I Don't Want to Be Joanna Gaines
I don’t want to be Joanna Gaines — the queen of farmhouse style.
Even though Ms. Gaines’ net worth is estimated at $9 million; even though she has partnerships with megabrands like Target, Pier 1, and Anthropologie; even though she’s launching a network; even though she publishes a magazine, writes books, and has created a market that is a pilgrimage for farmhouse style acolytes; even though she was named to Time’s 100 List, I don’t want to be her.
I've worked for CZ Strategy for almost twenty years, but as a side hustle, I'm a very part-time vintage dealer. I’ve created an Instagram following of almost 20,000 followers to feed my vintage antique soul. I describe myself as "On the quest every day to elevate the everyday."
While I appreciate Ms. Gaines farmhouse style, I don't want to be her. I’m certain I’m part of a small minority.
Just Like JoJo
It seems everyone wants to buy a little piece of JoJo, whether it’s a rug, a cookbook, a side table, or candle, just so maybe they can live the Joanna Gaines Way — the decorating way, truth and life. Take a look at the Magnolia White-painted walls, ironstone-lined raw wood shelves, and shiplapped walls that fuel the algorithms of Instagram, and you’ll see the ways of Joanna Gaines.
But the Joanna Gaines Way - The #farmhousestyle Way (a hashtag, by the way, that has over 2.4 million posts) — it’s the easy way. Or at least the fastest way to become lost. Because in the trying to be someone else, you lose the opportunity to be you.
I don’t want to be Joanna Gaines, because I wouldn’t be Megillicutti, the namesake of my side hustle of selling, styling, and writing about vintage items and decor.
I’ve always been a bit nutty for interior design — especially designing with pieces found at antique markets, estate sales, and thrift shops. And, I’ll admit it, I liked “Fixer Upper” when it first aired on HGTV in 2013. As a very part-time antique dealer, I appreciated the awareness it brought to using vintage and found pieces to personalize décor.
But somewhere between 2013 and 2019, the Fixer Upper style became less about personalization and more about producing “a look.” And that look has been mass-produced to the point that even a loud minority of the masses are beginning to rumble. A person whom I follow on IG with 200k followers asked her community, “What style are you tired of?”
Hundreds screamed, “Farmhouse Style.” I’m hollering with them.
As part of my side gig, I have scouted homes for interiors publications. And when I’m scrolling through IG looking for talent, guess what homes never cause me to look twice? The quintessential #JoannaGaines #fixerupper #farmhousestyle homes. Because they don’t have a point of view. They’re bland. Forgettable. And, certainly, they aren’t offering anything new to the decorating conversation, like Joanna Gaines did back in 2013.
To be remarkable — to make your mark — you must first do something different.
On my IG platform, @megillicutti, where I share my own take on interior design, I once got on my IG Stories soapbox and said, “I want to be iconic.” It sounded conceited. And maybe it was a little bit. But what I meant is I want my style to be definitively my own. When people scroll through IG or see my home featured in a magazine or buy an item from me at a market, I want them to say, “That’s Megillicutti Style.” Because no one can compete with those who already are style icons, the only option is to become an icon. Or at least strive for that.
In marketing, we call it a brand.
The Brand Called Megillicutti
Recently, I received a message from a follower from Texas who said she was at an antique market and met two ladies shopping. They began talking about an item they were admiring, and one of them said, “That’s so Megillicutti.” I'm not sure what it was. Maybe a peacock. Maybe something green. Maye a gilt mirror or shell art. But the item reminded them of me.
Another follower recently said after purchasing an item she thought I might purchase, “You’ve developed a style so uniquely yours, I call it the Megillicutti brand.”
I can’t blame Joanna Gaines for capitalizing on the demand for her look. But just imagine what it would be like to have millions of look-alikes out there. Suddenly, your “you-ness” is not singularly you. It’s everyone. Everyone is you. You are everyone.
I don’t want to be everyone. And I don’t want everyone to be me. I’ll never have millions of followers. I’ll never make millions of dollars. I’ll never be Joanna Gaines. But I never wanted to be her in the first place.
I want to make a mark. To be iconic. Remarkable. And authentically Megillicutti.
And that is the essence of what it means to be a brand.