Today we’d like to introduce you to Elsbeth Mumm.
Elsbeth, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Let me start by saying that my Plan A failed at the age of 15 when my lifelong dream (up until that point at least) of being a veterinarian ended when I realized I’d never be able to put an animal down. Cut to me now, probably more like on Plan L or P or something like that. I run my own business and am a freelance Art Director, which I don’t even know if I’d know what that was at age 15. My point is that life is a brief wondrously winding and twisting road that challenges you to dig deep and try your best to find your joy because what else have you got to lose? So, this is me finding my joy and giving it my best.
I went to college for film and focused on Art Department/ Production Design. Now hold you to your hats for a fun ride- When I graduated it was deep into the recession and Los Angeles was crawling for work. My later-to-be husband and I decided to go on an adventure while we could and joined AmeriCorps (which is amazing, look it up, and help save it from budget cuts p.s.) which took us from Los Angeles to Flagstaff, Arizona. We got to do jobs completely out of norm and learn new skills. I taught environmental education as a guest speaker to pre-k thru college age levels while getting to backpack in the wilderness on the reg. It was amazing and changed my life, seriously. It woke me up to what was important to me, the magic of the world, and the beauty of nature.
After 2 years in that small fabulous mountain town, we made a move to Santa Cruz, CA – I won’t get into how that happened. There was an interior designer that had her business in Santa Cruz that I had adored. I showed up to Saffron and Genevieve with my resume and basically just kept showing up till she graciously hired me. I spent 5 years being mentored by Scarlett Fiona Reed and doing my personal art alongside. Her eye for design and incorporating organic materials was captivating to me and challenged my imagination in ways that hadn’t been pushed since working in film. I wanted more. When Scarlett closed her incredible iconic shop years later, it was bitter sweet. It was an end to something truly inspiring for me, but also it was my time to start walking my own path.
It was terrifying to just sit down and start brainstorming my ideas for my own business, but I pushed through the resistance with the help of my business partner and friend, Sarah Larkin, and started Wild Abandon Design in 2016 and now live back in Los Angeles. I offer home and office styling, procurement, e-styling, and event and commercial installations. I also contract for still and motion art direction and prop styling for commercials. A real mouth full! But all things I love and all things I love to bring joy to others through.
Has it been a smooth road?
I think I mentioned that I am on Plan L by now, right? Haha! Yes, there have been struggles. Lots of dark nights of the soul, asking myself hard questions, doubting myself and my choices. I did a lot of doubting. But at some point, I had to ask myself if I was going to spend my whole life in that place, that hazy exhausting land of doubt, or was I going to try-and try my best, one day at a time. At first it is really hard, the self-discipline, the hustle, the freelance free-fall. But it gets easier and with each client and project, it fuels me up to keep going. One of the hardest things for me to overcome was creating and sticking to my own schedule. I am not a morning person to say the least so I had to be accountable to myself, like for reals. I had to look myself in the mirror, heart and soul. It still isn’t always easy. I don’t think it ever will be ‘smooth sailing’, I just don’t think that is how life works or how artist’s brains work. I have accepted that, and in that acceptance, it is easier for me to navigate those hard times when doubt raises its head. Doubt is always there, me being less surprised about it is my best weapon.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am still trying to figure out ways to best let people know what it is that I do since I can do many things, this is another struggle I think about a lot. Home styling is what is at the heart of my business. Ranging from helping clients create and hang a gallery wall or a room re-fresh, to a full room or home re-haul. I offer e-styling and online shopping lists to clients who either live out of town or who’s schedules work best at their own pace. I extend this service to offices as well.
I am also an installation artist that creates individualized pieces of statement works for client’s homes, offices, shops, or events. I provide art direction and prop styling for still and motion commercials. On top of all that I am a graphite artist and sculptor doing commission work and working on my own projects… oh and I am writing and illustrating my own children’s book! Ha!
A friend of mine told me that I am a Renascence Woman – meaning I can do a lot of different creative things. I really like that idea. That I can embrace all of these things that I love doing and build a life out of it.
I am just beginning this journey- so I am still proud of that alone! I am proud of my growing community and so proud of my client’s spaces and installation projects. I am proud of the Instagram community that I am building. I am proud of myself for taking the leap. I am proud that I got through my first tax season as a small business owner- aimrite??!
I think because of the wide array of services I offer, and my background in film, it sets me apart from others. Film work is a highly collaborative art form- you have to know how to work with people to create one vision. I think that it really instilled in me the importance of listening to what people want, how to work with different personalities and tastes, how to be communicative and proactive. I like to allow my client’s voice take center stage and help guide them to create their own beauty, their dream space that feels like THEIR space not just execute my vision. I feel like I am an editor of space- ultimately my client is the author but I help shape their vision and voice into something special. I feel like almost anything is possible with a realistic budget and thinking outside the box! If I have to research something and collaborate with other artisans to make something real, then that’s my ideal situation.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is a great city for my business! I started in another city, in a completely different demographic and population size, and one of the reason I moved was to continue my business in LA. I wanted the change of pace, the buzz of Los Angeles is inspiring to me- everyone is working for their dream and pushing every day to make it real. It is contagious, that energy. I know not everyone may have this experience, but I find the people here to be so collaborative and excited to work together to build each other up. That feeling of wanting to elevate everyone around you is a very real thing right now in this city; I love it. I haven’t back here in LA for very long and already have made incredible bonds and working on collaborative efforts. c
I would say that it is difficult to get going here as someone just starting out. It is that classic ‘small fish in a big pond’ story at first, you have to really get your hustle on and work hard to grow and become the ‘bigger fish in a big pond’. There are so many free events that are for creatives to network and be inspired- go to them and meet your peers! Find the pulse of your field. But I do feel like this city rewards people who are genuinely nice to work with and are reliable. It is a city that is striving to be better, to do more, to give back, to grow in the right direction. So how do you help its mission?
It is important to explore as much of our state/ the country/ our world as your situation allows and then bring it back. I am a different person from when I last lived here and I am better for it. I know myself better and I have an aesthetic that isn’t just LA or California anymore, and I think that it makes me stronger.
- Hourly starts at $80
- Day rates starts at $400
- Website: www.wildabandon.design
- Phone: 619 985 2947
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @wildabandondesign
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wildabandondesign
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/wild-abandon-design-los-angeles
Wedding editorial photos by Adriane White Photography