Jonathan and Drew Scott Interview: An In-Depth Conversation with the Property Brothers
Image attributed to Scott Brothers Global
Entrepreneurs, TV personalities and bestselling authors, Jonathan and Drew Scott are co-founders of Scott Brothers Global, which includes Scott Brothers Entertainment and Scott Living. The twin brothers are hosts of the Emmy-nominated Property Brothers, Brother vs. Brother and Property Brothers at Home, shows that are viewed by millions of fans in over 160 countries.
In addition to their onscreen and social media success, Drew and Jonathan are a rising global lifestyle brand with multiple extensions into music, media and retail. They co-founded Scott Brothers Entertainment, which produces award-winning and engaging content in all genres for TV, film and digital platforms. The Scott brothers expanded their brand with the creation of Scott Living, a collection of home good including indoor furniture, décor, textiles and bedding, available at a variety of North American retailers.
"It all comes down to slow motion renovations and tight jeans. That’s the winning recipe (laughs). I think the big thing is that we don’t try to use stuffy design terms, and we don’t try to do anything that isn’t relatable. We’re just a couple of brothers that love working with each other, and we love helping families."
In April 2016, Jonathan and Drew released Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide to Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House, and in September 2017, they released their memoir, It Takes Two: Our Story. Both books quickly became New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you guys have that special “twin thing” of knowing what the other is thinking all the time?
Jonathan Scott: Yeah. I mean, Drew and I have always worked in synch very well together. We started our first business before we were eight years old making these little decorative coat hangers, and ever since then, we’ve always been able to divide and conquer with absolutely everything. So today in business, we’ll find that one of us will automatically respond or start working with one licensee or one of us will start working on part of a retail relationship.
Drew Scott: Jonathan will spearhead one new project while I work on another. It does help when I don’t have to hear him say something all the time. I know what he’s thinking. I know what he would do. It really helps us move more efficiently.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): It’s fascinating that seven year olds would be interested in starting businesses. Did your parents encourage it?
Drew Scott: Jonathan and I were always go-getters from when we were younger. It was just in our blood. But our parents did encourage us. They would always say, “If you’re passionate about something, get out there and get it done. Don’t wait for someone else to hand you something because no one is going to carve the path for your future like yourself.”
Jonathan Scott: They had one rule. We had to do something. We were not allowed to sit around and play video games or do something like that. Whatever we wanted to do, but we had to do something. We grew up on a ranch, so the work ethic was that if you’re going to get something done, you’ve got to roll up the sleeves and do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And that work ethic has just gotten stronger over the years?
Drew Scott: Yeah. It’s just amplified. It’s one thing when you’re a kid, and Jonathan and I as kids were very driven. We started up a business at seven, or we had different little ventures we were doing. We were always putting on plays. We realized we loved entertaining, so we would put on shows and musicals and plays and write our own songs for plays. Then as we carried it into a business life after we graduated high school, we started investing in real estate. Now we run several companies, and it’s just amplified in a different way. But we love it. There’s still that little Jonathan and that little Drew inside of us that continues to always say, “Go after it. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do something if you’re passionate about it.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Drew, didn’t you have a job as a clown?
Drew Scott: We both did actually. Jonathan and I were both clowns. That was probably our second job. We started when we were just eight or nine years old, something like that, but we were basically trying to figure out something we could do to let all of our energy out, and we saw in the paper there was an ad for becoming a clown through Parks and Rec. So we went and learned about this new outlet for our energy. I think it was at ten years old, we were the top clowns in the local Parks and Rec, which is amazing. People were hiring us or these other clowns that were adults. They were like 20 or 25 years old, but people kept requesting us because we were so much fun and so entertaining.
Jonathan Scott: Well, I would say that Drew is still a bit of a clown today (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You both were interested in acting, and Jonathan was into magic, so why did you decide to go into the real estate business?
Jonathan Scott: It’s interesting because you never know where life’s going to take you, and yeah, actually Drew and I both were actors as kids. I did a little bit more on the magic side. That’s always been a passion. But we decided, coming out of high school, we didn’t want to be struggling artists. We wanted to be able to fund our own creative efforts. We were doing short films and independent films, so that’s when we said, “Let’s invest in real estate.” We started reading every single book we could on real estate even getting the infomercials for making millions with no money down.
