Category Archives: branding

Rebranding-define who you are before you sell

Today I had coffee with a friend and of course the conversation turned to business.  If you want to be my friend please know that often the conversation will turn to work.  I am an entrepreneur and so are most of my friends.  I see possibility in EVERYTHING and get along best with others that do too.  I will have to have Stephanie guest blog sometime.  She is one of those exuberant people with a love for life and other people.  Her eyes never stop smiling even when her mouth does.  She is quite motivating!

My friend Stephanie is in marketing and we got to talking about the changes I am making for kangacoo designs, my new business plan and how it will require some rebranding.  It was a great talk and when I left my head was swimming with ideas.

As I start my rebranding and roll out my new business plan I am going to write about each step on my blog.  Whether you are just starting out or feel like you need a business makeover I invite you to join me and will give you some exercises to help you along the way.  The first thing I want to talk about is defining your business/customer.  This definition is your brand.  I cannot emphasize the importance of defining your brand and knowing your target customer.  This is something that may evolve over time so this is a great exercise to do no long how you have been in business.

REBRANDING/BRANDING EXERCISE:  WHAT I MAKE AND WHO I SELL TO

Ask yourself the following questions.  I have provided my sample answers, yours may be shorter or longer.  I suggest using a sheet of paper and brainstorming your answers then condense it.

What do I make?  Clothing and accessories for girls and women

What is special about it?  interesting textures, comfortable clothes that look special but can be worn everyday, feminine and fun, women’s wear designed with body conscious thoughtfulness

Who is my customer? mothers who like to dress well and dress up their little girls, grandmothers who like to shop, medium to high income

This information will help you in developing a tagline and marketing/sales plan.  I have already written a post on developing a tagline here.  I will soon be talking a lot about marketing and sales on the blog.  Until then…

Yours in success,

Katie

 

 

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Fashion Photography:What makes a Good Fashion Photographer

I wanted to take a quick break from interviews to address the purpose of this series.  I want to give you all some insight as to how photographers and designers think as they approach fashion photography.  That is the purpose of the interviews.  But I also want to take that information and my own experience and combine it to create some tips that will help you get the photos you need to sell product.

I have been lucky to work with some amazing photographers with some amazing styles.  In the last year I have moved from working with photographers all over the US to mainly working with local photogs so I can be present.  I want to inject my styling and vision into the shoots.  It’s something I am still defining but the goal is to create a more cohesive look when it comes to images used to represent my brand, kangacoo designs.

In the past month I have worked with a husband wife photography team, JT Pro Imaging, already we have 3 shoots under our belt.  Jennifer Tousey (wife and one of the JT’s in JT Pro Imaging) approached me to do our first shoot.  They wanted to expand their experience and offerings by adding product shoots to their portfolio.  Jen and I met at the Covenant House Fundraiser at Project Runway All Star Gordana Gehlhausen’s Shop earlier in the year.  Our daughter’s both modeled my clothes on the runway for silent auction and became fast friends.  Jen and I did too.  Josh (the second JT of JT Pro Imaging) manned the camera at the runway show.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Bella, their actress daughter, who also donned some kangacoo for charity.

Now that introductions are out of the way let’s talk photo shoots.

Our first photo shoot was of my first release of my wild child collection.    I wanted a fall look to the pictures in the dead heat of summer.  Jen said no problem and began preparing location and props. She was very organized and detailed communicating what props she had in case I wanted to bring along others.  She prepared one set of back to school props and another set of fall props.  She arranged 2 locations within walking distance that would provide different backdrops so I would have variation in my shots.  The day of the shoot she had everything lined up and kept things moving along.  Josh just took pictures.  Along the way Josh showed me what he was shooting and asked if it was what I needed.  I was able to instruct him what photos I liked and why.  I showed him the angles I wanted to show off the clothes and the detailed close ups I wanted.

After the shoot Jen organized some photos to be arranged in collages and edited by Josh so I could use them to market my collection.  There were in addition to the product photos.  Josh emailed me a couple test edits to get a feel for the type of finish that worked best for me to show off my product.

