Nell Diamond is a vision – and a mom with a vision. CEO of Hill House Home, a game-changing direct-to-consumer line of luxe bedding, and mom to 3-year old Henry, Nell shares with us her highs and lows of parenting as well as starting her brand.
When she saw there was a hole in the market, Hill House Home was born: “I wanted something that looked great, felt amazing, and lasted a long time. The luxury brands cost thousands of dollars and didn’t feel fresh; the affordable options left much to be desired in the design and quality departments.”
Less than a year later, her son Henry (3) arrived. The CEO and mom approaches both aspects of her life with an empathetic heart and total transparency, two characteristics deeply inherent to who she is.
When she negotiated a better deal with her factory, she passed the savings on to her customers. And as a mom raising a son in this day and age, she’s pushing against old paradigms: “I grew up with two brothers and, back then, boys were told they don’t cry. I don’t ever want to make Henry feel like his emotions are anything but a blessing. It’s a gift to feel and express your feelings, and I want to create a space where he’s always comfortable doing so.”
The most impeccably-dressed mom on the playground is also a total homebody. “I lived on three continents (England, Tokyo, NYC) before I was eight-years-old. My room has always been my sanctuary. I would redecorate it every 6 months.”
Read on for wisdom and inspiration from this deeply beautiful human, inside and out.
I found out at 27 (and 3 weeks after launching HHH) that I was pregnant, which in NYC is like being a teen mom. Most of my friends hadn’t even met a baby, much less thought about having one. I was nauseous for all 38 weeks and 2 days, and every day I felt worse than the previous. I felt guilty and strange about not liking it because it was a healthy pregnancy, and once you’re on the other side, you realize you’d endure it for even longer for the payoff.
Henry Leads The Way
I’m the least chill person in my own life but incredibly chill as a parent. Because I was so sick and the pregnancy was unplanned, I had no preconceived notions about parenting. We’ve always let Henry guide us on how to parent him, testing to see how he responds to different approaches. He’s an emotional and empathetic child, and we are very lucky in that respect, so parenting him isn’t too difficult.
My husband and I get home at 6:30pm, so we have a lenient bedtime for Henry. At first, we thought he needed to go to bed at 7:30pm because that’s what most people do, but we looked at each other one day and decided that didn’t work for us. We come home, hang out, play with toys, talk, read books, and he goes to bed at 8:30 or 9pm. In the summer, we go for a walk to a playground at 6:30pm, which is so nice. Once Henry is down, I take a shower, go through my skincare ritual, read, and go to bed.
For me, going to therapy is like going to the gym – it’s simply taking care of and exercising my brain. I’ve been with my therapist for almost 5 years, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it because I didn’t get immediate results. It takes work and practice (for me about 6 months). I didn’t think it was brave in any way to talk about it, but it has opened up a little world on social media, and I’m just happy that some of the stigma around taking care of your mental health is shifting.
The core fundamental mission of Hill House Home was to create high-quality, beautiful products at the best price, so, a few years in, when we got a better deal with our manufacturers, we lowered prices and passed the savings on to customers. Last year was our biggest so far. Both our silk pillowcases and nap dresses got amazing responses – selling out within hours of launch! These two were especially close to my heart.
While my mom was going through treatment for breast cancer, her hair was really suffering and breaking, and her doctor suggested using a silk pillowcase. I was skeptical about it making any difference, but it totally did! That’s when I realized we had to make them. To bring the concept full circle, we donated a percentage of sales to the Pink Agenda for breast cancer research.
I take off my work clothes as soon as I get home. I’m always more comfortable in dresses than pants, so I love a nightgown, but they often have a grandma vibe. This is what prompted me to make nap dresses! They’re modern, fun, and super comfortable (much more than sweatpants). I feel like the best loungey version of myself when I’m wearing one.
Peak Founder Moment
We got health insurance for our whole team in January, and it felt so incredibly monumental. Entrepreneurship can be portrayed much more glamorous and cool than it actually is in reality. My employees are like family, so being able to provide health insurance was a huge high point because it means I can support the people that have built this dream with me the last 4 years.
Stay The Course
Somebody gave me the advice that you can’t take the high points too high or the low points too low. That was really smart. We’ve had months with negative bank balances and times where I’ve wondered how I’m going to make payroll and office rent, but those have been few and far between. We’ve been lucky and have had amazing growth, but those tough moments are always looming.
Mom Knows Best
My mom is my best friend, and we talk every single day. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago. She’s been cancer free for 4.5. She did radiation, a double mastectomy, and reconstruction surgery. All went well, but it hasn’t been without complications that make it incredibly intense. I stay with her every time she’s in the hospital – 6 times in 4 months last year. Going through it with her has taught me so much.
When you’re healthy, you think of things in a binary – healthy or sick. But with something like cancer, you come in and out of sick periods, which forces you to constantly manage highs and lows.
My mom didn’t physically need anything from me while she was in the hospital, but sleeping there and being physically close to her was good for both of us. There’s a lot of power being close to someone you love.
You never know what’s going on in someone’s life, so always treat people with compassion. If someone cuts you in line at Starbucks or looks angry on the subway, just be kind. You have no idea what they’re battling.
My older brother’s wife just had a baby and my younger one’s due this summer. I’m super-excited for Henry to have two little cousins to play with. And my parents were born to be grandparents. Literally, they are the best grandparents ever, and I’m so excited for them.
For me, the ultimate eden is everyone I’m related to in one giant bed together. I’m very close with my family, and that is a dream.
Photos courtesy of Architecture Design and Hill House Home.