Mon, 31 July 2017
Beryl Young is the founder of an online community for deeply feeling, giving moms called Recapture Self. Ready to reclaim their identity beyond storyteller, snack maker, and boo-boo kisser. (I love that!)
She offers photography classes, both in-person and online, and has a fabulous community that helps moms capture everyday moments and make creativity part of their lives.
1:07 - Beryl’s Sad-But-Important Start to Photography
Like many moms, Beryl didn’t set out to start a business. Her story has a sad beginning, but we hope you will be able to listen because it’s a very important part. (Beryl's story includes infant loss.)
In 2009 joined a 365 Project challenge with her friend. 365 Project is a visual photo diary, which challenges participants to take a photo every day for an entire year. Beryl quickly began learning from the community of other 365ers on Flickr.
Around the same time, Beryl and her husband were talking about planning a family and one thing she knew she wanted was amazing pictures of her family. A quick look at newborn photographers was enough to give Beryl instant sticker shock! Though she totally values professional photography now, Beryl was determined to learn how to take amazing photos herself!
3 months into the photo project, she got pregnant...and wasn’t feeling super great, so her photography project was put on hold. Sadly, at 20 weeks gestation Beryl found out that her daughter was very sick and she passed away. Losing her daughter, Bella, was hands down the hardest trial Beryl has ever had to walk through. But, yet, through that loss, she was inspired to start photographing again.
Eventually, Beryl launched a small blog and began to share her photography with short captions. People starting reading, responding, and eventually asked her to photograph their families. And a business was born out of this sad chapter in her life.
5:25 - Sometimes The First Business Isn’t the Right Business
Beryl started to receive requests from friends and family for photo sessions. Though she booked sessions for a solid year, she knew it wasn’t quite the right thing for her.
The more she worked as a photographer, the more she realized that it meant the most to her to photograph her own sweet girl! (Yes, Beryl welcomed a second daughter!) Beryl knew something was lacking in the industry: photography workshops for parents.
6:34 - Teaching Photography In Person
During her entire photography journey, Beryl worked full-time as an elementary school teacher. She taught technology, which was a unique role in that she got to work with both the students and teachers, training each group in relevant tech tools.
She had an ah-ha moment! Business for moms is a place where skill sets and passions collide.
During maternity leave, she developed the idea for a class to teach moms how to take beautiful photos of their own kids. She developed the bulk of her class and then got to the hard work of promoting her newly developed course.
Initially, Beryl partnered with a local moms group and asked them to advertise the class for her. (Keep in mind, she was promoting her course before Facebook offered ads!) In the first hour, she had 12 registrations. That’s truly amazing for an in person class!
She taught this in-person class quarterly. And eventually built a suite of online classes.
9:36 - Teaching Photography Online
The transition to teaching online was harder for Beryl. Her very first online class was free, geared toward any mom who has experienced pregnancy loss. She learned a lot in that course creation process.
MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE felt a lot different to create.
Her baby loss class was a lot more heart centered. And MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE required far more technical details. It took two years to really develop her content.
Actually creating her content was fairly easy for Beryl. Which her background as a teacher, she had lots of experience breaking down a complicated concept into its easiest parts. Finding time to put together the course (while holding down a full-time job!) and figuring out which tech tools could best help her execute the class was the hardest part. Not to mention, how in the world would she market the class??
Beryl’s tech tool tips:
Her very first course simply consisted of password protected pages on her site. She put trust in her students that they would hold the password in confidence.
14:30 - Less Is More Marketing
Her very first MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE course ran the month between when her school year ended and her entrepreneurial journey began.
The stakes were high! Beryl knew it HAD to work to be able to quit her job.
Connection marketing works really well for Beryl. Knowing who your product is meant for, and where you can connect audiences in different ways is key. She ended up connecting with a lot of parenting bloggers.
Beryl’s first launch went really well! Her system of connecting herself with the right influencers and people really worked!. She did lots of free classes, webinars, and guest posting to get the word out.
17:37 - Analyzing a Webinar
Beryl recently did a webinar for our BBM audience. And while we had a great time, Beryl discovered that business owners aren’t really her focus! Though she delivered a great presentation, the sales just weren’t as strong as they had been before.
