Sarah and Erin's Background Story
I do feel is wish you best way wait, I just said whatever you think you know your gaze, whatever you got, no way so that all of you guys at home and you guys know me a little more, some of you I want to share a little bit about my background and erin's background because I think it's important, especially when you're learning business from someone that you know who they are and you know that they're credible and that they run a successful business and hopefully will open you guys up to possibilities in your life and for your business. So you want to see my true special favorite photo? This is me as a child, the bottom one sorry, mom, I know you're out there probably watching, but I did not exist is a child because I had a brother who is a year and a half older, awesome brother, we are great friends, but he would they were busy chasing him and I did ask the miss cameras had been invented I don't think they like that one, but this is part of my story. You'll be hearing a lot about my my ...
business, why we have moustache is on everyone and why everything leaves my studio framed a lot of it is because I don't have heirloom fort portrait's in my home of myself as a child and I want that for my clients and so aa lot of it comes from my story and something I encourage all of you guys to do, and we'll talk about this in day three and selling you all have no pads out on. I hope everyone at home does when you're thinking of your story, write it down, because that is what explains to your clients what makes you different and why you've set up your business the way you've set it up, and I'm not for everyone if people just are literally looking for a cd and they they have a two hundred dollars, budget, I mean, I'm not the photographer there's a lot of photographers that can do that, but if they want something big and bold and dynamic in their home that I'm the photographer that can do that. So when they call, I always tell them that if this story that there really aren't those photos of myself as a child, you photos as a child, you know, all this so you probably do money because I remember my parents room there were like, you know, every three months my mom was like, on every three months planet, wal mart or whatever, you know where every three months you go and you get your photo taken, and then my sister, my sister came along and they're like none of her s o there were, you know, just a little eight by ten's on the wall, you know, for the first like year and a half, two years, you know, in my life, my family gets a kick out of him because I was a really ugly baby, and so they like to laugh the pictures of me as a baby, you know, you're in on campus at least there are pictures of me exactly, exactly so that's awesome, your poor sister we need tio we need to hang out, then I show up it draft camp, evidently on my friend's photo, I'm headed to go over to my best friend's house and dig through her photo album to find a photo and this one's funny because we realized early on that I was not vertically challenged, so I had a little height thing going on, which was good. So started playing sports plain sports, which led to being able to play volleyball in college. This is me stuffing supermodel gabby reece. Oh, you know my moment of glory I'm sharing with all of you guys, but the reason I put this slide in there is because I was the kid is a freshman that beg my mom to go to volleyball camp. And we went to the team, but I wanted to go to the advanced camps that were the high school juniors and seniors and I was a freshman I was really skinny and uncoordinated I couldn't do any of this skills and their teachers how to cut down the line and they're down the net hit line and tool the block and I didn't get any of it and then by the time I was a senior it was clicking and I could start doing it you know? You first have to learn what it is and then you have to figure out how to do it and then you're able to do it and that's how I feel about some of you guys who might be sitting here saying, oh my god, I'm so overwhelmed with this stuff I have no idea what she's talking about but hang with us because aa lot of what we're talking about is that a high level and you'll start to see ok like the strategy of volleyball how do you win it the game? What is the strategy? What do I need to do to make this work? And it paid off for me playing violent college volleyball and it will pay off for you you guys, your business instead of going like this as you figure it out little by little it's going to go like this we've seen it over and over and over with with photographers the ones that invest in education are the ones that they're slope changes leave college there my mom is again making me get a job got lucky and my first job walked into an open opportunity at coca cola enterprises the regional bottler corporate marketing department and I tell you talk about branding and you'll find out about aaron the book erin and I wrote and we kept realizing we just kept adding maurine the branding section which is why we're spending the whole day on brand unbelievable tow have my first job at I think the top brand in the entire world all you guys out around the world are having a coke and a smile with us and that's because of their dedication to their brand over one hundred years they've had the same logo they're they're meticulous and we can't even in our businesses get things consistent and think about them they're all over the world having to bake rules so that everybody uses that they have a pms color that's coca cola red so that everything is this perfect as it can be and we learned from that I went on and got my mba and then got a new job in an ad agency and this is really where erin and I first met this is where my world changed and I don't think you can get any experience or is good of experience reading about it or taking courses as you can marketing different businesses every single day. Yeah, so we were working with businesses anywhere from, you know, the local car dealer to the newspaper to marketing the city of springfield, tio day spas and collision places that it's a pizza I mean anything and everything so we've been inside of so many different types of businesses and what works and what doesn't that when people come