For our very first investment we bought, at 18 years old, a house for only $250 out of pocket. It was right across from the University of Calgary where we were attending, and we managed to take over the person’s mortgage. They couldn’t make their payments, and they did a vendor take-back mortgage for all of their equity, so we were only out of pocket $250. We fixed it up and about a year later, sold it for a $50,000 profit. The whole time we had lived pretty much rent free in there because we had rented out some of the other rooms.
So that was really our first foray into investment, and it was successful. That’s when the light bulb went on saying, “There’s something here.” We started doing that over and over. We flipped properties, made a profit and eventually started our own company. Ten years later, we were approached to do a TV show about it, and it took us in a direction we never would have imagined.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So no regrets in not pursuing acting or even music as serious careers?
Drew Scott: Music has always just been more of a hobby for us, and we’d enjoy it when we used to sing with our parents when we were kids. Our dad, Jonathan and I would get hired out to sing at events and stuff. That was just more of a passion, and we’ll still do that. We’re filming in Nashville again, so we have our singer-songwriter friends that we’ve written with and produced with before. We’ll do some more songs with them.
For me, acting is still a big passion and directing scripted. From time to time, I still get to do a little bit. But I think what has become an even bigger passion is what we’re doing with Scott Brothers Entertainment, our production company, Scott Living, our furniture and decor and then what Jonathan and I host together. There’s a dynamic that we have that people can relate to that they really love, and we love being able to bring that and entertain people globally.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is JD involved in Scott Brothers Global?
Jonathan Scott: JD doesn’t work for or with Scott Brothers Global. He actually is a host himself, and he’s produced some of his own content, and then we have him on some of our shows from time to time. For example, he’s here today on Brother vs. Brother, and he works with us on that show. It’s great to be able to see him going after his passions as well, and he’s able to pursue hosting, writing and producing some of his own content, too.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When you two first began in real estate, and especially when you started on television, were there any personality conflicts to overcome?
Jonathan Scott: We’ve always been the best of friends since we were little, and we have a no BS policy, and we’ve had it since we were kids. If it’s something that’s bothering us, we get it out now before it turns into more than it needs to be, and that has worked for us. We don’t always agree on stuff, but if Drew is leading a project, for example, then we will usually let Drew lead that project. If I’m leading something, then we’ll rely on my final opinion on that, but it’s always a mutual agreement in that creative process.
Drew Scott: The thing with us, too, is that we surround ourselves with amazing people that are really great at what they do. So whether it is production-based or furniture and décor design or any aspect of our businesses, we really also rely on those people bringing A game creative ideas to the table. In the end, we’re only going to be as great as our whole team.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Drew, congratulations on the engagement! Are the plans set?
Drew Scott: Thank you very much. Oh yeah, we’re getting married next month, so we’re quite excited. Italy is the destination for that. Linda and I are very hands on, so with all the filming and everything we’re doing, we’re still making sure we have enough time to plan all that.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I understand there’s a wedding special called Drew and Linda Say I Do.
Drew Scott: That’s right. It’s exciting for us. Linda and Drew Say I Do is the first crossover that the new Discovery is doing between both HGTV and TLC, and I think there’s going to be a lot more of that. We’re producing that show, and I think it’s really exciting because there are so many great channels in the Discovery family, so this is a first of many, I’m sure.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jonathan, are you the best man in charge of the bachelor party?
Jonathan Scott: I am co-best man because both JD, our older brother, and myself are doing it. So we’ve been planning and plotting all of the adventurous things we’ll be doing.
Drew Scott: They won’t tell me. They won’t tell me anything.
Jonathan Scott: No. Drew tries to snoop on an email I’m sending to know what it is, but we won’t tell him.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): To what do you attribute the success of Property Brothers?
Drew Scott: It all comes down to slow motion renovations and tight jeans. That’s the winning recipe (laughs). I think the big thing is that we don’t try to use stuffy design terms, and we don’t try to do anything that isn’t relatable. We’re just a couple of brothers that love working with each other, and we love helping families.
We really try and take the stress off of the homeowners that we work with because buying, selling and renovating are the most stressful things in people’s lives, and we really feel that anybody watching the show are watching for inspiration and entertainment. So if someone can laugh a little bit and learn a little bit at the same time, it’s a better process.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you guys have a favorite location or a fond memory of a homeowner that comes to mind?