JT Pro’s motto is to showcase personality not poses and I love that!  I think kids clothes should be fun and kids should look like kids, not supermodels.  (Don’t get me wrong everyone loves a pretty picture but when a mom is shopping she needs to be able to say to herself, “I can totally see my child doing that.”)

Jen and Josh are a well oiled photography duo and gave me exactly what I needed!  Some may say they go above and beyond and I’m being spoiled.  I say, EXACTLY!  And that’s why I will use them again and again!  Can’t wait to share about our other shoots but first please enjoy some pics from our wild child shoot!

 

Be sure to stop by the JT Pro Imaging fb page and show them some love from The Fashion Business Mentor.

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Fashion Photographer Interview: Juneberry Photo

Welcome back to my series on fashion photography.  The whole series is dedicated to bringing knowledge of photographers and designers together to help you create quality pictures that sell product.  If you are just tuning into the series check out our last post for the first post in the series.

A picture is worth a thousand words is often quoted but rarely captured.  This is not true of the photographer I am about to introduce.  Her work is interesting and powerful.  Before I tell you more about her I invite you to view some of her best work:

Now let me introduce who took these amazing photos!   I have had the extreme privilege and pleasure of working with this amazing talent, Jessie Kenney of Juneberry Photo.  Jessie is a fashion, editorial, and commercial photographer specializing in baby, children, and tweens. She resides and works in Southern California but her work reaches far beyond the US with image publications in Vogue Kids Brazil and Babiekins Magazine seen worldwide. Her diverse clientele ranges from children’s products and accessories to high fashion editorial work.

Now on to our interview:

What is the main focus of your photography business?

My primary focus has always been children and fashion photography, but recently have fallen in love with seniors and modeling. I love maternity, babies, families, and seniors! Capturing true life is beautiful and real…I will never get tired of photographing my portrait clients.

Let me interrupt my own interview to show you some of Juneberry Photo’s Senior work.  Wowie!

Info on how to book a senior session with Jessie can be found here http://Jessie.4ormat.com/gallery.

Studio or Outdoors?

I specialize in natural light photography but I also have a love for studio. Some of my favorite images were shot with studio lighting.  I think if you know how to find good light and the right exposure, it doesn’t matter if you are in studio or outdoors.

Favorite Prop?

My favorite prop would be a great model! Haha

How often do you do fashion clothing/accessory shoots?
Recently, I have done quite a few editorial and commercial shoots for clothing brands and magazines and I try to get in at least one “creative” or “inspiration” shoot in once a month just for me. That keeps my artistic eye tuned up and I can play with various ideas I have been working on.

How do you prepare or photograph differently for fashion shoots?

Preparation for a fashion shoot isn’t much different from my typical client shoot; however, there are some additional factors that come into play. For example: I work closely with the fashion stylists and/or editors to determine the concept of the shoot as well as model choices and shoot location. Everyone needs to come together as a team to create a cohesive project that will best represent the look we are going for.

How do you feel about the designer giving you direction on a shoot?

This ties in with my previous answer but I love when I can work with a designer directly! I feel it is vital to bringing their vision to life. When working with designers, I try to really listen to what they are wanting from the project. Being able to discern their style and vision is crucial. During this process, we can decide if our visions mesh together to create something that is equally rewarding. Of course, I am always willing to lend my opinion on location, lighting, etc.
How many pieces do you photograph in one session?

This really depends on the task at hand. For editorials, I shoot anywhere from 3 – 10 looks on average. For look books, it depends on how many pieces the designer has in their collection. My largest commercial shoot has upwards of 30 pieces.

How many photos of each item do you take?  How many get edited and returned to designer?
I tend to shoot until I achieve the exact feel I am looking for so I do not have a set amount of shots per outfit during the shoot itself. Some models are a little easier to work with and I can get the “money shot” in a few minutes, others take a little longer if I have to work with them more. The amount of final images I deliver depends on the contract I have with that particular designer.

