former stylemakers animated on colorful backgrounds

Stylemaker: We're Going Live!

By Merri Jill Rhodes and Kristina McGuirk
April 26, 2021
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Every year, Better Homes & Gardens honors a group of inspiring individuals by highlighting them and showcasing all the impressive work they're doing. This year, for its 10th anniversary, Stylemaker is going live. And for the first time ever, readers are invited to join a new lineup of events created just for them.

Oh, it will be so nice to be back together again after having to table Stylemaker in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Especially just as spring bursts open, our home and work lives begin to bustle again, and our backyards turn ripe once more for intimate gatherings with family and friends.

This oncoming sense of renewal and reconnection is exactly how we feel about Stylemaker 2021, a two-day virtual reunion of some of the country's most prolific home and garden-focused style creatives and influencers. The event runs May 6 through May 7, with live-streamed segments on BHG.com during Consumer Day, which begins May 7 at noon, EST. (The event is typically held in person each September, with highlights later showcased for readers in our print and digital forums.)

The pandemic has changed more than the format of the annual Better Homes & Gardens event, of course. Our family of style influencers also has been grappling with the changing world, finding new ways to create and communicate. 

"The overarching theme of this year's event is creative connections, which is inspired by us being separated," says Stephen Orr, editor-in-chief of Better Homes & Gardens. "And that is, 'How do we find joy in each other and take the best of where we have been and fold that into our lives going forward?' We want to learn some things from the last year, and everything that has happened, and take it forward."

This year's virtual format feels serendipitous to us, for sure: The onset of using online platforms to connect amid pandemic isolation has become both a necessity and the norm. This technology allows us as a brand, and in the confluences of where we are in the world, to bring our editors, our Stylemakers, and our readers back together virtually, a new peak in BH&G's nearly 100-year history.

Stylemaker 2021 will highlight both style and substance in celebrating the ever-burgeoning creativity of our family of influencers. Segments this year will address the social and emotional issues that affected so many in the past year. The virtual format also allows us to connect and showcase nearly double the number of Stylemakers from years past, up from 75 to almost 200.

New ways of living, thinking, and adapting have bloomed over the past year. Stylemaker 2021 gives us a fresh opportunity to share the relative kinds of creativity and experiences born out of such isolation, and to look at how we go forward.

Meet some of the Stylemakers, past and present, who are featured in the May issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and join us online as we bring together this super-sumptuous panoply of our favorite influencers and content creators.

stylemaker grace mitchell on yellow background

It's hard to forget how Grace Mitchell's home so expertly balanced color and pattern—and used wallpaper in ways we're still dreaming about. Her signature use of wallpaper, and insistence that spaces tell stories, was what made her 2019 HGTV debut such a success. For two seasons, Grace brought the same thoughtfulness and flair to "One of a Kind," a show that relied on her ability to create truly unique and memorable spaces that look great and personally reflect the homeowners. She weathered the pandemic with other design stars on HGTV's Design at Your Door, and this year she is a guest designer on the network's newest show, Ty Breaker, with Ty Pennington. Now, she's collaborating with homegoods retailer At Home on her first home decor line. The 2021 spring line is on shelves now, including a whimsical outdoor collection and charming home accents for under $20. With new items due each season, Grace is providing pieces we can use to mix, match, and create our own story at home. 

2018 stylemaker ashley basnight on purple background

We first saw Ashley's passion for DIY in our "I did it!" Her faux tile wood coffee table showed off her creative furniture ideas and woodworking abilities, so it was no surprise when her maker skills landed her a spot on the second season of Making It (the crafty competition reality show hosted by Amy Pohler and Nick Offerman). 

The mind behind Handmade Haven, Ashley's built a library of tool information and furniture projects perfect for beginners. She even helped Drew Barrymore feel more confident approaching power tools while teaching her how to make a wooden coat hook on her show. In 2020, Ashley put her DIY drive to good use, partnering with The Home Depot to makeover an essential worker's kitchen. She also inspired some serious pandemic project goals with her DIY desk, home office nook refresh, and some serious built-in closet storage. Ashley is a software engineer at Boeing, where her extracurricular talents were recently celebrated with a cover story in the company magazine.

stylemaker erin flett on green background

In 2016, we talked to Erin from her first out-of-home office, a stylish creative space in an old mill. Recently she's upgraded again—renovating an historical 1850 building to accommodate a sewing and screenprinting studio upstairs, and her first shop (hooray!) downstairs. The renovations captured its heritage and architecture, like bringing back the old tin ceilings and historical doors and trim—reflecting the authenticity and love of design that Erin's products have in spades.