We both thought the class would be a great fit for you all! But while every mom might have the desire to take great photos of her kids, the time and energy of a business mom isn’t necessarily going to photography. You ladies are like, “If this won’t built my business, I don’t care!”
Not everything will be a huge win! And it’s ok! You have to see what sticks and what doesn’t.
We are happy to report that Beryl’s class DID find great success with Facebook ads. (And you ladies KNOW our feelings about Facebook!)
19:35 - Beryl’s Facebook Ad Strategy
Beryl’s ads for MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE run to a free 1-week experience. Then, she uses an email sequence to kick off a promotion of her 6-week paid class.
Beryl has discovered that marketing to parents is tough! Her live webinar attendance isn’t huge; most students usually watch a recording after. Her launches aren’t built around ‘how many sales can I get live?’ She finds her customers usually need a few days to get all the pieces of the free class, then be reminded to buy the paid course.
22:38 - Beryl’s Newest Business Venture
In the last year, she has been asked to teach MOMTOGRAPHY™ ONLINE in many different places.
She’s explored creative coaching and mentoring, wanting to blend one-on-one help and teaching. Then she thought, “I bet I have alumni students who’d be willing to teach in their hometowns.”
Currently Beryl has 4 online course alums going through a 3-month training program to teach the local, in-person version of the class. These alums hail from California, Ohio, Florida, and Oklahoma. MOMTOGRAPHY™ will truly be a nation-wide business. Isn’t that just brilliant!?
Beryl truly has played to her strengths, turned that into a product, and is serving her customers.
26:45 - Business Training for Licensees
Beryl’s new venture is much like a business coaching program that allows other moms to start their own businesses.
The 3-month training course focuses on three primary areas:
Her students get lots of materials, like PowerPoints, and coaching along the way. They’re licensed for a year, and then pay a fee to relicense every year to stay an official teacher.
29:19 - Photography Tips
We couldn't let Beryl go without asking her this important question: what’s the biggest mistake new photographers make?
In her opinion, it’s overshooting. She finds that new parents are so invested in photographs, “I have to get this moment!” so they put the camera behind their eyeball, and shoot away, but come home to 1,000s of pics on their hard drives that they’ll never sort through.
As a photographer, Beryl remembers that she’s the director of her photos. If she can pause, take a step back, and sink into the moment, she can start to watch and notice more. Then bring the camera up when you sense the right moment coming. Shoot with intention. What is the purpose of the photo you’re about to take?
(And this philosophy totally fits with Beryl’s less is more mentality.)
31:18 - Beryl's Adorable Mom Moment
You know these are always cute! You’ll have to stay tuned through the end to hear Beryl’s!
Wed, 19 July 2017
This episode is dedicated to another repeated question we received in our community survey: How do you manage your time? Or one of my favorites, “Can it be DONE??? Mother and businesswoman???”
Yes, it can be done! At the time of this recording, I have a newborn baby at home, a 6-year-old in school, and am a military spouse - and, of course, I run Brilliant Business Moms. It does take some finessing, and you have to be creative. I’m hopeful that this episode will spark some ideas for you.
I do want to mention that I got several questions on specific life circumstances, like:
Since I have never been in either of those situations while growing my business, I do not want to pretend I have any expertise answering that particular question. I have time management tools and tips that work for me, but it would be glossing over your specific situation to pretend like I can speak directly to your circumstances. (And one day we will bring ladies on the show who have more expertise in those areas.)
Alright, let’s get to it. How is it that I’m doing everything I’m doing? How do I even get sleep!?
The #1 Thing You Have To Know
You guys don’t realize I’m doing a lot less than it appears!
Remember my fabulous team? It’s thanks to Ellen, Carlee, and Victoria that I appear to be doing much more than I am! These three ladies work quite a few hours every week and they have all sorts of expertise. They can write posts about Pinterest, webinars, Facebook ads, or a new tech tool - just like I would. They write a lot of our weekly emails. (Have you noticed that our emails are now signed ‘The Brilliant Business Moms Team’?) They regularly answer our Facebook group questions and pass along the more complicated ones to me. They post on social media.
