A few minutes with… Piers Dickinson – Hyde & Hare

Piers Dickinson Hyde & HareHave you heard of Hyde & Hare? This new, exciting brand, founded by Piers Dickinson, is definitely one to watch. With a range of one of a kind bags and clutches made using natural cowhide, Hyde & Hare is set to become a name synonymous with luxury and lifestyle.

Tell us about you and your background?

I grew up in the rolling hills of Gloucestershire, went to school in Cheltenham, studied in Oxford and always had a deep desire to set up my own business. I found myself fresh out of university brimming with ideas but not yet sure what to do. Turning down the opportunity of a lucrative job in the City, I was offered the chance to travel to Kenya for a number of months helping manage luxury safari lodges.

It was here in this country steeped in history and unspoiled wilderness that I discovered a range of stunning, local cowhide products sold in the small boutique shop at one of the lodges. One evening after a few sun downers overlooking the Savanna, I sat chatting to a guest, an incredibly inspiring fashion designer, and that night the idea for Hyde & Hare was born.

What made you want to start a business?

I graduated in 2015 having studied Real Estate for 3 years and was always certain that this was the path I was going to take. Having been lucky enough to be offered a Graduate Surveyor role in the City it was the moment I read my contract and in bold were the working hours 8am – 10:30pm, this was the point where I realised I wasn’t cut out for this life which lacked any form of creativity! I then spent the next couple of months helping manage luxury safari lodges in Kenya where I discovered Hyde & Harethe beauty of cowhide and saw the potential of Hyde & Hare.

What makes your products special?

Sadly most people who produce cowhide goods use cowhide print, here patterns are printed onto a white hide using a computer and you can replicate it over and over again. You really lose the uniqueness, texture and feel of the natural material that cowhide is. We use the finest quality hand-selected hides, where each one is different in terms of the colour and pattern so we know each of our cowhide bags will be one of a kind.

If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Handcrafted – Unique – Personable – Quality – Ethical

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Work Hard, Play Hard. Striking that balance in the early stages of business is proving very one sided. A lot of long nights and early mornings!

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

Take the plunge and do your research. You’ve got to be well versed in the modern marketing techniques such as email marketing and SEO before you start out as they will be vital in the early stages.

One thing that helps you run Hyde & Hare more effectively

For us Photoshop is the number one tool. Obviously as we shoot every single product we have this is a very time consuming process, having software such as Photoshop makes our lives so much simpler. I can’t fault Shopify too with such a large variety of apps at your disposal.

Best thing about running a business?

Being able to use your creative side, so many people are blessed to have this quality but the 9 – 5 prevents people using their creative side in the way they would like.

Worst thing about running a business?

Stock Keeping – For us it very difficult to do stock control as every single bag is different and only 1 is available. This means that each time one is sold we have to manually upload a new bag in its place, thank god for Photoshop.

Top business blog you follow?

By far Tony Robbins has one of the best business blogs currently out there.

Top business book you’ve read?

Hyde & HareI know other people have mentioned this book too but it is something special. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is probably the most valuable book I’ve ever read.

One thing we might not know about you?

Helping run a luxury safari lodge I had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people. I was lucky enough to have breakfast with Leonardo Da Caprio everyday for a month.

Where can people follow Hyde & Hare online…

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hydeandhare/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hydeandhare/

Website: Hyde and Hare

Exciting times with Countryside magazine

NFU CountrysideIf you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you may have seen me post about Countryside magazine. Why? Well, the September issue (which is the one that is out NOW) sees my first monthly business column. I’m a bit excited about it.

Why Countryside magazine?

I have worked with the team at Countryside magazine, with various clients, for… I don’t know… 10 years? Maybe a bit longer?! I love the magazine, get each issue and read it from cover to cover. It’s also one of the few magazines that comes into the house that my husband also reads (and discusses articles at length… today he told me he’d read you shouldn’t trim a horse’s whiskers… and I know where he read it!!). It’s wholesome, it’s interesting, it’s useful and I love the content. The feature about harvesting in this issue is particularly fascinating as it looked at different crops… but I digress. With my small business coachingSmall & Supercharged and Small & Supercharged VIP group, the vast majority of the people inside it have some connection to the countryside or equestrian industry. This could be that they live in the countryside, own a horse, spend every minute they can with nature or sell equestrian, canine and country products. The groups are open to everyone but, I think because I’ve been in the equestrian and rural industry for so long, I’m best known there. And that’s fine by me. Well, it’s more than fine.

