Continuing on with our Ladies At Work feature, I recently caught up with High-end lighting designer Autumn Morrison of White Lion Lighting, to gleam a teeny little insight into her daily life and glamorous career…
Hi Autumn, being obsessed with all things interior design I truly love your work – can you tell us a little about what you do at White lion lighting?
Thank you! I source and sell lighting for people who are building a new home or doing a renovation or extension, free lighting design included. My business was born from client’s asking me for my help – doesn’t get much better than that. I started in a lighting showroom, selling lights. People brought me their blue prints and began to ask me to select all the lighting for their house, and I loved it. Then people started asking me to come out to their house and I realised I had a choice between working for someone else or working for myself. I chose to work for myself and haven’t looked back (although I did have a stint as a national sales manager for a lighting importer in America, which took my all over the country selling lights to people that sell lights and that was a fantastic experience. I had a lot of autonomy and was very driven so it worked well for both myself and my boss, who encouraged me and took my input seriously which allowed me to be very effective and not stifled). That job ended when I moved over here to England. And sure enough, I set up shop for myself once again, on foreign land but with great trust that people all over the world respond to beauty and luckily it’s been proven so.
What is a typical day like for you?
Wake around 6:30 and explain that it’s too early to get up yet to my 4.8 yr old daughter, so we chat about things and have a cuddle. I pop into my office for a quick check on work emails and a review of my day ahead. Then I get my poppet ready for school and do the school run, which finishes at 9am.
I then give myself an hour to tend to home/child/school management oriented stuff – which there seems to be an endless supply of. By 10am I’ve got my White Lion Lighting Services hat on and am researching information, chasing orders, making phone calls, building lighting schedules, answering questions and emails, sourcing lights, and planning or attending meetings. From 1 – 2pm I am working on running the business – such as website & emails, social media, liaising with accounting and suppliers and further developing my business methods. By 2:30 I’ve got my mommy hat on again and make sure that dinner is prepped and the house is tidy and welcoming. Out the door by 2:45 for the school pick up. If I’m early, I can squeeze in some more work from my iphone in the playground while I wait for my daughter to appear. By this time, other moms and dads have turned up and it’s polite and important to Pippa’s social life to chat and catch up on school info (the playground is much more useful for gathering intell then the newsletters – moms are pretty switched on human beings). Then it’s all about Pippa from homework, school catch up, snacks, dinner, playing and bedtime.
Once she’s asleep (around 7-7:30) I get a cup of herbal tea, turn on the radio and it’s back to work. During the evening hours, which are quite peaceful and quiet, I build lights (this means that I create data sheets on lights I want to sell), research new lights, work on floor plans and lighting schedules and propose new lights to clients for their feedback. Once a week in the evenings, I load up on images for my Buffer account, which feeds my social media profiles with gorgeous lights that inspire me. Before I switch off from working, around 9 or 10pm, I review my calendar and re-prioritise my to-do’s, which gives me peace of mind. If it’s 9pm, I like to watch something absorbing, depending on my mood. But by 10:30 I try my best to discipline myself and make sure I am in bed with a good book so that I can get a good nights rest. Lately I’ve been reading parenting books before switching to a great work of fiction, my ‘me’ time. If my mind won’t stop racing by 11:30pm, I do a mediation according to what’s on my mind and that always works, it’s pretty amazing.
Would you recommend setting up your own business to others?
If you’ve got the personality, passion, belief in what you do, the fire in your belly, drive, integrity and inner courage – definitely ! You have to be able to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ .
What do you enjoy/dislike most about your job?
I love working with people, I love shopping and I love beautiful things so selling cool lights to cool people is aces for me. What I dislike is marketing myself and needing to find new projects. I love the creative, sales & results side of things but the admin side is a bit of a drag.
What has been the highlight so far?
Hmmmm, tough one. There have been quite a few projects that I am very proud of (not all are on my website due to the private nature of some of my clients), I was interviewed twice for national lighting magazine and the year I was pregnant, I worked my tail off and I netted six figures in profit all from working from my laptop, I was pretty proud of that.
What’s your advice on managing the work/life balance?
Be kind to yourself, set achievable goals, surround yourself with good people, remember that worry doesn’t solve a single thing, you’ll find there’s a lot of strength to be drawn from inner peace so make sure your core being is well taken care of and finally – work smarter not harder.
Oh and some practical advise – use a check list. I love my check list app (Laza lists) which synch’s with my calendar and is literally a life saver. I can create a to-do on the fly, which gets dropped in the general pool of to-do’s and I know I won’t forget so it creates instant relief and then later when I analyse my week I can add a date and time for the to-do, which is like having a virtual assistant. I can move the dates and times around and view my calendar in a clear manner, which gives me a clear sense of where I’m up to.
In my calendar, I colour code my items – blue for home; green for work (money); yellow for school stuff for Pips; purple for Pippa’s social life and dark purple for my social life (admittedly not much of the dark purple at this time!) and then I feel a bit proud of myself for having a well balanced life, when I see a good mix of colours in my calendar. It’s a simple trick but it’s pretty rewarding. Also, I’ve just bought ‘The Working Parents’ Guide To Raising Happy and Confident Children’, I expect that will have some useful tips as well. Haven’t read it yet so can’t comment.