I first met Anne when she and John were gardening on the block we both shared in Olde Kensington. I was so taken with her warmth and their love of design. Their contemporary furniture and lighting collection, John Pomp is so elevated and refined - yet has a cool, understated look that I find so appealing. I deeply admire their commitment to traditional craftsmanship and manufacturing in the inner city. It was such a pleasure to visit their workshop and see their latest design projects.
You went to school for economics, how did you end up in a career in furniture and high-end lighting? I was drawn to economics because it’s about utility and efficiencies… you’re trying to find an equilibrium in something that is constantly changing. All of these concepts are applicable to pretty much any business. I had been working at a hedge fund in new york city when I met John. I was so intrigued and captivated by him and his profession. He had a tabletop accessories collection that he was wholesaling to stores like Barneys, Neiman Marcus, etc.
As time went on, he had a need for someone like me in the business and I was looking for something that was more fulfilling and personally meaningful. At that point in time, it was just John and one part-time employee. Making a career shift like this was exhilarating, terrifying and freeing all at the same time... I was leaving the security of a well-paying job, but, I was entering into a world where I was surrounded by creativity, challenges, and risks with huge potential. There has never been a day when I regretted my decision. It’s been an intense and beautiful journey.
What’s a typical day like for you? I love getting up before anyone else is awake, so I usually get up between 5:30 and 5:45 and do a 15-minute yoga practice and 10 minutes of meditation. Those two things have changed my life. After that, it’s a whirlwind… my husband and I divide and conquer - we let the dogs out, shower, feed and dress the kids and then out the door. There are three main components to my job - CFO, Executive and Sales Manager, so every day at work is different, depending on what we’re dealing with. There are, however, a few things are constants in the everyday schedule.
John and I meet in the morning and review the day’s agenda. We discuss any immediate issues that need to be addressed and prioritize tasks for the day. I check our accounts and review spending every day - as a business owner you have to have a handle on your finances. Cash management is crucial. Sales are only half of the story, you need to know how and where you’re spending your money. The goal is to grow and be profitable. After I review the books, my day is usually punctuated with emails and phone calls to sales reps and showroom managers (our work is represented by various showrooms across the country) regarding scheduling for new samples, sales, etc. Sometime in the later part of the day, John and I will meet again - maybe to discuss the launch of a new product, or some strategic planning for our 3 yr, 5 yr or 10 yr goals, or maybe it’s just me being a sounding board for some new design ideas that he has.
Because of the range of roles that I have here, there is a lot of fluidity in my day to day. I also check in with my office team to touch base on any issues, important deadlines or initiative updates. I am so grateful for them - having a solid team is everything! The last thing I do at work is send out a sales report (month to date and year to date) to John and myself. I do this religiously - every day. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. John and I usually get home by 6 and have some family time… we’ll eat dinner together and then go through the nighttime routine with the kids. I feel like I blink and it’s 10 pm and I’m ready for bed so I can do it all again tomorrow.
Anne wears the Lourdes Button-down in Whisper White.
You run the business with your husband, John. How did you two meet and what are the best and worst parts of sharing a business with someone? John and I met through a mutual friend. It wasn’t a set-up, but, we happened to be in the same place at the same time. It was an instant connection. We moved in together 6 months later and we started working together 1 year later. I love sharing a business with John - it’s like I get a whole another lifetime with him because we spend so much time together. We share an office and our desks face each other. The downside is that we often find ourselves only talking about work. It’s constant, it’s our life, it’s our livelihood. We work hard to make time for just us… we have a regularly scheduled date night at least once a week and that’s our time as a couple - not parents, not business partners, just as a married couple. We have to work hard to separate our lives and know when to put on what hat. It takes a lot of self-awareness and perspective to know when to be a business partner, when to be a life partner and when to be a parent. It’s important that we honor and respect the things that feed each of us, individually, outside of work. For him, it’s surfing and for me, it’s yoga. Having something that is ‘just mine” and “just his” brings an important balance to our life.
What are some of your tips for being a busy mom of two and running such a successful company? Ask for help! The expression “it takes a village” is true and I appreciate it now more than ever. I’m lucky to have my mother in law and brother in law live close by. Just having them come over to hang out with the kids so I can get a couple things done around the house is huge. It’s incredible -I’mm so grateful. I also live by my calendar…. literally, everything is in there. It’s the only way to keep all of us organized and on time!
