As COVID-19 was gaining traction in the Carolinas, I found myself wanting to be part of the hundreds of small businesses who were responding to the pandemic by helping their local communities. By the end of April, this lead me to doing something a little crazy and dare I say… bold?
I wanted to tangibly serve the small business community because I watched as one by one, we all took a hit from downslide of the economy in some way, shape, or form. Some had to let employees go, some had to temporarily close their doors, and each time it tugged at my heart. I asked what someone like me could do to help give small brands the boost they needed to get back in business and based on the feedback I received, I decided that doing a branding session to help them stay visible to their current clients and continue to reach potential clients is what I wanted to focus on.
Enter Jordan Chan with J. Ashley Innovations. Aside from following her work on the Gram (and loving it) and exchanging a “like” here and a “comment” there, I had never talked to her before. My gut told me she would be an awesome partner for this special project, so I reached out to her to see if she was interested and she was! We have talked several times since and it’s been nothing but a blooming friendship. I feel like almost every time we talk, I learn something new and I wanted to share these things with you guys – My biggest takeaways from my first ever collab with another small business!
When you become an entrepreneur, you commit to committing to your work. There’s a lot of grind and hustle involved, and it’s easy to isolate yourself without even realizing it. The truth is, we need that connection to other people who are wearing the same shoes. The loneliness can sneak up on you and you don’t realize how much you need that connection until you’re 1) Finding yourself feeling so alone because you’ve been putting your business first or 2) You get a little taste of connection with someone and you think Holy cow, where has this been?!
For me it was the latter of these two. I’ve always been friendly and chatted with other business owners via the socials and of course I always have Chris to talk to. I felt like I had what I needed in terms of connection. The first time I got on the phone with Jordan proved otherwise, and I knew it because every other sentence was “OMG, me too”, “Same”, “I totally understand” and the like. Talking to another person who has dealt with similar, if not the same, ups and downs that I have as a business owner is so wholesome and encouraging.
This whole running a business thing is challenging and it can be lonely. This is something I believe all entrepreneurs have experienced at some point in their journey, but it’s not okay to stay that way. Whether it’s a weekly brunch with other biz friends or even just a video chat (which are all the rage these days), be intentional about branching out and connecting to others.
This is something I, like many others, have struggled with. This wasn’t spoken word by word, but the message was clear. Jordan and I were discussing pricing our collections and when I told her the numbers I had come up with she said, “Girl, you need to up those”. I was sitting down at the time, but if I had been standing, I’m pretty sure I would have done an awkward shuffle or shrug or something. Putting a price on how we value our time and talent is uncomfortable! There are so many talented photographers around me who have been in the industry for much longer than I have. I didn’t go to school for this, I didn’t know this is what I wanted to do for all of my life, I didn’t pick up a camera when I was three and just know. Some days, this makes me feel like a faux-tographer. I’ll never be the same as those other photographers though because I’m Devon and my style, my workflow, my personality – All of the things that make my brand aren’t identical to anyone else’s in the world. What I can do like those other photographers is respect the value I have to offer people through my work.
Okay, this is something I already knew, but Jordan definitely reinforced it. The girl knows her stuff! She is a graphic designer so having an understanding of branding is a key element in how she serves others. Your brand, and how you portray it, is important because it’s what aligns you with your dream clients. Not only that, but your brand is what accentuates your uniqueness. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of photographers around, but we all bring something different to the table and the visible aspect of our brand hints to this!
I must be in a season of learning and growing because not only has self-isolation taught me a couple of things, but so has my work! I love learning and discovering new things about myself and my business. Working with Jordan helped me learn and affirm these things about my business, which is so amazing because it shows that even though we’re not in the exact same industry, we can can still help each other grow.
Our brand refresh collections may be done with booking, but it’s never too late to update your look! Maybe you’ve been able to focus more on the backend things of your business and you’ve found things that can be correlated, streamlined, updated, etc. or perhaps you’re redefining who your dream clients are and you want to make sure you’re reaching them. I offer a special shoot for other creatives so head my way if you’re ready to make your gorgeous face visible and contact Jordan to take your website to the next level!