Posts filed under ‘Trends’

Insider to Insider: David and Corbin Baxter, Owners of Soulbox Productions

David & Corbin Baxter

Photo courtesy of Sil Azevedo, Azevedo Photography

This week’s Insider Interview is brought to you by Kelly Simants.  She met with David and Corbin Baxter of Soulbox Productions a few months ago and was wowed by their energy and enthusiasm.  She loves how open the videographers are to share with people in the industry. David and Corbin started their business in 2001 when they wrote, directed, and filmed a feature length film.  They began filming weddings full time in 2004.  I love what they have to say about their clientele: “It is amazing to us that our clients are just like us.  They find us through our work: creative, energetic, carefree, organized, and detail-oriented.”  This is so relateable.  They have managed to give prospective clients a taste of what it’s like to work with them.  Brilliant!  Here are more brilliant thoughts from David and Corbin.

David & Corbin Baxter
Owners, Soulbox Productions
Dallas, TX
www.soulboxproductions.com
Established 2001

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

Capturing once in a lifetime moments for our wonderful couples. We’re so lucky that we’ve built so many great relationships, we absolutely love what we do!

What is your best tip for time management?

Make attainable yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Corbin and I set priorities and accomplish them as efficiently as possible. For example, we pride ourselves on replying to inquiries within 24 hours.

What is your little marketing secret?

Network, network, network. Corbin and I are both advertising majors and so it was a surprise to us in the beginning that building relationships with your clients and other wedding vendors is by far the best marketing.

What is the funnest (most fun) trend you are seeing in the industry?

Well, we’re going to be a little biased on this one and say anything vintage: cars, dresses, veils, invitations and for us, true super 8mm film coverage.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

Started filming weddings in super 8mm from the beginning. We had Corbin’s father’s super 8mm camera for 5 years and didn’t even know it.

Thanks David & Corbin!

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August 7, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Insider to Insider: Laura & Chris Randall, Owners of Edit 1 Media

Laura RandallLaura Randall and her husband Chris are the founders and co-owners of Edit 1 Media, a video production company.  Recently, I visited with them in their Tacoma home.  I was struck by their warmth and sincerity.  Instantly, I understood why their work is so beautiful, so touching, so real.  (That’s how they are!)  Several years ago their son Matthew was diagnosed with cancer as a toddler.  On their journey to hell and back they started filming him.  They met so many families that wanted Chris and Laura to film their children.  So, they began taping the families as a way of helping them in their catharsis.  What began as something charitable, turned into requests for filming all life events… including the more uplifting ones, such as weddings.  Their entrepreneurial story is by far the most touching one I have ever encountered.  Out of this very painful moment in their lives, blossomed an amazing business… and a healthy little boy…  Matthew will turn 15 this year!  Thank you so much, Laura and Chris, for sharing of yourself with me!

Chris RandallLaura & Chris Randall
Owners, Edit 1 Media

Seattle, WA and Honolulu, HI
www.edit1media.com
Established 1998

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

The interactions and emotions. It might be the look on a mother’s face as she watches her son dance with his new wife for the first time. Or the quivering lower lip as a father sees his little girl as a beautiful bride. Or the smile on a bride’s face when her soon-to-be husband whispers “You are so beautiful!”. Or the roaring laughter of the crowd during the Best Man’s toast. There is so much power in these moments and I love seeing the story unfold. Every wedding we film is unique and I love being a witness to the story of the day.

What is your best tip for time management?

I am a list person and I have been since I was a kid! I use a program called Remember The Milk which I can access from my laptop or my iPhone. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to cross things off on my list. I also keep a running list of our editing backlog and send that out to our clients periodically so they can see where they stand in the queue and what items I’m waiting to receive from them in order to finish the video.

What is your little marketing secret?

Be very visible, stay in touch with other industry people and let your personality shine through!

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

For videography it is definitely Same Day Edits! This is where we take video footage from earlier in the day, edit it on-site, then project it on a large screen at the reception!! The guests are completely blown away and it’s a HUGE smash hit!!

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

I would have learned how to handle accounting, budgeting, taxes and our workflow from the very beginning! As Michael Gerber says in “The E-Myth” (paraphrased) – “Just because you are good at doing something, doesn’t mean you are good at running a business!”. We have spent the last few years really stepping back and re-evaluating how we run our business while still keeping our artistic and creative passion flowing. It is a delicate balance and there have been some hard lessons learned along the way, but we love what we do and we love to continue learning how to make things work even better!

And, here’s a clip of some of their amazing work…

Seattle Same Day Edit with 5D Mark II from Edit 1 Media on Vimeo.

