Motherhood Dyed in the Wool: Artist Lauren Williams

mixed media artist, Dallas native, and mom of three boys talks how work-life balance is a myth

On the eve of the launch of her latest collection (and her 37th birthday), we sat down with Lauren Williams to talk about the five-year roller coaster ride it’s been from creating her first tapestry for her own blank dining room wall to having her fiber art featured on TV shows like Fixer Upper and Queer Eye.

What started as an outlet to combat stay-at-home-mom isolation has blossomed into a full-time business she runs with her husband from their Frisco home-slash-studio, where she can also be a hands-on mom to her three boys.

“They’re watching this business thrive,” she says. “To have a family business that they get to witness and then watching Mom and Dad still be Mom and Dad—that’s been a very cool thing to show them.”

DFWChild: How did you and James meet? Lauren Williams: We were living in LA. We were just hustling, and we both kind of fizzled out. We met at a yoga studio. I was like, “Well, I just quit my job. I can’t afford yoga now, but if I work the front desk, I can get free yoga.” I started taking classes there and then he started training to teach them.

Child: How did you end up back in DallasLW: I grew up in Dallas and I remember my dad always saying it’s the best place to have a family, it’s a great place to have a business. We are both entrepreneurs at heart so we thought we could go to Dallas and start there.

“I was suffocated here under the kids with no adult to talk to. I didn’t know anybody.”

Child: How did you start your business? LW: We moved into a rental in Dallas. One of the rentals had this big blank wall that needs a great piece of art. My budget for art and my taste for art did not align. My mind just started reeling. I started working with these with pieces of yarn and attaching it to a wooden dowel. The next morning, I hung it out in the grass and was using some dyes and paints from the kids’ art kits. Once it dried, I hung it on our wall and [James] was like, “I really like it.” I thought, Maybe I have something here.

Child: How did people find out about your art? LW: I took a picture and posted it on Instagram, and the post said something like, “Check out this underground artist I just discovered this weekend.” Somebody was like, “Who is this artist? I love this work!”

Then people started asking, “Can you make one for me?” First it was friends and then family and then friends of friends. Then I had no idea who these people were. I called myself a weekend artist—naptimes or after they would go to bed, I would just make these pieces and start selling them. That was when we lived in Dallas and we had a production company on the side.

Child: Why did you move to Frisco? LW: We got pregnant with our third little boy, and our oldest was about to start kindergarten. And we were like, “You know, maybe it’s time to move to the suburbs and get the minivan.” So we did it. During that time James got offered a job out in LA, and it was one of those opportunities that you don’t say no to. He would fly out early on Monday morning and fly home Friday night. I was single mom-ing it with three kids. I thought, We can do this. Its fine. But I was suffocated here under the kids with no adult to talk to. I didn’t know anybody.

Child: So it was being isolated that led you to dig into your business? LW: I really found an outlet in my art. I would stay up until 3 in the morning making the art. Then during the day after drop-offs, I would stage the art. Then throughout the day I’d be posting it and commenting and sharing. I just dove head-first into social media, and that was my socialization with my husband gone. It just started growing and growing and growing. Then there was a month where my income of art was rivaling his income in LA. And I was like, “Man, what if he came home and helped me? I don’t even know what I’m doing and I’m making money selling art.” He quit his job—that was a huge, crazy leap for us because literally he’s quitting the big thing, and he’s coming home to help his wife make art with three kids and a house. It was a little crazy, a little stressful. But we kept going, and it continued to grow.

“There was a month where all the bills for the business came in, the bills for the house and our came in, and we were empty.”

 
Child: Now that your business has grown to the capacity that it has, is there a worklife balance, or is that a farce? LW: We have priorities and we’re very clear on what our priorities are: God, our marriage, our kids and then our business. That was a huge realization for us a couple of years ago. The business had been our priority for so long. There was a month where all the bills for the business came in, the bills for the house and our life came in, and we were empty. That’s when we found this church. We really explored that relationship with God and how if we prioritize him, he will make sure everything else is good. I don’t know. I mean, there is no work-life balance. I think when you make your work your life, and you make your life part of it but keep those priorities right, then you do find that balance.

Child: Do you ever just feel uninspired and if so, how do you manage that? LW: I guess it’s been two years now—I went through this horrible, crazy phase where I was burned out. I was exhausted. So James bought me a gigantic canvas with all these paints and paintbrushes. And he was like, “Maybe you should try something else.” The minute my brush was filled with paint and the minute my brush touched the canvas, I had goosebumps just cover my body. I was like, “This. I love this.” And I poured into painting for a little while. I just did it as an outlet for me.

Child: How do you keep your energy level up? LW: The weekends I really shut down. Even though the studio is right there, most of the times we work 9 to 3. At 3 o’clock my kids walk through the door and we’re done. I think I’m just fueled by the fact that I’m doing something that I love. I have my dream job.


Quick Cut

Age: 37
Lives in: Frisco
Alma mater: University of Oklahoma
Significant other: Husband James, business partner and former film and television producer. “He runs the business. He lets me be the artist; he handles everything else. If you think about what a producer does, they’re managing the directors, they’re making sure the actors are good, they’re also dealing with the network or the funds, and they’re running everything. He does that a lot with me. It’s been amazing to watch him own the business and bring it to that level that I never could’ve done by myself.”
Offspring: Ethan, 9, Jax, 7, and Ridley, 4
Recent project: “We just did this really amazing collaboration with Kimpton for the remodel of the Alexis Hotel in Seattle—they commissioned me to do a tapestry for every single room in their newly renovated hotel. It was a huge, huge moment. It wasn’t as glamorous as I thought one of those big moments would be, but that was really cool.”
Where to find her art: laurenwilliamsart.com

Image courtesy of Carter Rose.