You guys, it’s our 5th and final interview in our real estate & design Q&A series! If you’re new here, we decided to do a 5-part series this fall featuring five different duos in the real estate / design / home renovation space around the country. We chatted with The Grit & Polish, Nestrs, Construction2Style, and Brett & Kara about how they got started in the industry, social media tips, and dreams they’re working toward achieving. It’s been so inspiring hearing each of their stories.
In our final interview this week, we’re chatting with Chris & Claudia Beiler of The Chris & Claude Co. They’re a super talented Mennonite husband-wife team based in Lancaster, PA. We’ve been following them for a while now on Instagram and are so impressed by their creativity & passion for what they do. They do beautiful work and you need to follow them if you don’t already! We hope you enjoy reading their story.
BITM: Tell us about yourselves (as people!) Hobbies, interests? How did you meet?
C&C: Chris & I have always been adventurous souls – similar in the way we were raised, but different in our enjoyments. When relieving the stress of life, he chooses the silence of the woods & an exhausting hike… I prefer a bustling coffee shop & sitting sitting sitting *harhar*
… We were both raised in Conservative Mennonite homes in Lancaster County – home educated by our parents & introduced to travel & missions young in life. We can’t say we remember our first meeting – our families did life together & so we just ‘always were’ – Chris is a few years my senior – so my older sisters ran around with him before I did & I grew to respect him before I grew to love him.
BITM: Tell us about your business. How did you get started? What made you want to get into real estate/design? How’d you get to where you are today?
C&C: The story of our business is still a baffling one – “how did we get here” is still a question we find ourselves asking. My (Claudia’s) dad was a real estate agent all my life. As a little girl I have fond memories of going to the office with him & playing under his desk as he discussed real estate or eating cookies at one of his open houses. Dad installed the love of houses in us & my mom installed the love of creating a home – Chris & I really fell in love with this town called Honey Brook – even before we were dating we started volunteering at this youth center that focused on helping out kids in the town.
We eventually got engaged & decided this is where we wanted to live – purchased a foreclosed 1800’s home that needed some major tlc & without even knowing it, we got launched into the biggest career change of our lives! We started with the attic, turned it into a tiny apartment for us to live in & shocked our socks off with how cute it turned out. We had no idea what we were doing & somehow it was just the cutest & even Urban Outfitters must have thought so because they came for a photoshoot. Soon our friends started asking us to come help them with renovations & design advice – we just laughed “what do we know?” But uhm, pretty soon we started seriously considering quitting our jobs.
That ‘seriously considering’ turned into real life & Chris took a huge pay cut & a leap of faith & started working for my dad in-house flipping in Lancaster City. We were scared & didn’t know how we’d make it all work but it did it did it did & once again we were surprised, but so grateful. I started going in and helping with design & we said maybe we should start staging the houses before they sold. Eventually we got kinda into this home renovation thang & decided to start working together – why not call ourselves “The Chris & Claude Co” we said sheepishly – so we did.
BITM: What’s your favorite and not so favorite part about being a small business owner?
C&C: Just the other week I watched as some friends went off to an exotic island that was paid for by their company. They got training & pina coladas & beach front lodging & I told Chris “Man what i’d give to have somebody train me like that…” – sometimes it can be exhausting having to be the ones pushing ourselves. It’s up to us to train our employees & spread the vision & dream up the new dreams – we don’t have all-inclusive beach vacations unless we try to rack up our credit card points or something heh heh.
It’s the joy of being a small business owner & we both said we know it’s what we are made for & love doing – but really, those free trips look mighty fine.
BITM: How has social media helped your business? Any tricks you can share with us that have helped you grow your following?
C&C: Social Media has been such a fun place for us to showcase the homes we create. We love that in this day & age we can connect with anyone around the world – gaining inspiration & sharing it just as freely is a powerful tool. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the many, many fellow husband-wife business teams we’ve discovered & now have friendships with. Such a blessing.
“Collaboration is a tool that we recommend to people who are wanting to grow their following & share the love of other business owners. We love being able to use products in our houses & tag those creatives as a “thank you” and a way to expose them to our audience.”
BITM: What goals are you working toward? Any big dreams or aspirations that you’d love to achieve in the future?
