amy azzaritomiscellaneous

very special news: welcome to the team, amy!

by Amy Azzarito

This morning I wanted to take a moment to share some news that means more to me than I can truly put into words. After a year of planning and preparing, Amy Azzarito is joining Aaron and me at Design*Sponge as our first full-time team member. Before I move on to the next sentence I should explain that between that last sentence and this one I took a full minute to stop and smile- this news means so much to me and to the future of Design*Sponge that I can just barely contain my excitement- and some happy tears.

For the past six years I’ve been the only full-time editorial team member at D*S. As much as I loved working on the site, each year I found myself saying “I think I’m going to close the site this year. I just don’t know what I want to do.” Everyone I told thought I was crazy (or lying), but after all those years of working alone at home I had lost some of my passion and direction. I still loved Design*Sponge, our readers and our team of contributors just as much as I always had, but something inside me hadn’t quite clicked in terms of seeing what the real future of the site was.

But that started to change after I worked with Amy on the Design By The Book video series. Amy was working at the New York Public Library and working with her and the team there was, to this day, one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. Working on videos, imagining new projects- it seemed like creative doors were starting to open that I hadn’t even imagined.

Over the course of the next year Amy joined us as a freelancer at Design*Sponge and quickly went above and beyond her duties with Past & Present to help me brainstorm and imagine all the fun things Design*Sponge could be in the future. It was all those excited conversations about D*S books, videos and events that really made me see the future of the site and re-discover my passion for things. It became clear early on that Amy would play a big role in the future of the site and I started planning (and saving) so we could offer her a full-time job.

This week is Amy’s first week working with us full-time and we’ve already hit the ground running. What does this mean for those of you reading? It means that things around here are about to get exciting! Our first big project together is doing a site-wide audit of the content we run everyday to make sure that each column and every post is the best it possibly can be. D*S has grown so much over the past year and we want to spend the next few months making sure that we take all your comments, emails and suggestions into effect to improve and strengthen everything we publish here. So stay tuned for improvements on some of your favorites and a few new additions along the way. This year is really about focusing on quality for us and making sure that every word and picture is the best it can be.

In addition, Amy and I are finishing up the D*S site redesign along with our tech gurus and will be launching that at the same time as the D*S Book pre-sale announcement. We have some AMAZING ideas (I can’t wait to tell you guys!!) and contests to launch in conjunction with both things later this spring (look for both towards the end of April). We’re also going to be planning a series of crafting/making events for this spring/summer so stay tuned for dates and information on those soon.

Having an extra set of (super talented) hands on board is going to mean we have more time to really enjoy and expand what we do here at D*S. So stay tuned for lots of fun this year! So….Welcome to the team, Amy!

And from Aaron, Amy and myself- thank you to everyone reading. Without you we wouldn’t get to wake up and do what we love every day and we’re so thankful for your support. The three of us are going to do everything we can to make sure D*S is the best it can be. xo, grace

*The images above are from our surprise team dinner last night at Per Se. We told Amy we wanted to take her out to celebrate but didn’t tell her where until we walked around the corner from the entrance. It was such an amazing night of food, ideas and celebration. Thank you to everyone at Per Se for making Amy’s special menu and for letting us peek inside the kitchen. It was truly a night we’ll always remember.

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  • Congratulations design*sponge team. This website means a lot to me, and it is an essential part of my day. In fact, I would give up my coffee before I would give up this inspiring website, and I love coffee! Glad to hear you are doing what you need to do to stay inspired and and congrats again for hiring such a talented collaborator.

    • Thank you, Amy. As someone who’s desperately clinging to a cup of coffee for survival right now, I take that as the highest compliment ;)


  • Congrats to all three of you. The Design by the Book feature so inspired me that I tried to implement a similar idea in our small town (so far unsuccessful due to funding, but always hopeful!). So many of us understand the difficulties of working on your own. It’s amazing how much one plus one truly does equal more than two and I am so looking forward to see what happens with your combined creative energy.

