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The Light at the End of the Pandemic: How I Navigated Through the Uncertainty

by Christien Methot | October 2022


In February 2020, my horizons were vast and ready for expansion. We were contracted to design lighting for two 27-story high rises, and just completed an interactive experience for Verizon at Super Bowl LIV—which included an iconic glowing red dome along the Miami skyline—a year of massive growth was powering full speed ahead.

What would happen less than a month later is no surprise to us now—as CoVID-19 descended on America, project after project was postponed or canceled, some without deposits even being paid. I was saddened and horrified as my peers and friends in live entertainment lost all their work, the market drying up completely.


Despite the spiraling uncertainty around me, my determination to stay afloat did not waver. I knew my attitude to facing these challenges was equally important as how I reacted to them, and I turned the unpredictability around me with three key tactics—learning from the past; creating new markets; and insisting on positivity.


The descent into the pandemic brought back flashes of the 2008 recession. Pre-2008, we had over a dozen employees on staff at Design One between New York and Los Angeles, and long-term commercial office leases proved difficult to manage as the recession took hold. This taught me that a bigger company is not necessarily a more resilient one, and how essential an adaptable staff and business plan is.


When 2020 came around, I was more prepared. I knew how to pivot to what was most important—armed with a smaller 3-person staff and short leases, I maintained low overhead costs, got rid of our permanent office space, and made the switch to remote work nearly seamlessly.



With no live events, I knew I needed to think outside the box to find a new market. The answer came when my wife Karina Krepp, a holistic life coach, found herself in the dark on video calls with clients. Knowing the truth of the age-old lighting industry mantra, “if you can’t see them, you can’t hear them,” my younger son and I devised a solution using linear warm LEDs with magnets that snapped onto mini tripods.


The desktop lights were a hit with her clients, and her video sessions were so effective that I began selling them with the name CameraReady Lighting. Two years later, CameraReady has grown, now with battery and plug-in versions in different arrangements. I had never brought a product to life before and I found it very rewarding.


Being thankful for what work was still there was crucial. Putting efforts toward projects the government deemed essential—for the most part in-progress architectural jobs—was my saving grace, and along with help from PPP loans, allowed me to stay above water for most of 2020.

During the first quarantine, my wife and I took ritual morning walks and brought food to the local refrigerator in our neighborhood. We would make sure to mention what we were thankful for. This went a long way in keeping my spirits high coming into work. It has always been my goal to have fun going to work and that stays true even though the pandemic may have challenged that.

Taking advantage of time with family, and wanting to keep my passion for light close to the heart, I took on a pet project with my older son to produce a documentary on being a lighting designer. It is coming to a film festival near you very soon.


Never losing sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, I prioritized social media presence during the peak of CoVID-19. Posting past projects and mentioning clients kept Design One at the front of their minds, and as business resumed in 2021, we saw a stream of old clients pop back up. Nurturing our enduring industry connections was vital to recovery.


Now that the tides are calmer, Design One Lighting Design is once again bringing beautiful and effective lighting to stages, buildings, and anything in between. Leading a team to work well remotely, not committing to permanent offices, and making sure every hour can be billed to a client are at the core of my post-pandemic business restructure. But through all the ebbs and flows, my bottom line remains the same as it has always been: Allow yourself to be diversified in the work that you do. And remember whatever you choose to pay attention to can be what makes you successful in the moment. It’s not always what you thought you went to school for.



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