In 2015, the year the two women met, Teplin and Shearer were in their early 30s, mothers of young children and recent transplants to Nashville (Teplin from San Francisco; Shearer from Los Angeles). They are also both Jewish, which made them something of a novelty in their new hometown. (“There were, like, 11 of us,” they joke.) It wasn’t long before they found themselves in each other’s orbit. Each had relocated for her husband’s job and was looking for her next act. Shearer had a background in social media, having worked for brands like Nickelodeon and Myspace; Teplin had owned a few businesses, including a greeting-card company. “It’s funny, we never asked the question ‘Would you mind going into business together?’” Shearer said. “We never did; we just started talking.”
Technically, their business was organizing clients’ homes in Nashville. But even from the start, they were laying the foundation for something bigger. Part of that meant creating a signature look. Even as the Home Edit has inspired many knockoffs, some critics might call the brand’s style unoriginal — certainly the Home Edit aesthetic drew from different visual references already popular online. The genius was reimagining it in the context of home organization. Beauty blogs had kicked off the trend of personal belongings artfully arranged in medicine cabinets and helped spur coinage of the word “shelfie.” Shearer and Teplin saw an opportunity for content in other places no one ever bothered to make pretty — linen closets, pantries, junk drawers, the inside of a fridge, laundry rooms. A.S.M.R., a phenomenon that found certain simple stimuli (for example, a whisper) can cause mild euphoria, had fueled the rise of mindless content intended to delight the senses. Shearer and Teplin designed tableaus that were not just visually appealing but almost put the viewer into a trancelike calm: pantries devoid of garish grocery-store packaging in favor of soothingly uniform containers (tall plastic cylinders, raffia baskets) outfitted with twee cursive labels to denote their contents: stevia, sugar, brown sugar. (The Home Edit’s distinctive labels are actually Shearer’s handwriting, which they made into a font; writing each label by hand wasn’t scalable.)
Perhaps the most obvious inspiration was the trend of bookshelves grouped according to the color of book jacket and arranged in Roygbiv order — a look that appeared in the pages of glossy magazines like Domino in the late aughts and spread quickly on Pinterest. “We didn’t invent the rainbow,” Shearer said. “But we leveraged it.”
But it wasn’t until Instagram introduced Stories, about a year into their business, that the Home Edit really gained traction. As with their aesthetic, Shearer and Teplin played with a subculture that was already popular on Instagram, one that’s come to be known as “wine mom,” in which women broadcast their not having it all together. They remember the first time they, as Teplin put it, “pulled back the curtain”: four years ago, en route to Dallas for business. “Until that point, all you saw was picture perfect, picture perfect,” Teplin said. “Let’s show people what it’s really like to fly with us, and all of our airport rituals, all of our things, and having to sit at the gate and watch people and poll people as they get off the plane” — they like to ask passengers getting off the plane they’re about to get on what they can expect — “and interview the pilot.” Immediately, they saw a “crazy” response.
Their husbands, children and the aforementioned Roberta make appearances on their Stories, but it’s mostly the women, who spend more time together than they do with their families. They travel together for work up to six times a month and prefer to stay in the same hotel room, “like the grandparents in the Chocolate Factory,” Shearer told me, where they text each other from the adjoining beds. Their codependence is another huge part of their shtick. “There is no time when there’s separation between us,” Teplin said at the bar, and Shearer continued: “Remember when you opened the door and I was in the shower? And I was like, ‘Is this an emergency? Can. You. Write. It. Down? I’m literally showering.’”
Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships at Instagram and a Home Edit client, explained to me why Stories was such a boon for them. “Their work is all about detail and everything is in its place. Then you watch their Stories and it’s their life and everything is not in its place. Their flights are delayed, and they have issues just like us. That’s the best combination.”