So, the column in Countryside magazine?

Ah yes, the column. I understand this magazine and regularly speak to the editor, the brilliant Martin Stanhope, and with Small & Supercharged growing at an alarming rate, now seemed like the time to share my expertise, put myself out there and help people by sharing a bit of knowledge that they can apply to their business. I really REALLY love helping small businesses, and being able to potentially help even more is incredibly exciting and something I am really grateful for. So thanks so much for the opportunity, Countryside.

What’s the first one about?

The first column is all about collaborations (because it’s not a secret that I’m a fan of the good old collab!), and next month’s is all about influencers… so definitely have a look out for that…

I’ll be writing a monthly column in each issue of Countryside magazine. I hope you enjoy it. If you want to find out more about Countryside magazine, have a look here.

A big shout out to Karen McConnell at Blair Castle Horse Trials

Karen McConnell, the lovely lady behind KA Equestrian has had a pretty amazing week. And I wanted to share it with you here. And also let you know that you can catch up on the action on her Facebook page and Youtube channel… and you really, really should!

Karen is a client and friend of mine and I am in awe of what she achieves most week. Not only does she run a livery yard, coach, ride, compete, blog, vlog and generally nail social media… she also has two small children and a lot of other things to do! This week, an extra element was thrown in… Blair Castle Horse Trials. And when I say element… well… it was a but more than that!

A bit about Blair Castle Horse Trials…

Although Blair properly started on the Thursday, the first horse inspection (also known as the trot up) happened on Wednesday afternoon. If you’re not familiar with horse terms, this is the stage of the competition that allows vets to make sure the horses are sound and fit to compete. But it’s a bit more than that. Over the years, the trot up at any of the big three and four star events has been the place to see what’s hot and what’s no so hot in the world of equestrian fashion and style. And Blair is no exception.

And now for some Hiho Silver…

Now, let’s just pop over to Hiho Silver for a minute (it’ll all make sense in the end, stick with me!). If you’ve been following Hiho Silver on social media, you’ll know that the company has sponsored the best dressed at Badminton, Bramham and Blair, and is also sponsoring Blenheim and Burghley (phew!). This sponsorship sees the company give the best dressed lady and gent a lovely prize. And Hiho’s King of The Road is part of the judging team too, with carefully selected people at each venue. At Blair, Andrew judged alongside eventer Paul Tapner and… can you guess… yes, Karen!

And back to Karen!

Karen has a great sense of style and is actually a Toggi Blogger… so you can just image how amazing her wardrobe is! Karen agreed to be part of the esteemed judging panel on the Wednesday, and is also due to be at Blair for the vast majority (if not all) of the event. She has some AMAZING content lined up with riders, sponsors, stand holders and more… I won’t spoil any of the surprises, but you MUST check out her Blair content. Everything I have seen has been superb… and it’s only Friday! There’s more to come!

The judging for the trot up at Blair Castle Horse Trials took place on Wednesday but the winner has only JUST been announced. The team posted a pic of the two winners and the two reserves and people had to guess who had won the accolade… big congrats to Sally Kidd and Craig Barr! Have a look at the outfits and prizes here.

 

A few minutes with… Annabelle Brittle- My Horse Box

Annabelle BrittleThis week’s ‘a few minutes with…’ is all about Annabelle Brittle, part of the team behind My Horse Box, the equestrian subscription box. Here, Annabelle shares a bit more about the business with us. It’s a great read.

Tell us about you and your background.
Hi! I’m Annabelle, and I run My Horse Box with my partner Jonathan. We met at Lancaster University in 2013, where I was studying English Literature and he was studying Nuclear Engineering… they say opposites attract, don’t they? I’m a horse rider, avid reader and tea drinker! Jonathan generally prefers horsepower to horses, but I’ve managed to get him on one a couple of times, and I think he’s catching the bug.