to us and say, well, my markets different or that doesn't work for me guess what, we've done it we've seen it, we've done it all, and there are ways to make things work in this process that we're going to go through with branding doesn't matter what kind of business you're in? This is what you have to go through if you want to build a stronger and yep, and so at the ad agency, we we would do exactly what we're going to be doing with you guys over the next day, taking a look at where you've been and laying out all your things and that's we would always identify your marketing is not working because of this because you're creating conflict or disconnect or you're confusing people, so really that was r getting our feet wet and a lot of our clients had small budgets, so we weren't in a chicago agency buying two hundred thousand dollars in tv campaigns, we had ten, twenty, fifty thousand dollar budgets that had to accomplish a lot, and aaron actually kind of replaced me when I had kids. And so I think, that's why we I think the same way and we groove the same way, and this is a group of really, really, really creative people. And so we also see, you know, we were the marketing wing, we had a design wing in a copywriter wing at our disposal. Well, now, in a room, this is where that all of those people aren't me there's no copywriter there's, no designer. So we have been not only take that budget to do the marketing, we have to take that budget to produce things so really great experience, and we're going to be able to use that to show you guys how to do that, too. This is when I fell back in love with photography. You feel like that where you're working your day job and I loved the ad agency, but then on nights and weekends, you're fulfilling your passion and it's like the swinging on a trap ease you know you're going along your swinging, and then you're you're filling your passion, you reach out and grab that other bar. But if you don't let go with this far what happens I know there are so many people out there watching that are feeling like they're polled and you want to let go but you're not profitable yet so sometimes you have to let go and make that investment figure out ok I'm going to make this work and how am I going to do it so I uh wish I would have collected ten thousand dollars in a photography contest I love games how they're so realistic driving through my game of life I then went on and got married out of this gorgeous blue peg and then landed on the twin square everyone loves to land on the twin square in the game e I actually did I always wanted twins a miracle got a boy and a girl and super fun and this is when I opened my first studio I realized I was working a lot at the ad agency so I'll start a business right so it could be with my kids more took possession of this space spent all summer fixing up making it all nice and then what happens nine eleven came along but I have these babies at home and I just every decision I made I wasn't going to work day and night I was determined to figure out how to make this work without working day and night I mean to show you guys over me go back notice how safe I felt with the bars on the windows? Yeah, and there were bullet holes on the inside. I have no idea who do who has bullet holes. I think they were testing it. They got embarrassed when I asked him. Like, well, least we know it's, bulletproof glass so I didn't have I'm completely a bootstrap er I've never taken alone. I never took a dollar from anyone. I made this business work, starting with what I could start with. I had three hundred dollars a month rent and I didn't have to sign a lease, so I thought if it doesn't work, I'm I'm ok. So here's the inside you can see of my camera room and on the walls you see all these gorgeous wall portrait's for by sixes and five by sevens. This was in august of two thousand one. I went to my first convention early august up in chicago, and I learned about cost of sales, and I learned that a wall portrait is big and like hope, and so I had to come back and scurry, and I've done everything wrong. Look at my clock hands with these four by fives, but I'm really teaching my clients, so I tell you every mistake you guys are making or have made, I have made I was priced too low, my system was broken, I gave them proof so I was chasing people down, trying to get orders. You knew me, then. I mean, I was working way harder in that very beginning and I kept saying, I'm not doing this because I can't figure this out, so I'm a fast learner. I invested quickly and education say, okay, there are people who know how to do this. I'm going to go find them, and quickly I weeded out those little bitty things and my images got bigger, bigger as I could have for them and my business started to grow. I continue to invest and study with the best I would go, and I'd spend days with darden, drake, tim kelly. The aunt is dell's, the walled ins rod evans. I mean, people who now a really, really good friends of mine and participate in events that we have at the joy of marketing because they have a passion to teach. And I was still figuring out photography. I got the studio with lights. I had no idea what to do with them. And digital happened I'm looking on back the camera like ok, I see something here about a work remember when we all went through that, but I was focused on the business part was investing to learn photography, but I knew that if I was going to succeed, I had to know how to do the business, so I know I hear from for drivers we hear from them every day, but I'm not good enough yet just really work on my business and it's like if you don't work on your business, you're never going to have the money to buy the lenses and the backgrounds in the education you need to be better, so I'm a big believer both of us are get that education figure the business side out as you're working because we're passionate about the photography, we're going to figure out the photography because it's what we love and we know we're going to spend time there. I also because of my ad agency days, focus on better marketing. I was building a boutique business and that's a word we're going to talk a lot about this three days boutique you've got low end, cost driven walmart, the low end price competitor here on the