I never want you to think it’s me writing, when it’s actually not me! We’ve decided to use a collective voice when we write much of our content. That ‘team’ language frees me up to do things only I can do: podcast episodes, course creating, group coaching calls, developing and designing new products. (We’re excited for the new planning and time management products we’ll be releasing over the next few years!)
My hand in the business is very much taking part in our big-picture strategy and growth for Brilliant Business Moms.
For example, in this community survey we’ve been talking about, I made sure every question was what we needed it to be. I’m driving our content plans and creation of future products. The main role I have is painting the big picture, planning growth, moving forward, and identifying how best to serve our audience.
I know a lot of you may not be at the point of being able to hire a team. But I really think if you just hire a few hours a week you’ll be amazed at how much more quickly you can grow. Have a growth mindset with all your decisions. For me, I’m not willing to work even 40 hours a week because I want more time with my baby. My paycheck isn’t as big as you assume it is. Because it’s worth it to hire out a few tasks to have that peace of mind, invest in the lives of other women, and have quality time with my family.
How My Work Life Looks With A Newborn
Levi was born in April 2017, and for the first 6 weeks after I didn’t do anything in the business. I was very hands off. I thought I would be off a lot longer than that, but with the slower pace of life I had a lot more time to think and the ideas just came rushing in! (Raise your hand if you can relate!)
Some things are not possible without childcare!
Levi is not in any sort of daycare. He’s primarily home with me. Just this week, I hired a babysitter for Levi, a high school neighbor. She watches him a few hours at a time, a few days a week for me, so I can do tasks that wouldn’t be accomplished otherwise. Tasks such as: conducting podcast interviews, recording tutorial videos, and hosting my live coaching calls for FB Brilliance students.
Especially when I know my students have spent good money for my courses, I don’t want their time with me to be interrupted by a baby.
Leverage one-handed technology.
I’m nursing my son Levi. So, when I’m feeding him, I often have my phone with me. The fact that I can answer emails while feeding Levi or on-the-go is great! I love being a mom in the 21st century!
I also use the Google Keep app to save notes for myself or my team. Just hit the mic button and do a voice recording.
Using the phone as my office, in 5 min increments.
Okay, but what if I was still a solopreneur? Having any sort of life balance with a newborn would be tricky. It certainly is a time to work in the margins. Literally, sometimes, 5 mins increments. If you’ve got a new baby in the house, you probably won’t have those clean start and stop times without childcare help.
I work all over the place now, and I don’t have a neat little office setup. Things are way more fluid. My phone is my new office! Google Keep and Wunderlist are my go-to apps for getting things done.
And remember, I’m the lady who makes and sells planners! I do love time blocking and having hard stops and starts. But when you’ve got a new baby, give yourself lots of grace. Do what you can.
Okay, but what if I REALLY need to work!?
When I need to get some hardcore computer work done, I’ll often have Levi on my lap. I maybe can get 15 mins of really good work in, or more if I’m lucky.
If your kids are still around age 3 or age 4, you could really leverage their naptime to get work done.
If your kids are older than 4 (like my little guy Holden, who’s 6) still facilitate quiet playtime! You’ll be amazed at how your children’s creativity can blossom during those moments.
Balance it all? Give it up.
Here’s a big secret.
You don’t have to do it all. (Promise!)
You can give up those things that don’t provide value to your business or your customers. Especially if you’re feeling crunched for time, only do those tasks that will support your goal.
For example, our Brilliant Business Moms community has told us time and again that you prefer the podcast much more than blog posts. So we do try to make sure at the bare minimum a podcast goes out each week - everything else is icing.
The same is true of social media. We’ve scaled back in a lot of ways there! And just a tip, if you’re listening to me scale back social media and thinking, “But! But! Social media is the only way I’m making sales!” Focus on building your email list. If you’re afraid about tanking your sales potential by focusing on your email list, I promise you’ll be surprised if you focus more on email!
And if you’re wondering how to increase your sales by building an email list, we’ve got a free resource for you. 20 Optin Offers Your Subscribers Will Love.
Focus on big, high impact things. And I’m telling you, your email list should certainly be one of them!
Throw the routines, and find the time.
