Before social media made every aspiring stylist an influencer, Megan Morton had already developed a storied career in the style and design space. Learn about her path from internet to design guru.
From the outside, the job of stylist seems effortlessly chic, romantic and, well, downright cool – and this has never been truer than in the impossibly curated, endlessly scroll of social media.
But even before the age of Instagram, stylists were the magicians of magazines – weaving their magic through objects and spaces and making them, well, better.
It’s a job that seems like the epitome of creativity, untethered from the easily quantified world of balance sheets and bookkeeping, but the reality, as stylist, author, businesswoman and ‘house whisperer’ Megan Morton explains, is a delicately balance.
“At its core, interior styling is making the best of something.
“It is turning a room, or a house, or a set for a page in a magazine, into the very best it can be, given the time and budget constraints.
“The mastery in that is delivery and the art is the ideas and the way it makes people feel.”
And Morton knows what she’s talking about.
Her elegant HQ in the inner Sydney suburb of Rosebery incorporates an event space, studio, school and styling business. It’s certainly a far cry from the Queensland banana farm where she grew up.
But Morton’s resume reveals an enviable background and a very well-rounded skillset.
Humble beginnings as an intern at Dolly magazine led to a career in publishing and marketing. This corporate grounding gave Morton an understanding of the importance of having the right accounting system and processes in place to run her creative business effectively.
“I run the business very accounts-aware, because we don’t get paid until the job is done, yet our expenses are very heavy.
“So, we have certain terms that will protect us around those core expenses.
“My background allowed me to become a stylist that would be someone who wouldn’t lose their receipts; someone who’d be able to come in on time and on budget, be punctual and do other things that I felt were sometimes thrown in the air when you worked with creative people.”
Morton goes on to explain: “In styling, there are five key stages.
“Two of them you can invoice for, and the other three you can’t.
“One is idea generation, two is sourcing, and three is the shoot (and the logistics and production that go with it).”
According to Morton, these elements of her work are the ones that most creatives thoroughly enjoy, but the real business happens in the final two stages.
“Fourth is the paperwork to the production, and the last one is invoicing and keeping the business in the black.
“The research and idea generation and concept are everyone’s favorite part, but they’re also the things no one can actually apply an invoice to.”
And while Morton is quick to acknowledge just how important the less definable, more creative elements of styling are, she doesn’t mince words about the significance of the administrative and accounting aspects of the business.
“It’s so important that it can’t even be, ‘Am I doing it right?’
“It has to be done right, otherwise the wheels fall off.”
And for Morton, that’s where MYOB comes in.
“Having an accounting system that is intuitive and is just there backing it up is the key.”
With MYOB, the fear of having to find and enter a shoebox of old receipts come tax time is removed. But really, mobile accounting allows Morton to be more effective on the daily.
“To be able to be invoice on the same day as I’m processing orders for other things, as well as doing meetings, has to happen.
“I love the efficiency of it.”
It might seem that they’re worlds apart, but Morton argues there are commonalities between accounting and styling.
“Really good styling, just like accounting, is invisible and seamless and it just continues day after day, week after week, job after job.
“What I love about working in the MYOB system is that I never have to second guess it; I never have to delve deep or go further… everything’s there when I need it.”
The importance of solid production and business skills might seem like a far cry from the glamorous, Instagram-fuelled perception of a stylist, but Morton thinks the combination of solid business sense and creative skill is a potent one.
“I want to tell anyone who has a creative bone in their body, that if they can master the art of basic business skills, you’ll be able to do whatever you want for as long as you want, wherever you want in the world.
“There are so many people who can do business, but there are not so many people who can bring passion.”