Interview with Tina Roth Eisenberg, Creator of Swissmiss

Interview with Tina Roth Eisenberg, Creator of Swissmiss

Kayne Rourke
May 16, 2012

We enjoyed another lively design evening here in NYC with our May guest, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Creator of Swissmiss! Read more about our evening below, and be sure to check out our two "How-To" presentations - Alvaro's Pendant Lamp and Maxwell's Clementine Candle.

Interview Transcript

Maxwell:
First, let me give a big shout out to ABC, as well as Bottari wines. Every month they change the wine offering, so if you like it this month, ask them about it.
Earlier we had two How-To presentations. They'll be up tomorrow at 3:30 and 4:00pm on the site.

Exciting news this month on Apartment Therapy: it's kitchen & bath month! All of our writers are putting together their dream kitchens and baths in an inspiration board and linking to all of the items. They'll be about 100 up by the time we're done, so check it out.

Also, this week we launched our new Classified system. We originally launched in 2004 - it was super basic. Now, it's a bit more robust. Krrb is the new company we're partnering with. It has beautiful pics and great two-way conversations with buyers & sellers. You can find items locally very easily, it's very cool.

We also launched our new video series. Mon/Wed/Fri we'll be putting these up. They're super-short, 1-3 minute presentations. We're finding people around the country to be featured. The fellow featured today is an actor and a contractor. While we love blogging, with video you really get a sense of the person. It's the "Video" category on the left nav bar.

So, I'm delighted to introduce Tina Roth Eisenberg this month. Tina Roth Eisenberg is a Swiss designer gone NYC and is often referred to as swissmiss, her popular design blog. Besides running swissmiss, she organizes a monthly lecture/breakfast series called CreativeMornings, manages a collaborative workspace in DUMBO, is the force behind the simple, browser-based to-do app called TeuxDeux, and just recently launched Tattly, a design temporary tattoo shop.
Welcome, Tina.

Tina:
Thanks for having me.

Maxwell:
So I realize as we're getting started here that it's much more fun talking 1:1 after having had a long dinner at your place just last week. And of course, if any of you are wondering, we had fondue!

First off, I'd like to talk a bit about your training and how you ended up in NYC.

Tina:
Sure. Well I'm trained as a graphics designer, and in my last year of university, I had the opportunity to do a three-month internship in San Francisco. I was really excited to go, but what really got me about the states wasn't SF, but I actually spent three days in New York, and right away I felt like I was home. I completely fell in love with it and knew I had to live here.

Maxwell:
What made you feel so at home in New York? A lot of people don't feel that way when they first get here.

Tina:
It's true, and there was actually no reason why I would. I come from a small town of 3,000 people in Switzerland. This image you see up here is the view from my childhood home - green, rolling fields, and cows. I'm a country girl. But I talk fast, I walk fast - all very un-Swiss, but very much NYC.

So I arrived here on a Monday night, and I had one interview lined up. He already had a Swiss graphics designer, but after speaking for two minutes, we clicked, I got the job, and he told me to start right away. This was 1999 and it was still the boom. So the timing was perfect as well.

Maxwell:
Did your love affair with NYC end quickly.

Tina:
Not at all. After two weeks on the job he offered me a full-time position. I called my parents and told them my stay would be extended to at least a year. Well, it went beyond that a bit, but of course, the job was downtown, and I pretty much lost it on 9/11.

Maxwell:
Where were you living at the time?

Tina:
I had signed a lease four days before the towers fell. It was a one-bedroom in Brooklyn, and I could barely afford it as it is. Without a job I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

Maxwell:
So when I met you, you had your own design studio. It's hard to do that - did you decide to start that due to these circumstances?

Tina:
You know, a lot of us have plans. And we wait for the perfect time to do exactly what we want. I got my green card so I really had no excuse. A lot of women have a kid and that derails plans once again. But actually, it did the opposite for me. I started my studio soon after my daughter, my first child, was born.

Maxwell:
Wait, we skipped over the part where you met your husband. This is a great story!

Tina:
Ahh, okay. My husband and I met in an elevator. He tall and handsome, so I noticed him right away. It was also raining that day, so he had an umbrella. I had to act fast, so I asked him if, by any chance, he was walking towards the A train. He was. And nine months later, we were engaged.

Maxwell:
But tell them what happened the day after?

Tina:
Well you know, that first email after you meet someone is so crucial. The subject line from his email was, "It's still raining...." And then the body of the email said, "do you want to share an umbrella again?".

Maxwell:
It's a great story. So, you have your apartment, you've got your business started. And of course, your first child. Things grew and shifted as you went along. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Tina:
I was lucky in that I worked with great people at the beginning, and I learned a lot. I was determined to learn as much as I could about the web - remember, this was late '99 when I was starting, so things were still developing. So, I had a little web experience when I got to NYC, and that really helped.

At first I worked with a firm that was pretty well known (up there with Razorfish and March First). Having that kind of client work really jump-started my career.

Maxwell:
When I first discovered the swissmiss blog, I was immediately drawn to the highly curated products and images. At the time, it was so much more visual than other sites. In your day job you focused on numbers and data flow, so this was really the opposite.

Tina:
Yes, this definitely was my outlet, a way for me to express my creative side.
Remember, there was no Tumblr at the time (2005) - if there was I probably would have done that. I really started the blog because I'm terrible with remembering names. I'm very organized, but not with names. So, I really used the blog as my own personal Wikipedia. And it just grew from there.

Maxwell:
When was it clear to you that you weren't the only one looking at the site?

Tina:
My friend told me to check my stats. And once you start doing that, it becomes very addictive.

Maxwell:
How did you come up with the name swissmiss?

Tina:
Everyone here called me swissmiss. It was a pretty easy decision.

SLIDES

This is an image of the Swiss mountains. I love these cows (they have very fluffy ears). My town had 3,000 people, so it was a very protected existence.