Sun Ah is a passionate entrepreneur on a mission to build the most influential design community in North America. She founded LUX decor in 2003 and scaled the business with the help of three things: her ability to bring together talented creative individuals, a strong work ethic and a constant drive to succeed. LUX decor has won Houzz awards for Service and Design for 6 consecutive years; the 2019 Quebecois House of the Year Award and AIA Maine Award in 2023; have been featured in publications including Canadian Home Trends, Maison et Demeure, and more; LUX decor has grown their social media following to over 65,000 (and counting!).
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
I believe a productive day starts the day or evening before by focusing and visualizing what needs to be accomplished so I can execute on all priorities. It also helps to plan into my schedule blocked-off sections of time solely reserved for processing what’s happening throughout any given day and to have time and space to reflect on any key decisions which need to be made. I’ve found that clearing my mind is essential for productivity because day-to-day events can quickly become overwhelming if we don’t allow ourselves that time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life involves visualizing, reverse engineering, leaning on mentors and my team and knowing when to delegate. When you’re trying to bring a vision to life, you must continually get back on the horse. It’s easy to get distracted and you can’t give up.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Building with “global” in mind is a phenomenon that both excites and scares me at the same time. When I first decided I would build our company into a global brand, it was exciting – but it also felt slightly overwhelming and mildly out of reach. If there is one thing I learned through the pandemic, it is that the ability to work remotely and scale the reach of our products, services and impact on a global level is entirely possible. Scaling small businesses like LUX Decor can ship to customers anywhere in the world. It unlocks a whole universe of possibility which makes me so excited.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
I love to plan for quiet time, because it helps me reorganize my priorities, my thoughts and simply to work more productively. Less of a “traditional” productivity practice, I eat lunch with my in-office team every day so that I can gain a pulse on the company and help me gauge our organization’s culture, general sentiment, and overall vibe. It’s a small but impactful practice that has had a huge benefit on how I lead.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself. Everything that you learn is not wasted; all of it is experience. When I was a younger entrepreneur, I was fearless and would dive headfirst into any idea, project or direction that felt right. Today, I’m more calculated with decision-making – and while I’m still impatient for growth, I approach decision-making and time horizons with more patience. growing a business takes time. Plant seeds and watch them grow.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
There’s a lot of talk about wanting to support women-led minority businesses but when you dig and start looking, you realize that what’s available for support to women is borderline offensive. The majority of women-owned businesses are in the service sector, but what governments and banks want to support and fund are not in the service sector. There is a disconnect which does not serve the segment these programs are designed to serve.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Visualization has been a transformational practice for me. I would recommend it to anyone, whether you are an entrepreneur or a leader in your world. Having the opportunity to visualize outcomes, feelings, decisions and experiences has helped me mentally prepare to feel aligned with anything I’ve wanted to achieve in business and in life. Visualization might just be a hidden superpower for success – I swear by it.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, I’ll often step back from work to do something that is not work-related at all – and then come back to it with a refreshed perspective. Sometimes, choosing to do the easier task first, so that you feel you’re accomplishing things is the key to overcoming this feeling.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
Networking, making connections, and building relationships based on authentic curiosity are things that have helped me scale my business. Working on people skills, reading people and their body language is indispensable, no matter what industry you are in. Developing your emotional intelligence is also key to building and maintaining good relationships with people in the workplace.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
Like every entrepreneur, we need to make mistakes in order to grow. An important lesson I’ve learned: how important it is to stay mindful about overextending my team. As an entrepreneur, I am always moving fast, generating a ton of ideas and getting excited about new initiatives – but I can only go as fast as our team allows us to. Keeping a pulse on my team’s energy and ensuring they’re working at the right pace has been a big learning.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Build community. After building and growing the most influential community of interior designers in the country, I’ve realized how special it is to experience others building each other up, connecting, and contributing to each other’s dreams. Building community where everyone has a home, whether you are a solo designpreneur or are part of a larger organization looking to learn from others, has been so transformational.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Loom is a tool we’ve used a lot recently at LUX Decor, both internally and with our clients. A video recording tool, it has helped us within our team to share visual thoughts/ideas and with customers to give them a quick visual look-through or approval on a design element. It’s a great way to get personal with your clients and be productive remotely.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I recently spent $100 on what might be the most expensive coffee and cake while on a trip to St-Tropez. I believe in the value of feelings over things: 100$ spent on an experience or a moment in time shared with others is priceless to me. I spent some amazing time with my daughter, sitting at a cafe and observing the interactions of people coming and going. It was a special moment that made me stop, take in the environment, and have a moment of gratitude. So worth it!
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
“Vivid Vision” by Cameron Herold was a deeply influential book for me. When I was going through a challenging moment of transition splitting from previous business partners, the book helped me crystallize my vision by creating a detailed plan of where I wanted to go. As a result, I was able to reverse-engineer it and just go for it.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
“A Nation of Broth,” a Korean food show, inspired me in both my personal and professional life. Being of Korean parents and adopted at a young age by non-Korean parents, I’ve been on a transformational journey of rediscovering my identity and my connection to my Korean roots. K-drama and cooking shows have been a small but significant part of learning about my Korean heritage. This series particularly resonated because it showcased simple food like broth in various villages across Korea. In the process, it recalled some early memories from before I was adopted. So much so that I could almost feel the environment I had grown up in all over again. Connecting with my own culture and roots is a small version of what my big mission is: to create a sense of home for people everywhere. I live by the concept of Interiority: the drive to create a sense of belonging in spaces we’ve all been longing to experience for our entire lives.
- Build your own circle of influence: Having mentors surrounding me has been one of the best ways for me to continue to grow, learn and apply lessons from other entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses.
- Core values matter: This ensures that you are always very clear on what kind of people, clients, and employees surround you. These are the people who should resemble yourself, and resonate deeply with what you believe in most.
- Fight to get more women in leadership roles, and talk about this topic, so we can start seeing more progressive change.
- Visualisation remains one of my most important tools to stay focused and keep going for my vision. Without this, I think I would not be able to realize some of the biggest milestones and dreams I’ve turned to reality. Do not underestimate the power of visualization – it has been a true game-changer for me!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.