July 24, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Insider to Insider: Laurel McConnell, Owner of Laurel McConnell Photography

Photo courtesy of Barbie Hull Photography

Photo courtesy of Barbie Hull Photography

Laurel McConnell is seriously one of my favorite people in this industry.  Her photography is amazing, gorgeous, incredible, delightful and talented.  But, it’s Laurel herself that I adore even more.  She is funny and smart.  She is witty and bright.  And, she has an incredible spirit and fire.  Laurel is a marketing maven and any wedding business could learn a lot from her on branding, niche, and having a “company voice”.  (You’ll know what I mean if you read her blog and once you read her interview below.)  Her personal flair is on everything she does… and that’s what makes it so special.

Laurel McConnell
Owner, Laurel McConnell Photography
Based in Seattle, WA (but travels worldwide)
laurelmcconnell.com
Established 2001

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

Other than the obvious (happy giddy love and gooey gushy moments & feelings) it’s the anticipation of what exciting things could happen and the cool things we’ll find. Each time we change locations or focus on a new part of the day a whole new world explodes in front of us, waiting for it’s turn to be documented.

It’s like each day is a scavenger hunt- I put all of my energy into finding the light in each situation, absorbing the energy of the people around me, and being in the right place at the right time for the moments that are happening before my eyes. Bride bathed in the most beautiful light that it takes your breath away, CHECK. Ring bearer picking his nose, CHECK. Dad crying when he thinks no one can see him doing it, CHECK. Series of a surprise proposal during the reception of his best friend’s wedding, CHECK. Talk about an exciting day.

What is your best tip for time management?

I’m probably the worst person to ask about this because photographers have SO much pre and post production for each shoot and client that we drown and end up missing dinner, but I like to save a little bit of time each day for my “research” (blog reading, newsletter reading, market trends, social networking, etc) so I feel like I got a treat and got to “goof off.” I got to have a little bit of fun and can move on, and really get stuff D O N E. But really… I turn off my email and phone, lock the door and shut the curtain, and work solid straight through lunch and sometimes dinner: I call this my little Workcation. You can always tell when I’ve had one because there are like 5 blog articles in a row, and then hear nothing but crickets for the next three weeks while I face the music of the missed calls and unanswered emails!

What is your little marketing secret?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret, now, would it?! But I can give you two hints:

1. Being genuine in your personal relationships with other people in your industry when you network. Your network of other photographers and professionals is your biggest ally and loudest cheerleading squad.

2. Finding something people generally like outside of what you do for work that you can write about on your business blog to keep folks coming back for more. In otherwords: yep, you guessed it, CUPCAKES are my little marketing secret.

What is the funnest (most fun) trend you are seeing in the industry?

The wedding photography industry is so ridiculously trendy, it’s dizzying and distracting, so I’m going to be a little abstract here. The one thing that stands out once you take away all the photobooths, generic post-processing ready-made actions, and retro-vintage-thingamabbobers is CREATIVITY AND INGENUITY. The hottest new trend is to be creative and differentiate yourself from other photographers with a difinitive STYLE. People are trying new things outside of their normal realm of shooting, marketing, image-processing, writing, reading, listening, and letting it inspire them to carve out a niche and style that is highly marketable to the types of clients they want.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

Not a dang thing. There are millions of awesome workshops, blogs, and chatty photographers who are willing to share more now that what was available when I came out of commercial art school. Heck, you don’t even need to go to school anymore, most budding photographers I meet aren’t or didn’t. But you know what…. I feel like the route that I took, learning things the HARD way, finding my own way to do things, shaped and molded my style, business skills, and personality in such a way that if I did anything differently, I just might blend into the masses.

YAY!  Thanks Laurel!

July 17, 2009 at 6:00 am 4 comments

Insider to Insider: Susan Alexander Shapiro, Owner of Bravo Bride

Susan Shapiro (and hubby!)I met Susan Alexander Shapiro through Business Networking International.  She has a phenomenal design business, Susabella, that specializes in web sites, e-newsletters, logos, stationery, corporate branding, brochures, advertisements, promotional materials and much more.  Last year I was amazed when this smart woman launched Bravo Bride, a website where brides can buy pre-owned wedding items.  Not only do brides get great deals on things that were often used for a few hours, but also customers get the satisfaction that they are doing good for the environment by reusing, recycling, and reducing.  And, we like that!  BRAVO, SUSAN!  BRAVO!

Susan Alexander Shapiro
Owner of Bravo Bride
Based in Seattle, WA (sell nationwide)
www.bravobride.com
Established 2008

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

That’s a hard one, there are so many wonderful things about a wedding but I have to admit my favorite is watching the bride walk down the aisle in her wedding gown. I love to watch the look on the groom’s face, that is such a special moment.

What is your best tip for time management?

