Mackenzie Horan is the cutest go-getter I know! She has the ultimate eye for all things striped, for pretty peplums, for decorative desk accessories, and for everything Nantucket related. Her impeccable eye and motivated nature have helped her create quite the gig for herself: a design & fashion blog named Design Darling and a flourishing online boutique full of the home decor items of your preppy dreams!
Her shop is my go-to stop when I’m looking for a birthday gift or a fun way to spruce up my apartment. I think she’s one of the most fun bloggers to keep up with because she’s been through a few exciting life changes in the past year or two including moving from NYC to Dallas and getting engaged (her Wedding Wednesday series is one of my favorites!). Read on for the full Sitting Pretty With Mackenzie Horan of Design Darling interview to get to know this month’s spotlight girl a little better!
Sitting Pretty with Mackenzie Horan of Design Darling
Name: Mackenzie Horan
Neighborhood: Dallas, TX
Job: Blogger and online boutique owner
Instagram Handle: @mackenziehoran
LET’S TALK BUSINESS…
What motivated you to start your blog, Design Darling?
I started my blog as a creative outlet during my junior year in college and updated it daily either from the coffee shop on campus or my study abroad semester in France. I kept up with it through graduation, never imagining that five years later it would still be a major part of my life!
Tell me a little about your Design Darling shop.
I launched my online boutique from my parents’ dining room table after two and a half years of blogging. I had built up an engaged readership and wanted to create a place where my readers could shop all the home decor, jewelry, and monogrammed gifts I was sharing on my blog, all in one shopping cart.
Describe your blog in 3 sentences or less.
Simply put, Design Darling is where I share the people, places, and things I love. I post decorating projects, outfit ideas, travel guides, and anything else that catches my eye. I’d say my style is preppy with a twist — I’m not afraid to test out the occasional trend but I always return to the classics.
What is a typical day in the life of Mackenzie?
I wake up, walk our puppy Rory, head to Starbucks, and get to the office around 9:00. First, I make sure my employee is set up to pack and ship the previous day’s orders. Then I start working on blog posts, photographing and uploading new inventory for the boutique, handling customer service emails, or mapping out upcoming collaborations with brands. One day a week I’m out of the office to shoot outfit posts with my friend and fellow blogger Ali (@adashofdetails).
What keeps you inspired at work day-in and day-out?
I love finding new ways to engage and inspire my readers, whether that’s a giveaway with a brand I love or sharing progress on my 101 in 1001 list. Similarly, I love sourcing new products for the boutique that I can’t wait to put to use in my own life!
How do you pick what topics and content you want to post about on Design Darling?
I’m really trying to be more organized about this but it’s so hard for me! I’m trying to post two outfits per week and then go from there, filling in the other days with decorating or travel inspiration and product round-ups. And lately I’ve been doing Wedding Wednesdays where I share progress on planning our 2017 wedding!
How do you pick the products you sell in your shop?
I visit trade shows, spend an inordinate amount of time searching for new artists and manufacturers online, and every now and then get an email from a designer whose line is a perfect fit for Design Darling. Chances are, if I fall in love with an item, some of my customers will too!
Is there something that you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your blog and shop?
I had no idea when I started either business that I’d be in it for the long haul. Hindsight being 20/20, I’d have invested in a better camera and web design early on and written a more specific business plan from the get-go. But I feel fortunate to have started when I did, even though neither start was without its mistakes and obstacles!
Let’s talk Fashion…
Describe your style in three adjectives.
Casual, classic, preppy.
What are your wardrobe staples?
Striped shirts from Saint James, skinny jeans in dark blue and white, a navy blazer from J.Crew, Jack Rogers in the summer and riding boots in the fall.
If I peaked into your closet, what color would be the most prominent?
Navy or nothing! It’s a little silly how much of my closet is blue and white but navy blue is the color I’m most comfortable in so you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Are there any trends you’re excited about right now?
I need to put myself on a shopping ban for off-the-shoulder tops and dresses. I can’t get enough!
What fashion piece would you splurge on tomorrow if you could?
A Ralph Lauren Ricky bag! One of the ultimate classics in my book.
Let’s talk Beauty…
What are your beauty must-haves?
Neutrogena sunscreen, NARS tinted moisturizer, and drugstore mascara. If I could only wear three things for the rest of my life, that would be it! Oh and Vintner’s Daughter at night — it costs a pretty penny but it has totally transformed my skin.
What perfume do you spritz on as you walk out the door?
Ralph by Ralph Lauren or Poppy by Coach.
What color nail polish are you currently wearing?
It’s usually a gel color, either hot pink or pale pink but occasionally bright red when I want to mix it up.
Let’s talk Décor…
Describe your decorating style in three adjectives.
Colorful, classic, lived-in.
What is your favorite piece of art or furniture you own?
My fiancé and I have amassed quite the collection of Slim Aarons prints and I could tell you when each one of them was purchased and for what occasion!
What’s on your bar cart?
Cocktail napkins from my boutique and Hendricks gin, always.
Do you have any must-have coffee table books?
Too many! But Gray Malin’s new book is a current favorite.
Let’s talk Travel…
Beach or Mountains?
East Coast or West Coast?
What is your favorite destination?
Are you planning any upcoming trips?
Most of our upcoming travel plans revolve around friends’ weddings. We’ll be in Ojai in July, New York in August, and New York again in October, with a few jaunts to Nantucket in between!
Who is your favorite travel buddy?
I’m not picky! Of course I love traveling with my family and fiancé but I also love traveling with girlfriends who have their own blogs because they totally understand the need to stop every ten feet to take an Instagram.
Go-to cocktail when you’re traveling?
Gin and tonic or a glass of rosé.
What is your top bucket list destination?
Too many to count — stepping foot on all seven continents is on my bucket list!
I’m always inspired by your trips to Nantucket! What makes Nantucket so special to you?
My great-great-grandfather was an eye surgeon in the 1890s and had a patient who couldn’t afford to pay him for a surgery. So, he offered him two plots of land on a little whaling island called Nantucket. My great-great-grandfather accepted the offer and built a house out there. Every summer my mom would go there until her father had to sell the house in the 1970s! My grandparents moved into a different house on the island and eventually my parents purchased their own home on the island. We’ll be married next year in the same chapel where my parents got married thirty years ago — I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Let’s talk Dallas…
You haven’t lived in Dallas long. Did you feel any southern hospitality when you moved?
Definitely! It’s a slower pace of life down here (especially coming from New York) and I love that people take the time to ask you how you’re doing and hold the door open for you everywhere you go.
What’s your favorite part of living in Dallas?
The space! I moved from a 400 square foot apartment in New York and looking back I don’t know how I did it.
Best date night restaurant?
We love Neighborhood Services and Taverna.
Best brunch restaurant?
Breadwinners, Parigi, or Toulouse.
Best southern food restaurant?
Sissy’s — their mac and cheese is to die for!
P.S. If you had fun reading my Sitting Pretty With Mackenzie Horan of Design Darling interview, then you might want to browse some past interviews including Allison Norton of Polka Dot Media, Krista Robertson of Covering the Bases, Annie Reeves of anniereeves.com, and Lauren Nelson of lauren-nelson.com. xx