What happens when a Wall Street trading expert combines her business background and love of seaside living? An interior design studio creating coastal-inspired spaces that are nothing short of easy-breezy bliss. Enter: Salt Design Co. in Asbury Park by Sarah Brady. Years of freelance designing for friends and family set the foundation for Salt Design Co., which has since delivered countless coastal sanctuaries to other families in Monmouth County and beyond. More recently, she opened a second location in Fair Haven, New Jersey, just a block away from her family’s home – giving us serious “live, work, and play” envy. NJMOM caught up with Sarah to hear about her childhood dream of becoming a NFL sideline reporter, how her then-future husband’s Ironman triathlon training jumpstarted her idea for Salt Design Co., and some of her favorite ways to spend a “local summer” – not without a big bowl of clam chowder at The Bonney Read in Asbury Park!
Owner and Creative Director of Salt Design Co. & NJMOMpreneur: Sarah Brady
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Sarah: Interior design can be interpreted in many different ways, and there are many talented design professionals out there. At Salt, we specialize in mid- to high-end residential design that is certainly beautiful, but still feels approachable. From experience as a mom, wife, and business owner, I know how busy life can get. We are all constantly trying to keep up with daily life, but your home should be your sanctuary and directly reflect the people in it, and their lifestyle. I believe that the space you inhabit has a direct effect on your personality which can impact how you approach each day. Keeping this in mind, I consistently try to design for the real world and real life by using kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and husband-friendly fabrics and textiles; this way, our clients aren’t afraid to actually live in the rooms we design. I love learning about the families with whom we partner, and creating spaces that truly define their individual personalities and work for their daily lifestyle.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Sarah: Throughout my life, I had always taken the “next logical step” by working hard in high school, going to college, and getting a great job on Wall Street – but I never truly felt as though I had anything of my own. At some point, my then future-husband had started doing triathlons and was actively training for an Ironman race. I remember telling him that I wanted a project of my own that would allow me to express my creativity, which was feeling stifled. That’s when I began to consider following my passion for design on a full-time basis. That passion quickly grew into a business plan and I never looked back. In 2014, I left my corporate career and launched my design business, which was absolutely nerve-wracking but one of the most exciting times of my life! I’m thankful that I took that leap of faith, as it’s been so fulfilling in a myriad of ways. I am supremely grateful that I’ve found my calling and get the opportunity to channel that excitement and energy into impacting my clients’ lives and lifestyles.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Sarah: I love tackling design puzzles: the spatial layout, the math and architectural elements of both simple and complex projects. But my favorite part about running Salt Design Co. is having the opportunity to help our clients realize their own design vision, and in turn, making their spaces come to life.
When people are able to express their own feel and style by leveraging my creativity, then I’ve done my job – there’s nothing more satisfying.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Sarah: My background is actually in finance. I was a Business Major with a Concentration in Finance and Marketing at Boston College. After graduating, I went straight to work for an Investment Bank in the Equity Sales and Trading Division, structuring products and managing client relationships. Now as owner of Salt Design Co., I rely on that invaluable business experience and my finance expertise on a daily basis.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Sarah: I am most proud of how much our business has grown in a short three and a half years. It certainly keeps me busy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Running a business is no joke, and when I left my corporate career, many people questioned my decision. I’m also proud of our ability to keep making things happen! I love that we have a team of awesome, talented women that are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Sarah: I used to dream of being an NFL sideline reporter. Unfortunately, I despise being on camera, and I typically enjoy writing in the form of bullet points, so my dream career in journalism wasn’t very well thought out. That being said, I probably know more about football than most men. I was the girl who wore football jerseys to school in the sixth grade. There are few things I enjoy more than spending a football Sunday with my family.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2018?
Sarah: 2017 was a busy year for me and my team at Salt. We opened a new location in Fair Haven, and we could not be more excited to have joined such a great community of small business owners. On a personal note, I am the matron of honor in my sister’s upcoming wedding, so I will be spending a good amount of time trying to keep up with the twenty-somethings in her wedding party!
