Lauren Caron got her love of interiors from her mom, a top-notch design enthusiast with a penchant for old-school English decorating. Strangely enough, she was also the person who discouraged a young Caron from pursuing interiors as a career.
“I remember she had said, ‘You don’t want to do that, you won’t make any money in it,’” Caron tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of the Trade Tales podcast. “So I made a decision that I wanted to move to New York, go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, learn how to do window displays and store design—and I really wanted to work at Bergdorf’s someday.”
She followed the plan to a tee: After moving to the city and graduating from FIT, she settled into a position as a visual merchandiser at Tiffany & Co., where she designed jewelry forms for design greats like Paloma Picasso and Frank Gehry, then oversaw the production and fabrication processes. While there were glimpses of glamour and she was learning a lot, the work was repetitive and it was hard not to envy the flash-in-the-pan design work of some of the other departments. “I was always looking longingly at the windows team,” she says.
When a new creative director started at Tiffany, Caron had her chance to inch toward window display with small one-off projects. Eventually, that same director nabbed her an informational interview with a friend at Bergdorf Goodman—and five interviews later, she had a job managing the store’s displays for non-ready-to-wear, including the home department.
While she’d expected to slowly climb up the corporate ladder, she instead shot straight to the top, and the long hours were leading to a serious case of burnout. Desperate to make a change and find a new dream to chase, Caron began looking closer at her design blog—a college-era project she’d started to document her various home decorating endeavors that she’d diligently maintained through the years.
“At some point, a lightbulb went off that I’m managing a business [at Bergdorf Goodman] basically all on my own right now—I could do this for myself, and I could create boundaries and live a life outside of my job,” says Caron.
In 2014, she launched her business. Finding that balance, however, turned out to be a continual journey. As her firm morphed from an all-encompassing design collective to a fine-tuned firm with a specific clientele in mind, she learned how to steer her business toward the work that feels most meaningful—while protecting her energy along the way. “I just came to the conclusion that I needed to ‘Marie Kondo’ my clients, and just decide which ones brought me joy and which ones didn’t,” says Caron. On this episode of the podcast, she shares the formula that helps her choose which projects to take on, why a less-is-more approach improved her portfolio and how a recent rebrand brought her closer to her ideal clients.
Homepage image: Lauren Caron | Courtesy of Studio Laloc