The AGHA caught up with stylist Megan Morton during Sydney 2016 Home & Giving to talk business, beauty and working with family.
As a business woman, how do you manage your business with your personal life?
Firstly, I work with my husband and people say “how do you work with your husband?” and “I say how do I not work with my husband?!” I have different days dedicated to different parts of the business, and my husband will work on all of the things I’m not so good at. We have three children and choose to support our family first, business next.
Every day is different but I like it to contain coffee, early morning walks and mediation. I want my head to be fresh. I try not to go forward past the demands of the day, just what five things must be done today. I find that I get very stressed out if I look at what next week’s schedule is. The time demands are so big already, and then a phone call comes in, “can you come to London?”, I say “of course I can!” then I’m like “wait, can I?”. You have to be quick and nimble, but also thoughtful otherwise it is too up and down.
How do you normally make your big business decisions?
Mostly it is instinctive. Some jobs we do are so unspeakably beautiful, but we are really mindful about doing the commercial things too. Sometimes we just sit down and we will financially plan everything and do what we call a ‘napkin profit loss’ – if we do this, go here, do that, is it worth our effort, time and energy? And if it is not, is it beautiful enough not to care? – It’s a real juggle between beauty and business.
Then, I have really, really strong employees – who are totally over qualified! – but want that balance too, they want a rest from the corporate world. The reason The School launched so strongly was because we hired my friend who was ex Macquarie Bank. She got us on track and it put us in good stead. So when hiring, instead of thinking “can I get three people for the price of one?”, I get one person who can steer their piece without me, but still contribute elsewhere as everyone in our business to take on different things. There’s no “this is your job” box.
What is the most common mistake or challenge you hear from clients and how do you suggest they overcome it?
People just want to know what the method to beauty is. People are just obsessed by styling and arrangement. And so am I. Styling is like a visual science – its shapes, form and heights all working harmoniously – or un-harmoniously if you are looking for the contrast – it’s actually quite mathematical.
People think the creative life is ‘out there’ but it’s actually not. Any good creative I have worked with usually gets up at the crack of dawn, has an hour to do their thinking, then they go to work with a structured process in mind. The idea that ‘turn up and inspiration will come’ is also true. You don’t diarise for inspiration to happen, you just have to keep showing up, saying “this is what I want to do”, and before you know it, you are making headway.
What’s the most beautiful project you have worked on?
There have been so many beautiful projects – we’ve done the Sydney Opera House’s Birthday Party, we’ve done Vanity Fair – but the most beautiful and exciting is what is going to happen tomorrow, it’s never one you have done.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Experimental. Long – I only wear long dresses or maxis, my pictures are quite long, I’m really into tall shapes. Eclectic is the worst word ever but I am going to use it in this instance. I find joy in mixing things, old and new, rough and smooth, expensive and inexpensive, Gucci and Cotton-On, Valentino and Uniqlo, Hermes wallpaper with charity store glassware.
What was the last item you purchased for your own home?
It’s very funny, I don’t even know why I bought it. In my industry dining tables are just like shoes; I help people spend sometimes thousands of dollars on a dining table, so I find it very hard to find my own because I’m always looking for the next best one.
Then I was on Instagram and I just saw the corner of it – the focus of the photo was on something else completely – and I was trying to zoom in, like ‘oh my god’! I can’t believe it’s mine, it’s so weird [of a piece]. It’s on caster-like feet so it is very, very elegant down the bottom – but on the top its hand painted ribbon and pineapples! I can’t believe I’m saying I own it! I should have something more “designer-y”, but I have never seen anything like it, and it’s Australian, which I love.