She may have been born and raised in America, but Sherry Roberts – CEO of interiors site The Longest Stay – describes herself as ‘European in spirit’. And it’s her own brand of European spirit that’s ingrained in the site Sherry founded only a couple of years ago. Prior to the arrival of the The Longest Stay (TLS), Sherry joined the elite Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL) as its first entrepreneur in residence. It was this experience that led her to build up an extensive interiors contacts book, before TLS emerged onto the design scene.
An absolute haven for fans of all things interiors, the site is an interactive online magazine and shop. The go-to place for designer furniture, home accessories and unique gifts – each cherry picked by designers from around the world – it’s a must-visit. Talking design loves and loathes, Sherry has taken time out of her busy schedule to chat to us here on the blog. Enjoy…
Pictured: Sherry Roberts
Distinctive Chesterfields (DC): Hi Sherry. So, tell us, how did The Longest Stay come about, and what challenges (if any) have you faced as a business?
Sherry: The Longest Stay is an interactive online magazine and store where discerning interiors enthusiasts can buy from our curated collection of furniture, home accessories and luxury gifts.
We recently moved into our offices in Chelsea where our team of two has grown to seven in just a few months (yes, my posh pooch Bella Do counts).
My original idea for the business was a chic boutique hotel in the heart of Rome (this was about six years ago). The concept moved away from that when I became an entrepreneur in residence in the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland.
After three years of research, with 30 students under my tutelage – it became evident – people want what they see in the beautiful spreads of a glossy magazine. I spent the next two years in planes (over 200 all over Europe), immersed in interior design shows (over 25) being guided by top people in the world of interiors.
Our alpha site launched in 2012 and out beta site in a few months ago, since then we have been successfully trading and growing organically.
“…. people want what they see in the beautiful spreads of a glossy magazine.”
DC: How does the site work?
Sherry: The Longest Stay is an efficient way of shopping as we do the sourcing for the customer, we share the back-stories of each product in our collection and we show them how to style our products with our magazine. Best of all, you can click and buy what you see on our editorial pages and have it delivered to your home.
The Longest Stay is how you furnish the home you never want to leave…
DC: Have you faced any real challenges as a business?
Sherry: You face challenges as a business daily, whether it is recruiting, motivating a team, finding investment, scaling your business, fundamentally marketing your business and servicing your customers. The challenges are endless, but is what makes every day unique…
DC: What’s your idea of a perfect day, should you have a day off? And how do you like to relax?
Sherry: Well, I am always on the move, there is always something that needs to be done. I love to read, not only about design and interiors, but also books about motivation and business. I relax by treating myself with yoga or mediation, spending time with my dog Bella-Do and eating something divine!
I generally don’t have ‘a day off’… The business and my personal life intertwine and because I am having so much fun I can’t really distinguish between the two.
DC: What would you say is your favourite piece/collection from The Longest Stay, and is there a best-selling range?
Sherry: I love the Alexandra Cabinet by Luxurious Living and actually bought one. I wouldn’t say we have a best-selling range because all of our products are curated as opposed to showing the whole range, which is what makes us special. However, we are in the process of developing an exclusive light collection with one of our Portuguese suppliers – so watch this space!
The Longest Stay has its own magazine
DC: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given and who was it from?
Sherry: “Don’t assume you know it. Validate it.” Ray Iunius, Director at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne.
DC: When it comes to interiors, what’s your own personal décor style? And will you be incorporating any of 2014’s big design trends into your home?
Sherry: Eclectic. I have upcycled pieces mixed with uber luxury items. I like my home to look like no one else could have put it together but me.
I would say as far as key trends, I like to think I help create them by leading with my style, such as my newly designed Chesterfield sofa in velvet ‘Ink Blue’. I chose that colour even before Pantone selected ‘Ink Blue’ or ‘Dazzling Blue’ (as they called it), as one the colours designers have used the most in their S/S 2014 collections.
DC: Which, if any, trend do you hate to see in people’s homes? What really puts you off?
Sherry: Someone who thinks everything has to be Designer’s Guild. We all love their fabrics, colours, use of pattern, etc, but when you do up your entire house with it – it’s TOO much!
DC: You say blue will be a big shade for the year ahead. How will you be adding this to your own home and interior design projects? And which other colours, textures and prints do you think it’d work well with?
Sherry: You can’t get more blue that a massive ink blue sofa in the middle of your home, so I am stopping with that as a main focus point and not adding more blue-only furniture items, but picking up different shades throughout. For instance, the base of the Alexandra cabinet is in a greyish slate with blue undertones, and my dinning table-designed from remnants of an old boat wood – encompasses a range of blue hues that fit well without it being overkill.
Regarding interior projects, we are considering designing a hotel in Italy that is near the water. We would bring the colour of the water into the hotel, creating a seamless line between nature (water) and the man-made (structure).
DC: How can people design/arrange their homes to create a clutter-free and calming environment? Any top tips?
Sherry: Keeping the space white is always good so it gives the perception of a bigger space. Keep all small items away that could clutter, even the odd pen, receipts, keys, anything. Hide any electronics, especially when you have so many unnecessary wires. I do think candles and a nice room scent or fresh flowers helps to create a beautiful ambiance.
Candle via The Longest Stay
DC: If you could offer some advice for anyone wanting to take a leap into the interiors industry, what would it be?
Sherry: Go to the shows, network, listen and learn. Whether you want to design a range, be an agent, or become an interior designer you have to learn the industry and start by talking to the people that make money in it, find your niche and deliver your passion.
DC: We hear you have a weakness for the Chesterfield sofa? What’s your own Chesterfield sofa like? And do you prefer the more traditional leather models, or the contemporary fabric styles?
Sherry: The chesterfield is just a gorgeous look, because although classic it is super cool, I prefer mine with a twist; the arms are slightly thinner and the back slightly higher. I prefer contemporary fabrics because I find them more feminine. Femininity is key in the designs I choose.
Sherry’s a huge fan of Chesterfields. Pictured: The Chatsworth
DC: Finally, what’s in the pipeline for yourself and the website? Any new developments on the way?
For sure, we are always growing and developing. Soon you will be seeing everything in video on our site so you can fully appreciate size, quality and hear directly from the designers themselves. If a picture can tell 1,000 words, imagine how many a video will tell?!
As for me, I have some proposals for TV – I can’t say too much yet but it is a very exciting interiors show and hopefully one I will be able to share very soon….
Don’t forget to check out The Longest Stay over on Facebook, too. And keep an eye on our blog here for more fun interviews like this.
Thank you to Sherry for taking time out of her busy week to speak to us here.