Lauren Oviatt on Why There is No 9-5 in the World of Entrepreneurship

Interview by Inger Erickson, Director of c-Commerce at Gabb Wireless

Splitting her formative years between the deep South and Southern California, Lauren Oviatt's design instinct blends tried and true classic elements with the fresh, young perspective characteristic of the West. She specializes in unique-yet-enduring design that reflects the distinct lifestyle of each client. Over the course of ten years, Lauren has been fortunate to work on full-scale residential, commercial, executive, and vacation home projects. She is constantly looking for ways to infuse style and individual charm into her projects, keeping an eye for tasteful, neo-traditional American design.

Lauren's educational background includes degrees in both Public Relations and Interior Design. Previous to being full-time in the design industry, she worked in corporate PR and high-end wedding planning. She maintains that her previous experience and education, though varied, still plays into her daily interactions and design projects today.

As a regular contributor on KSL’s Studio 5, Utah’s NBC affiliate, Lauren discusses innovative design trends, decorating solutions and current applications. She enjoys being able to step outside the day-to-day and share her expertise and views on design.

Where did you attend school and did you consider other professions before choosing interior design? If so, what were they?

My first degree was a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Communications Public Relations from BYU, because at the time I wanted to be a high-end wedding and event planner. I took interior design and floral design classes to help beef up my resume and loved my college experience. I spent a summer interning in Southern California for a wedding planning firm and it was incredible to be thrown right into wedding season. Talk about a crash course!

When I decided to pursue design as a profession I enrolled at LDS Business College and earned a degree in Interior Design. I am so glad I did. Their technical education and training is a great resource that I’ve referred back to my entire career and has been a great complement to the “eye” for design that I’ve been cultivating all my life.

Have you had any mentors that have impacted you and what was

their advice?

My mother continues to be my greatest mentor. She showed me the beautiful balance between motherhood and a fulfilling career. I still lean on her! She has had a long career as an attorney but has worn many different hats. I love that she isn’t afraid to tackle new projects, to continue learning, and to persevere when her plate is full. I could write an entire book on all the advice she’s given me but most of all she encourages me to step back and look at problems pragmatically instead of emotionally. She is an incredible problem-solver!

You've been in the design industry for over a decade. What are some of the key elements to maintaining a successful business and standing out from the competition?

Two years ago I started my own design firm, Lauren Oviatt Inc., after ten years in the industry. For me, the key element above all others is focusing intently on the client’s goals and desires, listening, and executing a beautiful design that is in line with the vision and that makes the client feel at home. A close second would be being (extremely) organized and learning the business end of things. You cannot be successful on good ideas alone.

It seems like styles come and go so quickly. How has your industry changed over the last several years with the influence of social media?

There is a famous saying, “Trends come and go, but style lasts forever.” So many clients come to me with images of things they think they want based on their social media “inbox". I LOVE more than anything to expand their vision and the potential of their spaces by showing them my ideas and planting seeds far outside their limited social media perspective. It is a welcome challenge! I focus heavily on the style and architecture of the home in most cases, to create beautiful interior spaces that feel in line with the exterior of the home. It makes for a comfort and flow that is tangible, no matter the color palette or other variations we take.

How did you get started on Studio 5? What inspired you to start

Weekend Blooms?

Over twelve years ago, I filmed my first segment on Studio 5 and have been so grateful to be a monthly contributor ever since. At the time, I had a friend working as a producer for the show and I reached out to her for advice on how to I might explore the avenue of “design correspondent”, combining my interest in TV hosting and my knowledge of interior design.

She thought I would be a great fit for Studio 5, so I immediately made a list of about thirty different segment ideas I felt I could execute. I’ll never forget hauling in mattresses and headboards for my very first segment on “how to make the perfect bed”, what a thrill! The producers, staff and contributors I’ve worked with over the years have been a tremendous support to me and I’m lucky to rub shoulders with women who are making a difference and sharing their gifts through television.

As for #laurensweekendblooms, that was more of a happy accident. I have always loved arranging flowers and one Friday as I got ready to put some stems in a vase, I wondered if I could film myself and post it as a “how-to," a little more informative and in-depth than just a pretty picture. Since it was the weekend I posted the video with the hashtag #weekendblooms, the positive response was immediate! Now I have almost seventy videos illustrating arrangements of all sizes and for all seasons. It has been fun to connect with new followers all over the world I may never have met through furnishings or “design progress” posts alone. I do believe that anyone can make beautiful arrangements with a little bit of guidance!

How difficult has it been juggling your job with your kids and what advice do you have for working moms to balance their work and home life?

For me the design profession is one that lends itself well to motherhood and balance, but it still takes work! I love that my kids can see their mom doing something that she loves and improving the lives of others by creating comfortable, beautiful spaces that are the backdrop for life’s best moments. It may sound silly but I have seen it in action countless times.

I constantly credit my husband, and a few fantastic nannies and assistants over the years, as my secret weapon for maintaining sanity and creating happiness in the chaos of the work/life balance with four small children. If you don’t have a supportive team in place you’ll feel stretched way too thin and unable to make anyone happy. I am grateful that my clients have families too; we have a mutual understanding of prioritizing family through it all.

As a business owner there are sacrifices I choose to make so my projects maintain momentum… there is no 9 to 5! The late nights and early morning hours I put in allow me to spend quality time with my kids on their timeframe, so they get 100% of my attention when they need it.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

For me the phrase “perfect happiness” is a little bit contradictory… in my life happiness lies in finding it within the imperfect. Moments of joy, laughter, fulfillment, connection are things I string together through days that are far from perfect. There isn’t a day (or project) that goes without mistakes, setbacks and obstacles that are out of your control… you must take them with a grain of salt and keep moving forward. Don’t be so hard on yourself and believe in your power to improve each day.

Have you ever heard the saying “You can have it all, just not all at once”? I am a subscriber to that belief! We can have it all - but expecting perfection is a recipe for disappointment. I try to set realistic goals based on my capabilities, responsibilities and the hours in each day… right now I’m prioritizing my family and my work, so things like spa days, girlfriend getaways and three-hour work-outs are taking a backseat. I’m good with that. I believe that there is a time and season for everything: that perspective has helped me minimize the damaging impossible mentality that I must be “winning” at everything. I cheer myself on toward success, happiness and achieving personal goals that may have very little to do with someone else’s idea of success.

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