After playing around with outdoor lighting in their yard in Leicester in 2017, a friend in the irrigation industry suggested Maja Potocki and Jason Warren look into starting a lighting company.
“He suggested that we put some thought into starting a lighting company and grow our knowledge of the industry and we did just that,” Maja says. “We drove down to Florida and completed a two-day intensive training with a large lighting distributor, and when we returned to Asheville, we hit the ground running. We are forever grateful for our dear friend who steered us in this direction!”
With Carolina Outdoor Lighting, Co-Owners Maja and Jason have honed in on their craft and are developing meaningful client experiences.
Read our full Q&A with Maja below…
Tell us about your business and the role you play in it.
Our business is Carolina Outdoor Lighting. Since 2017, we have been designing, installing and maintaining premium low-voltage LED outdoor lighting systems. We have developed into artists who use light and shadows as our medium and our client’s homes and landscapes are our blank canvases. Our mission is to evoke emotions and create meaningful experiences for our clients and all who come across our work. We allow the hard work of our local architects, builders, landscape architects, and landscape installers to be seen and showcased during the evening hours. We only use top-of-the-line components for our installations and install products from manufacturers which we researched, have experience with, and trust.
What’s a little-known fact or trivia about your business?
Not all lighting systems are created equal! There is a massive difference in quality between store-bought fixtures and our professional-grade fixtures, which can only be purchased from specific manufacturers and distributors. There is also a massive difference between experienced lighting designers and those who do not study the art of illumination. Often people don’t realize how big these differences are until we swap out their systems or redesign their existing systems. Additionally, we often run into the misconception that outdoor lighting is primarily for security. While that is an important aspect of our work, it is essential to enhance security in ways that beautify the property, rather than just washing it all out with massive motion sensor flood lights.
How has your company grown over the years?
When we started in 2017, we had zero clients and zero projects under our belt. We played around with lighting at our home in Leicester and fell in love with it. We slowly worked towards building a client base and worked on our designs. Since then, we have participated in many training sessions to advance our lighting design skills while also staying up to date with new manufacturers and technologies which are quickly changing in our growing industry. Continuing our own work of self-improvement has been a critical element in being able to offer our clients larger, more uniquely customized projects.
Where did your career find its start? How did you get involved with your company?
A good friend of ours owned a local irrigation company, and he was getting a lot of calls for landscape lighting. Although his company did install lights from time to time, it was not what he wanted to focus on. Since Jason and I were both working in the green industry, he suggested that we put some thought into starting a lighting company and grow our knowledge of the industry and we did just that. We drove down to Florida and completed a two-day intensive training with a large lighting distributor, and when we returned to Asheville, we hit the ground running. We are forever grateful for our dear friend who steered us in this direction!
How has your or your company’s idea of success transformed?
In the past, we found success was often about making enough money to support our family and steadily grow our business. Now, we find success more in building strong company values, building a team of great people who share our vision, providing great service to our clients, installing beautifully designed systems and hearing our clients say, “WOW” when we turn on their lights for the first time. That is what keeps us going day after day.
What is the greatest business advice you’ve been given?
It may be a bit silly, but one of our favorite parades has been “Don’t fake it until you make it -Just make it!”. We never wanted to be putting on a show for our clients. We wanted to give them honest work delivered with integrity. That has often meant putting in extra work to educate ourselves or make sure the job is done right, and we think our clients really notice this.
What is most important to you/your company now?
Design and customer service! These two things are 100% the most important aspects of our company. We will always do our best to provide a beautifully designed lighting system while providing the friendliest most communicative experience possible. We believe good communication and positive relationships allow us to work together, as a team, with our clients. Allowing our clients vision to be heard while offering our expertise in design. We have found our customers are always happier when their input is heard and integrated into the carefully planned design.
What do you see as your company’s legacy?
We would like to be remembered as the company that helps people fall in love with their homes at night with our unique and thoughtfully designed lighting systems. We are the company that went above and beyond what was expected and created what feels like a whole new world right in your backyard.