Entrepreneur and interior decor genius Bailey McCarthy knows a thing or two about making people feel at home. As the founder of Biscuit Home, she designs luxury bedding collections with whimsical prints and also curates her brick and mortar store, which is one of our all time favorite retail spaces. Walking into Biscuit Home feels like walking into a dreamy residence, and that is a testament to Bailey’s impeccable taste.

When Bailey is not designing gorgeous new bedding patterns (many named after Texas towns), or adding thoughtful details to her store, she can be found spending time with her husband and two children (Grace and Harry) and entertaining guests at their farm.

We caught up with Bailey at her storefront for the full scoop on her career, dreams, ambitions, and of course insightful advice for all of our readers (ourselves included!). Read below to be blown away by her thoughtful answers and expect to LOL a few times!

Tell us a little about your career journey before launching Biscuit Home.

BM: I have always loved writing, and I used to blog every day. But it feels like such a long time since I quit blogging. This feels a little bit like re-introducing myself, and it is hard to know where to begin…

I majored in American Studies, and my first job out of college was in retail. My job in retail was honestly just a place holder until we found out about moving to Chicago. I was a terrible employee, and it is never not funny to me that I ended up back in that industry.

When we moved to Chicago, Pete had a family friend who was an interior designer who offered me a part-time job as her assistant while I got my footing in the city. I have been a House Beautiful hoarder since high school, but strangely I never considered Interior Design as a career option.

My work in interior design and blogging about interior design led me to where I am now, working as the creative director at Biscuit and developing hospitality projects with my husband’s company.

How did living in Chicago influence your career?

BM: I don’t know that I would have a career if not for our time in Chicago.

I grew up in a very specific world in Houston. Starting my adult life in a totally different environment, away from everyone I had known since I was born, really expanded not only my tastes and interests, but my ideas about who I was or could be. Taking myself out of the context of Houston- a city I love and am so happy to live in now- helped me recognize a lot about myself. It was really freeing, and inspiring.

I had started a blog to keep friends and family back home abreast of our life in Chicago. I was living my best life working a very relaxed schedule for a kind, open, and inspiring lady-boss interior designer, and the rest of the time I split between exploring my new city and designing my first home with my fiancé. Oh! And wedding planning! I was the living embodiment of, like, every blogger hot topic happening at once.

I have always had a lot of creative energy, but I wouldn’t say I was ever career focused, but I saw blogging as a creative outlet and never dreamed it could help me with my career- or even be a job unto itself. I put a lot into my blog, documenting our renovation and my work as a design assistant, wedding plans, and sharing all of my favorite spots in Chicago.

I remember the first time someone emailed me and asked if they could hire me. I was genuinely shocked. Being the wonderful woman that my boss was, she encouraged me to go for it. She let me use her accounts to order to-the-trade items, so I didn’t have the usual hurdles of having to form a company, get a tax ID, apply for accounts etc. She was beyond generous in sharing her knowledge and experience with me, and that really made an impression on me. She has since passed, but I have always tried to pay forward her example.

How was the transition for you and your family moving back to Houston?

The transition back to Houston was rough for a lot of reasons. We first left Chicago when we were pregnant with our daughter who had a medical issue and needed specialists at Texas Children’s Hospital. We sold our house in Chicago and moved to Houston for six months to have Grace. We were 25 years old, newlyweds, pregnant with our first baby, and uprooting our life in Chicago to move back in with my family. It was just a lot, like so so much.

After we got the go-ahead from Grace’s doctors, we actually moved to Austin for awhile to kind of recalibrate and get some space to start our family- but we quickly realized our life was really in Houston and moved back for good shortly after.

At that point I was in the process of launching Biscuit. In fact, we moved into our home here and I opened the first Biscuit storefront a week later. Biscuit put out two bedding collections in our first six months, while operating the brick & mortar/online stores, and I was still doing design work- all with a toddler at home. It was insane and it makes me feel tired just thinking about it.

