don’t you love the connections that come from blogging? that’s how today’s interview with marcia, the creative director and managing partner from zia-priven, came about. she happened to leave a comment on the interview i did with jeanine from aphrochic and after corresponding with her via email, i had one of those complete ”OMG” moments!! here was a woman i had been corresponding with…that was someone whose work i have admired for years! (i had used the gorgeous, modern lighting from their website as inspiration for the chandelier in our dining room and i’ve had the below gray dining room in my inspiration file for awhile now!!)
once the shock wore off (i’m still in awe!), i couldn’t believe how wonderful and down-to-earth marcia is, along with being an absolutely dynamic and talented woman. i couldn’t wait to hear how she started and learn more about her. her company, zia-priven, creates the most gorgeous, modern and contemporary lighting that really is too glamorous for words! you’ll be blown away by her story and her advice – she’s absolutely inspiring (she was nominated for an emmy…enough said, right?!)
Can you share a bit about yourself…what’s your background? How did you get started?
In my early 20’s, I started exploring the world of fine art. I studied painting and lived and breathed it—canvases and paint were everywhere in my tiny Hollywood apartment, and I loved it! I spent countless nights obsessing on a piece until the sun rose – it invigorated me to feel such passion for something I was doing. The entire “concept of design” excited me and I wanted to design everything!
After realizing I needed to actually pay my rent, I found a job at an Antique Auction house in LA. Talk about hitting the ground running! From 17th Century to Contemporary furnishings, I received a crash course in all things antique. It was there I developed a strong appreciation for style and detail. The most important thing I learned was, though something may not be your particular taste, you can still admire the quality and craftsmanship of the piece. The experience completely broadened my horizons and design sensibility; I began to truly understand what I liked, and more importantly, why I liked it. After 3 years I knew I wanted to do interior design and that’s what led me to set decorating.
This would be “Giant Leap #1”. Don’t get me wrong, I was afraid—no, terrified—to go from a position I knew well to something I knew little about. But I wanted the risk more than I wanted the complacency. Isn’t that what it comes down to for all of us? While still at the auction, I volunteered in the evenings as a production assistant just to get my foot in the door. After saving enough money to survive for a couple months, I lept. I started out in the film business near the bottom, working on independent movies, then onto commercials (including some big ones for Sony, Kia, Pepsi), bigger feature films, and finally to CBS where I was nominated for an Emmy. I loved the experience and still love interior design (doing it on the side for friends and family), but after about 6 years in the business, I wanted something of my own. It was on my last independent movie where I met Paul, my now husband and partner (and the best guy ever!). Our mutual dissatisfaction is what led us to ultimately leave the film industry. After a couple years together, with me working up to 14 hours per day at CBS on two shows at a time, we decided to get out.
“Leap #2” We opened a small home furnishings store that had a cool mixture of vintage and new pieces. Everyone thought we were crazy. The film business paid us well and many people perceived it as prestigious, but what mattered more to us was our own happiness and fulfillment. The big risk was knowing once we left the film business, we couldn’t turn back, there really was no fall-back position. Oh, and the absence of that fat paycheck…So we went for it with guns blazing! The store was successful but the biggest significance of its existence was that it helped us discover our passion for lighting. We always gravitated towards chandeliers or lamps, and we thought, “Hey, this is what we really love.”
After a year or two, one of us had the idea to actually design and manufacture our own chandelier. That’s really when we started down the road to where we are today. It was 1999, and we were ready to conquer the world. After moving to NYC, our company really began to blossom.
I’m always fascinated by those who are able to take the leap…what hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome? Are you able to pursue your dream full-time?
Hurdles? There are always hurdles. It depends on how you look at things. There are hurdles in making a sandwich! The bread’s too dry, not enough mustard, etc. Everything can be a hurdle if you let it be. Obviously, some are greater than others. When we started making lighting we had no idea where to start, we just knew what we liked. It took a lot of time, research and money (money we didn’t necessarily have!) to get things started. There was even a short time living in Brooklyn when Paul became a waiter to supplement our income, with an added bonus of free dinner every night. And boy, were we thankful! There were family members and friends who were not supportive at all, especially when we moved to NYC to really push the business. It took time to grow, and I cannot tell you how many times we have had to redo a light fixture because it didn’t meet our standards or the finish was wrong. These things are all frustrating and there have been hurdles and obstacles all along the way and there always will be. It’s similar to what I said before, I’ll take the risk AND the hurdles any day over complacency and a lack of fulfillment.
Thankfully, in exchange for a lot of hard work, Zia-Priven has taken good care of us for about the last 9 years.
