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Meet Brandie McCoy of Ember & Brune

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandie McCoy.

Brandie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My family moved to the Chicago area when I was 8 years old for work. Being 8 and an only child I was devastated to leave my friends and family behind. That Summer, in an effort to cheer me up, my Dad took me to my first baseball game at Wrigley Field. He impressed upon me the historical value of Wrigley and other buildings in the city. I was smitten! Although we lived in the far northwest suburb of Huntley, from that day you could not keep me away from the city. My love for architecture never faded. I yearned to be an Interior Designer and knew that required a 4-year degree. I worked multiple jobs to put myself through community college and support myself.

At one time I worked at a diner overnight, took classes in the morning, taught dance classes in the afternoon, took another college course and then waitressed at a Steakhouse at night. I have never been afraid to work hard for what I want! I received my Associates Degree and had to take a break from school and save to pay for my bachelor’s degree. In that time I worked as a designer at a high-end furniture store. I also started a family with my high school sweetheart.

I enrolled in the Interior Design program at the Illinois Institute of Art. I look back at those days and truly wonder how I did it. I had a one-year-old, worked full time as the kitchen and bath supervisor at Home Depot and went to school full time. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right?!

I graduated with my BFA in Interior Design from the Illinois Institute of Art and immediately started my career in the residential remodeling field. I worked for a luxury residential remodeling company in Barrington, advancing from design assistant to lead designer over the years. I wanted to be a part of the whole construction process, which leads me to work for a high-end builder in the Western suburbs. Almost 10 years of experience in the remodeling and residential design-build industry and I was seeing holes in the process.

By the end of 2015, I knew I had to change the industry as we knew it if I were ever going to be happy doing what I loved; Creating lasting relationships with clients and creating their version of perfect. By 2016 I had a co-founder, a business plan, and Ember & Brune was born!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Of course, there have been challenges! I’m a woman in the construction field. At first, the comments from delivery men asking again for the construction supervisor, right after I told them it was me, bugged me. Now comments like that give me confidence knowing I’m a small part of changing the narrative in our field.

When people do not want to take me seriously or refer to me as sweetie, I know I can let it roll off my shoulder. Ember & Brune has become an amazing team of like-minded individuals creating really special spaces in our client’s homes. I do not need any other validation. On top of the everyday struggles of starting your own business, being a working Mom is a tough gig.

I absolutely could not be living my dream without the everlasting support of my best friend and husband, Mike. My parents have also been huge supporters of my crazy busy schedule, stepping in to help with our kids when needed. I would not have fully answered your question, without mentioning them.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Ember & Brune – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Ember & Brune is a small design-build team dedicated to creating beautiful and functional spaces. Your project is handled concept to completion. From Architectural drawings to construction, we bring your version of perfect to life!

We can handle projects as big as a home addition or as small as a mudroom. We especially love historical home renovation! It is complicated to research period style details that work in our modern life and work on homes that have remnants of mechanicals that are no longer safe, but we love a challenge!

I started this company because I saw a lack of design centered large projects. With so many selections and hurdles faced in larger projects, it is tempting to give a generic solution. I have always wanted to make clients the most important factor in the remodeling project.

I believe if a client can walk in at the end of the project and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing,” that project is a success! That means taking the extra time to create their version of perfect. To this day we have not advertised, and all of our clients have come to us as a referral.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
2018 means big changes for Ember & Brune. After two years in business, we are growing our team and refining our process. We have been slow to grow, and that was by choice. We have been careful planners and we look forward to that paying off!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Aimée Mazzenga –; McTeague Photography; Brandie by Kari Firak

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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