What made you want to start a business?
I used to work in the beauty and fashion industry, and I ran my own beauty blog, so I subscribed to many subscription boxes for hair and makeup. When I started horse riding last year I suddenly wondered if there was a monthly box for equestrians and their ponies, but after a quick Google search I couldn’t find what I had in mind. So I made the mistake of telling Jonathan this – within 24 hours we’d purchased the www.myhorsebox.com domain and started contacting brands. He’s nothing if not proactive!

How is your business different?
In the equestrian market, the whole concept of subscription boxes is relatively unknown, so that’s one big difference right off the bat – we’re bringing something very new to the market. We also embrace all kinds of social media, utilising everything from Instagram Stories to Facebook Live sessions, in an attempt to engage with as varied audience an as possible.

What makes your products special?
My HorseboxI think the fact that our subscribers don’t know what’s going to be in each box until they open it makes them special – people say it’s like Christmas every month. We also have a strong luxury focus, and we like to highlight small businesses, so all the products we feature are either from premium brands or new, bespoke companies. It’s really heartening when we hear feedback from our customers telling us that they’ve discovered a new favourite brand or product thanks to our boxes.

If you had to sum up My Horse Box in five words, what would they be?
Shiny Boxes Full Of Goodies!

Do you have a motto or ethos?
Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down! Can I say that?? We’ve had a lot of challenges thrown at us since launching, the most frustrating of which being copycat companies coming out of the woodwork, who have copied our box contents, stolen writing off our website to use on their own, and tried to poach subscribers. But we just keep our heads down and keep on trucking, and we have a truly wonderful group of subscribers and friends who help keep us going.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Go for it – and sort out your social media as soon as possible. We had around 5,000 social media followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before we even made our first boxes, so when we launched we had a ready-made audience who were sharing and engaging with our content. It really helped give us that first boost when we launched.
My Horse BoxOne thing that helps you run My Horse Box more effectively
Our business mentor (also called Jonathan) from Virgin Start Up. If we ever find ourselves stuck for ideas regarding marketing, logistics, or anything else, he comes in with a fresh pair of eyes and gives us excellent feedback and food for thought.

Best thing about running a business?
Being my own boss. I have the freedom to conduct business calls in my PJs, I can finalise project details from the comfort of my sofa, and I’ve even been known to reply to emails whilst on horseback, hacking through a forest!

Worst thing about running a business?
Also being my own boss. It’s often tempting to take a lie-in on a Monday, and it’s all too easy to be distracted by the TV/fridge/garden… but I just have a stern word with myself and get back to business!

Top business blog you follow
We really like Tim Ferris’ blog. He wrote ‘The 4 Hour Workweek’ and his blog is full of useful tips about how to maximise your productivity whilst leaving you with plenty of time to actually enjoy your life. He totally rejects the ‘9-5’, hard-slog style of work that many of us are used to, and offers a very fresh perspective on how to achieve a better balance.

Top business book you’ve read
‘Oversubscribed’ by Daniel Priestley, because it really changed the way we looked at marketing our business. It essentially guides you to consider how you could make the demand for your product higher than your capacity to supply, ergo making yourself ‘oversubscribed’. If people perceive an air of exclusivity and ‘club-ness’ about your brand (think Apple, Chanel, Aston Martin), they will form an orderly queue. It works!

One thing we might not know about you
My Horse Box isn’t the first business we’ve run. During my first year of uni, Jonathan and I used to make and sell yoga hair ties out of our student flat (you know, the ones made of soft, flat elastic ribbon that people went crazy for circa 2014). We did it for 6 months and made ourselves about £400, so you could say that sowed the entrepreneurial seed for My Horse Box!

Top business achievement
When showjumper Anna Power wore our branded saddle pad whilst competing at Olympia last year. I felt my heart nearly explode with pride when I saw the pictures.

