Keeper of the Earth: Meet Annie Wright

Once or twice a month on Annapurna Living, we spotlight a creative entrepreneur who chooses to do business with integrity and soul. Today, please enjoy our conversation with landscape designer, artist and nature nurturer, Annie Wright.
Photo of Annie Wright by Tess Branke

Photo of Annie Wright by Tess Branke

Hello! Please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How does your heart manifest in the world?

Hello! My name is Annie Wright and I have been a landscape designer in the Los Angeles area for more than 15 years. My work has been featured on HGTV, The LA Times, Lonny Magazine, Annapurna Living and Annenberg Skylight Studios. I have also worked with many top designers in the area (Tracie Butler Design, Bridgid Coulter Design, Sam Marshall Project). Garden Design for me has always been about connecting my clients to the outside. In this urban environment we can continue to nurture nature and educate ourselves to co-habitat with the surrounds by being aware of our impact on the land and water beneath. “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”—Albert Einstein “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”—William Wordsworth

Landscape by Annie Wright

My work is important because____.

My work is important because I feel it is connected to the Earth, and the Earth needs attention and celebration for its diversity, beauty and sensitivity. Landscape Design offers many ways in which one can connect to the world around and see how one can make a positive change for the environment and for those that live in it. “We can Nurture Nature.”—Avajane

As an entrepreneur, who in business do you admire, and why?

I admire those that inspire a call to action. “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help shall all be saved.”—Jane Goodall “The mountains are calling and I must go.”—John Muir

Annie Wright garden design

What does soulful business mean to you? What motivates you?

Soulful Business to me means how we can help the world and make it a better place. Lately I have been referring to this as how can I Nurture Nature? I believe we can help heal the world and not only nurture nature but nurture our selves as well. “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”—Albert Einstein

What is the best business advice you would give?

Before I share business advice, I want to discuss how I came to be a landscape designer and how I am now transitioning into a new business for myself and my family.

Before being a landscape designer I was living in NYC working at a large, online advertising agency. The work was good and I quickly advanced from production coordinator to managing the ad traffic department and working in strategic analysis. My fiancee at the time was offered a job in Los Angeles, so we decided to check it out. We instantly feel in love with California and the climate was amazing. I no longer wanted to be inside at my desk all day and so I began to use my Internet and management skills to work for a Landscape Designer in the Pacific Palisades—doing her books and organizing her business. In the process I also learned how to become a landscape designer (which is what I really wanted). From that experience, a year later I was able to start my own business. It is hard work managing your own business and keeping a crew fully employed, but business is going well and I was able to purchase a larger existing landscape design company based out of Malibu.

In the realm of giving advice about business, I guess I would say that if you want something bad enough, you will figure a way to go out and get it. Careers in online advertising and Landscape Design couldn’t be more different, but I was able to use what I had learned from that experience and translate it into something else. My advice would be for anyone looking to do the same: use your past experience in a way to take the next step towards your new inspiration. Currently I am in a transition from Landscape Design into post-production for film, television and internet. “Find a way for your past experience to reflect your future desires.”—Avajane “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”—William Wordsworth

How do you stay connected to loved ones when deeply entrenched in work?

Staying connected to my family while working has actually been pretty easy since starting my own business in Landscape Design; I would bring my kids to work with me. I was also homeschooling at the time, too! I loved bringing my kids to the nursery to select plants. They would meet the vendors, watch me draw up design plans, make bids and invoice clients. My husband is very busy with his work and I always want to make sure he feels nourished when he comes home by having a warm meal prepared, a cozy space to relax and the kids taken care of so he can have a moment to connect with them. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”—John Muir

What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur? How do you work with or around it?

My biggest challenge right now as an entrepreneur in landscape design is driving and time. My kids are now in school so any work I do has to be in the window of taking and picking them up from school. Also we have moved 40 miles north of Los Angeles so driving to Venice and back to meet a client for an hour is no longer feasible for me. I have to really want the job or love the architect/interior designer I am working with. This is another motivator for me to switch to post-production work (which I am really enjoying) and I can do the work from home.

Annie Wright

When you feel burned out or uninspired, what lights your fire again? Please share a personal mantra, motto, or ritual for when you feel drained. How do you stay nourished and inspired as a soulful creative?

When feeling burned out or uninspired, I just allow that feeling to be and accept it, knowing that it is just a feeling and it is temporary; I will feel inspired again. So I just keep working. Even if I feel I am not getting much done, I know it will become something and lead to the next thing, which will lead to the next, and so on.

How do you start your work day?

My work day starts the same as most days: get up, wake up the kids, make lunches, drive my two older girls to school elementary, then middle school. Come home, walk to feed the horses 1/2 mile every day with my son, who is 2. Make lunch for my husband. Then, once the morning is finished, it is my time to work. I pretty much have a window between 10:30am to 1:30pm to meet clients, go to the nursery, run errands, edit, etc. My days must be planned in advance for landscaping, usually 2 weeks ahead of time.

Annie Write Landscaping Design

If you could do something else as a vocation, what would it be?

I am currently changing vocation from landscape design to post-production and development. I am also working on my sites avajane.com and mediasixtysix.com. Another site is in production; more to follow on that once it is live.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

When I moved to California I discovered that I could run my own business and follow my passion for landscape design all year round.

Annie Wright

Do you have a first memory from childhood that connects you to what you have created today?

An early memory from my childhood that connects me to landscape design and nature is one of always having a small garden to tend to in the summers, raising rabbits, and also my grandmother's landscape paintings and her roses in Indiana.

Who supports you?

My husband gives me unconditional support and inspires me to pursue my passions. He allows me the space to be me and to build on my strengths. Currently we are working together to create a new business, Media 66. This is an online post-production company specializing in film, television and Internet content. We recently completed a project on Arctic Polar Bears that is being exhibited at the Annenberg Space for Photography.

Seeds

If you could do or make something every day that you give away, what would it be?

I really like the idea of being able to give gifts to people. I feel that growing a garden and sharing the bounty from its season is a wonderful gift to give. Also, I am working on a new project with my husband that would allow us to work together and give to people a connection to nature right in their homes. Working everyday to make the world a beautiful place and help others is an incredible gift to give.

Please share any messages, wisdom, stories, or insights you have gathered through your entrepreneurial journey.

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”—John Muir


For more about Annie—

Connect with Annie Wright on her website, AvaJane.com, on Instagram & Tumblr. 

To learn more about Annie's post-production company, visit Media 66.