Today I am featuring a mom duo that are such an inspiration! Jill Simms & Sondra Lagasse are the owners of Woodlands Style House – a home and event styling company that began in The Woodlands and is now servicing both The Woodlands and Austin, TX. Jill & Sondra met at a kid’s birthday party in 2014. They became fast friends with daughters of similar age and they quickly realized they both had a love for decorating and renovation. By 2016, they launched Woodlands Style House, and their business has taken off! They now have a growing team of all women, expanded into Austin, and offer multiple services in the design, styling, and renovation world. These mompreneurs and best friends are such an inspiring duo and I loved hearing more about their business story, friendship and mom life.
So, check out their Meet a Mom interview below to learn more about how Jill and Sondra went from friends to successful business women, what it’s like to work with your best friend, how they balance mom life, and more!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the North Houston area?
Jill: I’m originally from Dallas, and we moved to The Woodlands in 2014.
Sondra: I was born and raised in Austin. My family lived in The Woodlands for 7 years, but we just recently moved to Austin back in October of 2020.
How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
Jill: I have 2 girls, ages 8 and almost 10 (going into 3rd & 5th grade)
Sondra: I have 2 girls, ages 9 and 11 (going into 4th & 6th grade)
What are your favorite local things to do? (with kiddos or just for mom!)
Jill: We love biking, walking the trails, finding new parks, and spending days out on our boat on Lake Conroe.
Sondra: We love trying new restaurants, listening to live music, and spending time on the lake (boating, kayaking, or stand-up paddle boarding)
As hard as it is to find the time, what’s something you do just for yourself?
Jill: Well, it took me long enough, but I have FINALLY joined a gym and am taking barre classes. It’s been a game-changer being able to unplug & recharge for a couple hours a week.
Sondra: I love finding time to go check out my favorite thrift store and dig for hidden treasures! It’s also such a treat to go get a mani/pedi and relax for an hour.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
Jill: I originally planned to major in musical theater, but ended up choosing marketing/advertising as my major instead. Who knew I’d one day be doing the social media and marketing for my own business!
Sondra: I’m half Canadian! My mom is from Canada and my dad is from Texas – they met on vacation in the Bahamas and they’ve been in love ever since!
When did you launch Woodlands Style House and what was the inspiration behind starting your own business?
We met at a kid’s birthday party soon after we both moved to the Woodlands in 2014. Our kids were in preschool together and we immediately hit it off! We discovered that we had a shared passion for decorating/renovation! Both of us had moved multiple times and knew how to style & stage our homes quickly, on a budget, making a profit. Sondra had been decorating friends’ homes for years for free. I had a marketing/advertising background. We started talking about turning these assets into a business we could run together. We launched the business fall of 2016. We love being female entrepreneurs, growing our all-female team, and giving back to our community.
What did you do before starting Woodlands Style House?
Jill: I first worked in Advertising at a large firm in Dallas as an Account Manager. I loved the creativity involved with campaigns, and the marketing strategy behind branding. However, with the long hours required and my wanting to start a family, I ended up going back to school to get my Master’s in Education and teach. I taught 4th & 5th grade and absolutely loved it. After a number of years working in the corporate world, and then 5 years in education, I finally became a ‘stay at home mom’ once both my girls were born. But that only lasted until I met Sondra and we started brainstorming for the next phase in our lives…. 😀
Sondra: I taught 2nd grade and PE for 6 years. I was able to stay home with my two girls when they were young. But I have always loved to work and knew one day I’d be ready for my next adventure!
Have you always had an eye for design or when did that start for you?
Jill: I remember rearranging furniture in my bedroom as a young kid, and always finding ways to redecorate using only what I had on-hand. My dad is a Design Architect so I was always around paint/fabric samples, sketches, & drafting plans and loved watching him use his creativity as a profession! But it wasn’t until we started moving so much that I realized how much I loved turning our ‘houses’ into ‘homes.’
Sondra: As a kid, I always had a very organized room that I loved to style with treasures my mom and I would find at garage sales or thrift stores. In college I really got into decorating my dorm and apartments. Post college I started learning more about renovating, staging, and decorating through owning 4 homes and helping several friends. I have always loved learning about different design styles and trends.
What services does Woodlands Style House offer?
Styling: (full-service decorating or restyling with existing décor)
Consulting: (hourly design and renovation consultations)
Renovating: (full-service project management, material selections, & design plans)
E-Design: (online design/reno consultations and full-service mood board packages)
Event-Styling: (full-service event planning, floral design, customized packages)
Holiday: (shopping packages for new décor, holiday set-up & styling)
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
Jill: I think it would have to be getting to be an entrepreneur and grow the business side of things with Sondra, while also watching our talented team work their creative magic every day. It feels like the best of both worlds!
Sondra: Ditto 😀
What’s it like working with your best friend?! Any advice on mixing business and friendship?
Jill: First & foremost – it’s A LOT of fun! 😀 Not all friends could work well together, but we are so lucky that we REALLY do! We have a lot in common, but also have different strengths, which allow us to excel in different parts of the business. Dividing & conquering is key – so it helps to know we can fully trust each other with our separate responsibilities. As business partners, you will definitely disagree from time-to-time, but as long as you’re willing to communicate and compromise, you can figure out anything the business world throws at you. We have had to pivot so many times already and we’ve both always been flexible enough to make changes as needed. Just know it’s a constant work-in-progress!
Sondra: I love working with my best friend and absolutely so happy that we started a business together! I’ll never forget the time we took this strengths-based test and Jill and I had completely different strengths – which means together we make an unstoppable pair! Our business and lives are ever changing and it’s so comforting to pivot with someone you love, admire, and respect.
How do you “balance” being a mama and a business owner? Do you experience the dreaded “mom guilt”?
Jill: I have now worked full-time, worked part-time, been a stay-at-home mom, and am now back to working full-time. I’ve learned that they’re ALL equally difficult and they ALL come with ‘mom guilt’ – just in different ways. But we have always said “we are moms first” so we help each other schedule around kid activities and keep our families the priority first (even if that means taking care of accounting and editing photos at midnight 😀 ).
Sondra: I think it’s always a challenge to balance the work/mom life. I truly try to get all my work done while my girls are at school and at night so I can be present with them when they get home till bedtime. As they are getting older, I do love to show them what I’m working on and take them shopping. It’s cute that they are starting to take an interest in design!
Future plans and dreams for Woodlands Style House?
We’ve grown so quickly in such a short amount of time that at this point we are just trying to keep up with our current wait-list. But at some point, we would like to expand to cities outside of The Woodlands and Austin!
What is the best mom advice you’ve ever been given or the best advice you have for new moms?
Jill: My best advice for new moms is one I wish more people had told me when I had little-ones. And that’s that it DOES get easier. Yes, kids will always come with their challenges no matter their age – but the ‘little years’ can be so draining. Just know that you WILL sleep through the night again one day and be able to enjoy a little bit more freedom than the baby/toddler stages.
Sondra: Try to enjoy those early years with your little ones. I rushed mine and now time is flying by and my babies are almost teenagers. And don’t sweat the small stuff!
To learn more about Jill & Sondra, and The Woodlands Style House:
Like It To Know It: @woodlands_style_house