  • agreed with angie and amy. I too look forward to my mornings with D*S and that is alot of pressure for a one woman show! But I too find this post particularily refreshingly honest. I am a retailer and go through those same emotions about 4 times a year (be doing this since ’93) and in a smaller town we are the shoppe that everyone looks to for their inspiration….. we are an oasis for the people who frequent out shop. as D*S is for all of your readers. Sooo…. CONGRATULATIONS and good luck in your new chapter and enjoy.

  • Congrats to all of you! I’m a bit of a lurker here, and have been for, oh, 6 years now… its been amazing to watch you grow and change. I never get sick of this blog, and I will admit it is the ONLY one that I don’t get sick of, and thats because you work so hard at staying fresh.

  • I have enjoyed and relished your posts since I first started reading. I am so happy that you have found new inspiration and a collaborative partner to ignite your fire. It is so hard to find. Everyone loses their spark now and again, but please don’t ever, ever shut down this site!

  • You can never close down this site! it is the only thing that keeps me alive at my finance job. One day i hope to make a move to do something as spectacular as you have in creating this site!

  • Congratulations. As someone who has owned a small business before and ran it on my own I know the trials and endlessness of it all. I always wanted a partner. Someone who was as passionate about it as me and could help attend to all the little nit picky details that I would see before me everyday. I congratulate you both on your great fortune to have found one another. May you have an awesome and creatively abundant time together.

  • Kudos! Love! Fabulosity! I’m beaming reading this – can’t imagine how it feels for you both! I’m so grateful for this site, as it is a delicious mix of the eclectic and sublime and is a well-deserved treat during my morning tea break. Just delighted that more good things are ahead. Love from Scotland!

  • As an kitchen and bath designer I have found your site to be very useful in my business. It’s my go-to site to see emerging trends and resources and I appreciate the business advice. I like how you keep things fresh with different posts…never stop growing! Thank you Design Sponge and congrats! Will you be coming to Minneapolis for your book tour?

  • I’m always inspired by D*S posts and now I’m moved by the sense of community here. Congratulations on your new direction. I look forward to us all growing and creating together!

  • Congrats to Amy, and to the spongekeeters! (I was trying to think of a group that had three members a la the Musketeers, but somehow that just didn’t work as well as I wanted).

    I was also happy to see Amy (as well as Jessica Pigza) in Marilyn Johnson’s account of the “design by the book” series in her great “This Book is Overdue!” but I was heartily disappointed that she didn’t credit design*sponge’s involvement in the project.

    I am excited as a devoted reader that having Amy with Grace and Aaron full time will lead to more inspiring projects like that one. Cheers!

  • Dear Design Sponge Team, dear Grace, AC and Amy, I am so very happy for you- congratulations .Here is to a bright an fantastic future for all of you.I think what you do is great and fabulous and I love your site – so I am so very happy for you all.Looks like you had a lovely evening ! Proost, Prosit and Chin chin to all of you from a cold and dark England.

  • The reason D*S is the only blog I check daily is because it is REAL. Real homes, real DIY inspiration, real people, really brilliant.

    Grace – hearing about your struggles over the years was so refreshing. Sharing your private doubts about D*S is a comfort to us fellow freelancers/creatives (and everyone else too) who harbor the same doubts about our own paths. Thanks for being so open. I’m so very happy for your success.

    Amy – congratulations! Please continue to kick ass.

  • Congratulations Amy! I am so stoked to see what the D*S team has planned for us avid readers in the future! The Design By The Book video project with the NY Public Library was one of my all-time faves. Everything is looking bright and shiny!

  • Immediately before reading this post I emailed DS to a friend with a note saying you’d had an especially creative week…and then I read that you’ve just added power and time and someone else who can collect and bring inspiration to us. Congratulations on growing in such a smart and strategic way.

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