Pittsburgh native gives Homegirl spin to home decorating
By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Published: Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Brian Bishop struggled through his dark basement to flip a breaker switch when he took a fall over some furniture.
“He came upstairs after tripping over a table and chair I had bought, and said, ‘I really think you have a problem,' ” says his wife Gina, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Hempfield High School in Greensburg . “He then asked, ‘Can you sell some of this stuff?' ”
Good thing he did.
That day, she decided to fix up some of those pieces she'd found at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores and turn a profit. Her creative talents led to home improvement-inspired videos for www.msn.com called “Two Minute Design Tips.” Her 18 videos, filmed five months ago, cycle through on the site. Topics include everything from storage solutions, fireplaces and kitchens to creating a mood board in which viewers are instructed on the elements needed to drive inspiration, color and atmosphere.
Bishop — who lives in Hudson, Ohio — is known to fans as “Homegirl.” Her videos have garnered tens of thousands of views. The tips were filmed at Bishop's century-old farm and showcase design techniques and inspiring tips to celebrate personal style at home.
The series is approaching more than 50,000 views collectively, and is ranked among the most site's most popular features.
Bishop scouts for decor pieces wherever she goes. And she works with local artists to create unusual pieces.
Bishop celebrates the juxtaposition of old and new that incorporates folk art, mid-century modern, country and contemporary.
Bishop does not adhere to rules. She hopes to bring a certain playfulness to the art of decorating and design, combined with affordability and fashion, she says.
For this 40-year-old former high school prom queen and mother of two, visual design always has been a passion. She has an urban studies degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Her first job involved setting up displays for Bath & Body Works and Abercrombie & Fitch that were used nationally.
Bishop says she is inspired by her love of being at home with her husband and daughters and the philosophy that “your home is an extension of how you are as a person.”
Bishop left work to be a stay-at-home mom, but needed an outlet for her creative energy. So she started painting and repainting the walls. She bought and repurposed items and sold them through a store in Columbus, Ohio, where they lived at the time. It helped support her “habit,” as she calls it.
After a home burglary, she and her husband decided to move to Hudson, where they bought a 188-year-old farmhouse with a barn. At various times throughout the year, Bishop holds sales of the items she had kept in the basement. The next one is in October. It was at one of those sales that she met her agent, Caroline Galloway of Mouth 2 Mouth PR & Partnerships in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Galloway decided to promote Bishop to the national media and had a connection at www.msn.com.
Bishop says her videos are about celebrating where you live. You don't have to have granite countertops or expensive furniture to have a beautiful home, she says.
She has twice appeared on “The Nate Berkus Show.” Once, it was to visit the world's longest yard sale in a challenge with her sister to design a room with finds totaling $300. She was also one of Nate's Do it Yourself All-stars in a challenge against another DIY woman.
“My passion is to teach and inspire,” Bishop says. “I like to tell people that they can do this, too. Sometimes, when people look in home decorating magazines, they think they can't do that or no one lives like that. But your house doesn't have to look like those houses. You can get really nice, affordable home decor items that fit your lifestyle.”
Something Bishop's mother, Therese Solomon, taught her daughter is that your home is your launching pad to the world. It allows you to be who you are, because you need to have a soft place to land. You should feel good and secure in your home, because that is where you enjoy your family and welcome friends and neighbors.
When Bishop first started planning for the videos, she looked at similar products and was a little scared, but she decided to be herself, and it all came together.
“I love the quote, ‘Be yourself, because everyone else is taken,' from the Katy Perry movie ‘Part of Me,' ” Bishop says. “Your house is a time capsule where you honor the past and present the present. It should be filled will all of the things that make you feel good. I love to travel, but there is nothing better than being at home.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.
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