Behind iconic design – The Regina Boot – Fairfax & Favor

Fairfax & FavorFairfax & Favor is now a must-see and must-wear brand on the equestrian, country (and increasingly city!) circuit, but it all started with one boot – the Regina to be precise. Here I have a chat with the company’s founders, Marcus and Felix, about how they created this iconic piece, when they realised that they’d hit on something pretty special, why tassels and more…

Fairfax & Favor started life as a country brand creating gunslips – how did you transition from this to the Regina and what design features make the Regina unique and different to what was available in the boot market when you launched?

Spanish boots have been around for decades. What we did was strip it down and make it the fitted boot it is today, with the added detail of interchangeable tassels.

Why tassels? As the first brand to embrace interchangeable tassels, you created a trend that other companies are starting to emulate, but what made you take matching tassels Reginaand decide to do something different?

We sold our men’s shoes, the Bedingfelds, with different coloured tassels and thought it would be a great if you could change them, it’s too fiddly on a shoe (for now) but it was perfect on a boot.

When did you start to believe that this boot was putting you firmly on the map? Was it the amount of sales, the kind of people wearing them, a comment someone made?

We believe the Regina is the perfect boot in town and country. It’s stylish and always gets attention, we are very lucky that our customers love them so much that they promote the boot for us.

Is the Regina we see today the same as the first model that you sold or has it evolved over time? 

The Regina has evolved to feature stretch at the back panel, padded insoles and new rubber grip.

Why did you call it the Regina? 

Regina is queen in Latin and we thought it was fitting for a regal boot

What elements of the Regina carry forward onto your other pieces? Things like the craftsmanship, design detail…

For all our products, we pride ourselves on the quality, time and craftsmanship that goes into any Fairfax & Favor product.

The Regina might be Fairfax & Favor’s flagship and first boot but it’s now been joined by the Explorer and new Amira for ladies, and these add to the collection of shoes, ankle boots, accessories and bags for ladies, and loafers and accessories for men. See the full range on their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Why the Equestrian Creative Network Awards made my day

Equestrian Creative Network AwardsWhy the Equestrian Creative Network Awards made my day…

Did you wonder why I was so excited when the winners of the Equestrian Creative Network Awards were announced? It was weird, wasn’t it – I didn’t win anything. I wasn’t even runner up. Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t even enter… so why on earth would I be THAT pleased?

Reason one – my clients nailed it

Proud doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt when I received the list of the winners and runners up. Two of my clients won categories (well done Emily at Inkpot & Press and Rachel at Sweet Images Photography) and two took runner up position (well done Rachel and Sophie Callahan Photography). I did an air punch when I saw the results and LOVED sharing in their excitement when the winners were announced. As sad as it sounds, I get WAY more of a kick when my clients do well in contrast to when I do. I’m not sure if that’s weird or not, but it’s the truth. And the honest truth at that. I’m SO FLIPPING PROUD! See the full list here!

Reason two – because Liam nailed it

I like seeing good plans and good ideas work. And Liam Killen, the brains behind the Equestrian Creative Network and these awards did an exceptional job. The entry process was easy, the categories were great, it was run professionally, the press releases were well written and informative (OK, OK, that’s just a little plug for teamwork!) and the awards video was brilliant. Have a watch here. Selfishly, it was really nice to support the Equestrian Creative Network Awards’ PR and work with Liam again. We created the very very successful Equestrian Social Media Awards together and, although the Equestrian Creative Network Awards are 100% Liam’s, it was nice to be a bit of a helping hand in a great idea.

Reason three – Small & Supercharged VIP sponsored a category

Shortly after Small & Supercharged VIP launched, the awards were announced, and Liam asked if I’d sponsor a category with a prize… and the obvious prize was a year’s subscription to S&S VIP. Which I was very happy to provide. I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Amanda from Full Gallop Communications into the group – HUGE congrats on winning your category if you’re reading this!

