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Load Up Your Cargo and Get Creative with Prop Stylist Shannon O’Neil

Written By: Randa Akeel Cargo Creative Brings a Bit of Artistry to OC

Style Expert: Shannon O’Neil, Owner and Creative Director of Cargo Creative | @cargo_creative

Owner and Creative Director of Cargo Creative, Shannon O’Neil, an Orange County native, thrives through creativity and a business mindset. O’Neil decided to venture out on her own, founding Cargo Creative in 2012. Based in Laguna Beach, Cargo Creative is a company that offers an array of styling and design services including prop styling, floral design and event design as well as conducting arts and crafts workshops!

Q: How did Cargo Creative begin?

SO: I was doing prop styling and visual merchandising projects and jobs in the evenings and on weekends. One day on my way to work, I made the decision to commit to becoming 100% freelance a year from that day. I went into work and they were making cuts that day and I was let go. So, I decided that my freelance life would start right then! It was pretty difficult at first—with no savings and inconsistent gigs—but I’m so glad that I stuck to it!

Q: What services do you provide for your clients?

SO: Prop styling, event design, and floral design. As well as workshops.

For prop styling, I set the scene for a photoshoot or event. I set the stage and create an environment based off of the clients vision with my collection of props. I often purchase new merchandise and sometimes end up making my own for different projects.

For event design, I do conceptualization of the overall vibe of an event. From selecting rentals and creating a layout to picking out linens and flatware, I cater the design to each client, environment and type of event.

Floral Design; single arrangements, small weddings and elopements, large weddings, etc. This is a newer addition (added within the past 2 years) to my business and it might be one of my favorite parts of my business now! It’s really fun to be able to offer the whole package!

For workshops, I like to work with seasonal items and local stores to create something really fun together. I’ve done a variety of workshops such as holiday wreath making, gift wrapping, Christmas ornaments, mommy and me flower crowns, candle making, etc. I love the collectiveness of the type of workshops that I do, I’ll walk around and talk to everyone one by one and explain to each of them what to do, and love seeing the results of everyone’s different unique styles coming through.

Q: What was your inspiration to venture out and add floral designing to your services?

SO: I kept getting inquiries to do floral design and had always referred to others. Finally, one of my bride’s insisted I do her wedding floral. Her wedding was then featured on a major blog and inquiries continued from there. I absolutely love playing with flowers so how could I say no?! I’ve developed my own style that is kind of non-traditional, a little wild and organic, and a lot of FUN!  

Q: Do you have a favorite project or event that you’ve worked on recently?

SO: I love them all! I feel like there is something special and unique about every event, design or project whether it’s the couple, the venue or a unique idea that we came up with was really special. As for prop styling, I feel like it’s always so different whether it’s a furniture company, food styling or a lifestyle shoot, it’s always something different and I love the different environments I get to build!

Q: What makes Cargo Creative stand out?

SO:I feel like I am very easy going and my clients can easily trust me. I have a great way of hearing what the client says and wants and translating that into a design. I also like to give everything a little bit of a twist!

Q: Has your styling evolved over time?

SO: I would say it’s remained pretty consistent. I feel like my style is very natural, simple and organic.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

SO: Everyday is entirely different. Some days I’m prop shopping, some days I’m out on the road gathering inspiration. Sometimes I’ll go on little road trips or weekends away with my family. Some days I’m on my computer responding to emails and some days I’m just going on walks on the beach with my dog!

Q: What is your creative element inspired by?

SO: I would say by nature and travel. As well as from collaborations or coffee dates with creative people that I work with or admire.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own styling and design business?

SO: Just go for it! Owning your own business is so fun and rewarding! Especially seeing your clients happy! It’s hard at first because you’re uncertain about how much money you’re going to make or how you’ll get business; but if you do a good job, it’ll keep coming. Believe in yourself and just know people are going to like what you do, and you’re going to keep getting better at it. It’s part of being human, every day is different and you have to figure out how to do it.

Q: What are your future goals and aspirations for Cargo Creative?

SO: I love where I’m at right now, and would like to continue doing, even more photo shoots and floral designs. I would also love to have a studio space where I can meet with clients, showcase my props, and work and create a photo studio space for my clients. A place where I can work and become even more inspired.

Native Knowledge: Cargo Creative has been featured on 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Inspired By This and more!

Cargo Creative
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

C R E A T E /// Your Scene with Prop Stylist Shannon O’Neil of Cargo Creative