”I begin my days at 4am and I am incredibly driven and passionate about every single project we accept. My clients, friends and followers are taken along in my Instagram stories as they see the progression of the homes I renovate and style, as well as my journey of being a working mother to 3 little ones. This company is my fourth baby and I am so proud of the homes we have created over the years.”Morgen Mullen
Women On Topp interviewed interior designer Morgan Mullen to discuss her whimsical design style, her love for interior, and how she incorporates art into the design process. Learn more about Morgan Mullen’s passions, her entrepreneurial journey, and where she gets her inspiration from. Her work, Mullen Design Co. has been featured in Hunker Home, Wayfair, West Elm, Article, Rejuvenation, Target, Poly & Bark, Pottery Barn, Ranch & Coast Magazine, Vivir Design, Room & Board, Apartment Therapy, Bedrosians, Home Bunch, CB2, Lulu & Georgia and many many more!
What does your work entail?
I am a San Diego based Interior Designer who specializes in home remodels and styling. I help my clients navigate the very stressful process of living through a remodel from start-to-finish. We also have an online store, a design studio that people can come shop and a growing home decor subscription service.
Can you remember your first design project? Describe it a bit
One day I was at the park with my friend and I told her very randomly that I wanted to design. I went to school for business marketing and had no design experience, but noticed a lot of friends and strangers asking for my advice. She said “ I think you should just go for it, what do you have to lose?”
That afternoon I posted to Facebook a few photos of home projects I had done and asked if anyone needed help. I will never forget the feeling of sitting there waiting for someone to comment- I was shaking. But I decided to let go of fear and see what happened. Then there they came…
My first real project was for a client who knew I had no experience, but had all the faith in me to renovate her kitchen. I had no clue what I was doing, but I had the eye and the drive to figure it out. I designed her whole downstairs to include her kitchen, flooring, paint and fireplace, and then pulled the area together with furniture sourcing. This project went on to be featured by some amazing very large accounts on Instagram which took us on an upward trajectory of projects and a following.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?
Construction is construction. We could have the most amazing plan and then BOOM. There it is again…The uncertainty of a remodel. We find mold, we find issues, we find out that that wall they said could come down actually can not. I am constantly on my toes to put out the next “fire” I call them.
The most rewarding aspect is after you get through this uncertain time, the stress and the anxiety my clients felt starts to melt and they walk into an insanely beautiful home. They are proud and excited about their space. They get to wake up there and call it their own. Thats the stuff that keeps me going… oh. And the really cool before and afters. Cant forget about those.
If you had to choose 3 words to describe your ideal client what would they be?
Trusting. Trusting. Trusting. This is key. Clients are hiring me because they have seen my work and know I will deliver our branded aesthetic. It is hard for some clients to see a single light or a single barstool and see the entire picture, but I can see it in my head. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from clients “I didn’t see it, but now I do”… Trust is essential in this process to achieve the desired look.
What is your favorite room of the house to design and why?
Kitchens hands down. They are the heart of the home. Its where you spend time with family. Where you cook with your children. Where you entertain. It is the most important space in the home for resale purposes and the space you spend the most time so make it a place you love.
What has changed in your business due to COVID-19? How are you dealing with this?
Last March I watched my inbox flood with “ I think we are going to put our remodel on hold” emails. One-by-one my heard sank more and more. “What are we going to do?”… I started thinking outside the box. I launched an e-design program and began working with clients all over the country to help with their projects that were already in progress or help them style their spaces.
We launched an online store and a decor subscription box that arrives at their door 4x a year to give you something to look forward to. A little present to yourself in all of this craziness.
Then, all of a sudden here they came. A flood of “ I think we are ready” emails… HOLY COW. It was like the world was sitting at home, stuck, watching HGTV and realizing the value in truly loving their space. 2020 even during Covid was hands down our largest year yet.
What does the future hold? Where is the company headed?
Our subscription service is growing so incredibly fast that we have had to shut down enrollment 3 times now. This was an idea I came up with in my sleep, I woke up and presented it to my husband and team, and within two weeks it was launched and sold out. And then again. And then again. It is so fresh and new that this is what is next for us currently. Building that to be a household name. I want our subscription box in the hands of as many people as I possibly can.