 

I can’t wait for the next Equestrian Creative Network Awards to roll around if I’m honest with you. I’m hoping that I might be asked to help with the PR again, and I’m hoping I might be able to sponsor a category… and I am definitely hoping my clients do as well, if not better, than this time!

A few minutes with… Sophie Carroll – Evemy & Evemy

Sophie Carroll - Evemy & Evemy In this week’s a few minutes with, I catch up with Sophie Carroll (nee O’Neill), founder of the lovely country brand Evemy & Evemy. Here’s a bit more information about Sophie, her business, vlogs she follows and more.

Tell us about you and your background

My background is in marketing and I have worked for luxury British fashion brands, including a by Royal Appointment company.

What made you want to start a business?

I started Evemy & Evemy as a creative outlet for my passion for country lifestyle and British fashion. I have always really enjoyed fashion/styling and envisaged having my own business, so I decided to launch Evemy & Evemy in Autumn 2016.

How is Evemy & Evemy different?

A fusion of fashion with traditional country style. I take inspiration not only from the Great British countryside but also catwalk trends.

What makes your products special?

Our collection is predominantly made from fabrics crafted in Britain or Ireland. The mills have a rich heritage and I think this adds an extra layer of luxury to our pieces. Our pieces are also made in England.

If you had to sum up Evemy & Evemy in five words, what would they be?

British town and country lifestyle clothing.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Evemy & EvemyDefinitely have goals but don’t be too fixed in your ideas, let your business evolve over time and enjoy the journey.

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

Shopify! It is so beautifully user friendly.

Best thing about running a business?

I love seeing customers enjoying their Evemy & Evemy products, that’s what it’s all about for me.

Worst thing about running a business?

Not sure yet – ask me when we have been running for a year!

Top business blog you follow

I really enjoy watching vlogs, Holly Casto is always entertaining and informative and of course, Rhea’s videos are always great! Smart Insights is also a great source for marketing trends.

Where can people follow you or Evemy & Evemy online

www.evemyandevemy.com

Instagram @evemyandevemy

Pinterest @evemyevemy

Facebook @evemyandevemy

Twitter @evemyandevemy

Why making the right decision isn’t always easy

Why making the right decision isn't always easyMaking the right decision isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s hard. It keeps you up at night. It makes you question what you’re made of. It makes you question lots of your character traits too. So if it’s doing all of these things, if it makes you feel horribly uneasy in your skin, then how do you know it’s right? What if these feelings are actually your gut instinct screaming no? It could be. But I think I might have found a way to help. It still feels horrible, but it allows you to see what the right path is. Having the balls to follow that path, to make that right decision, isn’t quite so easy.

Why do we need to make these kinds of decisions?

I don’t know your situation, but let me tell you about mine. This is a frank and open blog – much like any blog I write, but I know that when I make the decision to publish it (and it will be the right decision because it might help just ONE of you), I’ll feel sick. So stick with me here…

Sometimes we have to make decisions that mix things up. From the outside looking in, it doesn’t necessarily look like we’re making huge decisions, but they feel like seismic shifts and leave us feeling a bit wobbly.

As you’ll know, if you follow my blog or any of my social media platforms, not all that long ago, my business and the work I do made a slight detour. After running a very successful PR, marketing and social media business for longer than I care to admit, and doing a stint in house as marketing manager for one of the largest equestrian product manufacturers in the world, I started to dabble in another kind of service. It was closely related to the work I did and used a lot of the same skills and knowledge, but it focused on helping business owners to help themselves. Now, this doesn’t mean that the people I started coaching. consulting with or mentoring (more about those terms some other day!) HAD to do everything themselves, but for some people it meant that they had the confidence to do all of the above. It meant that they could look at what they wanted to achieve with their businesses and brainstorm with someone who had been there, done it (a number of times) and got a number of free t-shirts too! It allowed people to make any budget work harder. In fact, it meant that people with no budget could learn the skills they needed to put their business on the right course.

