Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Take time to check out so you can really work when it’s time to work. Go away for a long weekend. Spend one night a week just watching TV or going for a walk. Don’t neglect your relationships—good people who talk about more than work keep you balanced and sane.


Emily is the founding editor and current brand editor at House Method, a site that helps its readers create a better home and a better life. She has been a writer, editor, journalist, and educator for more than ten years.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

We wanted to create a place where readers could get answers to every question about their homes, whether that’s how to buy a home, how to decorate, how to renovate, or how to foster a healthy household. In our first year, we’ve expanded how we help our readers with a new arm of the business, House Method Reviews. We hired a team to test and review products and services we use in our homes every day so we can help our readers get back to living.

Where most shelter publications stop simply at inspiration, we meet our readers at every juncture, problem, and decision.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Early mornings always mean routine. Before I even get out of bed, I check my emails and social to see if anything pertinent has happened overnight (yes, editors get emails at all hours). I listen to the news via podcast (always Up First and The Daily) while I take the dog out for a walk and then make coffee. My home is peaceful and quiet in the mornings—and that’s crucial in setting the tone for my day. If I have time, I have a cup of coffee at the table before heading off to work.

At the office, my days are spent talking to homeowners and renters about their homes. I take calls with PR reps, designers, architects, influencers, and brands to discuss potential collaboration. I work with my team to come up with story angles, vet sources, and develop editorial calendars that benefit our readers.

I’m also a pretty old-school writer and editor, so I make time whenever I can to write and edit stories myself and to work with my editorial team on developing their skills. That’s the most thrilling part of my job.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Careful planning. While I fancy myself a pretty creative person, creativity without discipline is often ineffective, so once I have an idea, I take the time to research, map out its execution, and ask someone else to poke holes in it.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I see more and more people abandoning the idea of the perfect home. As European taste grows in its influence on American design (interior design, fashion), it brings with it a fatalist idea that there’s no need to worry ourselves with what we cannot control.

In the same way that people are craving realism in art and fashion and advertising, the shelter space is beginning to crave this as well.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m going to give you more than one.

Forcing myself to plan, forecast, and document has been crucial to the success of House Method. It’s also so, so important to talk to people who are better than you are at what you do.

Also, take time to check out so you can really work when it’s time to work. Go away for a long weekend. Spend one night a week just watching TV or going for a walk. Don’t neglect your relationships—good people who talk about more than work keep you balanced and sane.

What advice would you give your younger self?

1. The best person you can be is yourself.
2. Trust your own taste. The best wine, movies, music, books, restaurants, etc., for you are the ones that you like.
3. You are not pulling off that pixie cut.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

No one thinks they’re in the minority when it comes to probability. Someone’s gotta make up that 20%.

And The Princess Bride is a terrible movie.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read everything. Novels, biographies, magazines, newspapers, classic literature, your niece’s play, cereal boxes, bad essays, that crumpled piece of paper on the street. And for everything you read, make sure you also read the opposite opinion—or write it yourself. My dad taught me to always do this.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Learn how to ask really good questions. This will help you juice a lot of knowledge from people who are more experienced or more knowledgeable than you.

The best way to ask great questions is to 1) sit in on meetings and conversations where you’re in way over your head, and 2) listen to journalists and writers who are really good at asking questions. I recommend listening to and reading:
-Mark Leibovich
-Caitlin Dickerson
-Brooke Gladstone
-Timothy Tyson

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I often get too caught up in habit and “the way things are” without asking why or why not. This often means that we have meetings and maintain practices that are a waste of time. The minute something no longer serves your business, stop.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An app that just sends your friends VEEP insults. (Though I’m pretty sure this is just iMessage.)

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A beautiful pair of Italian loafers. (OK, they may have been more than $100.)

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Noisli. Background noise is productivity juice for me.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev. Excellent look at what happens when we deny the existence of truth.

What is your favorite quote?

“Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers, look at the faces in the street.”
—G.K. Chesterton

Key learnings:

  • Creativity is most effective when paired with discipline and organization.
  • Take a break from your work to take care of yourself and your relationships.
  • Always ask why you’re doing something: once a -month or once a quarter, list our all of your systems, meetings, and practices and ask yourself whether all are still benefiting your business. If the answer is no, eliminate it or come up with a useful alternative.