If you need a lesson in being resilient, persistent and proactive, then this is the read for you!
Today, I’d love you to meet a woman who is on the course of growing her business in the interior styling space and doing a damn fine job of it, showing us all that if you are hungry for it, you can overcome adversity and create a life on your terms.
Angela Reynolds is a Marketing-Communications Manager turned self-taught stylist from the Hills District in Sydney.
With a “red-hot fire” in her belly to start a business, the demands of her family and home life escalating and a long found love for all things styling, Angela launched her business, Harmonia At Home in 2017.
Today, she works with property owners, real estate agents, photographers and more to style properties for sales, homes for living and products for promotion.
And, in all the spare time she has after her two kiddos, James (19) and Evelyn (almost 3) plus Brando (the Lab) and feathery friend Sunshine (the Cockatiel), Angela volunteers when she can for a charity near and dear to her heart, Bears Of Hope Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support.
In this discussion, Angela takes us behind the scenes into her journey so far of starting and building Harmonia at Home (and if you can’t tell, she’s just the most kind-hearted, supportive woman going around!). Follow her and cheer her on via Instagram here now!
Tell us why you started your business?
I started my own business for a few reasons. During my 20+ years in the Corporate world, whilst enjoying various Marcoms roles, I experienced 3 redundancies. The first was whilst at my first job out of uni, although gutted, I was still living at home with no dependants, so really, it was not too bad as far as timing.
The second came after 14 years of service. This one hit me hard, it really knocked around my confidence, and the truth be told, it still gets me from time to time when I think about it as I gave this my absolute everything and I guess there were a lot of unanswered questions as to why things went down the way they did in the end. Even though I know, no redundancy should ever be taken personally, this one was tough. I often envisaged myself working there the rest of my working career.
The third redundancy came when I was 8 months pregnant going into a meeting thinking I was going to be told where I would sit within the new business restructure when back from Maternity leave, but instead, I walk out with another redundancy hanging over my head.
So, if number two was not the icing on the cake, this one certainly was. I can see now how everything happens for a reason and I always had a red-hot fire in my belly to start my own business, so perhaps this pushed me outside of my comfort zone to make it happen. I also needed something that I could juggle around my family and home commitments with my husband in a very demanding IT role in corporate. So, when I asked myself what I was passionate about, everything led me back to the home, everything to do with interiors, and hence, Harmonia At Home was born.
How long have you had your business and how has it changed over time?
I launched my business a little over 2 years ago. The first year was really about getting the building blocks up and running, getting to some industry events and rolling out some test jobs. My daughter was 1, and had just started day care 2 days a week to allow me some time on the business, but I could never have predicted what was ahead of me, that first year she had almost chronic bronchiolitis, one week school, the other week not, the next week school, the other week not.
My son was also in his HSC final year of high school. It was total overwhelm at times when in my own head I was not meeting the goals I had set out for myself nor did I feel I was being a great mum or a great anything. God love my husband, if it weren’t for him, I may have still had my head buried in the corner somewhere. He reminded me why I chose to do what I chose to do, and other than that fire in my belly and passion for interiors, I chose to do what I did as I wanted something that would allow me to prioritise my family and home.
The fast-paced Corporate world I had been a part of for so long and the goal setter in me were preventing me from seeing this at times, until I almost hit complete overwhelm and realised it was time to pull back.
The second year, with better health from my little lady, some other unexpected challenges, but a more realistic view on the business from myself, I rolled out, as and when I could, the website, my Marketing material, my social media presence, and continued taking on work through mainly word of mouth.
This year, I feel all the hard work is starting to gain some momentum and pay off and I am so excited at the opportunities that are presenting themselves.
What makes what you offer so special?
When I launched Harmonia At Home, the key objective was to make Styling attainable to all. When you talk Styling to people, many think this is a luxury they will never be able to afford. My offering starts from a 2 hour Do-It-Yourself Property or Home Styling consultation, so if that is all someone can afford, that is ok, they are left with a mountain of ideas from me on how they can best prepare their Property for Sale or enhance their Home for Living. Then from there, clients can ask me to execute some or all of the ideas, and really design a solution that will work for them and their budget.
