Co-Founder/Designer, The Novogratz
Posted on: July 15, 2012 | Go to profile
Cortney Novogratz and husband, Robert, are a dynamic duo in the world of design. Over almost twenty years, this young, hip and artsy couple has developed and designed many unique properties in Manhattan and beyond, rebuilt (from the ground up) entire blocks in the city, and turned funky into fabulous, with every detail considered and executed with the utmost taste, confidence and luxury. Cortney is also a mom to seven children. Cortney and her family reside on the west side of New York City.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: My husband Robert and I bought a condemned building/home before we even got married. We completely rebuilt, designed, and refurbished the entire home with very little knowledge of the process and very little money. When we finished, we realized that we were really talented, did a great job, and loved the process of doing it. So, we rented it out, downsized, and used that money to buy up more properties, and we never looked back.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: You don’t take just one road. My husband and I wear many hats – don’t limit yourself. Most successful people work and do just about everything. Take all the roads.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase? Or in a growth/need to ‘now scale’ phase?
A: First of all, and most importantly, do what you love. Take calculated risks and grow at the right pace. We still keep our office in our home, which saves us money (no extra rent) and allows us to juggle work and 7 kids.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: The Novogratz brand is about FAMILY. It feels and looks fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are passionate about what we do, and we truly feel that our brand reflects that.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: Surround yourself with people in the field that you think you would like to work in. Offer to work for free or intern at first. Spread the word to everyone. Ask questions. Listen, learn, and hustle.
Q: Is there an example in your life of a time when others were against you or your dream, yet you persevered?
A: It took my husband and I successfully turning 6 run-down, empty, condemned buildings/homes/lots into beautiful homes for our family to finally believe in us. After those 6 projects, we took our family to the next dump that we wanted to transform into a gorgeous home, and they finally said, “Oh yes, do it, we know you’ll make it great.”
ON Letting go
Q: What do you do to unwind or disconnect?
A: A glass of wine and watching a movie with my husband and kids.
ON Taking Risk
Q: Usually reaching something great or grand in life requires taking a risk. What has been your greatest risk so far and how was it rewarding?
A: My husband and I deciding to become designers and work for ourselves was scary at first, but we knew that if we failed, we failed together, and if we succeeded, we succeeded together. We wondered if people would hire us and how we would pay our bills. It’s been an incredibly rewarding risk. We always dreamt of designing our own products and furniture, and after years of hard work we are finally getting to do that. Our line with CB2 launches this summer!
ON Time Management
Q: How do your prioritize your time?
A: I take it one day at a time and try to balance home/kids and office.
Q: In theory, one should prioritize their own health in order to be in the best state to take care of others (family, kids, work, etc.). But in reality, I’ve found that women often take care of themselves last. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Sadly, this is true. I love my kids, and I love my work, so I feel very fulfilled. I must remind myself, “Hey I took my kids to the dentist, now it’s my turn.”
Q: How do you respond to the question “How has having a child changed your life?”
A: Having kids has made me a better person. As a result of having kids and being around kids, I have become more creative. When you have kids you instantly see the world through a different lens. Although there can be overwhelming days, the joy and drive to live fully is at the center of each day of my life.
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: My husband, Robert Novogratz. I also like Kelly Wearstler.