On the design side, working on really amazing projects with clients. Continuing to build the portfolio with beautiful before and after photos which drives it all.
How much time off do you get or take?
I am a mother to 3 little ones starting at 2 years old. My number one job is being their mother and being a wife so I make a point of taking as much time as I possibly can. We plan one or two small getaways a quarter, even if it is just for a weekend. I crave having something to look forward to, so we escape to the mountains or the beach as much as we can. I don’t need a big fancy vacation to feel happy and relaxed.
What are you goals/dreams for the future?
I have a lot of dreams and goals. Some might say too many, but I would disagree. I have this innate drive to write down daily what I want to accomplish. I am completely obsessed with personal and company growth. My goals for the future are to build our company to be a household name and a subscription service that is on every women’s doorstep.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
When I was 18 years old my father decided he did not want a relationship with myself or any of his three children. He just disappeared. He left me a very broken young lady. I would reach out only to have my letters sent back “return to sender”… I would call and he would hang up. It was the most profound abandonment of my entire life.
I found myself my first year of college feeling very lost and sad. I was also quite broke. I had zero assistance for schooling and when my scholarships ran out I was left to really get creative. I began selling jeans on Ebay and ended up paying my entire way through college doing this. I became the queen of jean parties (who remembers those?) I was able to make it through being very resourceful and selling just about anything that came my way.
When I look back on this time in my life I just want to pat that girl on the back and tell her I am so proud of her. She didn’t give up. She didn’t let it break her. She just kept going. Its been 18 years and look at her now…
How do you balance work and life?
This is something I tell my followers I am striving for daily. I set an intent every single morning to do my best. Some days I go to bed feeling like I did it all, and other times I feel like I did not quite attain it, but I find peace in knowing tomorrow is a new day. I try to separate as much as I can my work from my family life, however, some days are easier than others. I do a lot of time blocking where I write down blocks of time for certain work related things and then from 3pm daily I shift into mama/wife mode.
What does designing your own life mean to you after you have decided to work for yourself?
Designing my own life means happiness and balance. The other day I was rushing out the door to work and my little girl Everly (5) looks at me and says “Mama, why are you rushing? You’re the boss”… I will never forget it.
Designing my life means creating as much white space as I can for myself and my family, deciding I want a day off, deciding I need to block my morning for my business coaching or a playdate with my kids and knowing my team has it handled. It means I can use my creative side of my brain, feeling fulfilled on multiple levels, and coming home to my most important job.
Where do you get your inspiration from daily? How do you stay motivated?
This is probably one of the most asked questions on instagram (besides for “what is your favorite white paint” questions)
I spend a lot of time goal setting. I meditate every morning. I listen to around 20-30 hours a week of podcasts. I find a lot of motivation in surrounding myself with other successful women. I feel zero jealousy. I am a cheerleader for others. I scroll Pinterest and Instagram for pretty photos. I scroll til something gives me pause. I screen shot a lot. I mean, a lot.
I keep motivational quotes about life and business on my phone and reflect back on them daily. I have a vision board that I look at multiple times a day. I am obsessed with manifestation and changing your mindset to create the life of your dreams and I am living proof of just how powerful it is.
When I am having an off day I put on music and will even grab my baby and dance around the house. I take a break. I meet (via Zoom) with my personal business coach weekly. I read DMs from strangers from around the world that believe in me and use my story as motivation, which in turn drives me to do more.
What traits do you look for when building a team?
I have definitely made mistakes here in the past. That initial intuition is always something I have to listen to. You HAVE to listen to this little voice if something doesn’t feel right. I am building a team of amazing humans who believe in me and the growing company. They are excited to come to work and watch us go to the next level daily. I look for drive and their excitement in what is happening. I am looking for people to believe in this as much as I do.
I am building a team of mothers that know that they can walk away on Friday afternoon and be with their families and all is well. I am building a team of people who want to be here for a long long time.
Share us some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own business.
Let go of fear. I know it sounds easier said than done, but you have to let go of fear to be able to go higher. You have to “fake it til you make it” in a way. Have that cautious confidence that people will notice. Write it down. Make a plan. Work on it every single day. Open your mind to know that you might not have all of the answers, but that it is going to be okay.
You have to believe with your whole heart you have what it takes to do what it is that you want to do, and I promise you, it will happen.