Getting to Know: Mackenzie Horan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It is with a great amount of excitement that I present this interview with the fabulous  Mackenzie Horan ! Mackenzie, a twenty-four year old living in New York City, writes  a wonderful blog  where she shares her style obsessions, inspirations, wishlists, and any other creative thoughts. Along with her blog, Mackenzie is the owner of  Design Darling , a boutique for beautiful accessories, decor, and even pet products! I find Mackenzie's classic style and daring entrepreneurship are incredibly inspiring and I was beyond stoked to get to do this interview.

Mackenzie in a pair of J. Crew Everly pumps!
I thought it would be great to start off with a fun question and one I think will truly be a fabulous introduction. If you had to pick a single item from each of the following, what would it be? J. Crew, Kate Spade, and Tory Burch. Such wonderful, bold companies and I can't wait to see your top items. 
J.Crew: Everly pumps, preferably a pair in every color ;)
Kate Spade: I just bought the navy Stergis trench and I'm 
Tory Burch: I've worn my Robinson middy satchel to death!

Do you remember your first big clothing/accessory purchase? Or do you remember a piece you think helped define your style?
I remember splurging on my first Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater when I worked at their store on Nantucket. I was 16 and haven't stopped collecting them slowly but surely ever since! 

You graduated from Bucknell with a major in French. Did you always know what you wanted to study? It's always difficult choosing a major and a job and hobbies and trying to make them all interlock. What advice do you have for college students interested in writing, design, etc? (Aka me!)
I studied French because I loved it, I was good at it, and it gave me the flexibility in my schedule to take classes in other departments that interested me (art history, management, etc.). No one knows what they want to do when they're 18 years old. I'm 24 and I still don't know! Find something you love and be the best at it. That, more than any particular class or major, will be your best preparation for the real world.

Did you always want to live in NYC? What was it like to move?
I grew up in Connecticut so New York has always been the city in my backyard. I'd love to live in another city at some point in my twenties or thirties but for right now there's absolutely nowhere I'd rather be. 

What kind of advice would you give yourself four years ago when you were just starting Design Darling?
I would have told myself that the best is yet to come. It always is! :) 

A variety of products are available at Design Darling
What was the process like when you decided to open a boutique? Do you remember the first item you listed?
There was a lot of research, a lot of self-doubt, and a lot of fun. Sourcing products is still my favorite part of the job — there's nothing better than stumbling upon a candle or a necklace that's perfect for Design Darling. I started out with a really small assortment, mostly jewelry and matchboxes. A lot of those items became best-sellers and are still on the site almost two years later!

Describe the process for selecting the items you sell at Design Darling.
I contact independent designers I discover through blogs or on Etsy, I get a lot of emails from designers looking to bring their work to a larger audience, I collaborate with the small businesses who sponsor my blog, and I visit trade shows a few times a year to look for new vendors! It's a lot of work and there's a lot out there that's not a good fit... but I live for the thrill of the chase! :)

What sort of goals do you have for Design Darling and your blog?
Design Darling will always be first and foremost my creative outlet, a place where I share the people, places, and things I love. In the next couple years, I intend to round out my blog with career content, city guides, interviews with women who inspire me, more offline events, and video features, and more. As far as the boutique is concerned, I'm starting to design my own products to offer in addition to those of the artisans and brands we already work with.

Do you have any rituals or techniques for gathering ideas or inspiration when you have writer's block?
Writer's block is the worst! I think a quick walk around the block usually works wonders. If it's possible, I try to schedule lots of content when I'm feeling extra inspired so I'm not super stuck on the days I feel a little off.

Being an entrepreneur in NYC must be insane! How do you manage to stay organized and energized? 
My iCal is color-coded to excess but I could definitely be more organized. Someone come help me?! :)

If you could only have one magazine for a year, which one would you choose and why?
I usually only read magazines at Drybar or the nail salon. The ones I tend to gravitate to are House Beautiful, Lucky, and Marie Claire... Does a three-way tie count?

Can you spot the stripes?
Of course you love hot pink and navy. I get the sense you like white and gold, too. What about patterns? Which patterns are your go-to choices?
I love white and gold! I'm not a huge pattern person but I love gingham and stripes. The simpler, the better!

Here's a purely fun question! Assign each type of shoe a label:  Covet ,   Burn , or   I'll Pretend You Didn't Say That.  Birkenstocks, Creepers, or Wedge Sneakers. 
I hate to say it but I'm burning all three :-/ (I'm with you on that!)

What is an item or occasion which would prompt you to choose polka dots over stripes? And vice versa?
Stripes will always be first in my book!

What's a trend or item you see a lot and wish you didn't?
Nail art. Maybe it's because I still can't give myself a proper manicure but I can't stand all the flowers, neons, and patterns. I'll take solid navy or pink any day :)

How do you decide what items are worth buying and which ones have to wait? I used to be terrible about impulse buys. Now I'm awful about committing to buy anything. The happy medium seems difficult to find!
Pinterest really helps me monitor what I'm coveting at any given moment. I'll pin something I like so I don't lose the link (I shop almost exclusively online to avoid impulse buys!) and, if I'm still pining over it a couple weeks later, I'll let myself splurge. I also tend to think about purchases in terms of cost per wear, which is why I have a dozen pairs of jeans and very few dresses. The jeans I'll wear every day whereas the dresses I'll wear once or twice a year. It helps me see where it makes sense to stock up and where I should probably save.
"Literally anything is possible!"

What are some of your favorite parts of living in Manhattan?
An endless list of restaurants to try. Friendly cab drivers. My friends. Mornings at the dog park. Picnics in Central Park. The skyline at night. Weekend brunches. The feeling that literally anything is possible!

I just did a write-up of the way the 80's are popping up in the styles we see from day to day. Is there a decade of style you particularly love?
Shift dresses from the 1960s. Jackie O... Need I say more?

What's the most obscure item you've monogrammed?
My shower curtain. 

Top three items you own in hot pink?
This dress: http://www.mackenziehoran.com/2013/07/outfit-hot-pink-maxi-dress.html

Thank you again, Mackenzie, for this lovely interview! It was a real treat for me and I'm sure my readers will agree! 

If you haven't already, be sure to go and check out all of the lovely finds at Design Darling!!

Thanks so much for reading!



  1. Wonderful post...I like your blog.^^
    Maybe follow each other on bloglovin?
    Let me know follow you then back.
    Lovely greets Nessa

  2. Incredible Interview! Your questions were perfect and of course so were her answers! Mackenzie is always an inspiration for me!

    I would love it if you could check out my new redesign on my blog! Thanks!


    1. Thanks for the lovely comment! I tried super hard on the questions! Haha :)

      I will totally check it out!

      .x Robby

    2. Hey Robby! Just wanted to let you know I'll be featuring this post on my blog post tomorrow! Hope you can check it out!


    3. Sounds awesome! I'm excited! :)

      .x Robby