How 2 Advertisers Made the Ultimate Pivot Into Lighting Design

You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you're now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we launched a series called Second Life. It proved so popular, we launched a Second Life podcast hosted by our co-founder, Hillary Kerr. Each month, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.



Courtesy of Dana Castle.

After 20 years in the same industry, Dana Castle and Michele DeHaven were ready to pivot their successful advertising careers and flex their creative muscles. "We needed to learn something new and be creative in a different way," says Castle. "We also wanted to prove to ourselves that we could launch our own product." This side hustle turned out to be their new "illuminated art" lighting company, Crosland Emmons.

So how did it all begin? Well, a few years ago, DeHaven went back to her fine-art roots and started experimenting with ceramics. After working with numerous clients in the architectural and design space, she saw a need for unique lighting that had a more organic and human element. "We also wanted a new challenge to extend our creativity and grow personally after so many years in the business," she tells me.

Interestingly, Crosland Emmons is an addition to their current business, and they utilize the agency and its experienced staff for their PR and marketing. They kicked off the brand with pendant fixtures, but every day, they think of new things they want to create, including floor and table lamps, and wall sconces. "We want to grow it to be a full offering of ceramic items that embodies a true lifestyle brand," says Castle. "We would also like to grow in the hospitality space, working with designers to create a branded look and feel for hotels, from lighting to accent pieces and dinnerware."

Ahead, the dynamic duo discusses their career path from starting their own agency to launching a product and some of the hurdles they encountered along the way.