My Secret Sauce

{Image from here}

I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed at work lately.  (Along with the entire team here.)  We're busier than we've ever been, which is amazing, but with the time required for me to think about my own house (which happens on nights and weekends) I'm feeling almost tapped out mentally.  We're working with wonderful clients on both smaller and large-scale projects, all of which are really exciting, and we're also working on a few upcoming magazine stories (and photoshoots) with Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens and Luxe Interiors.  We're doing a One Kings Lane Tastemaker Tag Sale and have a crazy two day shoot beginning this morning at our place.  (We had to remove every piece of furniture from our living room and kitchen last night to turn it into a photo studio for our goods... more on that later)  We're launching a brand new website at the end of the month with our go-to-web-girl Emily at indieshopography and we're also going to be offering online decorating services again, so I'm putting everything together for that.  With all of this good stuff, comes the growing pains, which I'm feeling hardcore.

{image from here}

I'm also noticing a general "busyness" in the people we work with, which obviously affects us too and can slow things down on our end.  Our contractors, our workroom, artists we work with and our vendors seem like they're busier than ever.  It's so great for all of them, but I know the growing pains are there too... Many of them have recently hired new staff to accommodate the increased demand.  (Yay for things really picking up!)

But as exciting as growth spurts are, they can be a little scary too.  You suddenly look around and realize that no matter how many extra nights or weekends you work, you're never going to get to it all.  (In my case, this really means our personal home design is what suffers.  Time ticks away and I'm worried we won't have what we need when the photographer comes to shoot our house the first week of August.)  You realize your kids miss you and you miss them even more.

So...  what do I personally do when it gets like this??  First, Dave & I start to reassess what needs to be done in our business.  We realized we need more help.  A couple of weeks ago we hired an intern, Daniel, who is pretty much Dave's assistant, and the extra help has been amazing.  We're good friends with Daniel's family (Dave taught English with his mother and his older sister has been babysitting our boys for years- we love her!!) and Daniel was one of Dave's students.  We knew we needed someone insanely hard working and willing to do a wide variety of things like printing, errands, organizing files, and making pick-ups and drop offs and moving furniture.  

Now that we have Daniel on board, we are loving the extra help, but we're still not working the way we need to be working.  Dave & I have been throwing ideas around but we knew we needed our secret sauce as things continued to get more overwhelming over here.

So, no joke, my secret sauce is a person...  Julia!!

I found out about Julia Molloy, and her company, Molloy Management this past January when I was looking for ways to streamline our business and to get inspired.  I wrote a blog post  mentioning her & the company and we ended up connecting.  I enrolled in her Business Blueprint Program, and we've taken our studio webware training through Molloy.  One of the most helpful aspects of working with Molloy for me, is the web chats I have with Julia.  She's truly a design business guru  (honestly, she's a straight up business guru who's specialized in design businesses) and we discuss everything from client services to workflow processes, to websites, to future goals, to branding.  She is a wealth of knowledge and sees so clearly where to take things.  Along with knowing what's up and what needs to happen, Julia is one of the sweetest, funniest, most charismatic & genuine people I've ever met.  You can feel her excitement when you talk with her.  (It's funny, I've never even met her in person but feel like I have!! :)  I never feel like she's judging, only assessing and guiding/ helping. She's completely transparent and truly wants to help her clients and wants the best for them.

Julia works with many of the industry's big wigs, and many of her clients keep her a secret because they don't want to share her with the competition.  As you've probably seen from my blog, I have a pretty open attitude when it comes to competition with other designers...  I don't really feel it.  I believe that we're all so different and that different clients are right for different designers.  I feel like a client who hires a designer friend of mine was drawn to that designer because of what she saw in him or her... or because of their past projects and experiences...  or because of a pricepoint... a personality.. whatever it may be.  We're all completely unique.  It seems silly to covet a client who doesn't covet your services.  It's just pointless.  The only designer I would ever really feel in competition with would be myself, because I'm the only person who has what I have & who does things the way I do them.

(I'd only be scurred of THIS ;) ;)

So... I'm sharing some of my secret sauce with you.  And that's Molloy.  Yesterday, I was able to catch up with Julia (I try to keep regular appointments with her but as things got crazier over here, I fell behind) and explain to her where we're at and get some great advice.  She helped me get some clarity & perspective on where we're at & on what's going on.  (Looks like we'll be hiring, so stay tuned.)  Much of what I need to work on comes right from our company operations manual we received from The Business Blueprint. This thing is THICK (like hundreds of pages) and outlines every little bit of our business.  It's worth so much and is truly a handbook or manual on each and every aspect of your business.  I have yet to go through and tailor the handbook more specifically to our company (I'm going to work on it this weekend) but it's a gold mine of information on how your company should/ could run.

