Local style blog becomes a national fave

Interior designer Emily Johnson Larkin started blogging in 2007 as a creative outlet. Then House Beautiful and Elle Decor magazines listed it as one of their favorite blogs.
Photo by Benjamin Hager

Interior designer Emily Johnson Larkin of East Dallas started blogging in 2007 as a creative outlet for herself and her then-fledgling business, EJ Interiors. “I thought no one would read it,” she says. “I never thought it would grow.”

But the blog started picking up more and more readers, and then House Beautiful magazine listed it as one of its favorite blogs. Elle Décor did the same, and before Larkin knew it, her little inspiration blog became an Internet stop for people all over the country.

Now the site, materialgirlsblog.com, receives about 60,000 page views a month, and it has expanded into four other markets: Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. All of the Material Girls bloggers in other cities are designers who own their own businesses. First, Larkin asked a designer friend in Houston to contribute. The L.A. and New York writers already had design blogs that Larkin read. And the Chicago blogger was a Material Girls reader who applied for the gig.

Material Girls does have some advertising, and they often give away products from their sponsors. But the website does not make a profit, Larkin says. Converting her blogs to WordPress a couple of years ago was a big investment.

“It’s not a big moneymaker, but we do it more to grow our businesses and get our names out there,” Larkin says. “I get a lot of projects through the blog.”

The blog draws attention to Larkin’s business that she wouldn’t otherwise get. For example, she was chosen as the designer for a Wisk laundry detergent contest, whose winner received a laundry room makeover by Johnson.

“I never would’ve gotten that without the blog,” she says. Next, she plans to expand to Atlanta and then internationally.


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