Today’s DREAM JOB interview is a fun one. It’s a job that you probably haven’t heard of, but it most certainly sounds cool. Lia Fagan is a vintage lamp stylist for the online shop, Mod Pieces, interior designer, and decór writer on Mod Nest and the Style at Home Blog and she lives in Ontario, Canada. If you’re wondering how someone becomes a vintage lamp stylist, read on to learn about Lia’s story, passion, and knack for design, not to mention her wise advice for aspiring creative business owners.. Lia brings expertise from the world of interior design and a superior eye for vintage that results in a perfect combination. By the end of the interview you’ll be wanting to chase after your own dreams… Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring, Lia! Be sure to check out her blog & shop! I also love the decorating tips in her Mod Insiders newsletter and her most recent e-book, Mod Shops, with links to endless design resources. xo
Tell us a little bit about your story and how you got your start. What made you decide to be a lamp stylist? Did you work any previous jobs that helped launch your business?
After six years of working in the interior design industry I began to feel unsettled by how willing we were to surround ourselves with mass produced, easily replaceable, low sentiment items. As I explored the online world, I found a community of people who were challenging the acceptance of our throwaway culture by creating handcrafted, one of a kind items. I had finally found my peeps and was eager to switch gears and become part of the solution. Mod Pieces was born.
After dabbling in restyling vintage furniture, I quickly found my calling… Lamps! So many vintage lamps are overlooked because of ugly shades, bad wiring, or fear of creating a home that looks like a time warp. I saw beyond those obstacles and figured out ways to tackle each of them. Shades can be remade, lamps can be rewired and dated looks can be restyled.The result are completely unique (and super cool) lamps that give a nod to the past, while also feeling updated, allowing them to blend seamlessly into the modern home.
What is your creative process like? How do you spend a typical day working?
I’m a night owl, not a morning person. So, I typically work late into the night and enjoy a leisurely morning. An average day begins with me waking up around 9:00 or 10:00 am and sipping my tea on the front porch. The rest of the morning is spent on admin activities like client relations, emails, marketing, website tweaks, etc.
I break for lunch, then head out to run errands. This time is spent sourcing fabrics for clients, supplies for the studio and vintage lamps & shades for the store.
The afternoon is when I log some serious studio time. I unplug from the rest of the world and worry only about doing my best work for the best people, my clients.
Around dinner time, my man gets home from work and we enjoy a few hours of downtime together. After indulging in a little prime-time TV, it’s back to work. I use this part of the evening to answer emails, write blog posts, send out my newsletter, etc. As night falls, it’s back to the studio to work on lamps. I usually call it a day around 1:00 or 2:00 am.
Who are your biggest advocates? Do you have a network of support for your creative ventures? Is there anyone in your life that you collaborate with or bounce ideas off of?
My man has been crazy supportive since day one. Not only is he involved in every aspect of my business, but he also took over the task of running our household so that I could focus solely on building a strong business that would one day support us both. I honestly couldn’t do it without him.
My family and friends have also been amazing. Even in the beginning, when they didn’t really “get” what I was doing, they stood behind me, offering encouragement and positive reinforcement.
Then, of course, there’s the online community. Other designers, fans, followers, clients, marketing cheerleaders, business coaches, etc. The list goes on. Without all of these people routing for me, I’m not sure I would have gotten to where I am now.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to own their own creative business? What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
Don’t start a creative business unless you’re 100% committed to making it a success. It’s a 24/7 job that never ends. Luckily, if you love what you do, it will never feel like a burden. Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever had to. You’ll need to wear all the hats in the beginning. You’ll be the designer, maker, administrative person, lawyer, graphic designer, photographer, accountant, etc. The secret to wearing all of these hats? Anything that you don’t currently know, can be learned. It’s amazing what you can teach yourself when the success of your business depends on it.
In addition to your blood, sweat and tears, your business will require one major thing from you on a daily basis… Courage. It takes courage to start a blog, open a store, quit your job, pitch the big press outlets, appear on TV, pose for a photo shoot, exhibit at a trade show, etc. I’ve done all of these things. It requires more and more courage each time to put yourself out there, but the reward that comes from each is completely worth it.
Do you have any future plans for your business that you’d like to share? How can we help spread awareness for your business?
We’ve got lots of exciting things in the works. When we were exhibiting at the One of a Kind Spring Show & Sale, we were asked over and over again by customers if we sold lamp shades separately. Many have lamps already, but are just in need of cooler shades.
So, I’ve joined forces with four Canadian textile designers to create seasonal, limited edition collections of lamp shades. The first is set to launch later this month. Keep an eye on my blog, Mod Nest, for more info and release dates.
Here’s a preview of some of the fabrics we’ll be using in the Spring collection… This collection is a collaboration between Mod Pieces and Montreal’s Coucou Salut!
If you’re digging what we’re doing, we’d love it if you helped us spread the word. Tell your friends about us by posting a link to our store or our Lamp Orphanage on Twitter or Facebook. Then, come on over and join our growing community. Become a Mod Insider for sneak peeks at what we’re working on, special promotions and oodles of decorating advice.
Big thanks to Colleen for having me today!
(photos via the Mod Pieces lookbook. See my contribution to the lookbook here.)