It sort of started by accident if truth be told. It felt like a good idea, I knew I could help and I love working with smaller businesses, so it ticked a few boxes. But when the results started to come in from the handful of coaching clients I was working with, more work in this area followed. I was delighted. Having people reach out to me, ask for my help, and being able to work with them, to empower them and create that all important strategy and plan. To be that brainstorming buddy. To be that coach and cheerleader. I loved it. The more work I did, the more work I got. It was brilliant, But being just one person and unable to clone myself was a sticking point as there really are only so many hours in the day. I’m not afraid of hard work. Far from it. It’s currently 22.51 on a Sunday night and I am writing this. I can (and do) work incredibly hard. And I love it. My brain whirls and I see things in an almost Sherlock Holmes ‘mind palace’ kind of way when things connect. I’ll regularly email myself with ideas at stupid o’clock or be inspired by something I see out and about. But I digress. I was already at a normal human’s full capacity when I started working with coaching clients. And now that side of the business was growing and it felt good. It felt right. But something was going to have to give…

But making the right decision is not always easy

In this case, it’s been an incredibly hard decision to make. I ADORE my clients. Some of my PR clients I have worked with for years and years and years. Literally. I have been involved with so much of their business and they have become friends as well as clients. I have been gradually reducing my PR clients when the time was right to focus in on just a handful because, in addition to many of my other beliefs, I also whole heartedly believe that one needs to be a practitioner (as Gary Vee would say!) as well as someone who coaches and consults. Having full PR clients allows me to do this, but in order to serve them correctly I can only have a limited number. And a number that was becoming more and more limited. Add to this the other elements of my life – a house to run, two small children, a slight mentally deficient trailhound, a husband, a father, and, you know, having some kind of life and the need for sleep and continuing professional development, and you can see the issues looming. Well, not so much looming in the distance, more like a flipping wall of issues and noise and stress.

I’ve been wrestling with what to do. What decision to make.

…I’ve known deep down what I WANTED to do. What the right decision was for me. But it felt selfish. It felt disloyal. I felt like a traitor (and that was the actual I word when I was speaking to my coach). These are not qualities I value in a human, let alone myself. I am fiercely loyal. It’s kind of one of my things. But I have a number of other attributes I value too. I HAVE to do my very best and can’t handle being anything that I perceive as below par. I don’t really ‘do’ dropping balls. I would genuinely rather give up sleep than let someone down. Mad, hey? I knew what I needed to do. Of course. Anyone reading this will know the answer. It’s simple. On the surface it’s obvious. If a coaching client came to me with this exact issue I would ask them some questions (the very same questions I have asked myself) and the answers would steer them to the solution. It was staring me in the face. But there was the emotional element that hadn’t been considered in the equation. My feeling about it all. How bad what I needed to do made me feel. But the truth there was only the one solution. It was the RIGHT decision to make. But it still felt horrible. It wasn’t easy.

So if I could offer you one tip about making the right decision

…it would be this. Try and imagine that you are talking to you, but you don’t have the emotional ‘stuff’ that goes on in your mind. Imagine you’re speaking to your best friend and they are in possession of ALL of the facts, but none of the emotion. What do you think they would say? Yep. It’s probably what you don’t want to hear, but it’s probably the right decision. But no one said it would be easy. Did they?

But onto brighter things…

Now I’ve made the decision, have acted on it and have a clear plan, I couldn’t be more excited about what the future has in store, for me, my coaching clients, my VIP members, my Small & Supercharged members and my PR clients. We’re all destined for big things. Let’s plan. Let’s make decisions (even the uneasy ones) for the sake of progress, happiness (and sanity) and if you ever need someone to give you a helpful nudge or someone to share your unease with, I’m really just an email away.

