A happy, peaceful home can work wonders for well-being. Susie Robb knows all about that. She owns shopfromsusie.com, an online home decor store with handmade Texas products, vintage pieces and curated imports.
Through her From: Susie brand, social media presence and a recently created foundation, Robb uses her eye for design to help others create spaces that empower them and cultivate tranquility and joy. Work gave Robb strength to overcome a painful season in her life: the end of her marriage (while parenting two toddlers). “I think my dreams about a career in design and decor were an attempt to pull myself out of the devastation,” Robb reveals. “I thought, I’ve got to take a small step toward the future. Once I did that, it felt like freedom.”
Today, after a couple of leaps of faith, Robb is thriving—and growing every day. “I’ve decided all of life can be therapy,” she says. So consider this a session “from Susie.”
What sparked your interest in interiors? My grandmother is a self-proclaimed decorator. She would rearrange the living room for no reason, just mixing it up. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but that’s what I have been doing since I can remember.
My grandmother always had stacks of magazines, like Traditional Home, Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Victoria, all of them. We would cut out pictures, tear them out. My sister says that, growing up, my bedroom didn’t look like a teenage girl’s room. It looked like a showroom or a guest room; I was just very meticulous about the drapes matching the bedspread and so on. My grandmother helped. And she still mails me clips from magazines.
How did your career develop? You have a ballet degree—did you consider becoming a professional dancer? Yes, I wanted to be a professional dancer, but often that will evolve into a teaching career, and I knew teaching ballet wasn’t my passion. Honestly, I didn’t have a plan. I got married, moved back to Lubbock and kind of fell into these admin roles.
I was a receptionist for a hotel developer, worked my way up, started getting into purchasing. In that role, I was making some design decisions and understanding the business side of things. I stayed in the purchasing and procurement field until we started having kids.
You were a stay-at-home mom at that point? Yes, and that’s really when the interior design stuff started to pick up—because I am not a homebody. So I was turning into my grandma, rearranging furniture and painting rooms. It made me feel productive and gave me a creative outlet. I started doing some home design for friends and family. Then I really wanted a home decor store, and I got connected with a friend of a friend from church who owned one. She needed some part-time help that would be like an apprenticeship for me.
While all this was happening, my marriage was falling apart; we ended up getting divorced. I knew I would need to go back to work, so that was another reason I wanted the store job. The hours coincided with the exact time my kids were in mother’s day out, and I just cried with relief. If I had taken an admin job, it would be 8am–5pm and I’d have to put my kids in day care. I wasn’t ready to make that change on top of a divorce.
The end of a marriage is really tough to go through, especially with small children. It was very painful. There were days I couldn’t get up off the floor of the closet, and I was like, I can’t do this anymore. So I went to Care.com to find a nanny—I had no other option.
And truly by the grace of God, I got connected with someone who was amazing. She taught my son to read at age 3. My daughter had become a little nonverbal—which, now, I look back and think, OK, that makes sense, because our home life was so toxic. And our nanny helped pull her out of that. She was literally the mom I couldn’t be for the season it took me to transition out of that relationship.
What happened, professionally and personally, as you got stronger and embraced the new chapter? The designer in me was coming back full–force. I was really thinking about implementing design, seeing design trends and wanting to do remodeling projects. It was just being exposed to this world that I had loved for a very long time and had kind of suppressed. Then here it is again, and it felt like a second chance.
And I bought a new house, because I couldn’t afford the one I shared with my ex. I bought the ugliest one on the block, and I loved it. It was one of my first remodels, and it was my own home. It brought me a lot of joy, but also a lot of heartache because remodels are so hard. (Laughs.)
How did you transition from working part-time in a store to developing your own brand? After I remodeled my house, I did one for a friend. They hired me to be the interior designer and it turned into more than that; I was practically their general contractor. I felt like, OK, here’s more and more experience that I’m gathering.
I was doing these design projects on the side and working 30 hours a week, now as manager, at the store. I was busy but was being paid only as a part-time worker. I knew I needed to do something. The day I was going to tell the store owner that I had to make a change, she said, “We’re thinking about selling the store. We really feel like we’re supposed to offer it to you first.”