I also love harmonising OLD + NEW, that is, working with what my clients already have, first and foremost, and then if their budget allows, injecting a little new with close consultation with my client.
We have become such a throwaway society, I find it more rewarding and a greater challenge, working with what my clients have, especially when I identify some sentimental pieces and bring those to life.
So, I think making styling attainable to all, working with what my clients have, and really taking the time to understand each of my clients and how best I can help them within their budget, is what makes my offering special.
Where does the inspiration come from for your styling?
I am often asked what is my favourite style, and my favourite style when working with my clients, is the style that will work best for them and their home. At the end of the day, I am styling it for them and not me and this is where getting to know my client well, asking the right questions, and really listening to them comes into play. If they simply just do not know what they love, or are happy to give me free reign, I take the architecture of their home into account as well as any key pieces they already have that we will be retaining.
Personally though, I love aspects of Hamptons, Coastal and Boho styling. I love nature, and you’ll see that in the colour palettes that I love working with; whites, creams, browns, greys, blacks, blues and greens.
Something I do love, is injecting a feeling of Hygge in any space.
Hygge is the Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. So, to me, a Hygge space is warm, welcoming, and comfortable. Somewhere you can sink right into and feel perfectly happy spending hours on end. Perhaps kicking back reading a book, surrounded by comfy cushions and a throw, or entertaining family and friends with the candles burning, and a beautiful fragrance lingering through the home.
Who and what is involved in the process from idea to finished space?
In the case of a partial or complete Property & Home Styling job, I initially have a chat over the phone with my perspective clients to help each of us determine whether my service is the right fit for them and their requirements. If it is determined I can help them with their requirements, I send them a quote for the initial in-home consultation. The initial consultation is so crucial, I have a set of questions I ask my clients to consider answers to in time for the consultation to help us on the day of consult. Questions that perhaps they have not even considered.
In this consult we determine how much or how little they would like my help with and I walk away and quote up the rest of their requirements. Upon perusing the quote, clients confirm with me what they would like to move forward with and I start working on a proposal. My proposal takes into account what existing we are using, what new we may look at introducing, the layout, stylish storage solutions, overall style, colour, etc. My clients have a chance to review and if they are happy with it as is, I make the suggested purchases, and then meet them at their home for final set up. At this stage there might be some back and forward until everyone is happy.
Alternatively, clients might be happy to simply roll out my ideas after the initial Property or Home Styling consultation, or choose to have me make the suggested purchases for them to set up. They can really build on the initial consultation with however best works for them.
When I work directly with Real Estate agents, the idea is they provide their client my 2 hour Do-It-Yourself Property Styling consultation with compliments of their agency so I simply meet with client and carry this out.
I am also making myself available to other stylists, happily assisting them when they hit peak periods. My product styling expertise can also be useful to photographers and other Product Stylists usually working on a shoot.
What has been most challenging about running your own business?
I think like most, we always want to be 10 steps ahead of where we are, so the most challenging part has been to not fall victim to complete overwhelm.
To recognise it when it is approaching and taking the appropriate measures to not allow it to swallow you up. I learnt this very early on and am very mindful of when it is rearing its ugly head to address it immediately.
When you are working for yourself, yes you have the support of family and friends, mentors and other business owners, but ultimately only you can save yourself from yourself by recognising all of this. Really just knowing when to be a little kinder to yourself. I don’t always succeed at this, but I am constantly working on it.
What has been a great lesson you have learnt?
So many lessons learnt and still learning.
When you run your own business, you have to be hungry for it, if you are hungry for it you keep up the momentum, by keeping up the momentum and continuously tapping away and thinking outside the box, you start to see those bites start rolling in.
Network, talk shop and approach everyone as an opportunity, you’d be surprised. Keep an open mind, and be prepared to massage and flex your offering but ensure you stay true to what you set out to do.
Be friendly, kind and honest, remembering you are asking someone to invest in your offering, they have to trust you and feel comfortable.