Last year was an especially big year for the creative. She did her first large-scale collaboration with a national brand, producing two seasonal collections with LL Bean. In May, as the pandemic altered our online shopping expectations, Erin launched a "ships now" collection to highlight pre-made products that would ship quickly, unlike many products on the site that are made as requested and require considerable lead time.

And there's more in store. For the first time ever—after winning a statewide business competition this past June—the company has the ability to print yardage, instead of exclusively printing with smaller screens on a limited scale. We're looking forward to the new opportunities this upgrade offers Erin, starting with this spring's cheery collaboration with Anthropologie.

stylemaker marie kondo on turquoise background

In the short time since she was on our cover in 2019, Marie Kondo's continued to help us lead less cluttered, more meaningful lives. As many of us settled into the work-from-home stage of the pandemic, she published Joy at Work, a book dedicated to decluttering, focus, and productivity in our work spaces. In September of 2020 she launched a web course on the fundamentals of her tidying strategy, the KonMari Method. The 10-part course includes a workbook, and the lessons are focused on a variety of themes, like books, clothes, and living with joy. Earlier this year she launched a collaboration with The Container Store, which includes a variety of stylish organizers designed to tackle everything from the closet to the office and the kitchen. And she will be returning to Netflix later this year with a new show, Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo.

stylemaker erin benzakein on turquoise background

The same year Erin Benzakein convinced us we could grow annuals, Floret Farm made some big changes. They expanded the farm and made the decision to switch from in-person classes to online workshops. The switch to digital courses broadened Floret's reach, and the Farmer-Florist Collective (created in 2015 to connect small growers with local buyers) started seeing more international attention. Today, Erin says the Collective has nearly 2,000 members, the largest local flower directory in the world, in countries ranging from Japan to Albania, Tanzania, and New Zealand. 

After winning a 2018 American Horticultural Society's Book Award for her first book, and making The New York Times Bestseller List with her second book (2020), Erin's third book, Floret Farm's Discovering Dahlias, hit stores this March. Also this year, Growing Floret, a documentary TV series that's part of the highly anticipated Magnolia Network, started streaming on the Discovery+ app. With all that going on, Erin's still finding time to breed new cut flower varieties, package seeds, and provide how-to advice and resources so other small businesses, and even us home gardeners, can dig into the fun. 

stylemaker ayesha curry headshot on purple background

Since brightening the cover of our 2018 Stylemaker issue, Ayesha's been making some big moves while also brightening the lives of others. We watched her help female entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level on Fempire with Ayesha Curry, and cheered her on as she and her husband, NBA star Stephen Curry, launched the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation dedicated to enriching the lives of children in underserved communities with a focus on combating hunger, providing access to education, and creating safe spaces to be active. 

On the foodie front, she published a new cookbook, The Full Plate (flavorful but easy recipes perfect for busy families), and her restaurant, International Smoke, expanded to new locations. 

Not letting the pandemic slow her down, Ayesha published Sweet July magazine in 2020. She is the first woman of color to launch a magazine since Oprah launched O in 2000. Sweet July shares Ayesha's perspective on everything from family to wellness, and, our stomachs are glad to report, also includes her own recipes, too. But she didn't stop there: Ayesha added to the Sweet July brand with a new production company, as well as a cafe and retail store that opened in Oakland, California, earlier this year. Sweet July Productions is part of the team behind HBO Max's recently announced new series, Tattletales, which will be hosted and executive produced by Ayesha and her husband.

stylemaker ryan benoit headshot on blue background

Did we know back in 2016 that a DIY movable plant wall featured in "I did it!" would become a new business for Ryan Benoit? Maybe not, but we've loved watching it grow! Ryan and Chantal Aida Gordon, the pair behind garden blog The Horticult, created a friendly, green privacy screen by vertically configuring planters. Over the past four years, Ryan has put his engineering background to use prototyping and testing how to turn the original custom solution—a wooden frame + steel rods + clay pots—into an off-the-shelf product easy for anyone to install and enjoy. The result is SkyPots, thoughtfully designed hanging kits that quickly connect to your own pots—so you can achieve any style you want—to help you vertically hang plants indoors and outdoors. The pandemic delayed the roll out, but by mid-2020 SkyPots were heading to new homes.

