You may have seen across our socials lately our love affair and crush on Lauren Hung, creative director behind 'the blackline by lauren'. After lots of texts and emails, we had the absolute pleasure of stealing her away into the studio during a visit to Adelaide for some downtime and a chat. Read on to find out why we love having Lauren as part of the ENOUGH community.
Lauren, we've read that 'the blackline by lauren' came to be after the culmination of events that made you question your career path, figuring out what made you feel alive and shifting your job satisfaction from yourself to the environment and benefitting society.
How has this vision evolved since you quit your corporate / fashion gig?
Did I even have a vision when I began? To be honest I don’t think I did! I was in survival mode and areally only thought calligraphy would tie me over for a couple of months while I found a “real job”. I think the ever-evolving job and the fact that I’ve relaxed into the constantly changing landscape of it has really informed and shaped the vision. For example – I got offered the opportunity to run a calligraphy workshop at West Elm Bondi Junction a couple of years ago, and realised from the experience that there was a market and an opportunity there – and I’d never previously considered running workshops. But now I’ve run workshops across the country for three years and it’s been really successful.
Contrary to most business owners I don’t have a business plan (yet); I don’t like to get stuck in written plans. I’m very adaptive so I re-jig ideas as I go. The vision I have today will very likely change. There is only one thing that remains, and that is my commitment to creating a job that gives back to the community and maximizes my potential & strengths.
What has surprised you (good and bad!) the most about running your own business?
Argh so much! This isn’t my first business so some things came more naturally this time (Major Perk!) Touching on my last comment, the greatest part has been forming a brand culture and role that works to my strengths; not having to squeeze myself into a generic job description. If I discovered something wasn’t my jam, I delegated it, and that is a luxury I appreciate most employees don’t have. It has also been the perfect space to find myself in, to learn, grow and rebuild myself as I left my last job feeling completely lost.
As for the bad, I think it was discovering that as a creative, when you make your therapy into a full time job it effects your relationship with it – not necessarily negatively but monetizing anything you love requires some hard decisions and boundaries. I say this because I pulled every single creative outlet I loved into my business only to discover that my life & my ability to relax outside of work was jeopardized. Some things that you love are supposed to remain just for you.
What's been the most exciting project or collaboration to-date?
I don’t know if I can answer this! I love the relationship – building aspect of my business and collaborations have been the physical output of incredible relationships. It’s like asking me to choose between my best friends. If I had to mention one, I’d say working with Megan Gale and her team was pivotal as it ingrained on my heart the importance of staying humble. Despite all her success, Megan is delightful, approachable and I had an incredibly rewarding experience with her.
Describe your perfect day
At work it’d be one where I have lots of different work on (A few experimental projects, some bread & butter work and some collaborations), lots of light in the studio, good tunes and flowers on my studio desk. I work well with fast-turn around times but it’s even better when I can work through things at a leisurely pace.
Outside of work, the perfect day includes morning light or drizzle, coffee in bed tucked up with inspiration, exploring somewhere new, farmers markets or day-trips to the country. I don’t need much – just a day of being immersed in beauty and soaking up inspiration and I’m set.
Your blog documents many beautiful collaborations. How do you like to collaborate?
I think the best thing about collaboration is that it challenges you to do things differently. I don’t have a set method with collaboration as I believe the magic happens when I sit down with the other creative / brand and allow their direction and strengths to inform what we’re going to do. Often this forces me to do something I’m not familiar with or haven’t tried before. The best collaborations have been those that have been ongoing and continued to evolve. For that reason I love collaborating with brands like Vaughan Baker as the collaborations have forced us to adapt, evolve and try new things with one another outside of our normal spheres – we’ve hosted a workshop together, we’ve collaborated on ceramics together, we’ve now made artworks together with the beautiful handmade paper she’s supplied – and with Mel of Vaughan Baker and creatives like yourself Lisa, I know that the collaborative relationship will always be like that; dynamic and open.
How do you spend your down time?
It always comes down to new things for me. I love wining and dining with friends in new spots, entertaining, trying new exercise regimes, reading, hiking, recently cooking! It’s constantly changing as I get over things quickly! And if I’m not doing that, it might be surprising considering how social my work is, but I’m actually introverted and need to refuel by having some time alone so that also happens.
At ENOUGH, we're huge advocates for self-love. What's your favourite way to indulge in a little bit of self-love?
I had to think about this for a while as I could only think of things that I do very occasionally in the busy mix of running the business – travel, day spa treats etc. But on a daily basis, I’ve indulged in self-love by looking after my skin. I’ve learnt a lot about skincare whilst working for luxury brands and made it a priority to invest in good skincare products like La Prairie & The Beauty Chef to keep me glowing. I also invest in my eyebrows – Honeytusk Eyebrows in Sydney keep me looking sharp – and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done as it means I can be ever-ready to take on the world without make up; which saves me time and gives me an inner confidence that I need to take on the world.
What's your advice for aspiring movers and shakers?
Step out of your business and view it from the standpoint that it’s a self-development adventure – no matter what you do then, no matter what happens, you’re growing and developing yourself into a better human being. I know at the end of the day the blackline is developing me positively as a person, as a leader, as a team member. And a great attitude can be applied to any business, any role and any opportunity. Your business shouldn’t be your be-all, end-all.
What are your future plans for 'the blackline' (and yourself)?
Ah the ever-changing beast of future plans! I really can’t say – I obviously have some bare-bone plans for the future but I feel like I’m in a really interesting transition period both career wise and personally so it’s hard to say; and with so many different opportunities coming my way, I’m just as interested to see how it all unfolds!
Words to live by
This is a very hard question to answer in my line of work. I’m constantly posting my current words to live by on instagram. But I’d say that there is one philosophy I live by that shapes everything else – and that is the importance of investing in relationships that build me positively and committing to always growing as a person; and that is an ongoing commitment and not something that just happens by chance. If you’re getting around incredible mentors, reading, listening, building relationships with like-minded people and making sure you give back to them in return – wisdom won’t fall on deaf ears and you’ll find yourself supported and discerning with the types of words you’re going to let sink into your soul, and the type of words you’re going to let wash off you.