Mackenzie of Design Darling

mackenzie horan, design darling, new york blogger, creative entrepreneur



Design Darling

Hometown & Current City

Darien, CT / New York, NY


French language & literature… so practical! 😉

What was your first job after college?

I interned for a digital magazine and had a brief stint in public relations before deciding to focus on my blog full-time.

What made you decide to start your own business?

I was 22, had nothing to lose, and figured, “If not now, when?”

What were the first steps in starting your own business?

Easily the most important thing I did was set up a meeting with my local SCORE office. They pointed me in the right direction for starting my LLC, budgeting for inventory, etc. I highly recommend them when you’re first starting out!

mackenzie horan, design darling, creative entrepreneur

What did you learn in your first job that’s helped in starting your own company?

I learned a lot about social media from my internships in college. Truthfully, my PR job taught me a lot about what I didn’t want in my career, which I think can be just as important as knowing what you do want.

If there was one thing you’d wished you’d known before starting, what would that be?

Working from home can definitely be isolating. I have to really make an effort to get out of the “office” and connect with other small business owners. It’s one of my dreams to share office space in New York with several of my friends who have similar work situations.

What was the toughest part about starting your own business?

There’s no road map for what I’m doing — I can’t look at my boss’s job and say, “That’s what I’m working towards.” I’m 24 and making it up as I go along, which is both really exciting and totally terrifying.

mackenzie horan, design darling, creative entrepreneur

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far?

Either my own indecisiveness (which I’m constantly trying to overcome!) or rude comments from people who don’t understand what I do for a living. I’ve had people ask me whether my business is profitable, how much money I make… Just because I don’t have a conventional desk job doesn’t mean traditional etiquette doesn’t apply to conversations about my work!

Who or what do you look to for support?

My parents encouraged me to take this leap of faith and I’m so grateful for that initial blessing from them — I might never have taken the risk otherwise. My siblings have all pitched in with shipping at some point over the past two years which is pretty awesome. And my dear friend Eddy from high school has been a savior this year with packaging orders in my tiny apartment!

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned since opening your business/shop?

Just how much you can accomplish when you truly love what you do. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner!

mackenzie horan, design darling, creative entrepreneur

What’s your favorite part about owning your own company?

Easily the people I’ve met — new friends through blogging, super talented vendors whose work I can bring to a larger audience, and the most awesome customers in the world. I’ve had people send me handwritten thank you notes — for items they paid for! Blogging and owning an online business have introduced me to so many wonderful people I might never have met. It’s the best way to connect with people who loves the same things I do!

What does the future hold for Design Darling?

Hopefully a lot! I’d love to move into a shared office space, design a few of my own products, and continue to collaborate on exclusive designs with current vendors. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Do you choose all the products in your shop yourself?

Yes! That’s my very favorite part — there’s nothing more fun than discovering a new designer whose work is perfect for Design Darling.

You also have a very popular blog and large social media following, how has that benefitted your business?

My online boutique couldn’t exist without the blog — no one would know about it! I think that’s something people overlook when they email me wanting to start a similar store, how much time I spent expanding and catering to my audience before I started selling to them. That’s important! Social media should never feel sales-y — it’s simply an extra platform for me to share the people, places, and things I love with my readers.

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