Welcome to virtual home of Sanford Collective, a residential interior design studio based in Charleston, South Carolina!
2020 was a crazy year for us all and for some it led to a big pivot in life. I was one of those people. A leap of faith relocated my young family from New Jersey to South Carolina and my career in fashion public relations, running my own boutique public relations agency, was quickly losing clients.
I did a lot of soul searching that year and decided not only to take a chance on a new hometown but, also on, a career in which I spent the last 10+ years building. I've always had the mindset of just going after what you want, because you’re the only person whose going to bet on yourself. Interior design was always a personal passion of mine, usually fueled by personal projects and helping friends with their design dilemmas.
There’s no denying the importance the role of home has taken on in all of lives the last year. It’s required all of us to re-think the way we use our spaces, the importance of functionality, and the way that it can make us feel. This trying time has inspired me to take a leap of faith, pursue my passion, and help others on their journey of creating a home that is functional, beautiful, and inspires them to pursue their personal passions.
Let’s answer some of the basics, so you can get to know me a bit more!
My name is Emily Sanford and I come to interior design as a veteran fashion insider, having spent over a decade working as a publicist and brand-marketing specialist in Manhattan for celebrated contemporary and young-designer fashion brands like Tibi and Rebecca Minkoff. In 2016 I founded Sanford Collective, a boutique public relations agency focusing on fashion and lifestyle brands. At the time, I saw that media was blurring the lines between fashion, beauty, health & wellness, fitness, food, travel, and interior design. We were seeing that people with "style" were inherently interested in, more than, just what they were wearing. Their aesthetic was rooted in their everyday lives, whether it was the type of razor they were using or the work-out clothes they wore to their favorite studio class. This was also a time where direct-to-consumer brands were emerging left and right, disrupting industries and filling niches in the marketplace. My goal was simple: to help brands tell their story, in the same elevated way, that fashion brands did.
That same year, my husband and I relocated from a tiny Manhattan apartment to a historic farmhouse (built in 1740!!) in the suburbs of NJ. I had a dream of turning this fixer-upper into a home that would fit my lifestyle, budget, and aesthetic but was frustrated by the easy path portrayed during my binge-watching of HGTV and endless scrolling through Pinterest. As a veteran of the fashion industry, I approached the project with many of the same principles and practices I’d learned from years of closely observing the design process and its runway culmination. I found that so many of the same skills I used in my work life—like managing and coordinating crucial day-to-day details, timelines, budgets, and schedules—were vital to the process of renovating and designing a home.
Expanding upon my project management skills, I parlayed my sartorial sensibilities into the design of our new home. With an appreciation for the constraints and opportunities inherent in the space, I honored the past by preserving the unique and original elements while creating a new language that visually told a story – about the history of the home, of my families lifestyle & aesthetic, and of what modernity could look like in a home that was over 200 years old. Along the way, I learned to appreciate the creative process, attention to detail and committed execution required to make a vision come to fruition.
Find out more about the project here!
The project unearthed a passion for interiors that has become the foundation of Sanford Collective. My husband will tell you that I can’t go into a room without rearranging something or flipping switches to get the lighting just right. For better or worse, I believe that the backdrop of our everyday moments—both mundane and memorable—deserve to be celebrated with a good backdrop.
I hope that Sanford Collective will be a place you can come to as a design resource, to learn about the interior design industry, hear about the latest & greatest in Charleston, and connect to with me on this new journey.