If anyone can make lemonade out of lemons, it’s Erin Klawiter. She can also tell you how to make your home look fantastic with budget-friendly design on her nifty.nest Instagram account. Today Erin is incredibly successful, with an Instagram following of over 84,000. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Erin had been a stager for many years, then went back to school for interior design. When her husband was suddenly laid off several years ago, she sprang into action.
“He was unemployed for two years. I sold everything in my house and was working any and every job I could get my hands on.”
She also tapped into that instinctive creativity to start re-furnishing their home with budget-friendly finds.
“I’ve always been a nester,” Erin said. “That instilled a desire to help others create a pretty house without spending a lot of money.”
But Erin had small children in school and needed to be close to home.
“I wanted to be known as the go-to person for anything from paint color to design in Coppell. I wanted to stay local and to work on a referral basis. So, I got active on our town’s Facebook page and went to the Chamber of Commerce functions. You meet your neighbors at these events and they feel safer recommending a local person,” she said. “Anytime anyone would post design or paint questions on the town’s Facebook page, I was right there offering advice. It’s hard enough to pull the trigger and make changes in your house. You don’t’ want to work with someone that’s intimidating. You want to work with someone that is local and that you can trust.”
Great Photography is Key
Erin also started posting simple, but approachable, photographs of those budget-friendly finds she was furnishing her own home with, on the Coppell Facebook page. This inventive approach paid off and people started to call for design consultations.
She was in an At Home store one day. At Home is the budget-friendly store for the design-obsessed that all stagers and designers frequent on an almost daily basis. The store was undergoing a branding transformation from its original Garden Ridge identity.
“I approached a man who I thought was the store manager that day,” Erin said. “I told him I’d been shopping the store for years when it was Garden Ridge and I loved the new name and branding. He wasn’t the store manager. He was the CEO.”
Fast forward and Erin became a consultant for a year in addition to running her design business.
A friend suggested she share her budget-friendly design ideas on Instagram.
“I thought Instagram was for teenagers sharing selfies,” Erin said. But she jumped onto the platform with nifty.nest four years ago and has not looked back.
An Instagram-Worthy Home
Instead of sharing pictures of her work with design clients due to privacy concerns, she decided to share pictures of her house. Remember Erin began with a house full donated and discovered items when they were in financial straits after the layoff.
“I started incorporating inexpensive things into my photographs to show how to create a nest on a budget,” she said. “I wanted to empower people who don’t have a large design budget, to show them they could get things that were inexpensive and make their homes look great. A lot of us are nesters and we want to come home to a really pretty place we are proud of.”
An Influencer By Accident
Erin didn’t realize you could reach so many people on Instagram and she certainly didn’t know you could create an income stream from the platform. A company reached out asking if she would showcase their product. It happened to be a rug company she followed and loved.
“I had no idea people got paid to show things in their house,” Erin said.
Erin is selective, however. She doesn’t do a lot of sponsored posts. A product has to be inexpensive and she has to love the product because followers trust what we now refer to as influencers.
“I post a photograph because I believe it’s a good design tip, advice, or it’s something budget-friendly you can purchase, like a twelve dollar pillow. I think before I post and only post what I love. It’s more authentic and Instagram is not my full-time job. I hope what I share makes people laugh, or relate to something I say or that I’ve done.”
Erin shares three rooms in her home with her followers, rearranging, and restyling them when she finds a great new product. Her family is, fortunately, very supportive of a constantly changing scene at home.
“My specialty is approachable, budget-friendly, not grand, specific design,” she said. “I’d say 99 percent of my clients want to take their dark outdated home into something light bright and family-friendly.”
Although Erin does not roam from Coppell and is referral-based, you can follow her excellent design style and insider tips on nifty.nest.