One year ago, 20-year-old Ethan McDaniel didn’t know where his future would take him. A move to Orlando to attend the Motorcycle Mechanic Institute fell flat after COVID-19 forced the trade school to close their doors. Not knowing how long the lockdowns would last, McDaniel moved home. He was stressed out and stuck, with no vision in sight. 

“I went back to flipping pizzas at Lake Martin Pizza Company; and then, one day Justin Woodall, the owner, came in and showed me pictures of a lighting project that he’d completed at his house,” McDaniel said. “He’d gotten a lot of compliments on them, and we collectively came up with the idea of doing it as a business, but it was just an idea because I wasn’t ready yet.”

McDaniel sat on the idea of creating an outdoor lighting company and let it incubate for about three months. Then last November, something clicked, and he decided to embrace the outdoor lighting business and go for it. 

“Justin and Kira were instrumental in helping me create my business,” McDaniel said. “Kira showed me how to do all of the behind the scenes work, like the LLC paperwork. She helped me to understand the legal jargon and get my business set up so that I could legally operate. She also shared her knowledge of QuickBooks and how to run a business. Then, Justin taught me to have the confidence to stand up in front of people and speak about my business. He invested in me and led me to my first client. I am incredibly blessed to have them both in my life.”

McDaniel’s first client was a neighbor of Justin’s. The neighbor stopped by one day to talk lighting and Justin dropped McDaniel’s name. 

“When Justin told me about the conversation, he gave me a name and number. I called, and before I knew it, the business was up and running,” McDaniel said. “My client has three homes, one here at the lake, a home in Auburn and a home on Destin Beach in Florida. He knew I was new and agreed to give me a try.

“The first project I did was his home here on the lake and to this day, it was the largest project I’ve completed. It had 43 lights, and it looks really great. I still go back from time to time to check on the lights or fix settings as I learn new things,” McDaniel explained.

But it didn’t end there for McDaniel. The client was so impressed that he hired him to complete lighting projects at the other two homes as well.

“I was so blessed. Not only did he hire me for three projects, he also offered for me to stay at his beach house in Destin while I worked on that project,” McDaniel said. “That was pretty exciting; and then, I did the outdoor lighting for his home in Auburn, as well.

“The great thing is that my client understood that I was learning, and we worked together to create exactly what he wanted at his homes.”

McDaniel offers his clients personalized quotes, which include aerial photography so the client can see everywhere a light will be placed.

“I place a light everywhere on the photo that would look good, without over doing it; and then, we work backwards together to eliminate what they do not like or want,” McDaniel explained. “I am hyper focused on customer satisfaction, so my clients have a say so from the very get go. 

“I have access to such a large inventory that I can change the wattage of the bulbs, the color temperatures, the warmth of the color, and the way a fixture looks can be changed, too. If there is a spot where the fixture is easy to see, we can change it and make it easier to hide. Ultimately, it is whatever the client wants.

“The end goal is to create a piece of art out of our lighting in the clients yard or around their homes but also to increase security if necessary.”

McDaniels business provides a beautification aspect by highlighting key architectural or landscaped features of the home and land. It also provides increased safety after dark and, if the owner so chooses, enables way finding.

For more information about Liquid Outdoor Lighting, call Ethan McDaniel at 256-794-7374 or message @Liquid Outdoor Lighting on Facebook.