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Eleven reasons to love the latest Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal

Hiho Silver Country Shows JournalWhy eleven reasons? I’m not entirely sure… but here goes. To be honest, there are more than eleven reasons to love the latest issue of the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal, but these are my top eleven. The best thing is if you read it yourself. I would love to know your favourite bit…

What is the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal?

Hiho Silver produces the Country Shows Journal. This online publication is produced at specific times of the year, for Hiho customers and fans to enjoy for free. There’s always a competition, some brilliant brand and product features, there’s usually some gin… and there’s always beautiful jewellery. The latest issue of the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal is no different, but is also bursting with fashion, style, an inside out horse (it’s OK, no animals were hurt!) and a lot more. So… my eleven reasons to love it…

  • Harriet Edwards’ fashion feature. In her role as Hiho brand ambassador, Harriet styled the lovely Imogen Murray for the trot up at Burghley. Dressed in Musto, Dubarry, Joules, Mackenzie & George and Hiho, Imogen looked absolutely stunning… Harriet did an exceptional job. In this issue of the journal, Harriet also shows us some other potential trot up looks that made her shortlist. There wasn’t a look I didn’t like. Honestly.
  • The competition. Who doesn’t love a great competition? And this issue’s is, as usual, a complete corker. In this issue, Hiho has teamed up with Hyde & Hare and Teddy Edward to offer one lucky winner one heck of a prize haul. A new Foxley Bag from young British brand Hyde & Hare, who specialises in cowhide products, a £150 gift voucher to spend at Teddy Edward, and a Cherry Roller Bundle from Hiho. STUNNING.
  • The Cherry Roller options. I ADORE my Hiho Silver Cherry Roller and have upgraded and changed it as new beads have become available… and in this issue Hiho created an image to show all the options – from CZ roller beads in a range of colours to the World Horse Welfare Charity Bead, the Fairfax & Favor Bead, all the way through to the new solid gold and diamond 4 Star Bead, which launched at Burghley. Oh my. It’s a stunner.
  • Doris’s Burghley Picks. I adore the shopping villages at horse trials and this issue, Doris picked some lovely products that you could find around the tradestand village… but can also enjoy online and buy from the comfort of your chair.
  • Who doesn’t love a cocktail? And what about a gin one? Exactly. In this issue, the lovely people at Silver Fox Gin share a couple of delicious cocktails to enjoy, and there’s a brilliant story behind the brand too, and how it came to Hiho Silver Country Shows Journalbe.
  • Teddy Edward. Have you heard about this lovely British brand? I have heard so much about this brand, and it’s great to read a bit more about in the in the Country Shows Journal too.
  • Horse Inside Out. Before I started PR and marketing, I actually used to work at an event yard and then later as an instructor. As I went up through the BHS levels, I spent a LOT of time learning where the muscles and bones were… and attempting to compare a picture to a horse in motion was a bit tricky… but not with Horse Inside Out. With the ‘important bits’ painted on the outside of the horse, it’s a great way to understand how everything works together… and Gillian explains how it all works in the latest issue.
  • A Badminton recap. I love Badminton Horse Trials and I was so, so chuffed with how Hiho’s first sponsored best dressed at that trot up went. Sophie Callahan, one of Hiho’s brand ambassadors, commentated during the full trot up on Radio Badminton… and then wrote an article for the Badminton website, and here she relives it for us. It’s fab.
  • Sweet story. Rachel Bragg from Sweet Images Photography is a long term Hiho fan, so Hiho caught up with her and had a chat about her job, her favourite Hiho pieces and more. It’s a really great read.
  • Hyde & Hare is a new brand that produces a range of high quality cowhide bags that are real one offs. They are made from genuine cowhide that is completely natural and unique, and hasn’t been printed like many available. I love the feature about Piers Dickinson, the man behind the brand, and enjoyed finding out what Leonardo DiCaprio had to do with it… and there is something!
  • An Event Rider Masters update. It’s been such an amazing series for far and I can’t wait to see the finale at Blenheim…

So, there you go – eleven reasons to love the Hiho Silver Country Shows Journal… but I am sure you’ll find loads more. Have a read of it here, and don’t forget to enter the competition. It’s a really good one.

For the love of flat lays

So today it’s all about flat lays – why? Because last month’s Small & Supercharged VIP challenge was all about flat lays… and the winners have now been selected… but before I let you look at the videos announcing the winners (Ok, you can just scroll down!), I wanted to give you a bit of background about it.

Why flat lays?

Each month in Small & Supercharged VIP, all the members have access to a carefully created resource pack, made with an expert. Last month was flat lay. Why? I love flat lay and by embracing it I have saved money on buying stock images, created some social images that have got great engagement and more. And I did it all on my kitchen table. And it cost me nothing. OK – it took me a bit of time, but no longer than it would take me to trawl the stock image sites and find pics I like…and then forgotten my Paypal password six times, been furious and reset my password again… and then bought. You get the idea…

Are flat lays hard?

And you know what else I found? They weren’t half as challenging as I thought they would be. I mean, you have to think about a flat lay, but they’re actually really fun to create. And messing about with lovely things and arranging them differently is actually rather relaxing, and very rewarding.

However, I’m not an expert… so I recruited one for VIP… and that expert was Rachel Bragg.

The flat lay queen

Rachel is the lady behind Sweet Images Photography and is a friend, client and general all round superstar. I had a chat with her about flat lays because  I have long admired the ones that she has produced for her own social – just look at her Instagram feed.

And the challenge

Rachel put together a superb resource pack for the VIP members that talked about flat lays, worked through examples, gave a tutorial and tips too. And more than that, Rachel gave feedback on all the posts inside the closed Small & Supercharged VIP group. It was brilliant. To add a competitive elements (because I’m nothing if not competitive!), VIPers were invited to post their flat lay onto their Instagram feed, tagging myself, @rheafreemanpr, and Rachel @sweet_images_uk, and using the #smallandsuperchargedvip… you can have a look for this hashtag now and see the results. They’re nothing short of incredible. Anyway… the winners.

The winners are…

We decided to pick two winners for the flat lay competition… so we actually picked three. I know. But when you watch the videos. You’ll understand why. So, I’ll leave you in Rachel’s safe hands to explain who won what and why.

Fancy joining Small & Supercharged VIP or want to find out more? Have a look here…

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

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 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.