Where can people follow you or your business online 

Our website it at www.myhorsebox.com

Facebook: @myhorseboxuk
Twitter: @myhorseboxuk
Instagram: @myhorseboxuk

Why I have such a low tolerance for BS

Why I have such a low tolerance for BSAnd I don’t mean that British Standard! I’m going to refer to overinflated opinions, general rubbish and fibbing as BS, because it’s a bit nicer than what it stands for…

Why I have such a low tolerance for BS

I must confess that when tact, diplomacy and BS ability were being handed out, I must have been at the cake stand, because I don’t possess any of these qualities in the amount that could be useful. I used to think this was a bad thing, I mean, surely it’s useful when you know someone is talking utter rubbish at you to be able to say ‘oh yes, you’re clearly a genius’. Yeah. I can’t do that. I’ve tried and I sound horribly sarcastic. Or my face shows that I don’t believe any of the words coming from my mouth. It’s a curse. Or is it? Lately, I’ve begun to realise that this incredibly low tolerance for rubbish and my straight talking is actually a massive bonus in what I do now, and something that I am respected for. And that makes me incredibly happy. I should say that I do always try and be mindful of people’s feelings, well, when I feel that they deserve this. If someone rocks up with an ego the size of a small county, I will probably be more direct. That might be a bad thing. But my BS alarm is going off like a mad thing.

Can you have this low tolerance for BS and be a good coach?

I actually think it’s essential! My own coach is very to the point and direct in a nurturing way (yes, they aren’t exclusive!), but she has never once BS’d me. And I have never with my clients. Ever. It makes me unbelievably sad to see the result of some other people’s coaching (that I know others have paid good money for) that is actually harming their business. It really breaks my heart. And I know that sounds really dramatic, but it makes me sad that people are damaging their own businesses so dramatically. Is it because they’re believing their own hype? Is it because their coach didn’t call them out on their own BS? Is it because the coach isn’t experienced in the industry their client is in? It could be any of the above to be honest. However, I can assure you this. If we have a session, everything I tell you will be honest and genuine. If I think you’ve maybe taken a left instead of a right on your journey, I’ll talk to you about it. Even if that means that we aren’t a good fit. Although I have a low tolerance for other people’s BS, mine is non-existent with myself!

Find out more about coaching here

Dogs & Co to launch new products at Burghley… but there’s more

Dogs & Co Figure of Eight LeadYou may have realised that I am a HUGE fan of the brand Dogs & Co. I swear by the Figure of Eight lead (so much so that it’s featured as a favourite in one of my weekly vlogs). I use it every day to walk Jam. Why do I love it? Basically, it makes walking my dog easy. She’s a lovely dog and she can walk nicely to heel. In fact, she does most of the time. And most of the time (I mean, 99% of the time) I have the lead set on the check lead setting. But if she’s over excited or we’re in a situation where I really need her to behave, I just adjust the metal slider, pop it over her nose, and I have a whole different league of control. I’m pretty much in love with the Figure of Eight Lead and recommend it to everyone… although I’m now going to start recommending the UniWalker.

The UniWalker?

No. I haven’t switched sides or changed my allegiance – Dogs & Co has rebranded the incredibly popular Figure of Eight to UniWalker – the only lead you’ll ever need. I think the new branding is lovely and I think the name is clever as it explains what it does – uni, as in one, and walker, as in…well… walker! This new branding has JUST been announced, but will making its first official appearance at Burghley, where the company has a big stand bursting with stunning dog products to make your canine’s life a whole lot more luxurious, and your life a whole lot easier.

But there’s more

I know. Not only is the UniWalker hitting the shelves at Burghley (and if you have a dog that can have challenging moments on the lead – GO AND SEE MELANIE AND THE TEAM!), but to celebrate the launch, Dogs & Co has teams up with a number of businesses to create goody bags for the first 100 people who come on the stand and say…

UniWalker – the only lead you’ll ever need.

That’s it. Go on the stand, say the magic sentence, and the first 100 people to do this will get a lovely goody bag.

Dogs & Co has teamed up with the following fabulous businesses… check them out too…

Sweet-Images Photography (find more about Rachel and her business here too!)