Time management, what’s that? Just kidding :). Everyday I make a to-do list and cross things off as I go. This makes me stay focused and helps me feel like I am accomplishing things. I recently started adding not only work items on my to-do list but also personal items such as grocery shopping, going for a run, etc. It easy to put those things off if they aren’t on my to-do list and it feels just as good to mark those off too.

What is your little marketing secret?

I don’t know if you could call it a secret but I believe that word of mouth referrals are your best marketing tools. If someone likes your service or product they will tell everyone they know and that’s the best type of advertising you can have.

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

I love how brides are wearing different colored shoes under their gown. Here are a few on BravoBride that I love:

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

We have some new features on the site such a forum for brides to chat, our blog and a new messaging system. These would have been great to have when we launched the site but I am learning as I go that BravoBride will evolve and change as time goes on. Hopefully the best is yet to come!

Thanks Susan!

July 10, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Insider to Insider: Whitney Speir, Owner Brown Sugar Design

Brown Sugar Design

Brown Sugar Design

A few weeks ago I wrote about knowing your competition.  I told you to hug your competitor because he or she can be your greatest ally in knowing the specific niche for your business.  This week, I introduce to you one of my FAVORITE competitors: Brown Sugar Design.  Whitney and Jonathan Speir are co-owners of the invitation business and their work is exquisite!  They have elegance and beauty in everything they produce.  And they are really sweet too… sorta like brown sugar.  Here’s my interview with Whitney… enjoy!

Whitney Speir
Co-owner of Brown Sugar Design
Based in Seattle, WA (sell worldwide)
bsdstudio.com
Established 2002

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

We love seeing details come together to make a wedding uniquely personal. Since we work with brides and grooms pretty early in the planning process, we get to hear them describe their perfect day…and as time goes on, and we work closely with them from save the dates to invitations to day-of items…we get to see their vision become a reality.

What is your best tip for time management?

Time management has been an ever-evolving project for us. Since we love what we do, we tend to work 12-14 hour days without even noticing. We’ve learned to discipline ourselves and to stick to a specific work schedule so that other important aspects of life don’t fall by the wayside.

With individual projects, we’ve found that two secrets to successful time management are 1) setting a timeline and 2) communicating that timeline with our clients. After all, we’re dealing with a hard deadline: the wedding day. Communicating deadlines for receiving content, sending designs for review, and the like at the start helps our clients feel at ease and keeps every part of the process moving at the proper pace.

What is your little marketing secret?

Our blog (http://www.bsdstudio.com/blog) has been a great way to introduce new projects and keep people interested in our freshest work. We’ve also tried to be diligent to create and maintain relationships with other bloggers out there so that when we have something exciting to tell the world, they’re ready and willing to help us shout it from the rooftops. This has been such a wonderful source of business and press for us – and it’s free!

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

In the invitation industry specifically, we love seeing the use of unexpected materials and techniques. Metallic foiling on chipboard, blind letterpress on wood veneer, screenprinted fabric, etched plexiglass, laser-cut details, die-cut shapes – there are so many new and interesting ideas out there!

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

We would have been much more diligent from the start in keeping tabs on our accounting. While we’ve always monitored it satisfactorily, it’s only been in the past year that we’ve really taken more of an interest in carefully planning every dollar in and every dollar out. It’s been such a benefit to us that I wish we had started much sooner.

Thanks Whitney!

June 26, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Insider to Insider: Christy Weber, Junebug Weddings

Courtesy of La Vie Photography

Courtesy of La Vie Photography

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Christy Weber since the launch of Junebug Weddings.  (I feel so fortunate to have been a top 10 vendor since their 2006 Seattle launch.)  She is co-owner and executive editor of the website.  You’re probably familiar with her oh-so-fabulous What Junebug Loves blog.  The site has taken the nation by storm and Junebug recently launched their Southern California Top 10 List.  What I love about Christy is that she is the best of all worlds… a triple threat, if you will… smart, creative, kind.  What more could you ask for in an entrepreneur?  Oh yeah… cute shoes!

Christy Weber
Co-owner and Executive Editor of Junebug Weddings
based in Seattle, WA
www.junebugweddings.com
established 2006

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

There are so many things that make weddings special, but what I love the most is that from every angle it’s all about passion- in the form of the romance between the bride and groom, in the dedication of the families that have supported the couple on their journey, and in the way the couple has planned an event filled with the traditions, styles and people they love the most. From my perspective as a wedding photographer, I also love seeing the passion of all the wedding professionals whose lives revolve around sharing their artistry to help people celebrate. Being surrounded by so much passion all at once? Doesn’t get much more inspirational than that!

What is your best tip for time management?