A sweet shout out for Rachel Bragg of Sweet Images Photography

Equestrian Life MagazineThe lovely Rachel from Sweet Images Photography has recently had an article published in Equestrian Life Magazine, all about how to prepare your veteran for a photoshoot. I’m incredibly proud to call Rachel a client and a friend, and I was probably as excited as she was when I saw her words in print for the first time… watch out world!

Why Equestrian Life?

Equestrian Life is a lovely magazine that caters for the East Midlands and upwards, providing interesting articles in addition to show results and a whole lot more. Alongside the monthly printed magazine is a superb, regularly updated website, and various social media channels too, to help keep all readers updated and fully informed about news in their area and across the much wider equestrian industry.

Preparing your veteran for a photoshoot

Rachel does portrait shoots, as well as event photography and commercial shoots, and the inspiration for the article came after one shoot with Anna and Benji. Anna had been bought the gift of a photoshoot and had plans to use it when her beloved horse, Benji, was back on form after an injury. Unfortunately, Benji’s injury wasn’t able to heal and a very difficult decision was made. As a way to remember her beautiful horse, Anna arranged for her shoot with Rachel to be brought forward – you can read all about it here. The thing is, even with a horse who has been on box rest and isn’t ridable, the images captured can still be stunning, beautiful reminders. And that’s what inspired Rachel to speak to Zoe, the editor of Equestrian Life, about a feature.

“I love the portrait work I do, but the preconceptions that some of my lovely clients have about what Sweet Images Photography Anna & BenjiI’ll make them do on a shoot could very easily put anyone off!,” said Rachel. “But my shoots are so flexible that I work within what the client and horse are comfortable in doing, which I also know is true of so many other photographers, and I thought it was a great opportunity to just explain this, so people are less concerned about approaching a photographer and more confident about booking this kind of shoot.

“Taking the photographs of Anna and Benji was heartbreaking but seeing the amazing relationship they had was heart warming and then some. And being able to capture this for Anna was a huge privilege.”

The article is available to read now in the latest issue of Equestrian Life (there’s even one of Rachel’s pics on the front cover!)

AND, on top of this, Rachel has just launched a brand new Sweet Images Photography website!

Find out more about Rachel’s shoots here.

A few minutes with… Stephen Reeds – Teddy Edward

Stephen Reeds Teddy EdwardI’ve seen Teddy Edward pop up on my Instagram feed more and more over the last few months, and when two bloggers I work with – Andrea Owen/Mud on my Mulberry (see her ‘Blogstars feature here) and Harriet Edwards/A Girl About Country (see her ‘Blogstars’ feature here) started talking about the brand, I knew I needed to sit up and pay attention. Luckily Stephen Reeds from Teddy Edward was happy to be quizzed… and here’s what he had to say…

What made you want to start Teddy Edward?

I have been working in the fashion industry for over 25 Years making lots of money for other people, the time came in my life where I wanted to do something for me but something that I could be proud of!

How is your company different?

Firstly I wanted all my products to be made in Great Britain! I also believe there is a gap in the market for quality classic products with a contemporary edge for men and women which are made in Britain.

What makes Teddy Edward’s products special?

Not only are they made in Britain but when you try them on, you can feel the quality of the fabric and the attention to detail on the fit. All our products are properly tailored so it doesn’t matter your size, they always fit well and feel great!

Can you sum up your business in five words?

That would be: Having fun, made in Britain.

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Not really, as we are a new business still working it out but what we believe in is: 

Teddy EdwardUnderstated Luxury. Totally unapologetically, British.

If you could give one piece of advice to another business owner, what would it be?

Simply if you believe in it, do it before it’s too late!

What’s piece of technology that you use to support Teddy Edward?

That’s simple : Shopify is amazing, not only does it manage our website, so we can do it ourselves without specialist assistance, it is our EPOS system and manages our stock! For a great price!

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Being able to design lovely luxury products.

What’s the worst thing about running your own business?

Managing the cash flow!

Do you have a favourite business blog?

I don’t have have one as I like to shop around to get various opinions.