So I withdrew my savings, borrowed from my parents and bought the home decor store. The first thing I did was tie in my interior design business. After a year, I had to close the physical store, mostly because of time management. I could never find the time to go to the store and fluff it. I was the one shipping orders for our online store, and it was like, I can’t do all these things. And the physical store itself really wasn’t that much of an income generator. Then it was time to rebrand.
What was that process like? The old name was the former owner’s last name, and I didn’t feel a connection to it. And people were confused by it. Social media has been a big part of our brand from the beginning, but the former owner never put her face on there. So I get the store and immediately start doing stories and videos. If you didn’t know before who owned it, you did now. But the name didn’t make sense.
Last summer, I hired a branding manager. She became like a therapist. She wanted to know everything—and I mean everything—about me. She would make me write down goals. It really helped shape and mold me into the businesswoman I am today. We finally decided on “From: Susie.” It was like, That makes complete sense. It sounds simple, but I felt like this is what I do. I’m giving, whether it’s a product or helping makers or artists; the whole thing is a gift. I mean, there’s a price tag, but it’s this offering. So it was “From: Susie,” and the pun worked to say “Shop From: Susie,” “Designs From: Susie” —everything could have that tag. It was just brilliant.
How do you stand out professionally? It’s a very saturated market. Everyone is on Instagram doing home decor stuff. Stores were carrying the same products and competing with each other, and even more recently, we’re competing with Amazon. These are products that I’m trying to make a margin on to support my family, and they’re on Amazon for pennies on the dollar and can be shipped to your house the next day with free shipping. I was like, I don’t know how to do this anymore.
It was another divine connection that this guy reached out to me on Instagram. He said, “We make products here in Texas. Can we meet with you?” They told me we could design products, and they would make them for me. I didn’t have to buy minimum quantities; they could just make them as I needed them. It was a no-brainer. They could design it, I could design it, we could work off other designs—but the idea was that we’re going to make stuff that’s not online already, and it’s branded as “From: Susie,” made in Texas. That changed everything for me.
And I have collaborations with other female makers. I have this heart for female artisans because of how much women supported me during my divorce. I have a pillow maker down in Waco, a tea towel maker in California. Sarah Briggs in Waxahachie does our jewelry. We also have antiques. We’re finding these cool salvage pieces, unique pieces with unique stories.
You now focus most of your interior design work on your foundation. Tell us about that. Over the years, I found that a lot of people who wanted to remake their spaces had gone through something horrific. Something tragic. It was like, OK, I see the pattern. These people aren’t happy with their home, and they’re all stuck. They want me to come help. They didn’t have the skillset or the finances to create an environment they like. I started helping people out, which was rewarding for me, but I wasn’t getting paid.
One day in the car, I was half-praying, half-venting. I was like, There has to be a grant or something I can apply for to get some money to pay myself so I can keep doing this or pay for their renovation. Then I really feel God was like, “I want you to do it. Start this foundation.”
I called some friends with experience in nonprofits, and I started the 626 Foundation last fall. The name comes from Scripture, Matthew 6:26. It’s about God providing for us. So the foundation offers no-cost interior design services to families affected by tragedy. We did our first project for a mom who was living in a shelter and had just gotten her first duplex. She had nothing. She said, “I was so excited to get out of the shelter and into my own place, and now I’m just devastated because now all I see is lack.” I’m like, “We got this.” We created a fully designed and furnished space. It was life-changing, for her family and for me.
It’s also a powerful message for your kids. It’s showing them what giving back looks like. For the little boy in the duplex, I ordered all these vintage comic books for his room. We bought a pack of 100 on the internet, and I had my son Adam go through and pick out the best ones. He said, “Can I have them?” I’m like, “Oh, buddy. No.” It was a teachable moment where we are giving others the best, not keeping it for ourselves and giving them what’s left. I’m really proud of the lessons my children are learning.
Lives in Grapevine
Hails from Lubbock
Offspring Son Adam, 7, and daughter Sarah, 5
Alma mater University of Utah, where she earned a degree in ballet
Find her at shopfromsusie.com (online store), susierobb.com (blog), @fromsusie (Instagram) and 626foundation.org (charitable foundation)
Learn more about the 626 Foundation and donate at 626foundation.org. The website has information for interior designers and decor businesses that want to offer services and products. Also, shopfromsusie.com has a 626 collection, with all proceeds supporting the foundation.
Photo courtesy of Cortney Dani Photography.