Out of the dozens and dozens of women we’ve interviewed for this column, Amelia Canham Eaton might have one of our favorite career stories ever. That’s because the catalyst that launched her successful business as a blogger and interior design was actually attending law school. If you’ve ever wondered if things that are meant to be actually happen, keep reading for your answer…
IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, YOU’VE GONE FROM ASPIRING LAWYER, TO FULL-TIME BLOGGER (AT THE CHICAGO LIFE BLOG), TO INTERIOR DESIGNER. CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF HOW YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN?
It happened very organically, and almost accidentally. I started my blog with a friend as a hobby in law school, but by the time I was graduating and looking at attorney positions I realized, though unconventional, I already had a full time job and a budding career with the blog, I just had to switch gears and start thinking of it that way. Pursuing my own business full time, in lieu of a legal career, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
BASED ON WHAT WE SEE ON YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT, IT SEEMS LIKE INTERIOR DESIGN IS EXACTLY THE FIELD YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN. HOW DID YOU END UP IN LAW SCHOOL? DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE SOMETHING WAS OFF WHEN YOU WERE THERE?
While I couldn’t be happier with the career path I’m on now, I actually loved law school! It was one of the best experiences of my life, and the degree often comes in handy in unexpected ways. I made incredible friends and connections at Loyola Law, and really learned how to think outside the box, as well as develop better writing and communication skills that come in handy on a daily basis. I ended up in law school after a string of law firm jobs, which I also really enjoyed, but in the long run I think I would have grown restless working for a big law firm day in and day out, as an attorney. I’ve definitely ended up on a path I’m much more suited for.
SO YOUR TRANSITION WASN’T REALLY AN ‘AHA MOMENT’?
It was very gradual. Throughout law school I was preparing to go to work for a big firm, but by the time graduation was over my path had become so obvious there was almost no decision to be made.
WHAT DID BLOGGING TEACH YOU ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU WANTED IN A JOB?
It taught me that I want everyday to look a little different, and that I need to feel like the possibilities and growth potential are endless.
DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE A KNACK FOR INTERIOR DESIGN OR WAS THAT SOMETHING THE SITE HELPED YOU FIGURE OUT?
As far back as I can remember I had an interest in interior design. Growing up, my mother always went out of her way to introduce me to interior designers to discuss the career path, and every single one encouraged me to find a more “traditional” and “safe” career path. Go figure! So I thought I was doing the responsible thing by pursuing a law degree, but it seems when something is meant to be, it’s meant to be.
WHEN DID YOU START TAKING ON INTERIOR DESIGN CLIENTS? HOW DID YOUR FIRST CLIENT GO?
My first client was actually a former co-worker who hired me to design a 5 bedroom home in Highland Park. It was a dream first project! We worked through the different phases of the project together, and she’s turned into a lifelong friend. I’m very proud of how it turned out, and love watching her family grow in the space.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED TO BE MORE DESIGNER, LESS BLOGGER?
I’m not sure that’s a decision I’ve ever consciously made. When I had my son a year and a half ago I became more strategic about taking on work that had the best possible ROI for my time. If I was going to be away from him it needed to be worth it, and that probably pushed me further down the design path. This also gave me the opportunity to be more private with our family life than I was before becoming a mom, which was important to me. In the upcoming year I hope to reincorporate blogging back into my business plan, but it won’t quite look like it did before I was a mother and had the design business. I need to find a happy medium that I’m comfortable with. Stay tuned!
WHERE ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP FOR DECOR AND FURNITURE IN CHICAGO?
Definitely Jayson Home! I just love everything that they do over there. It’s also very easy to take for granted how accessible and amazing the Merchandize Mart is for us in Chicago.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WHO FEELS LIKE THEY MAY HAVE “MISSED THEIR CALLING” SO TO SPEAK, BUT MIGHT BE TOO SCARED TO EXPLORE A NEW CAREER?
Don’t think of it as “missing your calling”! Everything you’ve been doing in the meantime has just prepared you to take a unique approach to follow your dreams. Think of every prior experience as an asset, and get out there and go for it! Don’t subscribe to conventional timeframes. It’s never too late!