One of the all-time EHD greats, Brady Tolbert, has moved on and is no longer with us. This post might be a sad one for many of you (as it was for me) but you have to remind yourself of what I do all the time: “Brady is not actually dead, he’s just not working for EHD anymore.” I can still see him for lunch/drinks, invite him to EHD events, I can touch his flesh and it will in fact be warm and I can even watch his life on social media. That’s the good news. But after five wonderful years, this guy has found an opportunity that he was ready for and I am extremely happy for him (I promise…I wouldn’t write a big FAREWELL TO BRADY post if I was upset in any way, I’m far too transparent for that).
Yes, I could have gone all mushy, but I thought it would be EVEN MORE FUN if we took a trip down Tolbert memory lane. Shall we? Seven years ago (I’m not sure exactly when, though) while Orlando and I were shopping at the Rose Bowl for a magazine shoot, this young Brady stopped us and asked to take a picture. He was a big fan of the show and said some really nice things before letting us go on our way to shop.
A few months later. he applied for a job and after Ginny did the first round of interviews, she said “I think we found our person.” At that time, Orlando no longer worked with me (he went out on his own and has obviously created an incredible brand and we are still GREAT friends) and the company was just Ginny and I. Crazy…such simpler times. I interviewed him and I actually remembered him from the flea market which is rare because a lot of people come up to me there for photos (of which I welcome and love).
I learned in that interview that he was raised Mormon, too, and I’ll go ahead and say that I love a former mormon (and a current one). Being raised a very specific religion informs a lot about a person and I personally find that Mormons are extremely hard working, resourceful, trustworthy and so *fetching* friendly. He was obviously qualified in other ways—he was an architecture school grad, had a variety of other usable skills, had so much style, plus Ginny and I just really liked him. And when you have a super small company working out of your basement, “liking” your team was non-negotiable.
We had so much fun together (GINNY I MISS YOU, TOO, AND NOW REALIZE I NEVER WROTE A POST LIKE THIS FOR YOU even though you also worked for me for 5 years…you are still missed). And while his job was “assistant,” he really helped in all aspects of the business because he’s the type of guy that will just do anything, with a good attitude. (HOT TIP: The key to success is working hard with a smile).
So many walls were painted. So many pieces of furniture were carried up those 32 stairs. We did everything from soup to nuts before we had a larger team and more help.
But to make up for it, we had a lot of drinks together. I feel like I even taught that man how to order a proper drink (being raised LDS, we are behind on the whole “learning to drink” thing). When he first started working for me, he was ordering rum and cokes or long island ice teas, and by the end, in Portland, he was making us old fashions. I’m a super good influence on my staff.
The team grew and grew, starting with Sara who actually came about a year after Brady (Sara is still with me and now our director of photography and has vowed to NEVER EVER LEAVE and you try to poach her and I’ll hurt you), then Mel (still designing in LA and doing a fantastic job), and Jess (still here! and has also vowed her eternal loyalty). The last year has brought on SIX others, but Brady was OUR GUY. Up until recently, he was the only guy. He was serious when I needed him to be, but could also match my work energy and need for fun. He was ALWAYS down for a good time.
We started taking team trips for bonding (and “work”) to Vegas and Roundtop, Texas, of course.
We spent two weeks in New York working our ASSES off for the Samsung project (where we made over four insane spaces in 12 days) and I have no idea how I would have done it without him.
He wore SO many hats at one point as the editorial director, art director, writer, designer and general COO. That was the year I decided to hire 5 people because well, both of us were going to have mental breakdowns. I told him over and over how I would die without him, but now with my team of awesome people, I know that I actually won’t.
And this year he KILLED it at the Portland project—a design install and shoot that almost broke us (physically). He was up there for what felt like months, more than anyone else, and he was so dedicated to the project, shooting from 8 am to 8 pm (when they lost light).
By now, you’ve probably already asked yourself 12 times “wait, but what happened? where did he go?!?” Here goes:
Brady and I had been talking about his next steps, career-wise and while I REALLY wanted him to work for himself and have me hire him as a producer on big jobs (thus giving him freedom to do his own thing) he wasn’t ready to make that step. When he told me that he got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, my first thought was honestly “that’s amazing!” forgetting that that meant he would leave me. We were both crying and he said something like”it just feels like a breakup” and I said (or thought, I don’t really remember) that this is a Go* Damn SUCCESS STORY.
To have someone of his ambition work for an individual person, let alone someone with nary a work-org policy, for five years is actually incredible. It says a lot about both of us. But I knew he was ready for a change. We all get that itch. He felt that he had reached the point that he could here without actually being Emily Henderson and while I was trying to figure out how to propel him within my company to a role that would excite him, he got scooped up. He felt TERRIBLE but I assured him that him quitting was actually a relief because the only thing that stressed me out more than having to fill his many shoes was having him not totally happy here. He’s my friend. I want him to be happy.
So my Dear Brady.
To say you will be missed is quite an understatement. But what’s even more difficult to express is how much I have always and will always appreciate and value your support, hard work, work ethic, good attitude, assistance, advice, comedy, general consult and friendship over the last five years. Did I mention support and advice??? We really guerilla-styled our way into digital media and sponsored content and I’m only now realizing what a good job we do at it and so much of that is because of you. I feel like we helped raise each other in this insane world of social media. It actually feels like WAY more than 5 years.
When you started, we worked out of my basement on an hourly wage without any benefits. You’ve seen me pumping breast milk (multiple places, multiple years), you’ve helped me pick out outfits for shoots, I’ve seen you wear 500 neck bandanas and go from never having worked out a day in your life to becoming quite a muscular gym rat. A lot of life moments shared together. While the company has grown up with lots of fancy benefits and a pretty office, the vibe is still the same…except we’ll miss your energy.
In short, you will be missed, but myself and the EHD crew will be watching your success (and cheering you on).
The good news? I have an amazing group of smart, creative people who are so excited for 2019 and ready to step into that man’s shoes. I honestly have not felt one ounce of anxiety (sadness yes, anxiety, no) since he gave notice because I feel so supported by them and excited about this year with the people here. So, if you are like “Um, is she going to be okay?” the answer is yes. As you may have seen, we hit 2019 running with our first big team retreat full of 18 hours of brainstorming. And yes, we missed him terribly, but that didn’t stop us from killing it in the idea department and drinking a lot of bourbon.
So Brady, much like Orlando and Ginny (and Mel and Bonnie), this separation only means that I’m no longer your boss…I’m now your actual friend.
(And P.S….Bobby Berk, if you don’t treat my friend Brady well, I’ll ruin you.)
Bottom row, left to right: His refreshed living room, the bedroom reveal with the DIY tufted headboard that broke the internet, and the time he turned his three-year-old nieces bedroom into the Scandi inspired room of her dreams.