(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator. The teams will pitch their ideas on September 21 during a “Demo Day” at Scripps Networks Interactive. For more details, click here. Registration deadline is September 16.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“Just because it’s small does not mean it cannot be luxurious,” Isabelle LaRue says in reference to apartments that individuals lease.
After an initial start as a building engineer and later as a market researcher for a pharmaceutical company, LaRue is focused on helping individuals bring their own ideas and tastes to the places they call home.
The native of a community near Montreal lived in Chicago and New York City before landing in Los Angeles. It was during her time in the Big Apple that LaRue decided to try her hand at making her 450 square foot studio apartment reflect her needs and tastes.
“I came-up with ideas to customize the space without changing the walls,” she says. The work started soon after she had taken a job with a Public Broadcasting System station, so she was able to combine her new career in video production with her previous work as an engineer.
“I posted my first video on YouTube in 2011,” LaRue says. Today, she has about 127,000 subscribers and is approaching 10 million views. You can view her channel here.
In one of the most recent shows, LaRue explains how she setup her living room in only 75 square feet of space.
“You’ll see how I dealt with not so pretty wall-to-wall carpet and how I decorated the walls, including how I added a lot of color and texture to a big wall without painting it, putting wallpaper or making any holes in it,” she wrote in describing the video.
LaRue is particularly proud of the way that she approaches each video.
“They actually show you every step,” she says. “Others skip over some steps. I give tips and hints.”
LaRue also has a fondness for balconies, a part of an apartment that she says is typically underused.
“You can transform them into a beautiful oasis,” she explains.
As far as “The Works,” LaRue says she was recruited to participate, and the timing was right. It also provided the opportunity to explore a partnership with Scripps Networks Interactive, sponsor of the four media companies.
“I was ready to move to a bigger project,” she explained. That project is part of the tiny house movement, but with a twist. LaRue is developing her ideas for a house that would be in the range of 325 square feet, but have the ambience of a trendy Manhattan condo.
She notes that people have enjoyed small living structures for years – recreational vehicles as well as mobile homes.
As far as participating in “The Works,” LaRue, who is sometimes referred to as the “love child of MacGyver and Martha Stewart,” says it has provided a great structure to move her ideas along.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” she adds.