They’re the rockstars of reno, Three Birds Renovations. And their fearless co-founder and marketing director, Lana Taylor, is as bright, chic and darn delightful as the houses she flips. Best known for empowering women to turn their reno dreams into reality, her work and parenting style are an inspiration too. Oozing confidence and kicking parental guilt to the curb, Lana owns it!
Over the years, you’ve built an envious marketing career for some leading brands. What skills have you carried with you from your time in corporate over to Three Birds Renovations?
When we first started Three Birds, I actually felt as though I was starting from scratch and learning everything brand new. I didn’t feel that any of the skills I’d developed during my 15 years’ experience in sales and marketing at two wonderful global companies were transferable into what we were doing. It’s clear to me now that that isn’t accurate. Managing people in my corporate life made me much more capable of managing and communicating with tradespeople, for instance, but the feeling at the time was that my experience just wasn’t helpful. After all, we’d just set out to renovate property for profit. There was no sales and marketing side to us then – which was my experience. The real estate agent would do that. But as the business and our following grew, I was able to carve out a specific role in the company that was very much needed – growing and nurturing this little brand called Three Birds Renovations.
From fostering partnerships, creating new products, filming, and everything we have in the pipeline, I now use all the skills I built in my corporate career. Part of living is exploring new things. I took a leap of faith to do something different, and it has evolved into my dream job. I now feel as though my whole working life was leading up to this particular role. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.
What does a typical workday look like for you? Or does every day look totally different?
I’m a night owl, not an early bird, so mornings are quite a slow moving affair. I get up at about 7.30am, by which time my gorgeous 12-year-old daughter has already left the house, caught a bus and a train, and is almost at school, so the first thing I do is FaceTime her for a quick chat. My husband makes me a smoothie every morning and helps get our 10-year-old son ready for school. Our son’s school is on our street, so he rides his bike. I’m not at my best in the morning, so to ease myself into the day, I’ll often check my emails on my phone to see if I can knock any over while I’m having my smoothie. Then I’ll go upstairs and get dressed into what is my uniform at the moment – a pair of tracksuit pants and a jumper – and sit down at my office desk to officially start the day at around 9am.
I have intentionally positioned my office in the most beautiful space in the house; up on the top level, surrounded by windows with the morning sun streaming in. When I sit up there on cold mornings, it’s warm, well lit, and it really makes me feel good about starting the day because I’ve created a beautiful environment that I want to spend time in. I’ll spend most of the day toggling between Zoom chats and phone calls with the girls (Three Birds Co-founders, Bonnie and Erin) and content creation. I’ll grab a coffee mid-morning, and barely stop for lunch. My kids are at an age where they can take care of themselves after school – getting home, making afternoon tea or talking to their friends.
I work through till it starts to get dark around 6pm, which is my cue to stop work and decide what we’re eating for dinner. Usually UberEats! I’m not a supermum around the house when it comes to cooking. My children will remember me as a hard worker and a great homemaker but not as a good cook.
I’ve got the screwdriver out fixing locks on the house, I’m cleaning drain pipes out of our bathrooms, but I’m not cooking up a roast. It’s just not me.
At around 9.30pm as my kids are going to bed, I spend a little solo time with each of them having a quality chat. I’ve found kids always want to have their best chats with you when it’s time to go to bed. And I support that because it’s the time that they’re ready to chat. Not in the morning or straight after school. At 10- and 12-years-old they’re getting to be their own little people and I want to be there for them in those moments when they’re ready for a quality chat about their lives and their friends.
Once the kids are asleep, the last hour or two of my evening is my ‘gold time’; just really doing what I enjoy.That’s when I’m catching the latest Netflix show, having a beautiful hot shower, or following American politics on Twitter. It’s hard to finish, so I wrap things up at about midnight.
What’s the biggest challenge as a working parent?
When the kids were really young and I first returned to work after parental leave, I felt a little bit of guilt and discomfort about not being with my babies. I always overcame this by reminding myself that their being at daycare was building their resilience and social skills. It was good for me to go back to work and feel like I was part of adult society again, but I also truly believe it was good for them too.
And now that they’re older, the biggest challenge is the juggle. I feel very blessed to have the job that I do and good work-life harmony. I work hard, but if I need to pick up my kids from school, I can. If I need to go to my child’s sports carnival, I can. All that is much harder to organise and execute when you don’t have flexibility at work. It’s much more efficient to be able to flick between working and family moments on your own terms.
COVID has shown us that work and business can continue successfully without everyone sitting shoulder to shoulder in an office, and that you don’t have to be in the same room as someone to have a productive meeting. That is definitely in the past. A lot of people thought it had to be done that way to get the best outcome. But it doesn’t have to be that way – in fact, there are efficiencies to be made, and many positives in not doing it that way.
Speaking of COVID, what’s one thing from your experience of the pandemic that you want to take with you into the new world?
I already knew that working remotely could be highly effective. I didn’t need COVID to tell me that. So, my take away from all this is the importance of relationship building. For me to have a purely transactional relationship with Bonnie and Erin might be efficient. But there’s still the need to find time to build in that engagement that builds relationships – that’s not just around business. Even when you’re not in business with friends like I am, it’s important to build relationships that are based on friendship, not just “Where’s that report?” or “What time are we meeting?”. I think that that could get lost in the world of COVID because you don’t necessarily Zoom just for chit chat.
We often hear from parents who feel they’ve lost their identity and personal style through their parenthood journey. Do you have any tips for them?
You definitely do lose it. You give it up. Particularly when the kids are young. You forget who you were before kids.
My first tip is to wait it out. From my experience, as your kids get older, you’ll find it easier to become the person you were before kids. You just will. As they become more independent, you’ll be able to go out on your own a lot more often, and it will eventually change organically.
Having said that, my second tip is to fight it out. Make sure you schedule in some special moments that make you feel good. It could be a foot massage, a date night with your husband, or something as simple as a bath or making time to read. Find a way to have someone look after your kids so you can do something for yourself every week. If it makes you feel good, it’s important. You have to force it to happen when the kids are young, otherwise years will pass you by before you realise, “Oh, I never… went back to the gym after my second child”. Try and find a way to keep those things in your life without the guilt. You totally deserve it and it’s important to your overall health and wellbeing.
Being the best mum and wife you can be starts with being happy yourself. You can’t do that if you’re not looking after yourself. So, eating well and exercising should be a priority. They have so many positive effects. I really support people doing whatever they need to look and feel good. Go get it!
Coolest thing I’m working on right now… Three Birds Styling School.
I’m grateful for… my health and my family’s health.
I’m binge-watching… season eight of Homeland.
I recharge by… having time to myself late at night.
Main image: Lana Taylor (centre) with Three Birds Renovations co-founders Erin and Bonnie