Do you have a favourite business book?

I have not read one in a few years as I get all my information from web/Google/blogs or friends/old colleagues whose experience or opinions I value.

Tell us one thing we might not know about you?

I am very short and bald but enjoying life to the full.

What’s your top business achievement?

Like many people who have been in the fashion industry a while, I like to think I have a few but the one I am most proud of is starting my own brand and business.

Where can we find Teddy Edward online?

www.teddy-edward.com

Instagram is:

Teddyedwardclothing

Twitter is:

@TeddyEdwardUK

Blogstars – Harriet Edwards – A Girl About Country

Harriet EdwardsBlogstars – the occasional series I run on here looking at some superb bloggers that have caught my eye – is back… and what I treat I have for you… it’s only A Girl About Country, aka Harriet Edwards!

I have the pleasure of knowing Harriet as she’s a brand ambassador for Hiho Silver, but she also works with a number of brands I have connections with and adore. Her style is just superb, her blogs are well written and interesting, she’s a proper country girl and, you know what else? She is so flipping lovely! I met Harriet properly at Badminton Horse Trials this year and she’s even more lovely in the flesh (and, let’s be clear, she’s always been a delight). Actually, it was her influence that MADE me add to my Fairfax & Favor collection. OK. She didn’t make me. She actually offered some really good advice to help me pick the right colour Drivers and told me how and when she wore hers, and that made me think about how I could wear them too. So I bought. Anyway, I digress… here’s Blogstars…

What made you start blogging?

Honestly, I think it has to be attributed to my shopping addiction! I’ve always been very passionate about style and more specifically country style. The countryside is my home but just because you need to wear practical clothes it doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish too. A perfect example of this combination of practicality and classic style is Fairfax & Favor – needless to say a good few years ago I fell in love and started my collection. It quickly expanded and through sharing my pictures of their gorgeous products I was encouraged by the guys at Fairfax & Favor to start a blog. I laughed it off at first – I’m not great with technology, but came round to the idea and the rest, as they say, is history!

A Girl About Country British Polo GinHow do you measure the success of A Girl About Country?

My blog is very much a hobby. I have a very stressful and somewhat scientific full time job that keeps me busy, so blogging is an outlet for me. That means that my idea of success is probably different to those who blog full time. For me, the success is knowing that what I have said or shared has made a difference to someone else or that they enjoyed reading what I have written. The first few times I wrote a post (and to some extent even now), I would feel a little bit nauseous at the thought that no one would bother to read what I had spent hours agonising over. The biggest measure of success for me has to be hearing from my followers that I have inspired them to try something new – the one I’ll remember most is a lovely lady who contacted me after reading my post on the Femmes Fatales (an all ladies shooting club), she had never even picked up a shotgun before but was inspired to give it a go after reading my post and now she’s a regular at their events!

Tell us about the post you’ve most enjoyed writing/has been best received for A Girl About Country

The blogs I’ve enjoyed writing the most are also the ones that I invariably feel most nervous about releasing into the world. The one’s that open my life and my choices up for criticism which actually makes me feel quite vulnerable but at the same time I feel so passionate about that particular subject that I really want to put my point of view on the table. The post that I believe has been best received was one of these blogs – it was an account of my first experience game shooting which is a very controversial and emotive topic to talk about. I was expecting so much negativity for that post and don’t get me wrong I did get some, but the overwhelming response was positivity and more importantly education. A lot of people really didn’t understand the reasons (my reasons at least) behind shooting game and I think I managed to help people understand that – even if they didn’t A Girl About Countryagree.

How do you promote A Girl About Country?

As I mentioned, A Girl About Country is my hobby and so I don’t really promote it as much as I’d like to but I do utilise my Instagram account to direct people to my blog. I try and link the content with Instagram and the actual blog site so that the two are synonymous and people identify with both.

Any tips you’d pass onto people thinking of blogging?

