meet our friends: brooke & lara

HYD recently moved into a new office space. The space is made up of an old craftsman home with a church attached to it, right off of Lyons View Pike. We are slowly but surely making it our own. We are lucky enough to share our new workspace with two other talented small business owners. These gals happen to also create beautiful art and spaces. Meet Brooke, of Brooke Phillips Designs and Lara, of Studio L. We did a little Q+A, so that you can get to know them… so settle in and enjoy hearing their stories.

We’ll start with Brooke


Q- Where did the inspiration for your company come from?

A- My husband always told me I had a gift for creating spaces that people love to be in, way before I was paid for it. And my creativity was born out of what I lacked. I studied because of a passion that I just couldn’t get enough of.  What I learned is that I was able to have a beautiful space by understanding what materials were good, what was real. Woods, metals, leathers, textiles that were natural and timeless are staples in a well thought out space. I had a few homes growing up that modeled that timelessness and were a big source of inspiration for me. But over the years, I realized how healing a home can be to a soul. And that is largely the reason I decided to be brave enough to start my company. And we needed to. I was pushed in my spirit to the point that I couldn’t say “no” anymore. 

Q- What are your favorite projects to work on?

A- I am a stylist. I love helping folks use things that have meaning to them in new and un-heard of ways. I want the spaces I style to tell a story about who lives and breathes in them. We can do that with sounds, sights, textures, smells and beautiful things. When everything is new, it just doesn’t seem as authentic to me. Coco Chanel said, “fashion fades, but style endures.” I agree with that. And my favorite projects are those that evolve over time and ones that give me an opportunity to curate a space. 


Q- What is one job/piece you are most proud of?

A- I am most proud of the restoration of our 1930’s colonial home and guest cottage in South Knoxville. It wasn’t perfect, and we didn’t have the opportunity to fully finish the project, but it had this wonderful feeling and made you want to sit a while and tell stories in it. It felt like home. 


Q- What does "home" mean to you?

A- To me, “Home” is a sacred space where the ones you love feel safe. It doesn’t revolve around “decorations” as much as it revolves around “intentionality”. Do your sofas invite you to sit? Your tables? Does the kitchen island invite you to gather around it? To share? 

Q- What is one book / podcast / song / piece of art that has moved you recently? 

A- I was recently by a piece of art my husband brought back from Israel. It was a photo of graffiti on an ancient exterior wall in Jerusalem. The wall is cracked down the center. And on the cracked wall, was a symbol and painting of “AHAVA”, the Hebrew word for Love backwards forwards, formed in a circle. It is the symbol for perfect love. I think the artist wanted to communicate that perfect love is only possible by loving the imperfections of others. I was inspired because it is on the backdrop of our cracked walls and imperfections that we can love well. 

Q- Favorite thing about living in East TN?

A- I love the seasons of East TN the most. It’s such a beautiful backdrop for rhythms of life. And I love that it’s so full of opportunity and talent and creativity. We lived in Florida for 13 years, and moved back about 5 years ago. I can truly say I’ve met the most talented, creative people here in Knoxville.


Q- What's one thing you'd encourage other small business owners to do? 

A- Collaborate with other like minded businesses! Owning a small business is gruesome work. And I felt like I was on an island for so long, especially as a mother operating a small business. We are expected to work as if we don’t have kids, while being a mother as if we don’t work. That is a hard balance to strike and one that I fail at often. But my saving grace has been like minded women in business who are kindred spirits to walk alongside. We can do anything together. I believe with my whole heart that we are meant for community for each other and with each other. Personally, and in business. 


Now, we gladly introduce you to Lara

Q- Where did the inspiration for your company come from?

A- “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” I, Lara Periut, was a college art student searching for a job. I served at two restaurants until I stumbled into custom framing and have been involved in it ever since. After raising two children until their time was mostly managed by themselves and I found myself with little to occupy mine, an aunt was looking to give her little frame shop to someone in the family. I took that location over two and a half years ago, changed absolutely everything to suit my needs and met many amazing locals in between. I need to point out that about 2 years ago I met Brooke Phillips while on my first child-free-non-framing creative venture on a grand scale: a week long floral and event prep for an elaborate birthday party held at Blackberry Farms. Being grunt workers we didn’t earn much, but sometimes money isn’t the most valuable gift God provides. I learned that I didn’t need to limit my creativity to framing and Brooke’s talents were so inspiring that we absolutely needed to be in each other’s lives. Since then, she has pushed me outside my comfort zone to learn many new things. I have painted, plastered, built and created under her direction and I feel like I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without God planting her firmly in my path. Brooke recently convinced me to uproot my little shop – formerly named Karns Frame & Art but now Studio L - and I am now looking forward to sharing space and inspiration with her and the Help You Dwell crew.

Q- What are your favorite projects to work on?

A- I adore a challenge so my favorite frames to assemble are shadow boxes that require attention to detail, dedication to the process and design so they are visually interesting. Over the years I’ve framed necklaces, antique Victorian purses, full sized Kimono’s, military medals, Roman artifacts, Civil war artifacts, curling tongs from the 1920’s, drum heads, mechanical instruments…so many things can be preserved through custom framing and it intrigues me to figure out how to do just that.


Q- What does "home" mean to you?

A- Anyone can own a house to showcase the newest and finest money can buy, but a home reflects the comforts, creativity, warmth and hospitality of the inhabitants. A home is a safe zone where one can unwind from a busy day and surround themselves with things that they love. Mine is currently a mess, but then dogs and teens aren’t super helpful when it comes to cleaning up!

Q- What is one book / podcast / song / piece of art that has moved you recently? 


A- At a friend’s suggestion, I have been listening to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged while I work. As an avid reader (or listener as the case may be), the details and literary nuances used to exemplify the authors ideals absolutely boggles my mind! It is easy to empathize with the characters because the values explored by Ayn are parallel to today yet was observed close to a century ago. It proves that there is nothing new in the world today, it’s simply a matter of how we view it. Out of 63 hours of audio, I’m only about 10 hours in so I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to hold an in-depth conversation about the morals of her story, but I will admit that I am in awe of Ayn Rand.

Q- Favorite thing about living in East TN?

A- I was born and raised here in Knoxville, TN and our family Bible documents generations back born within or nearby its boundaries. Where I don’t enjoy the allergies intrinsic to being snuggled in the valley of the mountains, I can’t even imagine living anywhere without those strong arms wrapped around me. The flat places of the world I visit and with McGhee Tyson airport expanding with an international terminal what more could one ask for? In a nutshell, for me Knoxville is where my Dad tills up a huge garden in the spring that feeds way more than our family could ever hope to eat, we live minutes from hikes in Big South Fork that my dog can join us on with breathtaking views at every turn, we have 4 seasons that are mild compared to most, and there are what I call “Twilight Zones” (like Karns where my home is) small enough that everyone knows when their neighbor sneezes yet it’s large enough that I can still find a back road I have never driven on before.


Q- What's one thing you'd encourage other small business owners to do? 


A- Since the industrial age the production of goods have been mechanized and businesses are required only to sell those items in a cold and corporate manner. That’s perfectly fine and I’m not knocking that, but after more than 100 years people are rediscovering the values and imperfections of hand made items with a loop missed here or a chink along the edge of products made in someone’s home. If I am to offer any sort of business advice it would be, “If there is a need, fill it!” Go out and begin to do what you do best, what makes you happy might just be the balm for another in need. The simplest things don’t even require a loan to begin! God has gifted you everything you need and it’s inside you, so take baby steps and the rest will fall into place over time.

We are so thankful to call these two incredible women our friends.
They are also incredible resources and talent we hope our HYD clients take advantage of!