I used to have really solid daily routines, but they’ve gone completely out the window with a new baby in the house. Levi doesn’t have a great routine, yet, and I’m finding myself working bit by bit during some pretty crazy hours.
Some mornings when he wakes up around 4:30am, I will just stay up after and get some solid work accomplished. Now, I do NOT do that every day! I may do this every other day, at the most. But it’s a great way to fit work in with a new baby.
If you’re SUPER struggling to fit work time in, I almost wonder if you’re not super excited about your business anymore. That may be more of your problem than not having time. (And if that’s the case, go back and listen to our episode ‘Do You Ever Feel Like Giving Up’.)
Most of the time, I work 2 hours a day in teeny snippets. But I love the business so much that losing a bit of sleep here and there, or giving up a Saturday morning, isn’t a huge deal. Again, if you feel like you’re forcing it, maybe your heart isn’t in it. I think it is easy to find time to work when you’re passionate about what you do.
And also, I say no to a LOT of things. I don’t go on other people’s podcasts, I don’t do joint webinars, I’m not part of group programs or masterminds. I don’t add extra things to my calendar. Even though I’ve seen tons of mastermind-type groups lately I’d love to join! I just say ‘No’.
What I have been saying yes to are courses and training programs. If you have unexpected down time, or a slow time in business, maybe you can commit to a training program to watch and take time to learn, while growing your business. (I watch my classes while I feed Levi!) Maybe you’re not getting lots of interviews, and that’s okay.
It's time to relieve my babysitter, so this episode will have to come to a close! This is work / life balance, friends. I hope you took away some helpful pieces of information.
Now it’s your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant.
Mon, 10 July 2017
Brea Albulov is a stay-at-home mom of 2 littles and founder of an online shop called Hope Carried. Hope Carried creates high quality, handmade, babywearing products - and employs mothers who face barriers to entering the traditional workforce.
1:02 - The Birth of a Babywearing Business
Brea, like many mompreneurs, opened her business by accident.
She used baby carriers, but didn’t really love the ones she found. When her kiddos were tiny, she wanted a ring-sling type carrier, but her family just didn’t have wiggle room in the budget for one. So, being a savvy mom, she pulled out her sewing machine and made one for herself. Brea says she then became obsessed with creating baby carriers! She started playing around, making carrier after carrier, and perfecting her design. People started asking if they could buy Brea’s carriers, and early on she simply sold her carriers for the cost of production. But seeing how popular her products were becoming, she knew that she wouldn’t last for long unless she made a few adjustments.
About six months after she started experimenting with carrier designs, Brea raised her prices, opened an Etsy shop, and grew from there! But one important piece of Brea’s mission was still missing. Brea never thought she would be a business woman, but she DID know that she had a passion for helping others and her business would reflect that. After hearing a story on NPR about refugee women who have barriers to employment, Brea found her mission. About six months after opening her Etsy shop, she hired her first employee who was experiencing a barrier to employment, and Hope Carried was in truly business, creating an amazing product and helping others.
5:23 - Adding Team Members
The number of team members she can hire varies based on whether or not the shop is in a busy or slow season, but generally she has between 4-6 ladies working for her.
In fact, after Brea listened to our episode about hiring Virtual Assistants, she has since added an Operations Manager to her team!
6:05 - Hiring People Facing Barriers to Employment
Brea found her employees through her local community. She teamed up with a local non-profit that supports all populations who face barriers to employment to get employee referrals. Brea is especially interested in hiring moms, which fits her business model and mission.
The local non-profit hosts open houses where Brea can talk to job applicants and work with their case managers. At the first open house she attended, Brea was blown away! There were so many people who came, literally walking or taking multiple busses to get there. She couldn’t hire nearly as many people as she wanted, but she could hire some and that’s where the change begins.
Brea runs a training session with her new hires, either working through a translator or using Google Translate to teach them how to sew her baby wraps. Thanks to a non-profit generously providing sewing machines to any Hope Carried employee, Brea’s employees are able to work from home. This gives them a tool they can use to make all sorts of things, not just Hope Carried products.
We are just so excited for the business Brea is growing!
10:06 - Business Logistics
So Brea has multiple seamstresses, working in different places, all making the same products. How does that work?