other hand, you've got boutique where everything's custom you hold the clients hand you deliver, you hang art on their walls, you you know, their family, their kids, high service, cool experiences, but you can't be the cheapest, ok, so this is what I wanted to build a boutique business, so I put my entire budget into one cool promotional piece because I knew I couldn't do everything, and I couldn't do postcards, and I couldn't do you know, it was going to take that shotgun approach? Yeah, it's it's like putting all your money in super bowl commercial, right? Like the big brands d'oh, it's it's, saying, you know what I know I can make a strong impression and a strong impression is better than no impression, right in the trash or being ignored. So you went the approach like we had learned at the ad agency of if you're going to do something, you need to make a new impression and make people talk about you. So that's, what this piece was about so it's kind of like a dog whistle, it goes out there in the market to my target audience, and it attracts people who are like, oh my gosh, I remember the first week I send it out. I literally looked up new births in the newspaper because I didn't I didn't trust mailing lists, and we'll talk a little bit about that on friday morning, but mailing lists are the magic answer you know you got to find your own list so I sent it out to maybe twenty, thirty people and I had a client come in who's like I love everything I love and I want to do this in this in this didn't once even ask price I was like a ride in my biggest order ever, ever like four times my biggest order ever because I was still bring new and I was like, this is it this is it nice that piece for several years then I could take my budget and print something else or do something else as it grew. But I always invested in one cool thing till I could afford to do another here are just a few. This is a pop of holiday ornament that I sent out to my clients. This is a spinny card that is a holiday card that's the twelve days of christmas and things that people can do with their kids so high engagement I want to get people involved went played off the mad libs because as my kids grew up, we did the rad lives in the bad lives. They were a little too old to get them crying and being dad soon, maybe bad and inside we did a holiday greeting where you could fill an adjective and urban everything in my brother in law's filled it out with some inappropriate firms they did use the right, you know, adverb verb ironically airness from my husband's hometown and so she knows all the stories, so don't catch her later thiss was last year's holiday card a cz my kids grow up, we're showing more relationship things I try to stay with their age and what they're doing, we go all crazy with packaging creating things from silk screened logo is so non charms that we've made with an art teacher, so we're not just in my justice I don't just have this unlimited budget that I go out and I order all this fancy stuff we're creatives you guys let's use our creativity to show people that were awesome not just tell them with a starburst best photographer anybody a fan of the elf the movie elf world's best cup of coffee world's greatest photographer so we show that that's everything we're going to be teaching is showing them what's great about us. We've used the cootie catcher remember when you're a little pick a color picking number all you need is a third grader to show you how to do that. You don't need a fancy addie and there's no way I could hold one of the things I know I was the girl that was like somebody else make one for me straight a student but make it couldn't get through it together so you didn't get cooties? I guess I don't know so driving along in the car spun the wheel have no idea why but ended up with another little girl we were just talking about that last night spit the fact that we're closing that last seat into petty catering trucks you know the fact that why did the third whenever have come about the first two? Yeah that's a late night conversation we can't go there right? They were a little close together, okay, three kids in two and half years so I like to get things done my husband wanted to keep going sorry, honey, if you're watching, we're not keep going, okay? So moved into new studio been profitable every single year bootstrapped is that could afford I moved, I moved into a high rent district, it was a party room of a restaurant barely paid off the build out and I was out of space a year later and had tio expand again so I'm I'm I will take risk, but I'm very much a person who looks at the numbers and make smart decisions where my mentor and mon teeth came in and studio management services with ppf you guys, they're familiar great to teach numbers I think they're elevating our entire industry to lift us up and teach us how to make those decisions here's somebody, photographers you know, like a spousal say I know she can do it we're going to get this studio because that we believe in her well that's great but let's look at your numbers because you may be a year away or two years away because that puts a ton of pressure on your family tio have to make that red payment and then you can't do what's best for your brand investing in design, investing in cool things so we're going to slow some of you down from making those decisions so you can build your business so got it paid off went on and expanded my studio here's a little clip of my current studio this is the production space which is always clean you look like in the closet in the back room you see where we shoved everything here's my camera room about five hundred square feet way could have lights that amount to the ceiling and I can shoot on all the different walls way and paying a lot of our backgrounds and then this is the foyer and we swap out images in this front hallway once or twice a year so that when clients come in we're showing them that were created we don't have to just tell them here were waving bye to everyone this's pierce from photo vision came out if you guys have seen that we have a little something fun special for everyone. If you want to join in and investing photo vision, they go to cool photography studios all over the country and chauffer talking for shooting