The Herbal Pet

Jelly Bean Photography

The Golden Paste Company

Anna Howlett Artwork

The Little Pet Biscuit Company

A few minutes with… Kaye Hannabuss – Kaye Hannabuss Textiles

Kaye HannabussKaye Hannabuss’s products caught my eye on Instagram recently and I fell a teeny but in love with them. Yep – I’m a tweed fan, and I loved Kaye’s style and use of Liberty prints, which I also have a soft spot for. From clutches to bow ties, lapel pins to pocket squares and lots else in between, I’m quietly confident that you’ll love Kaye’s products… so I asked her a few questions, just for you 🙂

Tell us about you and your background

I’m recently married, early forties, live in Cheshire with my dog and cat. I love arts and crafts, country life, anything natural. I worked in the clothing Industry for nearly 20 years, designing and sourcing fabrics globally for many premium ladies, UK brands.

What made you want to start a business?

After working tirelessly in the fashion Industry, extensive global travelling and then injuring my back, I felt it was time for a change, time to do something that allowed me to express my own creativity. My husband supported my decision and a small range began to evolve. In my career, I witnessed the journey that the garments we all wear had to take, from fibre to a finished product, the footprint alarmed me. So my aim is to source most of my raw materials from the UK.

Kaye HannabussHow is your Kaye Hannabuss Textiles different?

Using my contacts from the textile Industry and the knowledge gained, this helped me with sourcing raw materials. Wanting to keep my range as British as possible. Working with natural fabrics, cottons and wool. British tweed and printed cottons form the backbone of my collection.

What makes your products special?

Many of the pieces I design are made in small quantities, I’m forever sourcing new fabrics, prints and colours, mixing them together to form new and fresh combinations. At present, everything’s handmade, and I make everything myself. I make bespoke pieces and take commission orders. I have personal contact with most of my clients.

If you had to sum up Kaye Hannabuss Textiles in a few words, what would they be?

Passion for British Fabrics, Country, Bespoke, Handcrafted, Natural Fabrics.

Do you have a motto or ethos?

You can’t re-invent the wheel, but I try to.

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

Don’t worry if you don’t have a business plan, go with your gut (and heart), don’t panic if your ideas shift and change, let things evolve naturally. But try and have some continuity and flow to your work.

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

Pass, I’ve not found it yet. I couldn’t live without my smart phone, as I run most of my business and social media through it!

Best thing about running a business?

Kaye HannabussFreedom, not confinements, meeting people who are interested in your work and feedback is so important. Making brilliant contacts and friends via Social media such as Instagram.

Worst thing about running a business?

Insecurity, working alone can be quite isolating. I miss being part of a team to bounce ideas off and talk things through.

Top business achievement

So far, a Clutch bag being featured on ‘Ascot’s Style Page’, plus the lovely personal feedback from clients, especially when I play a large part in their wedding day with my accessories. It’s such an honor when they share their photos.

Where can people follow you or your business online

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/KayeHTextiles

When is it OK to rebrand?

When is it OK to rebrand?I was watching a video on Denise Duffield Thomas’s Facebook page last week all about her retiring. No, not herself, about her retiring her incredibly well known Lucky Bitch brand. It got me thinking a lot about rebranding actually… and I’m not talking about a logo tweak… I’m talking about why people decide to change their business name/colours/vibe entirely. Is it OK to rebrand? Why would you rebrand? And what should you think about when you do.

I should say, this rebranding blog is just my own thoughts on it. I do love all the elements of branding and I am fairly knowledgeable on the subject, but these are very much my own thoughts on rebrands and how it all works.

Is it OK to rebrand?

Of course it is. On one level. If you’re self-employed, the head of your own business and, therefore, in charge of your own destiny you can, in theory, do whatever you like. If you want to rebrand your business as something completely crazy, you do it if you want. But you really should have a good old think about it before you go mad, as it could have repercussions. Although, referring to point one, if it is YOUR brand, you can do what you like… well, as long as you don’t infringe on anyone else’s trademarks and break laws…

Why would you rebrand?

