My Early Hour: Emma Merry, founder of Home Milk

“Twice a week I’ll go off to do a shoot of someone’s beautiful home. I love meeting the people and seeing what they have done, it’s amazing how creative humans can be, and the home is such a personal space.” Emma Merry on mornings, her new business and work-life balance…

Emma Merry, 38, lives in Walthamstow with her husband Dan and five-year-old son Mylo.

What’s your home like?
Running an interiors account has meant I’ve gained a lot of inspiration from others but I try and keep in my own lane. Colour is my jam. If you need proof come and see my fluorescent yellow staircase. I’m passionate about colour and how it can affect our wellbeing.

What time are you up in the morning?

What wakes you up?
Always my son with a polite but loud ‘can I have breakfast now?’ shouted at the top of his voice.

How do you feel?
I’m not a morning person but the constant request for Bran Flakes into my half a sleep face is enough to motivate me to get up.

What do you do first thing?
Get those Bran Flakes flowing.
Make a smoothie, maybe a little egg on toast too if I have a shoot to do that day. Followed by a large pot of green tea.
Check my Instagram.
Check my work schedule for the day. I have a daily/weekly/monthly planner that I live by.
Panic choose some clothes.
Realise I’ve run out of time to do my yoga.
Drop Mylo off at school. I love the school run, there’s something hilarious about the en mass wrestling of children down the road. Comparable to an egg and spoon race I think.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Always on time. I don’t like to be late for things so there’s a regular rhythm to my morning to ensure Mylo and I are both ready for the day. My husband does help out too.

Tea or coffee?
Green or mint tea please.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
I’m trying to launch a business so I’m cramming a lot of work into a small space of time. But the entire point of me launching a business is to have a more flexible and happy life, so I make sure I don’t reach breaking point by over filling my schedule.

Around twice a week I’ll go off to do a shoot of someone’s beautiful home. I love meeting the people and seeing what they have done, it’s amazing how creative humans can be, and the home is such a personal space so I’m honoured to be allowed in to take my photos.

Other days I’m either head down in my home office to write content for my account or my upcoming courses. Or out meeting clients for our interior design service ‘Home Milk Designs’.

What’s your workspace like?
I’m so proud of it, it’s the tiniest room ever but we worked with an amazing carpenter to create a plywood box office, it’s floor to ceiling ply. It looks very cool and it makes the space feel much bigger and I like being around so much wood, it creates a very calming atmosphere. Lots of colour swatches knocking around, always an empty cup, a little bit of mess but not too much. Too much mess makes me feel frazzled.

Where’s Mylo when you’re working?
He’s at school then a few days a week at after school club, I sometimes feel guilty when I’m working from home and he’s there but I have to remind myself I’m building this business for him too. It’s great to be working from home mostly as I’m much more available for him these days, rather than rushing to pick him up in a panic from central London.

Tell us about your business: when did you launch, and how/why did it come about?
Home Milk is for the nosy neighbours out there. Hosted on Instagram. It’s me, visiting spectacular homes with my camera. I feature one lovely person and their home per week, posting around 1-2 images per day. I’ll even tell you where they bought/found their lovely things. Interiors can be a bit stuffy, I like to think my approach is a bit more accessible, there’s definitely no posh magazine speak on my posts.

I’m working on some interesting, and hopefully really useful, video content at the moment, plus I’ll be launching a course, more on that soon.

On top of that I have launched Home Milk Designs with my friend Jude. Our interior decor services with three packages, Skimmed, Semi-skimmed and Full Fat. Plus a smaller ‘Condensed Milk’ which is a product finding service.

I’ve always had a thing for interiors. From a young age, I loved moving my bedroom furniture around; I’d wake up and feel like I was in a new room. But I wasn’t exposed to interior design as a child and so hadn’t considered it as a career option.

Instead, I studied TV and photography at university, then moved into a career in TV, followed by advertising, before finding a job as digital creative operations manager at Selfridges.

On the side, I completed two amazing interior design courses at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. But this felt like more of a hobby than a potential career so I continued with my job at Selfridges.

After while, though, I was burning out. Spending years doing jobs I didn’t love had taken its toll. It took a while, but finally it clicked: I could use my skills in digital creative content and pair it with my love for interiors. I’d also be able to use my photography training.

Being surrounded by creatives my whole life has meant I’ve been to some pretty amazing homes, but to most they are – quite literally – behind closed doors. So I decided to harness my inner nosy neighbour and venture into these homes with my camera.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
I thought it would be motivation without my team around me, but I seem to have a lot of that. I work at quite a rapid pace so it can be frustrating when change isn’t happening as quickly as I’d like, but building a business takes patience and resilience I hear. I’ve also found it challenging putting myself out there, confidence has always been a struggle of mine, something I’m working on and when I look back to six months ago I’ve made great progress. Pretty chuffed with myself.

What makes it all worthwhile?
Being in total control of my future. Working under my own intuition, at my own pace. Not having to deal with divas and bad managers. Having goals that are totally in line with my life aspirations not some corporate machine. Being judged only by the standards I set for myself. Being able to fit daily yoga into my life. (It’s only taken me 38 years). Being able to pick up Mylo on Friday and take him to the park (by park I mean pub). Need any more? I have loads.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
I am in my happy place when doing something creative, but having been a producer for years organisation is in my bones. I’m good at it, but don’t enjoy it as much. But when launching a business you have to throw yourself into all elements. I look forward to the day when I can employ someone for sure.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I thought I would die working on my own, I’m such a social person but I honestly haven’t missed the corporate workplace for a second, too much drama. I miss my friends though, but I still see them. I do get a bit lonely sometimes and definitely talk to myself far too much., full blown conversations sometimes!

What’s the secret to career success?
Perseverance and not waiting until you are ready, you are never ready. Just do it anyway.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing parenting/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Christ yeah, it’s especially difficult when Dan and I are both in extremely busy periods. I’ve also had to start saying no to certain social events which is a bit of a killer, my friends are really important to me. But I’ve already put in a solid amount of partying days over the years, so I can’t complain.

Describe an ideal weekend?
South of France, a holiday cottage with my fam and all my closest friends, drinking Prosecco by the pool.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
South of France please. Or maybe Mariah Carey’s house, just to see what she’s up to.

Follow Emma on Instagram: @homemilk