Where do you see yourself and/or your company in 5 years?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. I’ve felt a calling back to my interior design roots and am considering re-entering the field beyond friends’ and family’s homes. First off, we need to finish the décor of our current home, a modern 3 story townhouse in Santa Monica with plenty of its own hurdles. Decorating it is just too much fun—fabric, art and paint everywhere! Meanwhile, I started a design blog of my own called thestudioluxe.com. It gives me an outlet to share my favorite designers and products, set decorating secrets and behind the scenes stuff while finding my voice for writing, another thing I plan to tackle. On a more personal note, we recently started the adoption process and are thrilled at the thought of welcoming a couple of sweet, little ones into our lives. This event will absolutely trump every other aspect of our lives and we are SO excited. Lamps, what?!
For Zia-Priven, we plan to expand the brand to include furniture and accessories, I love the thought of designing new products beyond lighting. We also see our company represented in a national showroom (currently, we’re in Los Angeles, Denver, Toronto and 2 in Chicago).
Can you give us an idea of what a typical day is like for you?
Because I work from home, I can often be found in my PJ’s until noon, banging away at the computer or working on a drawing. I’m old-school and prefer an actual pencil and drawing pad to the computer; there’s something about the tactile nature of a drawing that helps me connect to the piece. Paul goes into the office most days to run the business side of Zia-Priven while I work on the creative side, though we constantly talk or text throughout the day about countless ZP decisions, big and small. Some days when I need a break, I walk down to the beach to sit for a while, listen to the waves and breath in the ocean air. There’s nothing that clears my head better and brings me such peace. Then back to work! With a new light fixture, there a myriad of details to consider, sizes of each individual component must be exact, the materials and finishes must be perfect. And because I design for several companies besides ours, there is always a design that needs my focus. I’m also continuously hunting down new materials and testing them out. They usually get placed about the house so I can see how the changing light affects them—a strand of gemstones here, a swatch of fabric there, sometimes the house gets terribly cluttered with “work”!
Besides the day to day lighting details, I work on the blog, send out messages on Twitter, design our trade show booths, do our PR and read a ton of blogs and magazines. Then dinner with the hubby, a movie and bed, sweet bed.
Creating work and running a small business can be time consuming, can you share how you manage to balance home/work life?
I can’t say we’re entirely successful at balancing home and work but we do our best. On weekends Paul and I try to declare at least one day a “No Work Talk” day and honestly sometimes it’s difficult. If we think of a great idea, it just blurts out and we suddenly get engaged in a 2 hour conversation until we catch ourselves. If we didn’t love what we do so much it would never happen, so I guess it’s a good thing!
What one piece of advice can you share with other aspiring artists?
It’s the old adage—follow your heart. Just do it. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they think. This is your life, YOU need to live it. In a year, the things you worry about today will be long forgotten, so don’t let them be the end of the world now. Live life and don’t regret what you haven’t done.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
What I see, feel, touch—it may sound trite, but it’s true. I think the same goes for all of us. I love textures, shapes and of course, nature. Even the most unsightly things have their own particular beauty. I try to look around at everything and experience things for their own uniqueness. That’s why one of my favorite pastimes is photography; you see things in a completely different way through a lens. Paul inspires me quite a bit too, people don’t realize how creative and imaginative he is!
What is the most glamorous part of running your business?
I adore the parties and events, our fabulous clients, seeing our pieces hang in the most beautiful homes and published in magazines. That amazing feeling I get when I first see a piece finally completed after I’ve worked on it for a year and it is stunning!
Schlepping boxes at a trade show, having lamp parts laying all over the house because I like to “stare at things for a couple weeks to know if they feel right,” getting 2 hours of sleep because I have a deadline, spending evenings and weekends working because I need to catch up!
Just for fun…what’s your idea of a perfect day?
I love a good flea market—LOVE. Our new favorite is the Santa Monica Airport flea on Sundays, really great finds! Then maybe a simple, light lunch overlooking the ocean in a quaint little seaside bistro, a walk on the beach, a little shopping, a little lounging about and dinner accompanied by an excellent bottle of Cabernet at our favorite local place. Follow that with a summer outdoor blues concert or maybe someone wonderful at the Hollywood Bowl. Ahh, now that’s a day!
What are some of your favorite blogs or websites?
Too many to mention so I’ll go with my current faves, excluding of course One Sydney Road! I’m always a big fan of Decor8, not only a friend but one of the sweetest and hardest working people I know, Design Milk for their broad view of design, My Marrakesh for her sensitive writing and pics, The Bedlam of Beefy, for his wit, The Sartorialist for his fashionable, candid photos and Mrs. Lilien for her great stylish charm.
Any guilty pleasures?
While boarding a plane, I must have a stack of “rag” mags to distract me. Celebrity gossip helps me forget I’m 30,000 feet up in the air! And The Housewives of New York—completely addicted. And I can never look away from a great sale, now that’s just a crime.
Thanks for sharing pictures of your workspace. It is so stylish and chic and I adore the little things (like the woman’s head) that give it a sense of wit. No wonder you’re able to create such gorgeous lighting!
Marcia wanted to leave you with one of her favorite quotes – I think it’s now one of mine!
thank you marcia for stopping by one sydney road and sharing with us!