As I listened to Denise’s Facebook Live, she explained her reason for retiring one brand and focussing more on her other, her own brand, and the reasoning was bang on. In many ways, she’s outgrown the Lucky Bitch brand. Yeah – it was fun, it got her on the map, it got the point across and it did the job. It was also different and it broke the mould. It ticked a lot of boxes. But she’s always been behind the brand, so when people understood and got on board with the Lucky B philosophy, they knew it as Denise behind it. Lucky B was (and is, in my view) a good brand… and has done a good job. Could people be offended by the ‘b’ word? Without a doubt. Did that matter? Not so much. If you’ve ever read any of Denise’s books (and I would recommend them!), they aren’t offensive in the slightest and offer really good advice. So why change?

You’re not that person anymore…

Businesses evolve and grow. I can tell you this because I have experienced this first hand with mine and it’s still evolving and changing at a slightly alarming (and exciting rate). As you may know, I’ve run a very successful PR and marketing agency for well over 10 years and I was very happy with that. I had a client list that many would give their limbs for. I got great coverage for my clients. They were pleased. I was pleased. All was good. But there was something missing. I do enjoy helping big businesses because of what you can do, but I really really love smaller businesses. So I changed my business model. It sort of started by accident when I dipped my toe into coaching a handful of clients but I LOVED it. The work we were doing was creating huge shifts in their businesses and I absolutely adored the energy, the brainstorming, the mental challenge and the strategy. I loved being able to think outside the box and have people go ‘yeah, I’m going to do that’, and I continue to adore this now. So I tweaked my logo and moved away from the PR element. Truth be told, it could really do with another tweak as although a lot of the work I do is social, marketing and PR related, there’s a lot of business development and other stuff thrown in. But I digress. In my case, I just wasn’t what my old logo said. It didn’t fit. It wasn’t who I was. And this was just a logo. I’ve always (rather creatively!) been Rhea Freeman PR… kind of says what it does on the tin… so I dropped the PR. Not a big step. But I wasn’t that person… and I probably need to give everything a shake up again based on how much my biz has changed since that logo was developed… but I digress.

So, imagine if your business shifted so much that, actually, the name of your business didn’t really describe what you did anymore. What if you realised that when people stumble into your website they are looking for YOUR name rather than your brand name (as I believe is/was the case with Denise…). What would you do then? If your brand feels like a slightly tight shoe, do you stick with it, or do you change it up?

You need to think about your rebrand

Rebranding shouldn’t be a knee jerk reaction to something. It should be considered. You need to think of the impact it could have on your business – could it alienate some of your customers? This might make you think ‘yes, so I must not’, but that’s not the full story… will it alienate your IDEAL customer? If it won’t alienate your ideal customer, then don’t remove it from the table. Will the rebrand feel more you and better represent your brand? Do you have a key time where it would make sense to do it? How are you going to tell people? How are you going to feel when people tell you they don’t like it/preferred the old one (because they will… everyone has an opinion…)? Can you handle it?

It’s important to grown and evolve

…and your brand is a part of that. It’s what people first encounter when they see your little profile picture on Facebook and find you as a result of a Google search. That logo – that wording – matters. There’s HUGE amounts of information in this area and there’s an art and a science to it. Don’t be afraid to rebrand. Don’t be afraid to evolve. Just make sure it’s for all the right reasons and will help you progress down your desired path rather than hold you back.

The Flat Lay Challenge – #smallandsuperchargedVIP

Join my free small business group on Facebook to chat and network with likeminded people.

If you’ve been hanging about on Instagram this month (and if you follow me too!), you might have seen me mention the #smallandsuperchargedVIP hashtag, and that’s because of this month’s Small & Supercharged VIP challenge, which is all about flat lays.