Everyone is different, but for me, lists are key. I’m really big on staying organized, and writing things down helps me to see how much I actually have to get done, allows me to prioritize and create a strategy to tackle it all, and keeps it from getting overwhelmed and blown out of proportion inside my head. Also, crossing items off the to-do list when they’re complete is sooooo satisfying and worth making new lists any day! At Junebug we use Google Apps so we can see each other’s to-do lists and stay organized with shared calendars. It makes working together so much more efficient.

The other big time-saver I’ve learned is being careful not to multi-task too much. At some point it spreads your focus so thin that nothing gets the quality attention it deserves, and will most likely require more work later.

What is your little marketing secret?

This seems more like common sense than a secret, but honesty and integrity have been the most powerful assets in the marketing of Junebug. We created this business to help both brides and wedding professionals, and the structure of our business reflects that. We recommend no more than 10 vendors per category in order to be a truly valuable and manageable resource, and even though we could sell out our listings 10 times over, especially as we’ve grown, we stay true to our word and our purpose. When people understand that Junebug is honestly in this business to bring couples together with the very best wedding professionals (not to make us a quick buck) we gain trust from readers and clients in a way that no e-mail blast, magazine ad or status update could touch. Not to say that we don’t utilize all those other marketing avenues too, we’re always searching for both traditional and creative ways to promote our member businesses. But integrity speaks volumes, and in this emotional industry of weddings, there’s nothing we try to communicate more.

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

Personalization, by far. It is so fun to watch a couple plan a wedding that reflects their own personal style and their values in life. I love that the pressure to have a wedding just like the ones that have come before is falling away. I see people feeling the freedom to interpret traditions in their own way, so when they stand up there and say, “I do”, the celebration that surrounds them is the perfect starting point for their marriage to come.

If you were starting Junebug Weddings all over again, what would you have done differently?

That’s a tough question, because I believe that the process of learning all the lessons in business and in life come in due time, when you’re ready to learn them. If had to choose one thing that I could go back 3 years and change for my partners and myself, it would be to speed up the process of feeling as empowered as business women and artists as we do now (always a work in progress)! I would want us to be able to stand tall and say no when we felt taken advantage of, and yes when we knew what we wanted was right. Not always an easy thing to do when you’re first starting out.

We’re also big believers in beginning with a solid business plan. (We love your 13 step plan that you offer on this blog!) It will help you recognize the things you already know well, and learn the things you don’t know yet, a whole lot faster than just flying by the seat of your pants!

Thanks Christy!

June 19, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Insider to Insider: Beth Helmstetter, Owner of Beth Helmstetter Events LLC

Beth HelmstetterI’ve been a big fan of Beth Helmstetter’s work for a few years now.  Little did I know she is as smart in business (armed with an MBA) as she is stylish with weddings!  As a wedding planner to a growing list of celebrities, Beth has so much to share about her success.  In addition to her achievements in the weddings industry, Beth is also a contributing writer and featured expert for many publications including In Style Weddings, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, World Bride Magazine, Destination I Do, Destination Wedding Style and many others…

Beth Helmstetter
Owner, Beth Helmstetter Events
Beth is based in LA, but her business also serves Hawaii
www.bethhelmstetter.com
established 2005

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

EVERYTHING! I love the flowers, the food, the music, the photography, the linens, the stationery, the lighting, the logistics and of course the romance! When I found out I could have a career that incorporated all of the different hobbies and passions I had in my life, I never turned back.

What is your best tip for time management?

I schedule most calls with my clients. I’ve found that I can be a lot more efficient and give each client my full attention if I schedule conference calls with them rather than having mini calls throughout my week with each client. Of course things come up and I always try to be available when they need me, but for planning questions and sessions scheduling the time in my calendar helps keep me on track.

What is your little marketing secret?

Don’t be afraid of the word “no.” I send my work into editors, bloggers, publicists and even television producers on a regular basis. Often I am ignored or even get a “we’re not interested” response, but just as often I find someone who does like my work. And, even if they don’t feature whatever event I am sending them at that time, they become familiar with my name and I know the door is open to send them others that may be more their style in the future.

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

It’s hard to name just one. I think I really love the In-N-Out truck that is making regular appearences at my Southern California weddings right now. They pull up at the end of the event for guests to get their In-N-Out fix. It’s obviously great for any Southern California guest, but even better if you have people travelling in from out of town who can’t get In-N-Out in their state.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

I would have taken the time to get all systems in place before advertising. When I started my business, I thought it would take six months or more to get my first client so I started advertising anticipating plenty of time to take care of the other stuff. In reality I had my first client in two weeks and got too busy to put my initial systems in place. Because of this, it was a rough first year, but I learned a lot!

Thanks Beth!

June 12, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

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