Understand that not everyone is going to be your customer and that is not necessarily because they do not like your offering, they simply may just not need it or surprise, surprise, you may not want to work with them. Definitely do not take any of it personally as it will knock around with your confidence.
What marketing has worked the best for growing your business?
Promoting my business on social media and cold calls I believe have been my two key Marketing activities that have worked best for growing my business, or at this early stage, growing the awareness which is starting to translate into opportunities.
Joining The Modern Marketing Collective this year has been the best decision I have made [Emily here – this is my private marketing coaching group – thanks so much for the shout out Ang!]. It is providing me with access to many learnings on how best to use Instagram for business (and so many other Marketing & Sales learnings) so I am quietly confident that social media with time will make up the greater chunk of my growing business along with word of mouth.
What is your big hope and dream for your business?
My big hope and dream for my business, is within the next 2 years, to establish a reputation in my industry and amongst my client base (home owners, property owners, real estate agents, other stylists and photographers) that will see much of my work opportunities come through via word of mouth and keeping me out of trouble for a minimum of 3 full days each week, working on a variety of jobs, Property, Home & Product Styling. To continue to provide me the flexibility to juggle career with family and home.
And finally, tell us about 3 of your favourite creatives for us to check out?!
This is such a tough question, because I am inspired each and every day by so many, both those that have made a business of it or are working on a personal project, but if I rewind way back to when I first kick started, there are some that really stand out to me that I admire.
Emma’s achievements are truly an inspiration and very impressive. She is a decorator of homes across Sydney, stylist & coordinator of corporate events, a mentor to upcoming designers and has two best selling decorating books to her name. I had the privilege of recently meeting Emma at a book launch event, and I love her openness to share her knowledge with other designers.
Well, what can I say, their work speaks for its self! Their before and afters are incredible. I love following their journey and I will let you into a secret, I have reached out to them introducing myself, asking if the opportunity ever presents its self I would love to meet them and be their apprentice for a day. Yes, I am a fan, perhaps it’s a bit of a girl crush 😉, whatever it is, I hope one day I get that opportunity.
I love their humour, their down to earth approach, and how can you not be impressed by the business they have built teaching others how to design, renovate and style. Bonnie, a Hills District resident like I, is particularly inspirational to me. She is a clever creative, super stylish in her choices, with an impeccable eye for design, and what I love the most, is that she is self-taught, like me. She is an absolute natural, just love her work, and she is prepared to test the boundaries. She has a vision, she makes it happen.
Full time renovators and ambassadors to several big brands, Kara was 18 and Kyal was 19 when they opened up a joint bank account and started direct debiting $30 per week each into an account that would eventually go toward a house deposit. I love their story, and following their journey. I admire their work ethic, and it is obvious that a lot of hard work, lots of it, has got them to where they are today, not luck. Their juggle of family, TV, ambassadors and renovating commitments is beyond impressive and I particularly love their interior styling. Their colour palette is beautiful, a lot of natural coloured woods, great layouts flowing beautifully and effortlessly.
Ok, so these are numbers 4 & 5 😉, I know you said 3, but these 5 collectively take me way back and continue to be an inspiration.
Interior Stylist with her own U Tube Channel and a recently relaunched website, Naomi’s work speaks for itself. I love her fresh approach to styling, definitely has a unique stamp of her own on her work, and I just love it! Check it out.
One of the very first pieces of décor I bought for one of my very first clients was from Belinda’s store, www.sourceressthestore.com.au. A sweet little shell tea light candle holder for a bathroom makeover. Belinda is an Interior Stylist, Product Stylist and creates magic when it comes to Interiors in Hospitality, Retail, Commercial, Residential and Events. Check out her projects at www.sourceress.com.au.
I love Belinda’s strong work ethic, eclectic style in her work and natural flair for styling. Her background is in Finance and Marketing, mine in Marketing and Communications, so I love meeting others that are supportive in my career path despite changing industries. I have been fortunate to meet with Belinda and most recently assist her for a day styling her most recent project @jackalberrysyd. Check it out to get a flavour of the incredible product she sources.
Scroll below to see Angela’s styling in action in her daughter’s bedroom – shot by Helen Lamont Photography.