I asked the fabulous Rachel Bragg from Sweet-Images Photography to work with me on a resource pack for this month’s Small & Supercharged VIP, because I wanted to create a pack all about flat lays. I LOVE flat lays, both looking at them and trying to create my own, and I know the value that they have (as does Rachel!). Rachel creates flat lays regularly for her own social media and if you follow her on Instagram, you’ll have seen some of these beauties over the last few months. I was delighted that Rachel agreed to be our VIP expert this month, and she created two great instructional videos (and we have a competition running for August too!), and the results have been amazing. We have a lot of content posted in the private VIP group, but we’ve also encouraged members to share on Instagram, using the #smallandsuperchargedVIP, and Rachel will pick the winner at the end of the month.

So – why did we go for flat lays?

I can’t think of one business that a flat lay wouldn’t work for. Not one. Actually, I spoke with Rachel, at length, and we talked through a range of businesses from mechanics to dentists, riding instructors to rural businesses. We couldn’t find one that it wouldn’t work for. They’re also SO useful because we all know that posts with images have much better engagement on social media, but where do you get these images from? Do you buy them? Do you try and bodge your own? DO NOT STEAL THEM (please, don’t!!), but it can get pricey and more. Flat lays are a way to address this. And they’re really good fun too.

Isn’t a flat lay just fun? How does it apply to business?

Yes, flat lays are fun, but they also apply to business. Being able to show your products easily and in a cost effective fashion, or even illustrate your service in a cost effective way, can be HUGELY valuable and generate interest, leads and reach. The images can be used for a range of other applications too, which can see you save on stock image costs at the same time as creating something more personal to you.

How can I learn more about flat lays?

You can obviously have a Google and get inspired, but you can also join the Small & Supercharged VIP community. The challenge aspect runs throughout August, but all members have access to previous resource packs through a password protected area on the website. Membership costs £10pcm (but this will be increasing soon!). Find out lots more here.

And a thank you

I would like to say a massive thank you to Rachel from Sweet-Images Photography. I have thanked Rachel in the group, but I wanted to give her a more public shout out. Rachel has been giving tips to VIP members all month as their flat lay images have appeared in the group, helping to encourage, support and improve the flat lays as the month has gone one. And the results have been amazing. Follow Rachel on her social platforms below, or see the website here.

Rachel’s Facebook

Rachel’s Instagram

Rachel’s Twitter

A few minutes with… Rachel Bragg – Sweet-Images Photography

Rachel BraggI’m very lucky to say that Rachel Bragg, the lady behind Sweet-Images Photography, is a coaching client and friend of mine and it’s been an honour and a privilege to see her business grow so quickly in the last few months. I took the chance to ask her a few questions, so you could get to know her as well as I do. Enjoy!

Tell us about you and your background

I’m Rachel Bragg, I hail from Bedfordshire originally, a place I generally refer to as “The Shire”. However through a military marriage I’ve lived all over the south of England but now happily based on the Somerset/Dorset border.  I’m an equine photographer who first started working in this field about four years ago. Initially as a freelance event photographer working for some of the country’s leading on site equine photographers and then more latterly I’ve been slowly building my equestrian portrait side too.  

What made you want to start a business?

I knew very early on in my working life that I really didn’t want to be the person that lined the pockets of a faceless company owner for all my life.  It just took me a long time to work out just exactly what it was I wanted to do enough to be able to step away from the corporate world and find my own feet.  Don’t get me wrong, I worked for two amazing USA based global lifestyle brands whilst wearing my 9-5 badge for nearly 20 years, so it wasn’t that I ever hated what I did or even didn’t feel appreciated.  I just knew it wasn’t for me forever.  It was actually whilst standing at the side of a road with a little compact camera about 5 years ago whilst waiting for my husband who was competing in an Ironman competition (I was diligently taking some snaps of him whizz past on his bike) that I realised that much of my time in recent years had been spent taking snaps like this. Roadside, poolside or ringside.  Initially this started from the outside of the show ring snapping away at my best show horse who was produced by a show team during the early ‘norties’ and then after meeting the man I married, with him at various endurance events.  I no longer had horses of my own but wanted to be involved in the horse world in some way still.  I put two and two together and finally made four.

How is Sweet-Images Photography different?

