Eddie Ross is a modest man.
Despite legions of fans, a social media following as large as a city, millions of readers and famous friends, Ross, a former reality TV star famous in the culinary and interior design scene, compresses life down to its bare bones. He’s an everyman from Pennsylvania. It just so happens he’s an everyman with a camera constantly in his face.
But this is Ross’s charm. As east coast editor of “House Beautiful,” and a contributor to “Vogue,” “Woman’s Day,” “Family Circle” and other esteemed magazines, Ross has made a living off living on a budget – then teaching others the same. His famous style dubbed “Modern Mix” combines upscale chic with yard-sale type finds, a design niche that resonates with TV producers, interior designers, restoration artists and home owners alike.
So when Ross, along with his partner Jaithan Kochar, stopped in Bristol, TN., this past October for a book signing and tour of House Dressing, a 350-plus item consignment shop, its no surprise that a flock of men, woman, design professionals and more stopped in to nibble on hors d’oeuvres, drink wine and sit for a design symposium with Ross.
“His book is all about what we do,” said Landy Mathes, manager of House Dressing. “And to have a stylist that’s done all what he’s done… well people like that don’t come to Bristol everyday. It’s exciting.”
His keen eye for detail and down home personality has propelled him to the east coast editor of House Beautiful, a guess spot on HDTV’s show “Top Design” and a longtime friendship with style icon Martha Stewart, a mentor who offer Ross his first job.
In fact, it was during a chance meeting with Stewart that she recommended Ross attend the famed Culinary Institute of America before he embarked on a career in the home and dining style arena.
“She told me go to this school, and I’ll hire you. So I went, graduated, and reached out. She stuck with her word…after I cut my hair,” Ross said laughing. “It was amazing.”
Stewart knew what she was talking about. Ross alma mater is a factory line of famous chefs, a school that produced luminaries such as Anthony Bourdain; Steve Ells, founder and CEO of Chipotle; “Iron Chef” judge Michael Symon and guest David Burke; recurring “Today Show” guest Rocco DiSpirito; Food Network’s Michael Chiarello; James Beard Award winner John Besh and dozens more of household names. Ross took a similar trajectory as his classmates.
Ross practices what he preaches too. Decked out in a cream blazer with brown suede elbow patches, complimented with a pocket square, nice jeans, collared shirt, and ornate slip on shoes, Ross looked like he’s on set for a TV show. But true to his brand, Ross laughs when he’s complimented on his dress. He opens up his blazer, showing off the label inside. It’s H&M, a clothing line chain aimed at fresh looks but at TJ Maxx prices.
Today, after a 20-plus year career touting brands for others, Ross has done something magical along the way: He’s become THE brand himself. His name carries weight in the culinary and interior design worlds. His fans are everywhere. For some, meeting Ross is a dream.
This is one reason why Ross’ book, showcasing his knack for mixing upscale modern pieces with yard sale type finds, all on a cheap, yet always chic, has sold well. This is Ross’ brand and people are buying.
Martha Stewart is among those buying. After Ross graduated the Institute, his first gig with Stewart was a prop stylist; an entry into an arena that fulfilled his dreams. After “faking it until making it” a friend advised Ross should become a production editor for big name media outlets.
“I can barely spell. Can’t type. No way I can do that,” he said.
“No,” his friend said. “You have to produce the content. It doesn’t mean you’re actually writing.”
A light bulb went off. The next chapter of Ross’ career kicked off. He landed a gig at “House Beautiful” where he started to amass his first taste of fame. Legions of followers loved his now virtually trademarked style of expensive family heirlooms with Target-like buys. The “Modern Mix” was born.
With a groundswell rumbling, Ross decided rather than tell people how they can mix and match, let’s show them. He took the following on the road where he launched a tour of yard sales across the nation. He’d hit the isles of flea markets and thrift stores with scores of fans hanging on his every move. Cruising the isles, pointing out chic finds and how they might compliment other décor, those in tow hung on to every word. IT was here, 10 years ago, that Ross met House Dressing owner Martha Jane.
Ross, she said, was so accessible. On the ground, chatting with everyone, cracking jokes and, more importantly, offering styling tips in the moment, with items in the hands, sold Martha and everyone else on Ross’ brand. It was direct interaction and it directly contributed to his fan base.
“I had been a fan for years and always had a dream that Ross would come down to (Bristol) Tennessee and decorate a room for me,” she said. “I like to take old things and mix with something you may have bought at Target. That’s what he does. That’s what resonated with me.”
Keeping in contact via a blog Martha pens (marthajane.net) and via social media and email, Ross became more than an inspiration. He became a friend. So when Martha offered Ross a chance to come to her consignment shop for a book signing and symposium, Ross checked his calendar. He made some moves. Scheduled a visit. Months later, here he was, beaming a big smile, highlighting a big personality, and offering even bigger ideas, going piece by piece in her store with a microphone, picking them up and discussing how he might mix and match each in his own ongoing renovation project of a 3,000-square-foot home in Wayne, Pennsylvania, a project that’s being featured as he goes in “House Beautiful” and other outlets.
“I love interior design. It encompasses everything. If you have a passion for something, if you love a piece, you can find space for it,” he said adding later, “Money doesn’t buy taste, but you can’t take your money with you either. You only live once. You should surround yourself with pieces that you love.”
At House Dressing, Ross went on, jumping throughout the store, picking up various pieces, shuffling them in his hands, and with a microphone attached to his blazer, dropped depths of dine and design nuggets, as the crowd hung on his every word, following him throughout the store.
“You can make it work if you look at it a different way,” Ross said. “Don’t do it like your mom did, do it like you do. Your home is a mirror to your personality. Design it like you love it.”
Ross paused. “I could keep going on and on but feel like I’m probably boring you all,” he said. There he goes again; Always considerate. Always modest. “No,” the crowd said nearly in unison. They all agreed. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop, Ross. Your unique brand and mix is just so spot on modern.
For more information on House Dressing, visit HouseDressing.com.