The team behind Anthony Epes Photography and Cities at Dawn Publishing is husband and wife Diana Bird and Anthony Epes.
Get to know us a little better in our occasional series of Q&A’s.
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you meet Anthony?
Anthony and I met in the eponymous year of 1999. We were working together in Los Angeles.
I loved that he had a car that was many different shades of purple. He loved my English accent.
After a year together I decided to move back to London. He got a commission to do his first book, and followed me across the Atlantic.
What did you do in London?
Anthony set himself up as a photographer – doing commercial shoots, creating books and exhibitions.
I’ve had a few different businesses – I ran my own catering business – creating gorgeous food for events and gallery openings (including some of Anthony’s.)
I’ve created a website for writers, and a business to support and promote small shops.
I’ve always loved to create, and for me those two creative impulses are writing and cooking. I also love business, so everything I have done has woven together the passions of creativity and business.
Why did you start the business together?
We had always talked about how one day we would bring our talents and passions together and create an amazing business.
Almost eight years ago I became pregnant with our second child and it suddenly seemed obvious that now was the time to jump in and create the business we’d been talking about.
(And it seemed like the best first step for this process involved moving to Paris!)
We’d had a really hard time becoming parents for the second time, and it became obvious that life was not endless, that you can put off doing things forever and really having children was an incredible gift.
We wanted to do what we most loved and not waste time waiting any more.
We also wanted to be as present for our children’s childhood as possible. So having a business that we could run from home together felt like an incredible combination.
Why did you create a photography business?
Possibly one of Anthony and my greatest faults, but also best traits, is that we are terrible at doing things that we aren’t incredibly passionate about.
We seem to be terribly selfish in that regard, and have never pursued money for the sake of money. It might have made many parts of our life easier, but now it feels that we’ve managed to create the perfect combination of what people want + what we love to do, and now this single mindedness feels like a blessing.
Our goal was to combine our talents and passions – of photography, publishing, writing and teaching people how to be more creative.
Thankfully people are enjoying what we do 🙂
What does Anthony think you are like to work with?
Excitable, impulsive and silly. Reliable, strong, hard working, full of excellent ideas, talkative and full of energy. Good at the big picture.
What do you think of Anthony to work with?
Measured, thoughtful and sensible when making decisions. Consistent and intensely detail orientated. Good at the hear and now, the present. Less good at the future visioning. Has a gorgeous imagination and makes me see the beauty in the world and the moment we are in.
In short I think we make a very complimentary team 🙂
What is the hardest things about starting a business?
To begin with the hardest part is actually making a fully functioning enterprise that people like and want to buy from.
This is a bigger feat than I think most people realise, because you are creating everything from scratch. Literally from thin air.
You need to learn a myriad of skills you probably don’t have – dealing with finance, building or commissioning websites, hiring employees or freelancers, writing copy and creating a brand etc.
But the thrill you get when someone hands you money for something you created – it’s off the charts exciting. Almost nothing beats selling what you have made with your own bare hands.
But that’s just the first step. You don’t just create a business, you have to learn how to run it and grow it so it’s profitable and stable. Each stage brings new things to learn and of course like kids, every business is different.
You need to do all of these steps without totally running out of energy, going out of your mind with stress, running out of money or in our case, killing each other 🙂
What’s it like working with your husband?
It is both much harder and much easier than working with a non-related human.
Easier because we totally know each other, we can anticipate what each of us will think and want to do. We know our skills and weaknesses and we 100% trust each other to get things done and stay committed to the business.
Harder because the closeness means that you are together all the time and you never leave the ‘office’.
You also see very acutely where any dysfunctions in your relationship might be, because good communication is essential in business, and you don’t want any weirdnesses of your relationship to spill out into the business.
Do you have any advice for people working together?
My biggest, biggest piece of advice to couples thinking of starting a business is to remember the word FUN.
Running a business, just like running a family, can end up being a series of boring, repetitive tasks. It can get old quickly, if you don’t work hard on making things exciting.
Having fun together, having fun in your business, remembering everything that excites you about your work – these are all essential to keeping your spirits up, and also creating great energy around what you are doing.
What do you do in this business?
I run the marketing and customer support side of the business. I also work with Anthony on creating new products and workshops.
I love working with people, and because we are a two-man team, I particularly love working with our clients. It’s great to talk to so many people from around the world.
Because people come to our business because they are interested in being creative the conversations we have are usually so fascinating!
What do you do outside of work?
I am an avid meditator, and love nothing more than getting up super early and meditating before day break. Even though I am not naturally an early riser, I find having space and time to be peaceful makes my day much calmer, as well as helping me appreciate the good things that are blossoming in our lives.
I love to cook and feel grateful that I have a family that loves to eat.
Writing is my creative pursuit so I am often found writing for our business, but also my new venture, which is a book of my own. The first being The Everyday Art of Living a Creative Life.
Got any more questions? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!