Well I guess one of the more simple answers to that is ‘me’.  I don’t mean that in a big-headed way (and any one that knows me would know that’s not my character anyway), I just simply mean that whilst I don’t have a specialist skill or a unique business, I do have me on my side.   From a photographic aspect my chosen style of images tends to be a more matt and de-saturated look that’s developing all the time.

What makes your Sweet-Images Photography special?

Initially I used to think this was a little tricky for me to answer because on the face of it there’s many other equine photographers out there and many of the basic ideas, image compositions and products etc can be quite similar.   So I look at it in a slightly different way – it’s my fabulous clients actually make the product special.  Each relationship between client and horse is highly individual.   Photography, of any form, is about capturing moments or connections.  Within equine portrait work a good photograph will directly highlight to those connected to the photo that it is full of meaning to them.  A great photograph goes beyond that and reaches out to those totally unconnected to the subject too. It’s actually the way the client and their horse interacts with each other that leads me to be able to capture those moments that can make the product special. 

If you had to sum up Sweet-Images Photography in five words, what would they be?

Equine photography that breathes emotion.

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Immortalising Dreams.

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

Not everyone is your customer.  Square pegs and round holes just don’t work well together, however ever much you want to force them to.  If I feel that what they are looking for from their images they would be unlikely to get from me, I will always suggest alternative photographers for them to consider approaching.  It was only on Friday evening that I was discussing this with a potential client.  

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

Sweet Images PhotographyDon’t laugh, I have a dictaphone….! I suffer with a bit of a butterfly head, mentally flitting here and there.  I really do suffer with a brain that forgets or flits off to something else. I can’t tell you how many times I have to rewind audiobooks or go back a page or two in a book or think of a great idea and then have no ability to write it down or remember it.  So the dictaphone goes everywhere with me. I even whipped it out whilst freelancing at Devon County this year and blurted something into it whilst a Steward stood next to me laughing. Also, when you really should have been called Dory, you get these great moments of ‘oh my gosh yes’, when you replay the dictaphone back at your desk and the lightbulb moment is thrown back at you!   

Best thing about running a business?

The time factor – if I need to go to Boots at 10am I can.  If my lunch break (hahahahahaha) comes outside of the recognised working 12-2pm slot, then what the heck!  If I feel ill, or I need to just stop for a bit, I no longer feel awful about taking some time off to recover or to give myself a break.  Yes it potentially impacts me financially but I don’t feel the stigma thats often associated with time off when you work in an employed environment.

Worst thing about running a business?

The time factor – sometimes pulling 18+ hour days because you feel you need to. 

Top business blog you follow

Amy Porterfield is my current favourite.  

Top business book you’ve read

I’ve read many in the last 18 months and I can pick things from most of the books I’ve read that have stuck with me. However the simplicity of Carrie Green’s ‘She Means Business’ means I really connected with it on a personal level.  I think the fact that so many small business owners, run by women, also find this book in their Top 3 shows just how great a book it is. I have the physical book and it on audio and I’ll frequently stick it on in the car to give myself a little reminder.

One thing we might not know about you.

I’m actually an introvert. I’m not shy, that’s different, but naturally I find being in company really tiring, even when I’m enjoying myself.  This isn’t always the easiest to manage from a business aspect, let alone a personal one. Not many will notice a difference or would even be aware of it because I do try very hard to be ‘normal’ and I do enjoy company and get involved. However, for me, after any kind of gathering – be it work, dinner out with friends or a simple drink – I really have to regroup myself. As a freelance photographer this can be really hard work to manage if I’m at an event for many days in succession and frequently the tent/camper van/hotel room is a sanctuary of a different kind for me…

Top business achievement.

Still being in business? Gosh I don’t know because I’m not sure I’m wired in that way and I don’t feel I’ve been going long enough, I’m still very much finding my feet. However having an article of mine in print in an equine magazine this year was pretty blooming marvellous for me!

Where can people follow you and Sweet-Images Photography online?

Website – www.sweet-images.co.uk

Facebook – facebook.com/SweetImagesPhotographyUK

Instagram – @Sweet_Images_uk

Twitter – @Sweet_Images_uk