Home is where the heart is and Jean Brownhill Lauer has helped thousands of New York residents create their dream house through her company Sweeten. The online service matches homeowners with Sweeten’s curated contractors, and has completed more than $100 million worth of renovation projects. Lauer spent more than a decade as an architect before launching Sweeten and was one of nine recipients of the 2011 Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. See her success secrets to bringing your dream to life.
Name: Jean Brownhill Lauer
Title: Founder & CEO of Sweeten.com
Hometown: New London CT
Twitter: @jvbl @The_Sweeten
The gig: I’m the CEO and Founder of Sweeten.com. We’re renovation matchmakers in New York, we find the best general contractor for your renovation project. Every human being has the right to a safe and well-maintained home. Ideally that home would also be custom to you and reflect who you are and what you prioritize. After my husband and I renovated our home in Brooklyn, I realized this was a needed service.
The journey: Luckily I’ve forgotten most of starting my business, but I do know that there were years without a weekend off, a ton of business books read and a lot of tech meet-ups. I went to architecture school and worked in the field for 10 years before starting Sweeten. Growing up I delivered newspapers, shoveled snow, scooped ice cream and other projects to make some cash.
Confession of a Black startup founder: Tech meet-ups can be lonely. However, women like Kathryn Finney and her organization DigitalUndivided.com are making it a lot more inclusive. Also money is everything and nothing. It buys you time and talent, but you can get both without money. Being an entrepreneur means standing by yourself. It can be scary yet exhilarating.
Her biggest lesson learned: It doesn’t matter how you meant what you said, it only matters how people hear it. Employees, investors and customers all hear differently, so think before you speak.
Her secret weapon: Always stand up to make yourself feel stronger. Even if I’m on a conference call, I stand to be more in control and confident.
Her childhood dream job: A vet, until I realized that I’m allergic to most animals.
Her secret superpower: Smiling. I also know every line to The Pharcyde “Passin’ Me By “ and it’s still one of my go to songs.
Her favorite app: This American Life app, I’m totally obsessed. I’ve listened to every single episode, since 1995, in chronological order.
Her beauty fix: Dominican hair salon in downtown Brooklyn. They can get my hair washed and set in an hour. I wouldn’t be able to live or workout without them.
Her life/work juggle: Forget balance, just try and enjoy what you’re doing at all times.
Her theme song: “I’m Different” by 2 Chainz.