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Sarah: I am lucky enough to have had many different role models on both personal and professional levels, and one of these people is my dad. He is a business owner himself, and still wakes up before dawn to get his day started, each and every morning. When he visits us, he can usually be found helping out with home repairs before the rest of the house is awake, and it isn’t unheard of to find him hauling boulders of granite or fixing the roof on his days off. When I first started conceptualizing Salt, I called my dad every day, and he never once failed to answer my calls. He listened to my concerns, found solutions to my problems, and tried his best to keep me focused. Everyone who knows him would agree that there is no one quite like my dad. Nobody works harder, does more for others, or laughs louder while taking life in stride and never letting problems get the best of him. If he gets knocked down, he gets back up and doesn’t complain. He has always worked for what he has, has never been afraid to take a leap of faith, and he taught us to do the same. And despite it all, he always finishes his day alongside his family and his dog.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Sarah: My husband and I worked together when we first met, and he knows me on a professional level as well as he does on a personal level. He knew of my propensity to control every detail and outcome. At times, I would simply freeze if I was unable to exhibit complete control over a particular situation, but he taught me that it is how you react to situational elements that define who you are as a person and as a manager. You cannot control everything, but you can always control how you react. Remaining flexible and composed in the face of adversity is ultimately what is most important.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.
– Vincent van Gogh
I often have a terrible fear of failure, and venturing outside of my comfort zone does not come naturally to me. This quote always reminds me that I need to take risks in order to do beautiful things. If something goes wrong, learn from that mistake and you will improve.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Sarah: My favorite thing to do in New Jersey is to spend September enjoying a “local summer” at our house in Sea Girt. The crowds are gone and the weather is ideal for a family beach day. We love riding our beach cruisers around town, over-ordering Italian food from Joe Leone’s, taking our Chocolate Lab, Kona, to swim in the ocean, and simply rediscovering these experiences through the eyes of our little girl.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Sarah: The best part about being a mom is watching my daughter learn and grow. Makena just turned two and while it sounds cliché, she is learning new things every single day. I love coming home from a trying day at work and seeing her excitement over a simple new discovery. It helps me maintain perspective and realize just how lucky I am to be her mom.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Sarah: Being that we work in Asbury Park, many of my favorite businesses happen to be local to this area. We love to bring our daughter to experience all that Asbury has to offer, and we always stop for a bowl of clam chowder at The Bonney Read across the street from Salt. For adult nights out, we enjoy going to Taka for sushi and Reyla to enjoy a cocktail and a laugh with friends. As food-lovers in general, we try to enjoy at least one meal out as a family every weekend. Brunch happens to be our favorite meal, and we find ourselves frequenting Cardinal Provisions on Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park. Their delicious pastries can keep any two-year-old occupied long enough for parents to enjoy a nice meal. Closer to home, I always find myself relying on Chelsea at Sadie James in Fair Haven to keep my wardrobe up to date. She has great style, and I love being able to constantly stop in and check out her latest finds.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Sarah: Even though I am originally from New England, my family and I have lived in many different parts of New Jersey over the past decade. We currently live in Rumson and quickly fell in love with the beach-side community we have joined. In fact, I loved this area so much, I decided to launch our second location right down the street from my house in downtown Fair Haven. We still love visiting our old stomping grounds in Hoboken, and it happens to be one of our daughter’s favorite places, too. She loves the thrilling activity of the buses, trucks, and trains.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Sarah: Don’t constantly compare yourself to others in your field; stay true to who you are. Everyone is at a different stage in their business. It’s not a game of relativity, but you can use this as motivation to continue working hard. Also, be confident, but remain humble.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Sarah: Social media can make the life of others seem idyllic, but just remember that we are all moms trying to do the best we can! Life is rarely as picture-perfect as it may appear. Remember to make time for yourself, and focus on what makes you and your family truly happy.