If Anne Sage had more time for one thing she’d be writing a novel. If Caroline Lee had more time for one thing she’d being DJ’ing.
But both ladies, who collectively run Light Lab Studios in Atwater Village couldn't possibly make room for more. Or could they?
Anne’s path took her from Stanford, where she graduated with an English degree to NYC to complete a master's program in interior design. At just eight weeks in she realized it wasn’t for her, took an internship with a small branding agency in the city, nabbing a hands-on education in visual identity and consumer strategy. A decision possibly encouraged by her favorite piece of “real talk” advice. “When I went away to college,” she shares, “a friend told me ‘It’s okay not to like it." That phrase is my constant reminder that we don't have to feel happy about every step in our path.” In 2008, she started her blog. Two years later she moved to SF where she co-founded the online lifestyle publication Rue Magazine. Fast-forward two more years and she was writing Sage Living, an interiors book. Today she manages her online platforms, creates online content for lifestyle brands, and co-owns Light Lab.
Caroline, the eldest of six has had a “an independent, self-reliant sort of mentality about life,” from the gate. At 15 she started her own piano studio. “Being my own business owner at 15,” Caroline says “definitely ignited a love for being self-employed and getting to be my own boss.” At 19, the photographer behind @woodnote, moved to Australia, something she says was a “doozy of a lesson to experience.”
“Big moves mean starting over again,” she shares. “I've learned that it takes about three years of endless focus and intention to get a new idea to a place that it is actually profitable slash enjoyable.” She says she knows now that she can’t rush things.
Though a self-professed serial domain purchaser, the opportunity with Light Lab was too good and when she started looking for creative spaces she saw the potential immediately. It needed a total overhaul and is totally unrecognizable from it’s original state, but Caroline says “In the last five years, I've become more willing to take risks.” She’s also“more interested in collaborating with others who have different strengths than I do— more focused on creating balance.”
That balance is Anne. The duo have partnered on the creative space that serves as a photography studio, an event space, hosting dinners catered by awesome women (and fellow Atwater business owner) like Barrett Pendergast of Valleybrink Road, and the perfect canvas for a pop-up shop. Not to mention, it's a Instagram goldmine with a crush-worthy pink velvet couch and vintage rugs Caroline imports from Morocco through @cococarpets. (What did we tell you about #sidehustles.) Oh, and it has the prettiest pink marble bathroom you’ve ever seen.
Pink and plush decor aside, both women have seen their share of challenges. “One year after moving to LA, I was pretty sure I was going to throw in the towel. I was lonely, miserable, and nearly broke,” says Anne. During those desperate times, she moved back with her parents in Toronto for a month, unsure if she would return to the west coast. But you know what they say about our darkest hours. While at home she secured her contract for Sage Living. “The whole experience was totally in keeping with the phrase, ‘Things always look darkest before the dawn.’” Anne says.
2017 is her year to start writing fiction again. “Writing was my original love and I’ve got so many stories to tell.” If things go as planned she’ll also be adding a new storyline to her own. “2017 is also my year to start having babies!”
How they manage to do it all and still find time for more is inspiring for any young entrepreneur who thinks there isn’t enough time. In addition to Light Lab, Woodnote Photography and her rug business, “stubborn as hell” Caroline takes DJ lessons, travels non-stop, plays violin in an LA community orchestra, and often partners with Sseko Designs and Justice Rising through photography to help help educate women in Africa.
Caroline says that though she’s thought about throwing in the towel on days when it’s all too much, she’d never follow through with giving up or quitting; she has too much to do and more domains to purchase. Like her goal of photographing the first wedding on the moon. “No big deal,” she jokes. Her husband, Jayden Lee, gave her the best advice: “Meet people where they're at, and leave them better than you found them.” Sounds like the lucky free spirit has two sages in her life.