We’re sitting in the Mohr & McPherson Cafe on a sun-filled summer morning in Boston’s South End. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s not surprising – it’s nestled into the subterranean floor of a two-story boutique furniture store, surrounded by chic benches, sofas and coffee tables. It’s the perfect setting to chat with one of the creative minds behind ColorTheory Boston, the city’s preeminent concierge interior painting and design company.
What started organically in 2008 has blossomed into a full-fledged business owned and operated by Kendra and her husband, Brad. They’re busy, and successful: They’ve gotten to the point in their careers when they can, and do, say no to clients who won’t be capable of ceding creative control or will suck too much of their time.
“Color Theory literally started out of our living room in 2008,” Kendra says. It was Brad’s baby to begin with. She joined a few years later down the road. The couple now has a 3-year-old daughter, Clara.
Back then, they’d design friends’ places free of charge to gain notoriety and increase media exposure.
“After about two to three years we basically got to a point where it became the family business that it is now,” says Kendra, a former visual merchandiser for Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. “It was 50 percent who we knew and 50 percent having the right idea at the right time.”
Leaving regular jobs for their own venture was daunting at first, but it wasn’t some hair-pulling decision, either. For them, the bigger risk would have been not to try.
“We literally had nothing to lose at that point. We were living paycheck to paycheck … we could always go back to our jobs if it didn’t work out,” Kendra says.
But it has worked out. Most recently, the duo designed every aspect of a 200-year-old, 9,000-square-foot Medfield home owned by Mike’s City Diner owner Jay Hajj.
“It was a high point,” Kendra says. “He completely trusted us.”
And it shows. The end result was so breathtaking, it landed in the Sept./Oct. Issue of Design New England magazine. It’s was also considered for the cover of September’s New England Home magazine and has been highlighted in Boston magazine as well.
While Kendra is in many ways the face and voice of the company, both her and Brad are involved in every aspect of a new project. They will both walk through new projects, getting to know the clients and their needs.
It’s the type of business environment that only works for certain couples, and comes with its challenges.
“There’s definite highs and lows,” says Kendra. “We’re obviously compatible in many ways. I tend to be the more laid-back, calmer half of the relationship. He’s intense, he’s fiery, he’s got a quick temper. As much as we balance each other out, we also have that conflict.”
Conflict, because they care.
“A big thing from our perspective: When you’re hiring a creative person, you’re hiring them for their vision, their point of view, because there’s something about their portfolio that resonates with you,” says Kendra.
“We have said no before. And we’re lucky to be in a position to be able to say no to someone who we know is ultimately going to be a time-suck.”
So is Kendra’s job perfect? Let’s just say it’s not without its imperfections. Juggling a business from the same home she’s raising a child can be difficult. There are days, exhausted as she might be, that she’s up past midnight getting to things the day’s hectic schedule didn’t allow her to check off her to-do list.
“We try to wear as many hats as we can,” says Kendra. And her and Brad aren’t content resting on their laurels, either.