C&C: We are blessed/cursed/who-knows-what with the ability to dream wayyy too big alll theeee time. We gotta stop but we can’t stop but we must stop but we really can’t. You fellow business owners know how it is. Never enough money for all the dreams. Our latest endeavor that’s been a dream for years & years is to renovate an old car garage in our town & bring a coffee shop in. Crazy dreams that actually start happening are the best/scariest/awesome-est and did we say scariest… haha!
bitm: i just giggled because This is something we struggle with on the daily. but we do try to follow our guts and that uuusually leads us to where we need to go. even if it’s not anywhere near our list of “shoulds” 🙂
bitm: What do you like most about living where you live? Any recommendations on where to stay & what to eat for anyone who might be traveling there?
C&C: Lancaster County is just the best. It was recently on Forbes top 10 list of coolest places to visit – so that just confirmed it. Lancaster City is such a hub for creativity. You’ve got Passenger Coffee, the most aesthetically pleasing & minimalistic coffee shop. Central Market, a beautiful old brick marketplace where all the farmers in the area come together to sell their goods in the oldest continuing marketplace in America. Gallery Row, a street full of gorgeous & talented painters showcasing their art. If you visit our area, hit us up & we will tell you all our favorites.
BITM: it Sounds like there are lots of similarities between Lancaster and Columbus. We’ll have to pit stop & visit you guys the next time we’re heading back to the east coast to visit family!
BITM: Favorite place you’ve traveled to? Why?
C&C: Chris & I find heaps of inspiration when we travel, so we value this deeply & prioritize it – kinda – ya know, as much as we can with 3 crazy toddlers. In our single years, we traveled to Asia, Central America, Europe, Canada & more. Since we are married, we’ve visited Nepal, Vancouver, B.C & all around the US. Our favorite by far is still the West Coast. We are forever inspired by rugged coastlines, terrazzo tile & the modern yet classic feel of the West Coast Culture.
BITM: What are some of your favorite design / real estate books? Why?
C&C: Since having kids, Chris & I haven’t been as proactive about reading as we used to be – unless you count the hoards of childrens books that now litter our home. I often reserve a design book at the library, or splurge on amazon & spend an afternoon flipping through the pages drawing inspiration & vowing to do a better job of just following my gut when it comes to making design decisions. What always amazes me as I look through design books is how ‘it all just works’ – every space is so different, based on the creator of it. I wouldn’t have put that couch with that rug, or that wood-paneled wall against that laminate floor. But they did & it just looks so perfect & I just have to remind myself again & again that designing a space is so much like painting a canvas – it never looks the same, but each piece is a new work of art & it’s beautiful.
BITM: Biggest lesson learned / advice to people just starting out?
C&C: Follow yo’ gut, my friend. It’s quite simple but quite complex. Was having a conversation with a friend who we helped with the design & renovation of their city house this Fall – but now it’s time for them to fill it with furniture & it’s her turn to make the decisions. She has 5 million couch options & 3 billion carpet options & 10 thousand coffee table options & you get the point – but as she chooses & pieces together her home it all just works ya know. Your space needs to tell the story of who you are, your family, your personality. Don’t play it safe, throw up that flashy wallpaper or choose the crazy rug – it can be torn down when it goes out of style & that rug can be replaced when you grow weary of it. But for now, make sure you have a home that reflects who you are…
BITM: Favorite white paint color (because, we had to)
C&C: Gotta give it to white paint – there’s only a trillion options in the paint world & they are all called “white” – so how do you know, how do you choose? We’ve learned the hard way when it comes to paint – & we don’t want you to have to go through the same process. Choosing the wrong white can lead to walls looking yellowish or drab. We go for the crisp & cool look. We’ve often used White Dove Benjamin Moore or Simply White Benjamin Moore – but our recent favorite has been Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore – a super white & gorgeous crisp color that we have painted our last two houses entirely in. And when I say entirely, I mean trim, walls, ceilings, everything.
… told you, they are amazing! You can follow along on Instagram @thechrisandclaudeco, learn more about their business at thechrisandclaudeco.com, browse their dreamy Airbnb rentals here and here, and take a 3D walkthough of our last house here.
We really hope you enjoyed our series & feel inspired by reading all of these incredible stories!! If you ever want to refer back in the future, we have them all tagged under a Q&A category on the blog.
Until next time… xo