About 2 years ago Brea’s family was able to move out of their tiny apartment into a house with more room, including an unfinished basement! The move was, in part, thanks to Hope Carried taking off.
Brea’s mom designed a cutting table for her to use, complete with a pulley system and custom tracks for different cuts and dimensions of fabric needed to create Hope Carried wraps and slings.
Here’s a peek at her process:
It’s pretty amazing that her operation is all local!
11:38 - Sourcing Materials
While Brea’s systems are down pat, she does say one tricky part of business is sourcing materials. The certified babywearing non-welded rings are pretty easy to find. But she’s had more trouble consistently sourcing quality fabric. On a few occasions she’s gotten a great order of fabric from a supplier, but has had to send a second shipment back because the quality is just different. And, of course, those are often the most popular colors, cutting off that revenue stream.
She’s not a big enough operation to buy in bulk, wholesale, but that’s the long term goal.
15:15 - Returning Fabric
How do you even deal with returning fabrics work? Often, Brea never gets her money back. And it’s rare to get back her shipping costs. A lot of times she’ll order samples as a safer bet, but it’s not a guarantee. Eating the cost is painful! It’s a bummer when manufacturers don’t hold up their end of the deal. It’s an unknown and a setback, but Brea doesn’t let that stop her.
16:30 - Keeping On Keeping On
Even though Brea always wanted to be a SAHM and not a business woman, the passion of the difference she can make keeps her going. It’s worth it to her.
There comes a point in business when the mission is bigger than you, and that’s what keeps you going through all the tough business moments.
Brea is not only changing the lives of people who wear her products, by giving them a high-quality product to use to cuddle their babies, but also the lives of her employees. It’s just beautiful!
Little Levi and I using one of Brea's beautiful ring slings!
19:08 - Baby Product Safety Checks
Do Brea’s babywearing products have to go through more safety checks than other products? Yes! There’s an alphabet soup of organizations that have to certify her products.
Baby wearing products have to be tested for weight limits, suffocation hazards, flammability, lead, and small parts, as well as the structural integrity. She has to have a recall registration system in place. It’s a lot!
How does a mom even get started?
By breaking down her goals one at a time, before she knew it she realized she was certified.
24:00 - Instagram Marketing Strategy
Brea says her strategy is certainly evolving. She gets a lot of photos for Instagram from her customers. But a lot of her social media photos are from professional photo shoots.
Brea says one of the things that has grown her business the most is having a professional photo shoot.
Seeing beautiful images compels people to buy. It was a total game changer to invest in a high quality photos!
There are a lot of ways you can get creative with your photos if you don’t quite have the budget for it yet.
You’re sharing a lifestyle with your photos. That’s the key to social media marketing.
The other key to Instagram is to be engaging. Share your life with your followers! Think about what else your target demographic might want. In Brea’s case, it’s not just babywearing. They are interested in healthy lifestyles. If the mom might be expecting, she could be thinking about a birth plan. Or if a mom is adding more children to her home, she might be wondering about managing time.
Think of your instagram profile like a magazine. It needs to encompass all of your customer’s life.
29:40 - Influencer Marketing
Digital influencer collaborations are a big part of her strategy. She looks for pictures of people who embody joyful motherhood. She’ll reach out and ask if she can send them a product in exchange for beautiful photos. Sometimes she goes further and will ask the influencer to write a few thoughts to share.
34:50 - Getting Featured in a Mag
Brea’s babywearing products have been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. How did that happen!?
Brea just reached out to the magazine. She keeps a stack of media outlets that she’d like to be featured in, and has crafted an email template that she’ll use and customize for each one.
She wrote to Pregnancy & Newborn in May, but didn’t get featured until the holiday gift guide. And that’s the way that press works. It’s all planned months in advance, so be mindful of that if you’re sending out any emails.
37:37 - Etsy vs. Self-Run Shop
Like Brilliant Business Moms, Brea uses both Etsy and a self-run shop with Shopify. We had to ask what she thinks about each!
Brea loves Etsy because:
Brea loves a self-run shop because:
40:46 - Adorable Mom Moment
You know you love these! You’ll have to tune in to listen for Brea’s.
Facebook: Hope Carried
Now it's your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant!