You've heard it time and time again because it's true: referrals are the best source of new business. Michelle of Luxe Lara Designs & Marketing was our first member rockstar to join through our "official" referral program, and she's a fantastic example of why such programs are so important: like-minded, creative, driven, collaborative and passionate about helping others succeed in business. She's a completely perfect fit for our community, and it's hard to imagine our House without her in it. Case in point: Some of her recent branding and online marketing projects have included other House members - either as clients or as creative partners - showcasing the best benefit of a coworking space like ours.
We recently grabbed some time with Michelle (over coffee, of course) to learn more about how she made the leap, and to get a peek at a day in her life.
How has Social House helped you in the way you do business?
It's helped me make better use of my time. Working from home has many perks but for me it also offers MANY distractions. Time management was something I was really struggling with prior to joining the Social House. For the 6-8 hours a few days a week that I'm there I'm completely in the zone and endlessly inspired by the other creatives. Having so many people that I can collaborate with and draw inspiration from was something I really didn't expect when I joined and it's become one of my favorite things about being a member.
Most challenging part of owning your own business:
The most challenging part of owning my own business is how it's all on my shoulders; that can be a very overwhelming and lonely feeling at times. I'm learning, mostly from the other creatives at Social House, that I don't have to be alone. We're all on the same journey and knowing that we have this in common melts away the fear a bit.
Most rewarding part:
The most rewarding part of owning my biz is definitely the work/life balance aspect. I probably put in more hours than I've ever worked before, but I'm able to manage my time in a way that best suits the needs of my family. Before starting my own business, whenever the kids had an extracurricular activity, I was only able to go if it was during the weekend. I felt like I was constantly missing out on the little moments. Now, I am able to volunteer and be a part of their day in a major way. It makes a world of difference for our family.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
Until I actually created Luxe Lara I never thought I'd own my own biz. The truth is, I talked myself out of starting my own business long before the idea of opening it ever came to mind. I think a lot of people tend to do this – you have an imaginary list in your mind of what it would take and until you can check off every single item you don't make a move. That is the biggest mistake anyone could ever make. You don't have to have all the answers, know all the details or have a huge amount of money to start. What you need is a whole lot of passion. The logistics of the day-to-day things work themselves out. I've found my rhythm along the way and sometimes I have to shift things a bit, but it's all a work in progress and that's OK.
A Day in Michelle's Life
6:00 am: Wake Up
My first goal of the day is to get my kids Jaiden, 11 and Sienna, 6 ready for school. It's what I would describe as organized chaos. To someone else they'd probably panic at the sight, but we have a system down and it works. A quick (but healthy) breakfast for them – while they're eating I'm packing lunch. By 7:15 we are out the door and headed to school.
I've returned from the school car line and I'm ready to start MY day. Get myself dressed with something more appropriate than yoga pants and a t-shirt.
The coffee is brewing – a very STRONG café con leche. While drinking my coffee I take a look at my schedule for the day – make notes of deadlines and anything urgent that needs to be taken care of and take a look at my emails. This helps me draw out a plan for the day. Anything urgent that's come in is already on my radar. Clean up morning kitchen mess and get myself organized (pack laptop etc.)
About 2-3 days per week I head to the Social House to work from there. It's a quick 20-minute drive and it's my moment of Zen. I love all types of music (jazz to hip-hop, salsa and everything else in between) so this is my time to blast on the music and get myself ready for what the day has to offer. I try to be at the Social House by 9 am and I head to my favorite spot, which always seems available for me. Take a few moments to chit chat with whoever is there.
I'm 100% focused on the day. My daily 'to-do' list changes based on what new projects I have. My latest project has a fun "6 Degrees of Social House" element to it. I'm wrapping up branding for Rebecca of Phairis Luxury, and I'm starting on her new website. Rebecca's designs are magical and for her new branding I wanted to evoke a feeling of elegance with a touch of whimsy. Creatively, it's been very inspiring for me to work on and having the opportunity to collaborate with fellow Social House members who's work I'm truly a fan of has been the icing on the cake.
Francesca of Coco Prop Shop just wrapped up a lifestyle shoot that will bring the website design to another level. Last week I caught a behind the scenes look of the video Jamie & Mary of Key Moment Films created for Rebecca and I can't wait to see the end result. All the pieces are coming together beautifully. I approach every project with the thought process that I'm telling my client's story through my design, and when you have the opportunity to collaborate in this way what I bring to a project automatically becomes better because of everyone else.
Once the kids are settled in for the night, I wrap up whatever I wasn't able to get to and see if there are any urgent emails I need to bump up on my priority list. I try not to work too late – if I'm on deadline for branding or new website project then I plan for 2-3 late nights per week, which I try not go later than 11pm.
I don't work on weekends and I observe national holidays - this is my hard set rule that early on I didn't follow, but I was quickly running myself down. I find setting some limits in this way really helps me out.