YES! I feel very strongly about this, particularly with the influx of new country/style bloggers. Of course you should look through others content and take inspiration from that, in fact that’s a total compliment but please please please stay true to yourself. That is my biggest bit of advice. Don’t write about the things you think people want to see, write about the things that YOU love and you’re passionate about because that is what people really want to see. If you are trying to do something that your heart isn’t 100% in, just because you see others enjoying success with it, it won’t work. Be true to yourself and you will only be successful.

Has anything good come out of blogging?

Absolutely – if I didn’t enjoy blogging I wouldn’t do it, so that must mean some good has come from A Girl About Country in Ariatit right? If it ever gets to the point where I feel like I’m not enjoying it anymore I will definitely stop. I know that most people will expect a particular answer to this question – freebees, but the truth is getting freebees is about the furthest reason from the truth possible why I started blogging or enjoy blogging. I’m very independent and I’ve always bought my own things so I wouldn’t want or expect to blog solely for freebees – as soon as people do that the blog becomes false. The very best thing that has come out of blogging is new friends, I have been introduced to some of the best people and have formed some fantastic friendships and from that enjoyed some amazing experiences. It’s all about spreading the love!

Where can we find you online?

The blog – www.agirlaboutcountry.com

Instagram: harriet_lily

 

 

Behind iconic design – Hiho Silver’s Cherry Roller Collection

Cherry Roller Bangle

Photo by Sophie Callahan Photography

You may have noticed that I adore Hiho’s Cherry Roller Collection. Well, it’s more than bog standard adoration. I wear the bangle and necklace each day. It rarely leaves my body… and I’ll tell you why.

Why is Hiho Silver special?

Being horsey, I knew, loved and was a customer to Hiho long before I worked for them. I always loved the way the company combined genuine equestrian detail into sturdy pieces of jewellery that looked gorgeous but wouldn’t disintegrate if you wore them on the yard! I have a bit of a thing about wearing the things you love and not just keeping them for best, so this ties in perfectly with that philosophy. Now, I just want to revisit the ‘genuine equestrian detail’ line. I’m horsey BUT I don’t really want to be covered in horse heads or twee jewellery. I’m very proud of my horsiness, very proud, but I want to give a nod to it with my jewellery rather than plastered in horse heads. There’s nothing wrong with horse head jewellery (I feel I am really picking on horse heads today!) and I have seen some beautiful pieces available (can you guess where?!), but I like the more understated horsey look. That is the kind of style that people who are horsey ‘get’ and people who aren’t admire because they see it as a beautiful piece of jewellery in its own right.

What’s the Cherry Roller Collection?

So, back to the Cherry Roller. Inspired by the bit bearing the same name, Hiho’s most popular Cherry Roller pieces combine sterling silver with rose gold vermeil (vermeil being a thick plating) or solid rose gold beads, but sterling silver only and sterling silver with yellow gold vermeil are also available. The combination of rose gold and silver is truly stunning, but for the horsey amongst you, you’ll also be well aware that a cherry roller snaffle combines stainless steel with copper, which creates the same dual colour look. By substituting the metal, changing the proportions and reviewing, revising and perfecting each element, the Cherry Roller Collection burst into life… and the first piece was the bangle.

I adore the bangle for many reasons. First up, it shows the iconic cherry roller design beautifully, with the curved ‘mouthpiece’ of the bangle following the wrist’s shape, and the clever hinged closure makes it easy to put on and take off, but secure when in place because of the clip. My roller has a solid gold central bead with Hiho engraving which I find myself spinning and admiring way more than I should. I wear it stacked with my Hiho Foxtail bracelet (that’s a whole other blog!) and I honestly never take it off.

Why is the Cherry Roller iconic?

It’s iconic because it’s unique to Hiho, it was created by them and can only be purchased from them, and it’s really led the way in combining precious metals in this space. I love it… and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t…

Have a look a the collection here – or go and see the team at the tradestand at any of the events they attend to see it in the flesh.

