Today we chat to talented thoughtful human being, Lila from Muse Muse! Muse Muse is the second in our new series ‘Staying Home, Rising Up’ where we talk to Pioneers who Pivot to survive crisis. Missed the first feature with Frankie from Design Kids? Catch up here.
Hello my name is Lila of Muse Muse, an Australia based creative branding and editorial studio. We work with local and international clients to develop identities, clarify purpose and create clear and beautiful visual stories. I started Muse Muse in 2012 and the studio’s roots lie deep in editorial – we see the world in publications; story, personality, beauty, history. Our approach to creative design blends our admiration of the written word with the beauty found in visual play. In 2017 we founded an in-house custom publishing house. Our first title, Paradiso, is a creative street press magazine based in Northern NSW. The bi-monthly publication is an editorial mix of arts, culture, food, fashion, lifestyle and travel, celebrating creative people and places, locally and internationally. Following on the success of this bi-monthly magazine, Take Away was launched in 2019 – part coffee table book part magazine part guide book. I am the Creative Director and Managing Editor of Muse Muse and our custom publication house.
2020 has been a challenging experience for everyone so far! What keeps you focused, inspired and productive?
Beyond my love for design and creativity, the main driver for keeping on through the massively unanticipated and huge challenges of 2020 is my community. By community I mean a vital and extended network of the people that make what I do mean something. When everything paused in early March I felt I was faced with two choices – the first was to let go, the second was to fight. I chose to fight. I was scared, exhausted, full of fear of the unknown, but I just thought about the people that relied on me or on my studio and what they were going through. If I could provide some certainly and support when everything seemed like it was disappearing or changing, then they would know that we were in this together and that we would be there to support each other, however we could, for whatever the future was going to bring. This included my family, team, clients, and then beyond that, our passionate Paradiso magazine community. These past few months have been so incredible, simply for the resilience and compassion of my community. Every single time I extended my hand, it was held. That has been my inspiration to keep flowing, adapting, experimenting and creating. It’s been an amazing couple of months.
If I could provide some certainly and support when everything seemed like it was disappearing or changing, then they would know that we were in this together and that we would be there to support each other, however we could, for whatever the future was going to bring.
Every single time I extended my hand, it was held. That has been my inspiration to keep flowing, adapting, experimenting and creating. It’s been an amazing couple of months.
What is your top working from home tips?
My team are super pros at working from home – we have all lived the freelance life, so shifting our studio to our individual homes was an easy transition. We still have our Good Morning Meetings each day to kick off – instead of at our local cafe, we are on Zoom, BYO coffee. We use Slack to communicate during the day – I don’t know how we ever got on before without the use of so many gifs. Our server was already on Dropbox, so we have access to everything we need. As the rules start to ease we are planning on rethinking the way we work, with flexibility for splitting work between our studio, coworking and home. Our work is primarily brand creation and, for us, this is a very involved process needing quiet, uninterrupted thinking time to fully develop and explore different ideas – a busy studio is not really the best environment for this type of introverted creative work. So, why not explore a different approach to work that suits our needs rather than just following what is perceived to be the way we have to work?
So, why not explore a different approach to work that suits our needs rather than just following what is perceived to be the way we have to work?
Where have you made meaningful changes within your business and future trajectory?
The biggest lesson I have learned in 2020 is the ability to adapt, align and flow. Being a small boutique studio has been our strength – we can say yes to work or ideas that previously seemed outside of our projected direction or scope, we can experiment with different services and build new skills along the way, we know who we are and the kind of work that makes us happy. We have spent 2020 in flow – having the ability to plan ahead taken away was at first scary, but then opened up this amazing opportunity to just accept and play and connect. I want this to be our new normal. I love the changes that have happened to the way we work, mainly for the courage it has given me. We all kept turning up, doing the work and making some really incredible things along the way. I am so proud of my team.
What are you currently reading, watching or listening to?
I know I should tell you I am reading some book on business awesomeness or listening to a motivational podcast on being a good leader, but at the moment I am just slowly going through my back issues of apartamento magazine and listening to a random mix of music on Spotify. I love reading stories about people and apartamento is that perfect combination of well written articles and beautiful design. I like taking a break from work and find joy in reading books that sit outside of that world – also on my bedside table is Collected Short Stories by Somerset Maugham, The White Album by Joan Didion, and Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I’m binge watching Parks and Recreation because I love the incredible optimism and work ethic of Leslie Knope – “Ovaries before Brovaries”. I am listening to super random finds all over spotify – our team is constantly collecting favourites and adding them to our Muse Muse playlist.
What are some words of advice you have for other small businesses trying to survive and thrive this season?
Change can be scary, particularly when we feel we have lost control, but sometimes we can find new ways of doing things that actually suit us better than the old way of doing things ever did. Align: find what makes you happy – wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring that into your business? Adapt: experiment, play, embrace change, have fun with the way you choose to work. Flow: be open to doing things differently than you might have planned and have fun finding what works for you.