Tell us about your process for launching Biscuit in 2012. What was your primary source of inspiration for the brand and your first collection?

BM: When we were living in Austin I was doing a lot of e-design for clients. I would put together an overall inspiration board and room design, and then send them links to specific items so that they could actually execute the design themselves. I consistently had trouble sourcing options for the traditional printed and embroidered linens I grew up around in the South.

It was insane how fast we launched- looking back I wish I had given myself more time to build a team and develop my vision for the brand. Saying “yes” got me pretty far up until that point, but it quickly became a burden trying to do all of the things once Biscuit opened.

Biscuit recently moved to a new shop. Tell us about your store and team.

BM: Y’all, my store is so pretty! And I don’t feel an ounce of guilt tooting my own horn about it because it is the physical embodiment of so much hard work that went into building our brand up to this point.

A few years ago I hired a CEO/partner for Biscuit and transitioned into the role of creative director. I had gotten pretty far in the first few years on instinct, making decisions from my limited experience and point of view. When my partner came on she put us through a brand bootcamp and made us define who we were and what we wanted to be separate from my particular whims. It empowered our whole team, and allowed me the freedom to focus on what I actually do well, and take more time for myself and my family.

It was difficult for me at first to keep my paws out of things they had no business being in. I had to check my ego to allow Biscuit to become something bigger than me by investing and trusting in the team we built. After we refined our product line (editing our selections, investing in quality control and new packaging) and relaunched our website, we turned our focus to the actual physical store and it felt like there was a big disconnect.

We were moving out of our warehouse location into a smaller boutique space down the street, and in designing our new space we talked about how we wanted our customers to feel like guests in our home.

The process felt risky- we were majorly downsizing in space and in our product selection, while investing more into the build out with high end cabinetry, antique fixtures, and other decorative elements I would use in my home, but would not normally be expected in a commercial space.

A week after we opened, during Houston design week, one of my design idols Michael S. Smith stopped by the store to shop which was a thrill in and of itself. He later spoke on a panel about how much he had enjoyed his experience at Biscuit, calling out some of the exact things that we were hoping would make people feel special in our store-home. I am not going to even pretend here- we all absolutely died. It was the BEST. FEELING. Thank you, Mr. Smith wherever you are.

So when I look at where we are now, knowing how much hard work went into it, and what a reflection it is of the team of women I am so lucky to work with every day, I just feel very, very proud. And grateful.

What does a typical day look like for you starting with your morning routine?

BM: We wake up with the kids and get them off to school and then I try to do some form of exercise whether it’s a walk with friends to catch up, or a more intense class. I get to the store when it opens at 10:00, and work with my team in the back.

Right now most of my workload revolves around expanding our Biscuit branded products. This year with the bedding line- we launched three new prints, an embroidered line, and a collection of linen accent pillows. I produce our photoshoots, and consult on brand development across all areas of the business. I am also consulting with my husband’s company, Goodnight Hospitality, on their launch of several exciting concepts next year.

My work plate is still full, but I feel like I am operating more in my wheelhouse than when I was juggling so many different hats trying to do interior design for clients, blog, and run all the varying aspects of Biscuit.

I am able to wrap up my work day by 5:00pm without feeling like I am walking away from five burning fires which helps me enormously in being present for my kids when I get home. We have family dinner, play games, and put the kids to bed. Pete and I try to take advantage of the kids’ early bedtime and carve out time for dates.  As my friend’s moms told me once (which at the time scared the shit out of me but the message stuck): “Pay attention to your husband. One day your kids grow up and leave you, and hopefully your husband won’t.” Noted. 🙂

What gadgets/beauty products/wellness rituals get you through the workday?

BM: OMG so glad you asked. I have really upgraded my beauty routine this year. Like so many women, after I had kids, self-care took a backseat to, well, everything. At some point I realized I can’t do for others what I don’t do for myself, and began tackling years of deferred beauty maintenance and was DELIGHTED to discover so many fun new items and treatments abound these days!

