Alice Garbarini Hurley: You use such smart language on your site relating to the milk name – “always fresh and never sour,” a Skim Milk column about minimalist design, a Dog Milk site for modern dog lovers and a jewelry site called Adorn Milk. How did you arrive at Design Milk for your online magazine and blog?
Jaime Derringer: It started as a joke, but I took on the idea that “D” (as in vitamin D) is for “design.” So Design Milk is your daily dose of vitamin D (design). It’s completely ridiculous, and I think that’s what makes it so perfect and memorable! I started Design Milk in 2006, compiling my favorite modern designs from around the web. Now it reaches millions of readers across the globe through various channels, focusing on innovative and unique designs and the newest and hottest designers.
AGH: Where were you raised, and where is Design Milk based?
JD: I grew up in southern New Jersey, outside of Philly, with summers spent at the Jersey Shore. Now I’m in Southern California with my family, but everyone who works for Design Milk works remotely. It would be nice to have an office one day… A girl can dream. But for now,
I spend a lot of time in my PJs and that’s OK with me!
AGH: What did you study in college?
JD: I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, where I got a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies. I focused on Japanese art, culture and language.
AGH: Were your parents sophisticated design-wise?
JD: Not really. However, we shopped at IKEA quite a bit and my mom liked contemporary design, so I think my early exposure to Swedish design somehow stuck with me.
AGH: Design Milk is a design and style lover’s dream. Once you start reading, it’s hard to stop. Which parts of Design Milk are most popular?
JD: On Design Milk, the Architecture and Interior Design categories are definitely the most popular. People also really enjoy reading our monthly Where I Work column, where we interview designers about their creative spaces.
AGH: And what about Dog Milk and Adorn Milk?
JD: Dog Milk and Adorn Milk are separate from Design Milk, but you can reach them through our home page. Adorn Milk is a shop that sells modern jewelry, from architectural rings to rope bracelets, for both women and men.
AGH: You have so much content to manage; it must change constantly.Do you have regular staff meetings?
JD: I have weekly and monthly calls with Design Milk’s contributors and freelancers. We have a lot going on at all times. I prefer to work with people who can work independently so that I’m not constantly emailing and calling them to follow up, but weekly and monthly check-ins are important.
AGH: What is the criteria for artists and designers who want to submit to the site? Any hints? Which sections get the most submissions?
JD: We like submissions to include a few sample images and a decent description of the project. We also prefer a link to more images or an image download to be included. It’s faster for us to evaluate submissions with sample imagery, a description and a website. We receive submissions in all our categories from all over the world, but I’d say that products are the most plentiful, followed by architecture. We’d love to see more diversity – more fashion and style/lifestyle and art submissions. We’ve been reporting more on technology and design, so we hope to continue to grow those categories too.
AGH: What are some items that sold like hotcakes [or in the spirit of this interview, steaming hot milks] after being featured on Design Milk?
JD: I don’t know what sells once it’s been featured because we don’t track sales, but I often hear from designers thanking me for including their products and telling me they secured a manufacturer or got some sales after being featured. I love those emails; it’s what drives us to continue doing what we do. Our jewelry shop, Adorn Milk, has a lot of popular items. We sell quite a lot of minimalist earrings by AgJc and bottleopener rings by OBJCTS. We just added jewelry from Jenny Wu to the shop, and we’re getting a great response.
AGH: Is it free for readers to subscribe?
JD: Yes, totally free! And it’s completely free for interior designers, product makers and architects to submit ideas for us to consider featuring.
AGH: Word has it you collect milk cartons. Where do you get them and where do you keep them?
JD: I do. Not real ones though. That might get kinda gross after a while… I collect glass and ceramic ones, and keep them in my office. It’s silly, but you’d be
surprised how many there are out there. I even have one that’s cast from a real milk carton.
AGH: Do you have a fridge stocked with milk? Only half kidding about that.
JD: Ha! Nope. Since I work at home, I have a Keurig and some half and half in the fridge. It’s not super glamorous.
AGH: Last, but definitely not least, you’ve added artist to your resume.
JD: Yes! Aside from running the “Milk” websites, I draw and paint on the side. The first style, which I’ve called Asian Studies, is inspired by my study of Japanese language and culture. These works are usually minimalist, with bold, black brushstrokes that feel inspired by calligraphy. The other body of work explores layering, geometry and color, creating a chaotic cosmos of shapes inspired by everything from undersea creatures to party decor to graphic art of the ‘90s. I’m still not sure what to call this series, but it’s not for the faint of heart!
Skim, low-fat, whole, almond, cashew or soy milk?
I don’t actually drink milk, but I would probably go for vanilla almond or soy milk. I do like a soy cappuccino.
Did you like milk growing up?
I think so! But only with cookies or cereal.
A giant mess. I’m way overdue for an office makeover!
Favorite restaurants in Southern California?
We love burritos just about anywhere in SoCal. We go to a few local places in San Diego like Miguel’s, the Brigantine, Bronx Pizza. And I like Gjelina when I’m in L.A.
Home décor color of choice?
In your art?
Source for chunky necklaces you like?
My own shop, Adorn Milk, of course!
Lily or orchid.
Essential oils, especially lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint and patchouli. It depends on my mood. Sometimes, I just mix them all up. I usually order them from Amazon. I’m an Amazon Prime junkie. I can’t help myself!
Read real newspapers or on smartphone?
Magazine you love?
Best vacation spot to unwind?
Beach,desert, mountain … anywhere surrounded by nature.
Wine or beer?
Vodka or tequila, please.
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