This week, in our Sisters Series, we introduce you to Marianne Brown, the owner and lead designer of White + Gold Design and mom of three girls.
How did you find that idea that started your business? Where were you at in life when you started your business?
My husband and I bought a fixer-upper home and gutted it and remodeled it. During the process, I discovered I had a passion and a talent for interior design that wasn’t going to go away. Right after our home was finished I had my second child. I was really unhappy staying home day after day doing home management tasks and needed to get out. My husband is in residential investment real estate and some of his investors needed help with their “flip” homes. I asked him if I could help them for next to nothing just so I could get out of the house and pay a babysitter… and that’s how it started.
How did you know your business idea was something that you were going to make happen?
I knew it was an idea I was going to make happen because I wanted to do it, and it made sense for me to do it since I had an in with the industry. I had previously kicked around a few other business ideas but it didn’t make sense because it wasn’t an area I was familiar with or really knew anything about.
What was the biggest fear you had to overcome to take that first step?
Interior design is hard because there is no certification or test where at the end you get your “interior design license”. So waking up one day and deciding on my own to call myself a designer with no real experience besides my own home was really gutsy and a little embarrassing. I kept thinking, “what qualifies me to start asking people to pay me for my design expertise?” But someone once told me if one person is willing to pay you for your point of view, then you can be a designer.
What is the biggest fear you are still knocking down every day to keep your business moving forward?
The fear of wasting time and making mistakes. I know there is a better way to do business and I’m always afraid I’m not doing it.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader?
My girlfriends and my siblings.
Who was your first client?
My first client was a real estate investor, and I charged him $200 for helping pick all the finishes in a 2,000 square foot home. It barely covered my babysitting fees.
What is something you do for self-care?
I hire a house cleaner – a MUST!
How do you balance work with family life?
Balance? What is that? No, really it’s hard, but I do it by planning out my days in a thoughtful way. On days that I’m home I wake up with a huge to-do list and three kids and feel overwhelmed. I have to organize my day into sections.
Morning – play with the girls and run an errand.
12-3 my daughter naps and I can put in laundry, return phone calls and emails, and eat.
3-5 kids come home, have play dates or lessons and do homework. Etc.
Not answering texts and emails until my designated time helps me stay present and feel more balanced. Same with knowing that I will eventually get to the laundry, but it’s not until naptime, and I can sit and play with my kids and not feel the to-do list constantly looming.
What do you hope your children are learning from you?
To develop their talents and be pro-active. I have three girls and I really hope they learn that a lot of women are mothers but not all are necessarily homemakers and that is okay. Running a household is hard work, so is raising children, but there are many ways we can all contribute to this world and our children, and it doesn’t come in one form.
What advice would you give women just starting out?
If you’re not passionate about it, and if it’s not hard or uncomfortable, then it probably isn’t worth it. If it fits the aforementioned criteria, then know on those days that are hard and you wonder if you will ever get where you want to be, you’re thinking like every person who ever started a business (or new job) and just keep going.
I have a few really great new construction projects that will be wrapping up in the next couple of months, and a home that will be in the Utah County Parade of Homes in 2018. I’m always on the look out for retail space just in case I decide I’m crazy enough to open a store. Who knows? I love and feel grateful that there are so many opportunities in the future.
What is your go-to singing – top of your lungs, windows – down in a car song?
I am an Indie girl at heart, but when I want to turn up the music and dance and sing, my current jam is “I Feel It Coming” by The Weekend and “Dance to the Rhythm” by Katy Perry.
Hear more from Marianne Brown and many other women who found their strengths and turned it into a business at our SisterUp One-Day Workshop being held at White + Gold Design in Holladay, Utah on Saturday, April 22. Tickets are available by clicking here.