On the treatment side I microbladed my eyebrows which I could not recommend enough, and did some lasers for my melasma. Lasers! What a time to be alive. I have really committed to taking better care of my skin- I use some potions from my dermatologist for the aforementioned melasma, and then swear by Sunday Riley Good Genes, Pixi Glow Tonic, and my NuFace which must be is some kind of sorcery.

If you could design a home for anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

BM: You know, it has been so long since I fantasized about interior design- though back in the day I felt like I could really help Britney get back on a better path. I’m so pleased she seems to have found her way without my influence.

These days my design fantasies tend to focus more on how thoughtful design can impact traditionally overlooked commercial spaces, and applying my background in design to create unique experiences in public spaces. We have a couple of really exciting hospitality projects opening around our Montrose storefront in the next weeks and months- and I really hope it resonates with people.

What other interior designers and home décor brands inspire you and your work?

BM: Miles Redd was my original design idol, and he and his team continue to inspire. Instagram introduced me to Luke Edward Hall, Ben Pentreath and gang and now I am completely obsessed with that whole situation.

Southerners like Billy Reid, Sid & Ann Mashburn, Julia Reed and the creative communities in Charleston, Nashville, New Orleans etc. make me feel proud and push me to be better.

You are known for hosting guests to dinner parties at home and at your farm. How would you describe your entertaining style? Any must-have décor pieces for entertaining guests?

BM: I would describe my entertaining style as “The Adult Healing of an Extroverted Only Child”. I love having my people around me, and my real bliss would probably be to live in some sort of commune where I am the social chair.

I think other people would describe my entertaining style as informal but festive. I like things to be special, but for everyone to feel comfortable. There is nothing worse to me than going to a party and feeling hungry or parched- so I always make sure there are ways for guests to help themselves to whatever they need.

Otherwise my biggest rule is that there is no shame in the semi-homemade game. Do the things that are fun for you, and outsource the rest. If you want to pre-batch an artisanal cocktail and make pasta from scratch and then serve it over candlelight alongside a chick-fil-A tray of nuggets? Well anyone who would be mad about that is probably not someone you need in your life, or your home.

What work / life balance tips do you have for mothers we are also entrepreneurs and running a business?

BM: To make balance, not perfection, the goal and to accept help with grace. When I was pregnant I read an article about motherhood that said something like, “If you don’t control your need to be controlling you will imprison yourself” and it stayed with me because it is 100% true.

Also, especially if you are your own boss, you are responsible for setting a culture that allows balance for everyone around you.

Favorite restaurants in Houston?

BM: Coltivare, Underbelly, and State of Grace are staples in our rotation. The garden at Coltivare is just so pleasant, and the food never disappoints. Goat Dumplings at Underbelly are a National Treasure, you shouldn’t need more of an endorsement than that if you haven’t tried them yet. And State of Grace nails the upscale date night vibe while keeping it fun- and the service is always on point.

Really, though, I am counting down the days until our Biscuit neighbor Goodnight Charlie’s opens in a few weeks. I have been able to do some menu testing and its going to be legit. So stay tuned for that.

Three pieces of advice for budding entrepreneurs.

BM: Be honest with yourself about your goals, gifts, and limitations.

So much of the culture of your company or product will evolve naturally from who you are, so it is important to understand both your skills and shortcomings. Build your business to reflect that, and then be able to take a step back and separate it from yourself.

Invest in people. A strong team is worth more than any personal success. Find good people to work alongside, and be good to them.

Make real connections, and don’t be afraid to be a fan of others in your industry. There is more than enough success to go around, and it is more effective to spend your time creating yourself than competing with others.

Be patient. Our world is so geared towards instant gratification, and right now at least it seems like the story of the overnight success is the most alluring. You have 30 under 30 lists, and the Unicorn club or whatever- but I am drawn to longer, windier, narratives. Balance your short term, and long term goals- and allow goals to evolve as you gain experience.


*Photos by Kathryn Worsham for House of Harper