little nuggets that you can pick up. They have a special for all of you guys. So on lee, forty nine bucks, no brainer, you get it mailed to you and again, it's, that inspiration that comes to every months, a lot of the tools were giving you guys are things that can keep you progressing and not having to travel all the time to invest in your business, but keep them coming to you. Within five years of opening, this business, I was named has having one of the most profitable studios in the country by the professional photographers of america. So I heard someone speaking, a business speaker saying, anybody you're taking business advice from, you should have to see their tax return, and I thought that was so funny, because we know how many people in our industry are teaching business, and you just want to know that they have a profitable business. So when when we were named most profitable, it was awesome, because it validated, I knew I was profitable, but I really don't want to put my tax returns out there, I'm not running for president, I don't think people need to see that, but but I do run a profitable business, so what happened was I started speaking, teaching photographers how I was doing it, you know, an mba, I worked in an ad agency fully qualified to teach it, but now I have a successful business too. So when I'm gone teaching, I was coming home and there was no line waiting for me at home tio t be my client, so I had to come home and work twice as hard with these three little kids at home, I realized I need to teach more from home. So created a second company called the joy of marketing and it's, an online company. Many of you are familiar, we do online events, we do a ton of education, a lot of free education to lift people up, and then a lot more intense education, like our branding product will be talking about a couple more on attracting client the right clients and things like that, but we're dedicated to helping photographers that I didn't want to be one of those people who is like god, oh, I don't want my studio anymore, I'm just gonna be a teacher because in two, three years, what am I going to teach business changes every single day? So that was when it was time to bring in the big guns, thie chief joy officer I reached out to erin and said it's time because we've always wanted to get back together we work together at the ad agency and weird bizarrely enough we were at our graphic designer who we hired to bring in to help you she had a wedding to shower in texas so you're together for three days and aaron told her husband had to tell sarah no sarah had called and said it's time we need to work together and it was more like I need you to please your leg she said get off I had a career that I loved and you know it was moving up in a company that I loved and worked with great people and I did I told my husband I said this is going to be really hard because she's really convincing you know and I said I'm going to have to tell her no and it's going to be really hard to do this and I go and spend three days author and after I think a day and a half she got me and so we're driving back up from houston to dallas and I call him on the phone and say well I said yes eso honey I'm sure you're watching yeah thank you for letting me say yes yes here we are together and you know we love what we do and we're so excited to bring our passion and our love for marketing and branding to everyone because we get it not everyone loves it like we do, right way declared us, but not everyone else does. It is dragging her husband behind. Come on, honey, we're selling him, aiken second feeling coming our way. But what's great about air. It is aaron runs the joy of marketing so I can run my studio so people are like, how could you possibly running to be running a studio? Because I have super aaron. Well, it's, not just me e were not just me. We have a whole so that's the really great thing about our little company is that there's a whole staff of us that, you know, it takes a village to do all of this. And like sara was saying from a photography studio perspective, you know, you guys are at it by yourself. You know, a lot of you. You don't have a marketing director like the trotman's did you know you don't have a copywriter. You don't have someone to do all this for you. You don't necessarily have an accountant or someone looking over your bucks, right? And so you have to at least it's kind of like what the mba is all about, you know? You learn a little bit in each area to be dangerous and that's what you guys have to do is business owners you have to learn a little bit you have to know enough about your numbers to be able to go to your accountant and say something's wrong here you know, even if it is once a year I thought that mba taught us a lot about things way learn more than a little right oh yeah you know, I think it was a lot and a lot of work a lot you know, it teaches you a lot about how to run a business and I think that that's that's what we're here to do for you guys and that's what we get so excited about is we know how to do it we know how to run a million dollar company and we know how to run a tiny company and so on and it doesn't have to be hard and anybody can do it but you just have to know the right things to focus on yes so we have a full time customer service person we haven't on staff designer we have a whole team helping us do what we do I have a studio manager who runs the studio does all the production and shoots the high school seniors so I will always shoot kids and babies that's in my passion and so it's great I can see the big picture and being in both companies, but I have awesome people keeping them going. Erin was a division one runner. I get to talk a little bit about erin, she comes in, I love this photo. Is that college or that high, high school? So really skinny because you're not now e, but I think that's what we both love is that we were both division one athletes and we're very competitive, so we're very goal oriented and we see a goal and we want to get to it, and we want you guys to know that there's more about getting to the golden, just bringing incline it's like there's, all these other things. So I think that's, one of the reasons we work really well together, erin is a horned frog, my tax