{They teach all this good stuff}

What I love about Molloy, is that Julia provides help and advice to all different types of clients.  From celebrity designers to the one-man/woman show, Julia wants to (and can) help.  When I first came across Molloy, I thought that their services would be way beyond our reach, but Julia has put together specific programs in a variety of price points so that everyone who needs help can get it.  One of her newest programs is a VIP Membership where clients pay only $75 a month to have access to their tailored collection of design business documents, methods and procedures, along with training videos and webinars.  I think it's a really great way to get started in the right direction & I wanted to let you know about it because I've gotten so many emails asking for business advice & about how to get started in this business.  And, if you're not at the point yet where you can do something like the VIP membership, I've found Julia's blog to be insanely inspiring on its own.  It's so information-packed that I go back to it whenever I can to try to take things in and get some perspective.  

I'll keep you posted on all of our changes & growing pains around here.  My talk with Julia was really helpful last night & I feel so much better with a plan in place.  It's tie to refine it and get going.  For now, I'm in the process of tailoring our Operations Manual so that when we do bring in our next employee- very soon- he or she will know exactly how we like things around here.

I have to run but wish me luck today as the One Kings Lane photo shoot started about 5 minutes ago in our living room!!  I'll be instagramming like a banshee today!!

ps- I'll tell you about my Grandma Maestranzi's Secret  Sauce another time ;) ;)    (The best bolognese EVER.)

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Also- if you're interested in our new position, please stay tuned while we define the new role & necessary qualifications, and get ready for you.  We're not at the point yet where we can receive and look at resumes, but will be sure to announce when we are.  Thanks so much!!


BaileyWife said...

No ONE DESIGNER or fellow blogger has influenced my own creativity or design of our home than YOU… I am excited for your O.K.L. Sale and to watch your brand become more successful...just wish we lived closer!

bryn alexandra interiors said...

I have to second what BaileyWife said above... you are THE MOST inspiring designer/blogger I've ever come across. I wish I lived in DC so I could work for you!!! Thank you so much, Lauren, for posting things like this. You are the best and we want you to know how much we appreciate your honesty and openness!

K Ivey said...

I'm SOLD, Lauren. Going right now to check out Molloy!!! Thanks for the transparent advice as always:)

Nancy {at} powellbrower at home said...

This is just exactly the topic on our plate lately. So good to know about Molloy and that there is something like this out there! Thank you for sharing sweet one, it means alot. I hope you have a grand shoot and that everything falls in place.
xo Nancy

Emily A. Clark said...

Lauren, it's exciting to see all of these wonderful things happening for you. I still remember how helpful and sweet you were to help me via phone a couple of years ago with all of my questions. Looking forward to your OKL sale.

Kira Amolsch Mayrides said...

Thanks as always for your incredible generosity of spirit. I live in Loudoun and will be on the look out for your hiring posts!

Whitney said...

Wait, what!?! You're going to be offering online decorating services!?! Can I sign up to be your first customer!? (Seriously)

J. Schoenberger Design said...

I cant tell you how many times I think wow how does she do it all and what a great inspiration you are to me to keep plowing ahead! I recently signed up with a business coach because I was feeling so overwhelmed and overworked and am hoping for a few miracles ;-) I cannot wait to check out Molloy, thanks so much for sharing with us and as always your generous heart has been such a blessing to me, back when I started my blog and as I continue to grow my biz.


kayce hughes said...

I wish that she had a sister in the clothing design business! I am off to check out her blog.

CityGirlCountryBloke said...

I'm a little behind the curve with just now discovering your blog. I love it! I spent half the day just reading all your old posts. I too love On A Whim as well as the Old Lucketts Store in Lucketts, VA. I go to Chartreuse & Co in Frederick, MD when Virginia opens her doors to all. That is truly a wonderful place! Not to mention all the wonderful places up North in Gettysburg, Emmitsburg and Waynesboro. Now I have to check out all the places you are recommending in your blog! It has been a blessing moving here to the East Coast and being able to be a part of all these wonderful places. And I'm now addicted to your blog! Can't wait to see what you've done to the new house!

Jamie Evelyn said...

Lauren, you are such an inspiration can't wait to watch your business grow even more!!

Julia Molloy said...

Oh my gosh! You are so awesome, Lauren! Thanks so much for all the sweet things you've said and for sending people my way. Much appreciated! You know I adore you and am truly enjoying working with you and watching you bloom.

The VIP membership is going live next week. So excited and looking forward to everyone joining me there.

LOVE being YOUR secret sauce! Xo

Marianne said...

I hear you, Lauren! I have recently realized that only having an intern was no longer cutting it and have since hired two additional full time girls for my team. So grateful for so many amazing clients and being able to build my brand and team. I have a hard time delegating, but these girls have been an absolute blessing not only to me personally, but also to my business growth! Thrilled for your continued success as well. xo

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

I am in awe of how you do everything and how well you have grown your business. Thank you for sharing such a special resource. I am so inspired.

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

and ps. . . I feel as though I am drowning so this was a breath of fresh air.