It's not all vertical gardens, though: Ryan and Chantal released How to Window Box: Small-Space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out in 2018.

stylemaker stephanie izard headshot on yellow background

As the first female to win Top Chef in 2008, Stephanie was already a food-TV legend, but in 2017 she took it another level, winning the title of "Iron Chef" after eliminating other competitors, and outdoing Iron Chefs themselves, competing on the first season of Iron Chef Gauntlet

The powerhouse has added three new Chicago restaurants, bringing the total to five, that includes her signature global flair: Chinese fare can be found at Duck Duck Goat, while Cabra Cevicheria is serving up Peruvian inspired dishes. And for those not near the Windy City, she launched This Little Goat, a product line of globally inspired sauces and spices, that expanded to include a crunchy toppings offering this spring. Her most recent cookbook, Gather & Graze, has 120 recipes to help you bring an international appetite to your own home cooking, as well. Sugargoat, a sweets spot she opened last fall in Chicago, ships its tasty treats and crazy concoctions (chocolate french fry pie, anyone?) all over the country through Goldbelly. Stephanie's also slated to open another Girl & Goat in L.A. later this year.

stylemaker justina blakeney on green background

Our 2016 issue popped with Justina's boho-meets-tropical colors and no-fear uses of pattern. Soon after, she published The New Bohemians Handbook, the second book in a series dedicated to helping readers feel confident incorporating her masterful mix of color, pattern, and greenery. 

Since then, she's exploded into the home space, lending her colorful energetic style to everything from decor, to furniture, wallpaper and accessories. She's also the newest Target Home Style Expert. Justina's extended beyond home to health, beauty and fashion, too—recently launching a collaboration bringing Jungalow's fresh vibes to a limited run of Native deodorants and body washes. 

Jungalow, in case you've forgotten, is the namesake design blog that started it all—and continues as a lifestyle brand dedicated to bringing Justina's new bohemian style to homes in socially and environmentally conscious ways. This spring, she's releasing Jungalow: Decorate Wild, a third book that continues her quest to inspire us to bring her unique style—color, pattern, and connection to nature—into our homes.

stylemaker clodagh mckenna headshot on yellow background

Since she shared her bread pudding recipe with us in 2015, Clodagh’s kept busy with a variety of food, home, and garden projects. You might have caught her guest spots on shows like Today or the Rachael Ray Show, or maybe you’re already following her newest gig sharing recipes and cooking tips on ITV’s This Morning. She published two more books, too: Clodagh's Suppers: Suppers to celebrate the seasons (2019) and Clodagh’s Weeknight Kitchen, which came out in the United States earlier this year.

Throughout the pandemic, she’s been helping to lift spirits and keep people entertained with more than 100 videos posted through IGTV, sharing everything from recipes to table settings, gardening tips, and status updates on her chickens. She also started hosting Zoom-based cookery classes from her home kitchen. 

One of the biggest transitions since her Stylemaker debut was a move to Hampshire, England. Two years ago, Clodagh and her partner, Harry, made their home at Broadspear. There she is pursuing a longtime dream of creating a sustainable, working homestead, which she hopes to use as an opportunity to teach others sustainable practices for their own lives.

stylemaker lee mayer headshot on purple background

Talk about Stylemakers with staying power. Lee's company, Havenly, is the only design service featured in our 2017 issue that is still around today. They are creative with their endeavors, partnering with Nordstrom for an in-person design experience in 2018, and working with Bobby Berk (a 2019 Stylemaker) as a brand ambassador. Over the last year, Havenly has expanded to include five lines of homegoods products—the cornerstone brands being Cove Goods, Roam Common, and Studio Marcette. Keeping connected to their roots, each aligns with key Havenly design styles and features furniture and decor to match.

 This year, Lee's releasing a book with Havenly cofounder, Emily Motayed, Design the Home You Love. Lee told us the book is a natural next step for what they've learned since starting the company. It continues Havenly's efforts to make interior design accessible by giving readers resources to not only identify their own style but also translate it to their space.

stylemaker rebecca lemos otero headshot on purple background

In the past three years, both Rebecca Lemos-Otera and the organization she co-founded, City Blossoms, have nurtured budding ideas into new opportunities. Rebecca left a firmly rooted City Blossoms to sew more seeds of good in the world. Her new endeavor focuses on helping other organizations and philanthropic groups support social, racial, and environmental justice. She’s aiming to build more equitable practices in environmental and food movements by transferring power to those who have been marginalized. 

City Blossoms continues to thrive in Washington, D.C., fostering more green thumbs than ever. They reached more than 7,000 young people last year, adding virtual programs and activities, and making social distancing accommodations in community spaces, to keep youth engaged with the outdoors during the pandemic.