A few minutes with… Robin Roadnight – Robin Roadnight Equestrian Art

Robin RoadnightI stumbled across the lovely Robin Roadnight on Instagram and then purchased one of her pieces of art – Horsepower. I love what Robin creates, so much so I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her business and what she does… and she’s this week’s ‘a few minutes with…’ focus…

Tell us about you and your background

I grew up very influenced by my incredibly creative Mum, who also shares my passion for horses. From as early as I can remember, I spent every spare moment at the stables. Financially my own horse was never an option until my early teens, so I would ‘work for rides’ every weekend, and before and after school. Around the age of 13 I found a wonderful little competition yard near home, run by a very supportive and talented family, who enabled me to keep and compete my own horses. Immersing myself in that world fuelled a lifelong passion for eventing and showjumping that has inspired my work.

What made you want to start your business, Robin Roadnight Equestrian Art?

For me I think I have always worked best on my own, where I can give my imagination a completely free rein. I started painting commissioned portraits around the age of 12, and I’ve always known that this was what I wanted to do.

Robin Roadnight Equestrian ArtHow is your business different?

I think my business is very different in a way that equestrians in particular may recognise. Although my passion is centred around horses (well anything equine!) my work is inspired by equestrian sport, and every painting or design is a considered study of that. I remember growing up, you would find ‘horse’ inspired designs, paintings and fabrics everywhere, but so rarely would I see anything that captured how I felt about showjumping, eventing or dressage.

What makes your products special?

I work very hard at it, and I hope that fellow equestrian sport lovers can feel the spirit of their sport is captured in my work.

If you had to sum up Robin Roadnight Equestrian Art in five words, what would they be?

Inspired, Classic, Spirited, ‘Country’ and Uplifting.

Do you have a motto or ethos?

I hugely value my customers, and find it really important to action everything swiftly and keep people fully informed. I think the buying experience is as important as the product itself.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

To take the plunge and keep at what you feel passionate about. Don’t worry about what others think, you are not alone, if you believe in something enough, there are many others that will believe in it with you, and appreciate your work!

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

I spend an awful lot of time keeping everything meticulously organised, if I feel that everything (within reason) is completely under control, I find it hugely enjoyable, even if I’m frantically busy! My work space has dozens of perfectly sized shelving units and cupboards, to keep everything visible & organised (thanks to my very handy step father!) and as much as I prefer using my iPad, I still can’t move away from my giant laptop, I have a folder for everything, and although my paintings are done on the easel, they are all scanned for the fabric designs to be worked on in Robin RoadnightPhotoshop and Illustrator, the two key things I could not work without!

Best thing about running a business?

The complete freedom to be as creative as I like. I never have to run my ideas by the boss to get the go ahead!

Worst thing about running a business?

You never really clock off, my poor husband will second this, even on a Sunday evening with a glass of wine and Poldark on tv, I will still be answering emails, taking orders and running back and forth checking stock numbers. Switching off is much easier said than done!

Top business blog you follow

I wouldn’t say a blog specifically, but Instagram is my go-to for inspiration. I could spend hours on there!

One thing we might not know about you

Not uncommon with artists I’m sure, but I’m incredibly introverted, as much as I love meeting wonderful people, I could go on forever in my own company, and will often shun a get together in favour of a good book or a lovely day in the garden!

Top business achievement

I used to think my art didn’t count unless it was hanging in the best gallery, but nothing has felt like more of an achievement than starting from nothing and growing to over 30,000 loyal Facebook followers. I often receive emails and photos from happy customers showing off my work in situ, and there is nothing more humbling or motivating than that.