Drew Scott: All of the above. We’re doing 17 houses in three months in Nashville. It’s one of our favorite locations. We go there every year, multiple times a year. We have a lot of friends in Nashville. We host the main stage at CMA Music Fest each year. It’s just a fun dynamic and a great positive energy from the city. As for homeowners, Jonathan and I have many memorable ones. There’s a funny one. There was one of our homeowners on Buying and Selling, our series where we help people prep their home to sell and then move them into a new house that works better for the family.
There was this one homeowner. I had to laugh. This was a stress for Jonathan. She came into the construction site as he’s trying to prep her house to sell, and he and his whole crew are working hard. She’s dead serious. She’s not joking. She says, “All of you stop! Just so you guys know, if my cat walks in here, you all stop working. Nobody works until my cat, on his own, decides to leave the construction site." Jonathan says, “Well, we’re trying to fix this on a timeline here. Can’t we just keep the cat in another room?” She said, “Nope. The cat goes where it wants to go, and you will wait until the cat is done.” So some homeowners don’t really have their priorities in place when we’re trying to help them out (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): (laughs) Was it a killer cat?
Jonathan Scott: It was a cute cat (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The more you’re in the public eye, and the more successful you are, the more fans and naysayers you have. How do you handle negative publicity or negative social media posts?
Jonathan Scott: We discovered a long time ago that there are some people who are just projecting their own negativity and their own unhappiness on you. I could post something that says, “What a beautiful sunny day,” and somebody will go online and say, “You know what? Go to hell! I like the rain.” So it has nothing to do with us. It has nothing to do with what we try and create.
I post from time to time and did another one about a month or two ago just reminding people that our social media is a platform where we have kids on there. We’ve got grandparents. We’ve got everybody on there. It’s a safe, fun platform for everybody to be inspired. We truly believe in helping the families that we help because they could not do this on their own otherwise, and that gives us a real sense of accomplishment. So we’re not focused on people that find negativity in that because there really shouldn’t be any negativity.
Drew Scott: Yeah, and at the end of the day, we have found that if you try on social media to engage those people, to try and explain why they’re wrong or why they shouldn’t be negative, you’re just fueling the fire. These are people that you’ll never make happy, and they just, for whatever reason, want to be negative. So we just don’t engage.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): These days, politics also come into play on social media.
Drew Scott: It’s funny you say that because a lot of times I find people are trying to find some sort of hidden agenda or some sort of political message or some sort of social message behind something that is really not that complicated. We believe in the good in people, and we believe in providing quality products, lasting products that work for real families, and that’s it. There’s no hidden agenda (laughs). We legitimately feel that we’re doing something good.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you two also outspoken politically?
Jonathan Scott: Well, you know, in the current climate of everything that’s going on, I think everybody is just so tired of politics. At the end of the day, what’s important to us is, “Are we good people, and are we doing things that are good for people?” I think we are. We’re both very analytical individuals, and there’s been some policy that’s happened lately that has not been good for our business and licensing programs, but also not for the little guy. So anytime we think there’s something we really need to take a stand on, we have. We’ve been very honest with our audience.
Drew Scott: Our shows on HGTV have always been touted as safe television. It’s an escape where people can go and actually just enjoy as a family. It doesn’t matter what the age is, you can just enjoy it, whereas there’s a lot of other programming out there that is very negative or very biased. We’re leading by example.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So you guys have similar or very different tastes in houses and decor?
Drew Scott: Well, I live in LA, and Jonathan lives in Vegas. But we have very similar tastes in some ways. I kind of feel Jonathan has more of a relaxed, sort of a lived in kind of feel for what he likes whereas typically, I’m a little bit more minimalistic. I like more modern with some rustic flair. It really depends for houses in different areas, but in different areas of your home, I think you can have a slightly different look, and it is fun to play a little bit.
On our shows, especially Brother vs. Brother, which season six airs May 23 on HGTV, Jonathan and I mix it up every year. When the judges come to judge each of our spaces, they think they can tell which is mine and which is Jonathan’s, but every season we change that up because we’re trying to tailor to what buyers like in certain neighborhoods. So it’s kind of fun to play and explore with design and try something new.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You two are known as sex symbols. How do you feel about that?
