You might not know it, but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes tech required to keep Homepolish up and running. With tech teamers Kate Haberbusch and Peter Glennon, we talk about everything from work life to dating life.
You both have been at Homepolish for quite some time. Do you remember meeting each other?
Kate: “I feel like we’re on a dating show! We started around the same time about 2 years ago… When I started, I was on the marketing team, but we shared the same table as the developers. Peter sat two seats over from me. I don’t remember our first meeting… but he did think I had been at the company for a long time.”
Peter: “I do remember lunch on my first day… I feel like Kate must’ve made some super inappropriate joke. I thought it was because she had had two drinks, but I quickly realized she does that all the time.”
Oh right, your first lunch at the company is legendary!
Peter: “Yeah… for reasons that I still don’t understand, we had a free lunch at Mother’s Ruin that day. We all went down early, like 12 or 1, so I had been at the offices for all of 2 hours. Drinks were served, and I was legitimately unsure if I was supposed to take one. Maybe it was a test! I waited until most everyone took a drink before helping myself. Some of the stories I heard that afternoon were, well, enlightening.”
Kate: “Also at one point Peter went to the bathroom, and Stephanie said something about being a ginger, and you came out from the bathroom, saying, ‘WHAT did you say about being a ginger?’”
Peter: “I don’t remember that.”
Kate: “You were probably blacked out.”
How have you two grown in the company since those early months?
Kate: “I have a marketing background, so I was initially hired to do social media and PR. My role quickly expanded to a general marketing manager role, and I realized I thrive in project management. After a while, I was looking for a change, and I spoke to Noa about it. Originally, the idea was that I would be a project manager across the company, and the first project I was assigned was in tech. At first, I didn’t think I was qualified because I don’t know how to code, but as it turns out, a lot of product managers are non-technical. There is no traditional track in schools to become a product manager, so people come from all sorts of backgrounds.”
“Before, my role was to get people to the site, but now my role is once people are there, getting them to sign up for hours. It’s amazing to be in a company that is invested in your professional growth and provides you with the ability to test your strengths.”
Peter: “I guess my shift hasn’t been as radical. At school, I majored in Computer Science. After a year of working as a junior engineer at a legal software consultancy, I decided to enter the Flatiron School, a three-month intensive web-development program.”
“At the end of that, I was looking for work, and I was browsing AngelList, when I stumbled on Homepolish. When I was looking on their site, I found a former client who happened to work at the Flatiron School. I literally walked over to her and asked for an introduction to the company. The team has grown so much since I first joined as a software engineer. Initially I was on a team of three, and that even shrank to just 2 at one point. Now, we’re at 9 developers.”
It’s amazing to be in a company that is invested in your professional growth and provides you with the ability to test your strengths.
Beyond professional growth, do you think you’ve grown in your personal style thanks to Homepolish?
Kate: “I was actually drawn to Homepolish because of its mission. A couple years before Homepolish, I had worked at a design ecommerce startup . At that time, as someone in my late 20s, I happened to have a pretty well-designed apartment. At one point, I had a holiday party, and my friends were just floored by my apartment. It occurred to me that not many in their transient 20s had something like that, so I began thinking about how we could open design up to a younger generation. I even toyed with the idea of starting a company on my own, and I researched competitors. Very randomly (perhaps serendipitously), I got an introduction to Lisa Bubbers [the director of marketing] and I started maybe 4-5 months after that.”
Peter: “I am completely the opposite. Before Homepolish, I thought that design was for people who were 45, and had money, and own houses… until then, you just have a bed, a place to make ends meet. Just a few months into working here, being bombarded by all these gorgeous pictures of Homepolish projects, I began to realize just how big of an impact interior design can have on your life. When I moved into my current 1-bedroom apartment, my first apartment on my own, I literally had a mattress and a bedside table. That’s it. I purchased time with one of our designers, Marissa Bero. I told her everything I needed and asked her for help on sourcing. It was incredibly successful. Within a month, I had a space that was spartan but definitely habitable. I guess my developing design sense is minimal. I don’t want to be weighed down with too much stuff.”
Before Homepolish, I thought that design was for people who were 45, and had money, and own houses… Just a few months into working here, I began to realize just how big of an impact interior design can have on your life.
So when you two get places of your own, what do you imagine?
Peter: “It would be somewhere out in the woods, where I couldn’t see my neighbors. Not too big. Oh, and it would need some sort of automatic chef-robot thing.”
Kate: “I’m leaning toward the idea of a house in the Catskills, like the Woodstock area, but I can’t be far from a big city. My dream situation would be a vacation home upstate and an apartment in the city. I would want to build a new home (well, not physically myself), but construct a new modern space in nature… where I could see the stars.”
Back to the office… Can you pinpoint a favorite professional benchmark you’ve both hit?
Peter: “The client proposal functionality on the site, through which a designer writes up a proposal for a potential client. I more-or-less led development on that, working on it full-time for about a month (alongside David, my fellow engineer). I view it largely as ‘my’ project, and now it’s a significant part of the Homepolish process.”
Kate: “That was the first product that I managed, that I carried out from ideation to the finished product. I’d have to agree with Peter–that was one of my favorite moments.”
Peter: “Kate saved us a ton of time on that project. It was so helpful to have one point-person on the team.”
Kate: “Tech works with basically every department. Weighing everyone’s wants and knowing what’s a priority for the company is the most difficult part of the job.”
And how about a favorite memory of each other?
Peter: “Not many things come to mind that are shareable…”
Kate: “How about when I tried to set you up with my friend and I went and refereed the date?”
Peter: “That was fun… though nothing ever came of it.”
Why? Because Kate was there?
Kate: “What?! I didn’t WANT to go; he MADE me!”
Peter: “No, YOU made me go on this pseudo date… Ugh, can we not include this?”
Kate: “I am a GREAT date referee, maybe more so than when I’m on my own dates.”
Do you have a whistle for these referee dates?
Kate: “Oh yes, black and white shirt, flags for penalties. I’ve always said Peter is the little brother I always wanted…”
Peter: “Oh my god…”
Kate: “…and he once told me that I’m the older sister that he already has one of. He also looks like my 7 year-old nephew. He has the same mannerisms… but he hates that I say that. You know what? Every day is a good memory with Peter.”