Where can people follow you or your business online

I can be found on Facebook, and I have recently started Instagram, where I am really loving sharing more lifestyle and inspirational photos, together with my new designs as they’re released. My website is updated almost daily too www.robinroadnight.com

Product photography – the big picture with Sophie Callahan Photography

Sophie CallahanProduct photography is incredibly important for any businesses. In fact, for some, the difference between good and bad product photography can be the difference between success and failure. It sounds dramatic but it’s true. In Michelle Mone’s book ‘My Fight To The Top’, she explains how her photoshoots with famous names (notably Penny Lancaster, and then Rod Stewart’s ex wife Rachel Hunter), propelled her business forward. Here, I have a chat to Sophie Callahan about product photography and what things you need to look out for when you decide to work with a photographer and take the leap.

How did you get into product photography? Do you have any specialisms/particular passions?

I originally began by just photographing horses and their owners, and photographing businesses and products was kind of a natural progression, really. Brands begun contacting me asking if I’d photograph their products or services and that side of the business grew from there. I specialise in working with equestrian and country brands.

Can you share a campaign you’ve worked on and tell us a bit about it?

Product photographyI recently worked with a company called Forelock Books, who publish children’s books about horses and ponies. Michelle, from Forelock Books, wanted to increase her visibility and sales online. She asked me to create images that would strengthen her brand and capture the essence of her product. It was such a fun shoot, involving five children and four ponies, and I believe Michelle is thrilled with the results.

How do you go about organising the shoot?

Every shoot is entirely different. Some clients want a lot of creative input and want to oversee the entire shoot from start to finish, in which case, I will have as much or as little involvement with organising the shoot as they need me to have. Whereas some clients are happy to send me the products and trust me to coordinate everything needed to create beautiful photographs. I am happy to source models, both human and equine, locations and props, and if the client isn’t planning to attend the shoot, I try to keep them as ‘in the loop’ as possible, every step of the way. 

What information can a company give you to help you get the best photography for them?

When I’m shooting for a brand or business, I like to do as much homework about them as possible. I want to know who their target audience is, what colours they use in the branding, what their social media presence is like, what marketing campaigns they have run in the past and plan to run in the future, etc. It all helps me create a picture in my mind of what images will align with their brand. 

Some clients are looking for something very specific, for a particular campaign or website revamp, for example, whereas some are looking to create a bank of stock images, to use on social media over time. Some want both. So I also need to know what they are hoping to use the images for.

Do you offer different levels of shoot? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Yes. I know that photography is a big and scary investment for a lot of small businesses and one-man-bands. So, with this in mind, I offer three different packages. The first package is just the shoot itself. This means that my client doesn’t have to part with any extra money until they have seen and are happy with their images. And if they decide to just buy a few, they can do, or they have the option to purchase all. 

The second option is for those with a specific purpose in mind. As I mentioned, this may be an upcoming advertising campaign, a website revamp or the launch of a particular product. They may only require a handful of images and that is what my second option offers. There is, of course, always the option to purchase extras at a later date. 

And my final option includes the shoot and all image files. This is my most popular option and typically my clients will end up with upwards of 100 images.

All of the above options are guaranteed an interview on my blog and exposure to my 35k social media following.

What advice would you give people thinking of getting their first professional shoot organised?

Firstly I would encourage them that getting professional photographs taken of their product or service is 100% the right thing to do. In an era where social media is so prevalent, imagery is king! And secondly, I would advise them to give their photographer as much information about their brand and their vision as possible. Choose the right photographer, one who you think really ‘gets’ what your business stands for, and be super clear on what you want to achieve, with these images. 

What questions should a business owner ask a photographer to make sure they’re a good fit for them?

Obviously it’s important to see previous work, to ensure you like the style of the images, as every photographer’s style is unique to them. But I think finding the right photographer for you is more about getting a good feeling about someone, than it is about asking specific questions. I’d advise chatting either face to face, via Skype, or on the phone. When you’ve built a business, that business becomes your baby and it’s so important that the person who is responsible for creating the images that will bring your ideas to life and present them to the world, understands exactly what the brand is all about and is as passionate about the shoot as you are.

Find out more about Sophie’s business shoots on her website, here. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.