This week’s DMTV Milkshake guest is Jean Brownhill, trained architect and founder of Sweeten.
Any homeowner who dreams of a lighter kitchen, bigger bathroom or intestinal renovation on a beautiful property has one challenge: finding and working with a contractor who is able to do the job right for a fair price . To solve this often intimidating puzzle, Jean Brownhill founded Sweeten – a product of her many years of experience with the world of architecture and construction. Sweeten was the result of her own efforts to rehabilitate a timber frame house in Brooklyn’s Bedstuy neighborhood. “We’re a two-way marketplace that helps homeowners and small business owners connect with the best general contractors,” says Brownhill. “We offer expert advice, financial protection and platform tools right through to the completion of your project.” Everything was developed to streamline an expensive, often chaotic process. “When I founded the company in 2011, the mission was then as it is now – and that is to help people renovate fearlessly.”
In this milkshake, Jean explains the pros and cons of how Sweeten works, shares her unexpected favorite home furnishings source (you’ll need this app), and advises women entrepreneurs looking for venture capital. “Venture capital is a very new industry – it really didn’t start until the 1970s,” he says. “Lots and lots of businesses started without venture capital. So ask yourself: do you really need venture capital to grow this business?” For sweets, the answer was yes. “Technology is expensive. Technical developers, engineers and product people are expensive, ”she says. “We had to be able to scale our team.” Brownhill attributes her authentic self-esteem to her fundraising success – and so she recommends other entrepreneurs to continue. “I know it can be difficult to sit in front of investors – maybe people who you find very intimidating, or – you know they’re all dressed the same,” she says. “The only way to get people to invest in you is to have them trust you. And to trust you, they have to know you. And so you have to appear authentically. “
Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, the Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.
Milkshake, the first regular series from DMTV (Design Milk TV), shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to randomly select interview questions from their favorite bowl or container. During their open discussions you will not only get an insight into their personal housewares collections, but also valuable insights into their work, their lives and their passions.