Lauren Ho, travel editor of Wallpaper* magazine, catches up with Cornelia de Ruiter, founder of Homewings.
It takes a certain amount of spirit and determination to trade in a career as a lawyer to work in the interior design industry. But having done just that, Cornelia de Ruiter is now shaking up the world of home makeovers with Homewings, an online platform that pairs customers with experienced interior designers who will create a concept, complete with a shopping list and instructions, for as little as £199. Born in the Netherlands and having lived Brussels, Dubai, Barcelona, Italy and the US, de Ruiter is now based in London and loves packing her bags and setting up shop in a new place for two weeks- or even two years.
What has been the most unexpected experience you’ve had on your business travels?
The time when I was supposed to be on a three-day conference and accidentally got diverted during a lunch stroll and somehow ended up sailing a catamaran for the first time in my life.
How has travel impacted your life and your business?
My husband is American and having lived in many different places in the world, I have a very international family and circle of friends, so travel is an integral part of my life. Luckily my three kids love it as much as I do and all travel really well.
What are the three things that help you achieve a good work-life balance while on the road?
Leaving to get to the airport on time so that I can enjoy a glass of bubbles before I board, being able to get my work done during flights, and bringing my running shoes with me so that I can explore my location and blow off some steam at the same time.
Describe your travel style in three words
Prepared, but spontaneous
What travel destination has been the most important to your business and what have you learnt about it?
I have a house in Mallorca that arguably has been the most important travel destination to my business, because being able to escape there has allowed me to keep my sanity! It sounds dramatic, but stepping away from the day-to-day craziness is often how I make the best decisions for my business.
What are the most important factors in a good piece of luggage?
That it’s light and that it fits easily in the overhead baggage compartment.
What is the one surprising thing that is always in your carry-on luggage?
Pliers! I like to travel with some craft supplies, so I always carry pliers that mostly end up getting confiscated at security.
What is the ultimate packing tip?
I always travel with a silk robe: it takes up zero space and it’s so nice to have your own robe with you.
What makes a trip a journey?
When travelling, whether for work or for pleasure, it’s so important to be in the moment and enjoy the present. I often remind myself to slow down, as that is when you make the most meaningful connections with places and people.
Where are you off to next?
Mallorca of course!