Drew Scott: I think it’s more Jonathan’s hair they find sexy, my biceps, Jonathan’s calf muscles. Together, we make one sexy person (laughs). No. It’s humbling that some people feel that way. It’s very kind of People magazine to put us on their People sexy list several times. We love that it’s fun for the fans. But it doesn’t change who we are. We’re the same down to earth people, and at the end of the day, if it’s exciting for fans, that’s great and we’re humbled.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I want to say congratulations to both of you for receiving the highest recognition offered by the Habitat for Humanity, and I understand that you guys will serve as ambassadors. Can you tell me about that?
Jonathan Scott: Yes. It’s a huge honor to be named Habitat Humanitarian. Before us, it was Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn. So there’s only six of us. We’ve been dedicated to Habitat for Humanity for over 20 years now working with them in all capacities. They really do a wonderful job.
Drew and I were talking about this. We do the same in our shows. We try to stretch the budget, so we can get as much out of these houses and help people as much as we can while they do the same thing. They’re not just handing over the houses to people. They’re working alongside homeowners to renovate or build homes giving them zero interest mortgage, so they can get affordable rates. They’re taking donation dollars and stretching them across hundreds of families instead of just putting it all in just one. So they’re really a remarkable success story when it comes to a charitable effort.
Drew Scott: Actually, Jonathan and I are doing two houses right now in Nashville for two amazing families, and we’ll be finishing them up at the end of the month before our birthday on April 28. We’ll be revealing the final product: these two homes for these families to move into.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I appreciate your work with Habitat for Humanity and have always admired Jimmy Carter’s tireless efforts even now at 93 years old.
Drew Scott: One of the biggest things that Jonathan and I always tell people is it doesn’t matter who you are. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be a president. You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a difference. Every single person, whether they’re donating money, donating product, buying from the ReStore (putting money back into those communities) or even if you’re just donating your time or spreading the word on social media to your family and friends. All of these are things everyone can do no matter who you are. Just that one little added voice can make a world of difference in someone’s life. So we love it whenever we can encourage someone to support.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are absolutely correct, Drew. By the way, how will you two be celebrating your 40th birthdays?
Drew Scott: You know what? On that day, we are not working. On that day, my fiancée and JD are planning something. I don’t know what they have in store, but we’re just doing a little get together with family.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You guys are entrepreneurs, TV personalities, authors, musicians and a global lifestyle brand. What’s has been your favorite part of everything, and what drives you to continue?
Drew Scott: Jonathan and I both love to see something grow whether it’s our brand for Scott Living or Scott Brothers Entertainment or just what we have for our different entities like Guru Hub (a digital lifestyle platform). For me, the thing that I love the most is the fact that we’ve been able to expand to a global voice. We can effect people in a positive way globally.
We air in over 160 countries. But the fact that we’re able to have that voice that we can put toward the causes that we’re passionate about, working with the charitable organization WE, working with Habitat for Humanity and doing the things that we can do to help stimulate giving back and stimulating awareness to some of the issues globally, I think that’s the most exciting thing for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jonathan, what are some of your interests and passions away from work?
Jonathan Scott: One of the things right now is I’m writing a documentary on energy and renewables, how we power our homes and a lot of things that people don’t understand about what’s involved in making that happen. I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the benefits of renewable energy, and so I’ve basically taken a no BS approach to be the everyman to show people what the facts are and let them come to their own conclusions
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Drew, your interests and passions?
Drew Scott: Chocolate, basketball, sushi … no (laughs). Just like Jonathan, anything that we can do to encourage people to really care about eco-friendly options in their home or in their lifestyles in general, anything they can do that can be a green initiative is exciting. Aside from that, I’m also still very passionate about scripted. I love directing. I love acting. But I think as we grow Scott Brothers Entertainment, as we move the company and expand back over to scripted television and film, that’s really exciting for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who has been your greatest inspiration and most loyal supporter throughout your lives?
Drew Scott: It will really be our mom and dad because right from the get-go, they were always our biggest advocates, our biggest supporters, our biggest cheerleaders. It didn’t matter what it was. I wanted to pursue acting. Jonathan wanted to pursue magic. A lot of parents, or a lot of influencers out there, would’ve tried to say, “No. Be more realistic. Your chances of making it there are not very likely, so try something different.” But our parents always said, “If this is what you’re passionate about, then go for it. Don’t be waiting for your agent to call and just hope you’re going to make it happen. Do things to actually make this passion into a reality.”
So Jonathan and I would always sit down and plan a way to do it better like take courses or network or meet some of the greats in our industry to see if there were ways to collaborate. Mom and dad were definitely our biggest supporters.
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