Q + A
the voice of alex ryden
This month we caught up with Guest House founder Alex Ryden who pioneered the concept of shoppable homes. Guest House connects makers, shoppers, interior designers and brokers all under one roof.
What’s your story?
I grew up in San Diego, went to college at UC Santa Barbara, and moved to Denver in 2012 to pursue a career in advertising. I worked with brands including North Face, Oakley, Amazon and Facebook, helping them solve retail challenges through brand campaigns and experiences. At the time, I was also growing a small luggage business called Age Carriers on the side. As a maker, I wanted a retail outlet that actually helped me market and sell our products. So I created Guest House.
What’s the origin story for Guest House?
Guest House brings retail to real estate, staging homes with furniture, art and goods from local makers. Everything inside our homes can be shopped in person or online at GuestHouseShop.com. It started as an idea in my own home in Jefferson Park and quickly grew with a demand for better staging in the Denver and Boulder real estate markets.
How does Guest House tie into your passions in life?
I’m a storyteller. I love meeting new humans and learning their unique stories. At Guest House, we have the privilege of meeting and working with wild, creative and passionate people in our community every day. Whether it’s the committed realtors we partner with at brokerages like milehimodern or the 400 makers we have the opportunity to sell, the shoppable homes we create with Guest House gives me a platform to share these amazing stories with others.
To what do you attribute your success?
Timing, determination and luck. Guest House was originally launched as a retail business in the beginning, never intending to get into home staging. However, with Colorado’s incredible growth over the last eight years, new homes continued to be built that needed better staging. We began to scale the concept through staging and helping realtors sell homes. Bringing retail to real estate is a bit of a wild idea. So launching Guest House has also taken a lot of determination to prove to real estate clients we are the best staging company they’ll ever work with and prove to makers that we are the biggest advocate for their professional growth.
In what ways do you manage a work/life balance?
Once we are out of the startup phase, I’ll hopefully have a better answer for that. Right now, I work seven days a week. But bringing on more talented, passionate team members as we grow has given me more time back in my day to focus on my fiancé, health, golf and a little bit of travel.
Now something more personal. Define your home’s style in two words:
If you could recommend any pivotal books, podcasts, leaders, etc., what would you recommend?
How I Built This is really great because you get a true peek behind the curtain of companies you love. It’s encouraging to learn the trials and triumphs of so many great entrepreneurs, plus the lessons you can apply to wherever you are in your own life or business. For marketing, I recommend One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One. This was a book recommended to me by Slate founder Stan Kniss and has been instrumental in defining who our customer is both in real estate and retail. For business, I really love The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.
What’s your vision for the future of Guest House?
A world where every beautiful home on the market is staged by the community of passionate artists, woodworkers, shopkeepers and designers who live around it. We’re building a higher-quality and more sustainable model for staging that will lead to the end of fake lettuce, artificial plants, Ikea Eiffel Tower art prints, Live Love Laugh signage or made-in-China furniture. In any city with a strong community of artisans like Denver, I wholeheartedly believe that this is the future of staging.
In your opinion, what makes a house a home?
The people who live in it and the relationships they have outside it. Our house is filled with gifts from family and friends, finds from antique markets and souvenirs from our travels. Just like anyone else’s home, there’s no place like it.