Brittney Herrera has had an affinity for the workspace since she opened her architect and design business, HBx Studio, three years ago, in Portland, OR. Her foundation in that business has been commercial workplace interior design and has been integral to how her business has grown.
When COVID hit and corporate workspaces were traded for home offices, Herrera and her team pivoted to designing those areas of the home. “We have a deep knowledge of thoughtful planning for a well-thought-out workplace,” Herrera says, noting that she understands that some of the same requirements for productivity in a corporate workplace translate to the home as well. So HBx Studio pivoted its focus to home offices. She anticipates more people will continue to work from home at least a few days a week.
However, creating the optimal environment for working from home also requires the correct furnishings and decor. Think ergonomic office chairs, flexible desks that allow sitting, standing and moving around, and the decor that makes that office space somewhere an employee wants to spend the majority of their day.
Delivering Desks...and Decor
To expand on delivering to this need, last year, Herrera teamed with her mother, Terry Blaskowsky, to create Wildwood House, a procurement operation designed to get office furniture and accessories to consumers now working at home. Through her business relationships, Herrera began sourcing the furnishings that would speak to different design styles while paying close attention to the needed functionality. “Not everyone has a million outlets, so we have a lamp that’s cordless,” Herrera shares as an example of the thought that goes into the products she procures through Wildwood House.
At the start of summer 2021, Herrera and Blaskowsky expanded the business further with a brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retail space to showcase their selection of home office furnishings and decor, a curated selection of purposeful and accessible home office solutions and accessories designed to help people elevate their work-from-home and living experiences. “We are looking to support an effective work-from-home experience,” says Herrera. “One that gets you moving, changing position and getting out and engaging with the world. We offer really beautiful handmade things, desk accessories and lighting. We focus on a work-from-home edit that collects these things together.”
On the Wildwood House website, the team offers a variety of curated room designs to make it easier for customers to see how pieces can work within their style. The store is also merchandised with vignettes to inspire customers.
While Herrera brings the design background and focuses on curating products and relationships, Blaskowsky, who came into the company full time last September, brings a retail and management background, along with an effective workflow understanding and an eye for talent and good people. Blaskowsky hired Wildwood House’s “incredible store manager,” for example, Herrera says. She also interacts with crews on job sites and manages the issues that could potentially challenge the fledgling retailer. “She really knows how to navigate those things,” Herrera says gratefully.
The duo also back each other up when there are things to be done. “If [Blaskowsky] has an install, I rearrange my schedule to pick up the slack,” says Herrera. “It’s seamless.”
While Herrera says the young business got off to a “sunshine and rainbows” start, as with other furnishings categories, supply chain issues and materials shortages have created challenges. She and her mother have overcome those hurdles with some creative options. “With our warehouse and installer relationships, we were able to keep things seamless, making substitutions where needed.” When even a substitution wasn’t available, the company has rented furniture for clients until their purchases were available. They buy American-made as much as possible to mitigate delays. “We make sure we are specifying responsibly and understanding the full impact of where things are coming from,” says Herrera. “We’ve also been really transparent with people that everything might take a little bit longer.” Herrera works with more than 200 suppliers, another way the company keeps product flowing.
When starting the procurement business, retail was never part of the equation, Herrera continues. “My purpose has always been to create these impactful workplaces,” she says. As consumers transition into hybrid work, the products have to be accessible and something they can buy in a store or online. Our goal is to help as many people as possible have a great work-from-home life.”
Feng Shui and More
Next up for the mother-daughter duo, Herrera says, is a focus on feng shui-inspired office spaces. Product design and development is also on the horizon as Herrera learns what functionality is needed in home offices.
“We are so dedicated to this business,” Herrera says. “It feels like it can’t be anything but a success.”