let's see if any texas horn frogs they're watching tcu grads tweet on in, you'll get special love from here in, and aaron was also a breed manager saver, so maybe talk a little bit about that because I started my career coca cola and I still heard a high level a brand manager from the parent company of travelocity, right? Same kind of strong brand foundation, right? So, you know, again, like, like we mentioned earlier on in the program, these large companies, it is so important for them to be consistent everywhere because they've got employees all over the world, and they're in so many different countries, and so they have to have rules if they don't have rules, then you know their logo, maybe pink, one day and purple the next day and maybe one fun. Oh, you know, but you shouldn't be and that's the point, and so I learned so much here about how you, how you build a strong brand and how you stay consistent and how you you have to look at from a bigger perspective, your overarching brand, even when if you decide that, you know, you want to start shooting pets and you want to start shooting weddings and maybe you want to shoot babies and you want to d'oh, you need to be true to that overarching brand, it doesn't mean that you need a different logo for everything you d'oh mean, that was one of the biggest lessons that I learned in corporate at sabre is that we would have all these different these different products that were available to travel agents, but we still had one logo and and I think that that's, the key thing for all of us to remember is we had one corporate logo, but everything else from from there what were strategically named lines, you know, strategically named products on dh, so just because you have a great idea doesn't mean you have to go create a new logo for it doesn't mean you have to have a whole new look and feel for it. And that's the biggest saying that that I took away from a high level is that you have to make strategic decisions about what you do with you're and you can't just on a whim, decide that you want something, you know, a new logo, new font. So call aaron, the brand police that's what she will be looking for, brand disconnect and brand failure, and we'll talk more about that and and so watch out of errands walking toward you, they're like, oh, so what we did is, you know, I talked a little bit about boutique and how they're all these different elements that were to be going through over the next three days, we put this elite book on our web site talking about it was called the boutique experience. You downloaded it, you're one of about eight thousand people the first year who downloaded it, and we said, like a lot of people say we should write a book, so we did way wrote a book talking about the boutique business model, so we were pretty stoked hit it was already hit new york times. That seller list in wall street journal usa today, so overwhelmed and it was our industry. You know who reached out, supported us and said, we want this book and other industries to have reached out said this is changed our life because I think so many people are doing parts of this right, but missing certain key parts, and we hope to fill that gap in over this next couple of days together. One thing that we found that's very encouraging and we go through this, you guys will learn a lot of what we teach is about partnering with other businesses in your community and partnering with other other people who see business the way that you see it and want to do the same types of things that you, d'oh and proof is, you know, we see it in sarah's business all the time because she partners with everyone in her community but business owners reaching out to us from so many different industries saying this like sarah said, this book has changed our lives. These are the people that everyone at home needs to be partnering with to help lift you up. You are not out there by yourself as a small business owner. You aren't but so don't I know it's hard when you're by yourself, you kind of get on an island and you're like, you know, and you're not by yourself yeah there's so many other business owners that are out there that want to do I want the same things that u s so you can go rent a mailing list of people with toddlers or you can partner with the business who has a beautiful mailing list of people with toddlers that can partner with you so well excited, exciting stuff, so next step for us is my husband is an architect finally gets in fringe benefits of being married to an architect, so we are hopefully honey in the process, wherever you are breaking ground literally this week on a new studio and he made me a fun little fancy rendering that I'm going to show you guys I know how cool, right? So he has this whole south side and you'll come around and you'll be able to see my part so this here is is my business is I'm the purple corner office, I want a purple corner office and the north green is the camera room but we have a dedicated sales room which is very important when you first come in to give our clients love we have storage off the camera room for all our cool chairs and things and one of the fun things I begged for is a little lift it's like an elevator to the basement where we can haul all our cool props, cool production space that will fit a couple people office, nice dressing room so as you can see it's not huge, it looks big, bigger than it is, but it doesn't have to be a giant space, but I've never had a dedicated sales room and I'm really, really, really excited about it going to through my life, enjoying my family, I have three kids that I talked about, my twins are now eleven, almost twelve and my baby's nine, so really building a business so I can be with them, that is my goal. I don't want to be in corporate and that's how I got aaron to, she said, I don't want to be in corporate and when I'm ready to have kids and work day and night, because once you have kids in corporate it's a whole different thing, you're either a great parent or you succeed incorporate, and we both want to be great parents who want to build businesses that can allow us to be great parents. So I want that for you guys to whether your parents or not, you don't need to work for thirty years, day and night in your business to be successful.