FEATURED INTERVIEW: LAUREN WILLIAMS
Interview by Angel Quintana
Magazine: Issue #47
This month we chat with Lauren Williams of Boho by Lauren. The artist behind the modern-bohemian, dip dyed fiber art that is adding beauty, texture and interest to walls throughout the world.
You're an artist. Can you share with us how you picked up your craft?
I’ve always been inspired to make things. After staring at a blank wall in my dining room for a few days, I knew it needed a large piece of art, but also something with texture. My love for modern style and textiles came together when I envisioned suspending single strands of fibers to a wooden dowel to create a canvas, but with movement. I’m not formally trained but I love to paint and knew I wanted to add color to my “Canvas with Movement”. I used dye to add a few different layers of grays and blues to create something that my husband and I loved instantly. Really, creating this new style of art was based on testing materials and dyes and ways of attaching the fibers to the wooden dowel in the best ways. I call them a “Canvas with Movement” because once constructed, they are a big blank canvas waiting for me to dye and after the dye is added, the movement makes them change each time it is rehung. I think they are so cool.
Can you tell us a little bit about Boho by Lauren and what lead you to starting this business?
My husband and I are pretty particular when it comes to art, so I knew that if we both loved my “Canvas with Movement”, then others would too. I posted a photo to Instagram and joked about how I found this “really underground artist” and how her fiber art totally completed my dining room. Many of my friends asked about the “underground artist” and where they could get one too. I ended up explaining that it was me, and if they wanted one, I could make more. Immediately I was making them every night and every weekend. I couldn’t catch up to the orders or emails! That was how it started and not much has changed- I’m STILL trying to catch up on orders and emails!
How long have you been in business?
I made my first wall hanging over Labor Day weekend in 2014. Since then I have made and sold over 450 pieces.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced growing your business?
The biggest challenge has been learning how to manage the roles of “Artist” and “Business Owner”. With all the different demands of running a business, it can bleed over into my role as an artist and really cloud my creativity. Between maintaining Instagram, styling and staging rooms for photos, staying on top of shipping and packaging, keeping materials for production stocked as well as working with other influencers on promotions, it can get a little overwhelming. As soon as I’m overwhelmed, my creativity is affected. Then the stress settles in. Understanding my stress triggers has been really important as I grow and strive to bring fresh ideas and designs to my work.
What has been the most successful marketing strategy to finding customers for your beautiful tapestries?
Thank you for the complement! Styling the tapestries in a well-designed room has been the most successful approach for sales. Since these large dip dyed tapestries were a new style of art, I felt that I needed to teach people how to incorporate them in their homes. Styling a pretty room centered around my art made it feel like a necessary part of the “modern bohemian” home décor style, and that has been the leading factor in their growing popularity.
Can you tell me a little more about how you use that strategy, step by step?
Understanding the best approach to lighting, using key pieces of furniture, and incorporating complimentary, not competing textiles was a big learning curve for me. Styling rooms for a photograph is completely different from decorating a room for life. These are all learned skills that I have developed over the last 18 months and definitely still learning every day! Using my home to style my art was difficult at first, but as soon as I figured out how to photograph a room, it became one of my favorite parts of my business!
If you had one piece of advice for our readers as it pertains to starting, growing, or scaling a creative endeavor, what would it be?
Make friends in your industry! I use Instagram as a way to reach my target audience which directly leads to the sales of my art. Using beautiful photos on Instagram as a marketing tool has been the leading factor in my success. Many of my photos have come from talented designers using my tapestries in their own homes or design projects. I recommend reaching out to someone you admire and who aligns with your brand. Ask them if you can call them to chat or invite them to coffee. Talk to them about the ways they have grown their business. Ask them for tips and advice. Then ask them if you can give them your product or service for feedback. If you’re lucky they will share your product on their feed. Aligning myself with quality home décor brands and personalities has been a great approach to getting in front of new flowers who share the same design aesthetic. Building relationships with people who can advise, mentor, empathize and encourage you is the start to building an organic and engaged group of followers, which has helped me tremendously!
How do you navigate the work-life-mom balance?
I’m learning how to do it better each day. I work out of my home and only just reached a point where I decided I needed to hire a nanny. She is great and helps with the house and kids so I can focus on my business during “working hours”. I tried to balance it all on my own, and it lead to sleepless nights working in the studio after the kids have been tucked in and then grumpy mornings and tired, unproductive days with my kids. Finally accepting that I can’t do it all by myself was a huge growth in my professional and personal life. Actually sticking to a schedule that divides my time for work and time for family has been the best way to get more done and ease the guilt of overlap and only being half present for my family and my business.
Is there a philosophy or motto you live by?
I pray a lot. Besides my husband, I consider God my other business partner and pretty much consult Him on all decisions regarding the sales of my art and the growth of BOHO by LAUREN. I guess that’s the philosophy I try to live by- pray a lot!
What is your favorite inspirational quote?
I love this quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” It’s so easy to be distracted by criticisms or fear, but knowing that my mindset is such a powerful tool for success helps guide me to be positive and believe that “I CAN.”