Your company has experienced staggering growth over the last five years - what tips do you have keeping yourself organized at work and what are your tips to manage rapid growth? John and I always said, once we could afford it, we would hire a great accountant that we would meet with regularly. It was one of the first things we did and one of the best decisions we made. We meet with our accountant every month and review sales and P&L in detail. It’s an opportunity for us to not only discuss what’s happened, but what’s on the horizon so we can plan and strategize accordingly. Our accountant knows our business so well, that he also acts as a financial advisor. It’s important to have an objective third party offering advice and input on some of our larger financial and business plans. It’s also important to surround yourself with people that know more than you. We’ve created a network of business advisors - people who have been where we want to go and are willing to give us the honest advice that we need to navigate the places we’ve never been.
Anne wears the Mariana Dress in Whisper White.
Can you remember any career-defining moments or decisions and what they taught you? Yes! It was back in 2008, and John had a successful accessories collection. He had always dabbled in lighting but wanted to pivot and transition to a full-fledged lighting company. We knew one of the directors at ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair), and a large booth with a premium location became available. We took it! It was crazy - we had no collection, no samples, no money, and the show was in three months. We worked every single day to pull it together - at night, we would go the bar in our neighborhood and John would sketch ideas for the new pieces. We’d discuss them, and then he’d start making the samples the next day. We put everything on credit cards - we were carrying so much debt… it’s painful to think about even now. To this day, I’m not exactly sure how we did it, but we did! The show was a huge success for us and it set the trajectory for our business. And to be clear, it’s not like we did the show and all of the sudden we were making money. Through ICFF we established a presence in the marketplace, and over time and our business began to grow. That whole experience taught me about what it means to take real risks. There was so much at stake. It literally felt like we were betting everything on this new business. But I trusted myself, my partner and the product.
Success can mean so many different things. What things do you have in place that are meaningful to you and remind you that you have “made it” in your career? It’s funny - I think we’ve come a long way, but I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought, “we made it!” My career has been filled with these moments where I’ve been working and working towards something, and once I cross that threshold, everything has shifted and now I’m looking ahead and onto the next milestone. I will tell you when we paid off all of our credit card debt and John’s student loans - that felt like a real victory. We never used any outside sources of capital to finance the business, we bootstrapped it all. So, to pay off those credit cards and the student loan was a really big deal - it felt like our heads were finally above water and we turned a corner.
Anne wears the Mariana Dress in Whisper White.
So I noticed that you have a love of amazing handbags - how long have you been collecting? Tell me about your most favorite bag? I remember I took part of my high school graduation money and bought a Kate Spade handbag - my mom was furious! I was supposed to be saving my money for college. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the wisest purchase at the time, but I loved it and I used it constantly. I guess that’s probably when it started. It’s tough to name a favorite- each one reminds me of a specific time or event in my life. I guess if I had to choose, it’d be a sweet little vintage Gucci crossbody bag that John picked out when we were on vacation in Florence. Every time I see that bag it brings a smile to my face because I’m reminded of that trip.
How has being a mom changed your style? I don’t think that being a mom has drastically changed my style, but I do find myself gravitating towards things that minimize decision making. I used to never wear dresses, but now, it’s my go to, especially during the work week. I don't have to think about putting an outfit together, I can just grab a dress and start my day.
How would you describe your personal style? How do you want clothes to make you feel? I think I’m casually hip with some high fashion details. I want to feel confident in my clothes - it can really set the tone for the day.
What do you like to wear for an evening out with John? I’m a jeans, heels and blouse gal. Just this past week we went out to dinner and I wore a pair of mother denim jeans, some vintage YSL black and gold snakeskin heels and the Lourdes button down. I always wear the same jewelry - it’s understated and hugely sentimental. My engagement ring, wedding ring, necklace, and earrings are all from Satomi Kawakita. Her pieces are so beautiful and precious - I love everything in her collection. I also wear two bracelets that my parents got me- one for each of the boys.
Your house is beautiful - how do you and john balance your design tastes? What is your favorite part of your home? Aesthetically, John and I are on the same page, so there’s never any conflict on what ends up in our home. A lot of the pieces in our home are from our collection. We’ll have a need for something, like a credenza or console, and eventually, a prototype will end up in our house.
We spend the majority of our time on the second floor - it’s one giant room with the dining, kitchen and living areas. I love being able to cook and have an eye on everyone. Every Sunday we have a big family dinner where we cook traditional Chinese food. John’s mom is from Hong Kong and it's important that the boys remain connected to that part of their culture and heritage. We have fun all cooking together and Chinese food culture is based on sharing, which I love.