Since 2018, the nonprofit launched an Early Growers program for children ages 2-6, and established the City Blossoms Fellowship, which helps local young people cultivate their leadership and professional experience. They've increased green space in D.C., too, adding two new gardens to their Community Green Spaces program and growing the number of sites hosting their garden-based programming from 12 to 32. They've set new goals to help make sure the organization and its communities flourish—we're especially looking forward to seeing what new ways they refresh their outdoor spaces and incorporate community art to reflect the personalities and character of their gardeners.

bridgid coulter headshot on red background

In 2014, Bridgid helped us bring global style home with her easy-to-follow advice for mixing warm colors and patterns. As a contributing designer on OWN’s Home Made Simple in 2017, and through her design and textile businesses, Bridgid has continued to bring her welcoming style to homes around the country.

Her creativity has led to new pursuits, too. Enter Blackbird Collective, a community-building collective for women of color (and allies) to amplify their voices, ideas and work. As founder and CEO, Blackbird draws on many of Bridgid's creative passions, including design—she's putting her 15+ years of experience into creating a tangible sense of community in Blackbird's physical coworking spaces, including a new flagship location in Culver City, California, slated to open later this year. Though it started as an in-person coworking space, the group pivoted to digital programming in 2020, particularly around the Collective's pillars of productivity, wellness, activism and community. The Collective will continue offering in-person and online opportunities, with future expansion in their sights across the United States—Oakland, Harlem, and Atlanta to name a few—and internationally. Last summer, Bridgid established a sister nonprofit, Blackbird Alliance, to support entrepreneurial women of color affected by the pandemic. Programming from the Alliance also will be expanding, including a mentorship program and skills workshops.

2016 stylemaker padma lakshmi on purple background

In 2016, we left Padma Lakshmi entertaining friends with a colorful meal on her rooftop terrace. Today we find her still hosting "Top Chef" (season 18!), and preparing to publish her first children's book, Tomatoes for Neela, due out late this summer. 

We're also eagerly awaiting a second season of Taste the Nation. Airing in 2020, the show helped quell our wanderlust as Padma explored the diverse cultures that are integral to American food today. As creator, executive producer, and host, she was the driving force behind the show—reflecting both her culinary knowledge and her passion for activism. In 2017, she became an ACLU Artist Ambassador for immigrants' rights and women's rights, causes she strongly championed during the past five years, including sharing her own experiences as a woman and immigrant. She was named a 2018 Visiting Scholar at MIT for her work with The Endometriosis Foundation of America, and in 2019 the UNDP appointed her a Goodwill Ambassador.

stylemaker emily henderson headshot on turquoise background

We’ve loved watching Emily Henderson create beautiful, livable spaces. We eagerly followed along after she announced the family’s move to a 1926 English Tudor the year after her Stylemaker debut, and the mountain home shortly after that. This year, the family announced another new old-home-style adventure that’s got us excited: moving to Oregon and renovating not one but two houses—a 1910 farmhouse and an 1865 guesthouse. We’re ready to double-tap with each update—and anxious to find out if teen zoo becomes a new home trend. 

Between home projects, Emily's continued to do what she does best: sharing start-to-finish home projects and inspiring us with her eye for fresh styling. She created a Skillshare course to help homeowners identify their personal styles and apply that knowledge to their own home styling. 

In 2020, she launched the EHD Insider Community, a membership program where her engaged followers and enthusiastic design lovers can connect with each other (while also getting access to some exclusive content). And she's got us anticipating a follow-up to Styled, her first book which was also featured in our 2015 issue.

stylemaker jacques pepin headshot on turquoise background

After reporting the numbers in 2016, he had done 28 cookbooks and 14 TV series, it's hard to imagine there's much left for Jacques to do, and yet it's no surprise the charismatic chef continues to teach us a lot about cooking. Jacques posted scores of videos to social media throughout the pandemic, educating and inspiring us with relevant topics, like uses for leftovers and techniques for new cooks. He's published three more print cookbooks, too. His latest, Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple (2020) is full of new recipes and tips to make cooking easier.

The same year as his stylemaker debut, Jacques, along with his daughter and son-in-law, created the Jacques Pépin Foundation, which supports community kitchens and culinary training for individuals with barriers to employment. In 2020, the Foundation launched a video recipe book series, available to members, called, "Cook with Jacques Pepin and Friends." The digital cookbook includes recipes and tutorials from Jacques and other renowned chefs (including a few fellow BHG Stylemakers). Two volumes have been released, with plans to continue adding to the digital library annually. 

Oh, and we can't forget to mention that he was honored with a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.