You might remember Roger Hazard from such shows as Sell This House, Move this House, and Sell this House: Extreme. He became Roger Stout-Hazard as a result of his marriage to the former Chris Stout, now Stout-Hazard. This powerhouse creative duo shifted from the world of television and technology to create a new venture together. They’ve been featured in Apartment Therapy, Swiss Miss, and many, many other publications.
BS: What do you do for a living?
R+C: We have a furniture and home decor company that exclusively carries products made in the U.S.A., and an interior design business serving clients around the country. We travel the U.S. and Canada, filming our home makeover show as well as speaking on design and renovation topics. And we keep getting pulled into random creative projects – I’m helping redesign a museum in Colorado right now, for instance. We don’t sleep a lot.
BS: You both have experienced huge shifts in your careers, which have led to bigger, better results. What’s your advice for letting go of what you have to make that next step?
R+C: It’s important to know where you’re from and how that forms your perspective. Roger grew up during Houston’s oil boom. His parents’ friends were all self-made successes, and he is much more adventurous as a result. As he says, he’s never had a “normal” job. I’m a midwesterner and, while I love my native Omaha, that comes with a certain adherence to The Known. By default, I often find myself clinging to what’s worked, and I have to fight that a bit in order to explore new opportunities.
One thing I think we’ve both found is that your strengths *do* transfer from career to career. Moving to something new doesn’t always mean starting from scratch. Of course there are new things to learn, but there’s so much you can bring with you from seemingly disparate fields. Roger’s education and early career was in landscape architecture, while mine was in technology. We both have brought a lot from those fields into what we do today.
BS: Who are your collaborators and co-conspirators? How do they influence you?
R+C: Artists, captains of industry, designers of all stripes, merchants, business consultants, film production crews, journalists and bloggers, nerds, weirdos, friends, family, a big social net, and sometimes the dog. Is that a wide enough spread?
We work with all types of people and companies with what we do. We’ve partnered with everyone from individual artisans to enormous, multinational corporations. That makes for huge variation in collaboration style and pacing. One relationship can get rolling in a weekend over the phone, and another will take a year to develop, involving dozens of stakeholders and flying around the country.
You can never predict where ideas and valuable feedback will come from. As opposed to life in the corporate world – working with a formal team, having a hierarchy above you to approve or reject your work – you have to solicit input from a more diverse set of sources. You’re relying on the goodwill of others when asking for their opinion, so we really treasure that feedback.
BS: What are the risks you take with your work?
R+C: The risk is in planting a flag and saying, “This is what we believe in. This is what’s right.” We’re operating in creative fields, and we have to balance between serving established trends and pushing forward into new ones. We have a sense of where interior design is headed and believe that we’re aligned with the zeitgeist. But we could be wrong.
As far as principles, we’ve bet on exclusively carrying products made in the U.S.A., as well as products that are built to a higher standard than most of our competitors. While that’s what we believe is right – for us and our customers – it’s also a pain. We could be dramatically more profitable if we compromised – by shipping manufacturing overseas, using lower quality components, or the like. The risk we’re taking hinges on prospective customers’ values aligning with ours and educating them on how they benefit by working with us.
BS: Where do you see creativity outside of your field?
R+C: Absolutely everywhere. We’re in a new renaissance period for design, thanks to new production methods, more reliance upon design as a differentiator, and a population that is more aware of and engaged with art and design.
Check out [and shop at] Roger+Chris.
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[Featured photo by Alec Hemer.]