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Q&A: Tiffani Thiessen and Lonni Paul

By
Lonni Paul Tiffani Thiessen

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It's been a busy year for White Collar actress Tiffani Thiessen and Design Star finalist Lonni Paul. Since meeting on HGTV's Design Star in 2009 (where Lonni designed a room for Tiffani and her husband Brady Smith's home) the pair have gone on to launch their own eco-friendly and modern infant's furniture line PetitNest, which aims to bring style into children's rooms across the country with a range including dressers, cribs, gliders and bedding. We recently caught up with the pair to chat about PetitNest, motherhood (Tiffani welcomed daughter Harper Renn earlier this year) and the new season of White Collar!

You met on an episode of Design Star. How did your relationship evolve from that to starting a business together?
Tiffani: "My husband and I fell in love with the work Lonni did on the guest bedroom, which I'm sure everybody saw. It was gorgeous and beautiful and we ended up hiring her to come back and do more work on our house in our living room and kitchen, and eventually we went into the nursery because I was pregnant at the time. When we were designing it, we saw that there wasn't a lot of furniture out there that was aesthetically appealing to our taste, so we thought, 'Why don't we start a line?!' That was how it was born!"

How would you describe PetitNest to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
Lonni: "I think it is modern, classic and timeless... For me, I don't like it when you go to a house and it has a nice design style and you open the door to the nursery and it is completely off from the rest of the home. You should be able to have sophistication and nice design in a child's room also, and the child should be able to grow with the style in their room and the pieces should last a long time. We both thought some of these pieces could be used in a dining room or even your own bedroom. It's nice when the pieces can live a long time in the home they are purchased for; that's part of being eco-friendly."

Lonni, you obviously have a design background. Tiffani, do you have any past experience in the area?
Tiffani: "I've always been a fan of certain magazines and I was a fan of Design Star the show as well. It's more on the fanbase of things that I'm in that world. The expertise, of course, goes on Lonni's side."
Lonni: "We really have the same design aesthetic so it's been very easy working with each other because we seem to gravitate towards the same things. We really haven't had an issue of , 'Ew I don't like that'. That's been really interesting, that we really seem to gel on all the designs and where the line should be going."
Tiffani: "We're very much alike in many ways and any differences that we do have complement each other."

It's just the two of you working on PetitNest at the minute. How do you find the time to juggle it with your families and other jobs?
Tiffani: "We don't know! [In the] middle of the night! We're nuts! It's been really hard. At the very beginning of it, we were literally 3,000 miles away from each other so we were Skyping each other all the time. I was shooting [White Collar] and she has a crazy amount of clients so it was hard trying to find time. Towards the end, Lonni was really taking on a lot of it because I had my new baby and was in New York [for White Collar]. She took on a lot of the work herself and I give her a lot of credit."
Lonni: "It's just the physical part that you kind of have to do because nobody else can do it for you, like the running to the quality control. It's interesting when you start a business because you think it will be great to design this awesome furniture but the logistics of it all, that's where it really came in hard, fast and furious - maintaining that quality control and making sure everything is where it has to be so that it gets done on time, that was the part that was quite overwhelming and difficult. I'm glad we made it through!"

Can you see PetitNest expanding in the future?
Lonni: "Everyone who has bought a crib will have their conversion kit available to them soon and so if they want to convert it and use it longer - which we hope they do - they can. We'll also have twin beds and different pieces that we will add to the line."
Tiffani: "And we'll do a playroom series next year too."

Tiffani, you've only just had a baby, but does being around all this baby furniture make you think about a possible second child?
"No! Not yet. I mean, we will definitely have more kids but not right now. My daughter is only a little over four months so this is a special time for us to have with her. I don't want to think about another kid right now. I look at Lonni all the time and she has twins and I'm like, 'How the heck did you have twins?!'"

What do you think of all the pressure on Hollywood mums to snap back into shape?
Tiffani: "Here's the thing, if you take care of yourself and exercise and eat properly that's the most important thing and the weight will come off. It took ten months to gain all that weight, it will take ten months to a year to get it off and I'm not putting too much pressure on myself. A lot of it has come off already; I only have a little bit left and it will come off when it is supposed to. I'm nursing and breastfeeding so I have to be very cautious of not doing any crash dieting because I have to feed my child."

What's next for you guys with the company or individually?
Tiffani: "I have a TV show, Lonni has a list of clients in her interior design business and we both have kids. Starting this company has taken a lot of our time so we're quite busy at the moment. We do want to expand and we are already thinking of what we want to do next year, like a playroom series. It will be fun; we've a lot on our plates!"

Finally, Tiffani, can you give us any hints about what we can expect when White Collar returns?!
"I can't give you any hints! What are you talking about?! I will say that our second half of the season that starts in January is just as exciting as it always is. I will also say that you will see more of me because I was pregnant before and kind of missing the first part of the season because I was in California and couldn't be in New York. You will see a lot more of me in the second half!"

More information on all Tiffani and Lonni's products can be found on the official PetitNest website at PetitNest.com

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