few levels.”
From a design perspective, there’s no one-size-fits-all method for working with divorced dads. Herman evaluates each client’s lifestyle before making design decisions. Are they working from home? How old are their children? What are their hobbies? She also assesses the space into which the client is moving and determines how each room can function most efficiently. While she doesn’t note any distinct design trends among her clients, Herman says the common denominator is that they all have opinions, even if they don’t know how to vocalize them.
“They know exactly what they want,” she says. “They just need someone to serve it up to them because they’re busy. Not only do they have all these new financial, legal and fatherly roles to take on, they have their career as well. When you have a partner, you can work and help one another. They’re kind of in a canoe where they need somebody else in there with them in the back, giving them direction.”
While Herman pivoted her business to this niche focus in the middle of a pandemic and moved most of her work and communication to Zoom, there’s still more on the horizon for Stripe Street Studio. She wants to be a resource for divorced dads, not only providing design guidance, but also product recommendations and advice. She gave an example of one client whose kitchen her team set up from scratch. Herman got him a Vitamix blender and a book of smoothie recipes to help make mornings with his three sons easier and fun.
“We’ve talked about having a Stripe Street online store as a source for all these dads nationwide, that’s curated by us,” she says. “To have a resource where it has ideas for them like that, and where they can just go and find exactly what they need would be great.”
For Herman, the rewarding part of the work is not only helping dads settle into their new homes, it’s also helping the children who are also going through this difficult transition. It eases anxiety between the parents and helps the children feel comfortable in both parents’ homes.
“Everybody has their own space at each location,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Wow, Dad took the time and gave me options for my room and he cares how I feel about the situation.’ Kids internalize things, and when they know Dad really cares about what they think about their new home together, it makes a difference.”
This is what motivates Herman to continue this work. She urges other designers who might be considering focusing on a niche client base to think about what drives them.
“You can’t be everything to everyone and it’s always great to figure out what inspires you,” she says. “Because then your job is rewarding and it’s fun and exciting.”