How many hours do you invest in a typical session?
I’d say I spend anywhere from 20-30 hours working on a shoot from the planning, emails, consults, to the actual shoot and post processing. My full day rate for a shoot includes 5-10 hours.

What are the biggest challenges in photographing product on a subject?
Most challenges are ironed out prior to the shoot (if we can help it). Issues with fittings and scheduling can occur but as a team, we figure those out fairly quickly. On occasion, I will have a young model who isn’t used to the camera or isn’t in the best mood but it always works out just fine.
Please share any advice you have for designers or photographers regarding photographing fashion products.

My advice for photographers and designers would be to leave ego at the door. Working in a professional manner is key to preserving this industry. Folks don’t want to work with a diva! I love creating healthy, working relationships with designers and that is a great way to build your reputation as a professional. Learn who you work best with and keep them around. Not everyone will be a perfect fit. Communication is huge!

Do you offer sessions on trade for product? 
I did quite a bit of “trade” shoots in the beginning to build my portfolio but I have since learned that if you don’t value your work, no one will. Portfolio building should be used for a limited time period to establish your name and build your skill set only. It should not become a way to run your business on a regular basis. It is important to remember that we take time away from our families for these shoots, we work hard and do endless preparation and research to become true professionals and artists. That in itself has value and should not be taken for granted. I will say, if an opportunity presents itself that is mutually rewarding, I might take it on for fun. It’s all about balance.

I was one of the lucky portfolio building client’s Jessie took on.  I am ever grateful!  She took some amazing photos for kangacoo designs my children’s line.  Recently I sent her a mermaid outfit for her daughter’s birthday and she sent me back these images.  Swoon…

You can connect with Juneberry Photo on facebook at www.facebook.com/juneberryphoto

view her commercial portfolio at www.jessiekenney.4ormat.com

Come see what Jessie finds “Pin-teresting” at http://pinterest.com/jken03/

Before you go…a little more eye candy from Juneberry Photo
 

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Are People Talking About You?

If you have a small business then surely you spend time everyday thinking about how to get your name or product seen and how to increase sales.   I started the blog to help other small businesses grow by sharing what I learn while running mine, kangacoo designs.  One area I have learned a lot in is how to bring awareness to your brand.  What works and what doesn’t.

Let me cover a few avenues I have tried to bring awareness to my brand and how they have panned out for me.

1.  Celebrity Gift Suite:  I was invited to gift at a MTV Movie Awards Gifting Suite last spring.  It cost me a few hundred dollars to participate plus I had to bring 110 items to give away.  While it was a fun thing to do and people I gifted to loved the product I did not see an increase in sales or encounter any new business opportunities (besides more gifting suite invites).

2.  Facebook Giveaways:  This has been my number one source of new fans this year and while I don’t get many sales during the giveaways these new fans stay with me and become future shoppers.

3.  Blog Reviews:  Done right this is a great avenue to bring a new audience of buyers.

4.  Photo contests:  I love fan photos!  Who doesn’t?  Ask fans to share theirs so you can share them on your wall and then have a giveaway for those that send in pics.  When others see our clothes on everyday kids something kicks in for them to uy it too.  Try it!  I always get more sales and more fans when I do this.

5.  Dress a Celeb:  I had the amazing opportunity to dress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons from Modern Family for the red carpet last year.  It created a buzz that got me and my fans excited and people talking about my brand.

6.  Email Lists:  Staying in regular contact with your previous customers and those future customers who have signed up for email alerts is so important.  Especially since fb readers are not seeing all your posts you want to be sure 100% of your target customers get info on your sales, promotions and new product releases.

7.  Pretty Pretty Pictures:  People are visual creatures.  They better your product pictures are the more you will sell.  I promise!!!!

8.  Collaborate!:  Finding others willing to promote their  product along side yours will help your business grow.  Know someone that makes dresses and you make hair clips?  Reach out to run a sale or cross promotion together on made to match pieces!

I will go more in depth in all these areas in other posts but today I want you to take this away:

1.  Get involved in fb giveaways.

2.  Find some bloggers or other brands willing to promote your product to build your audience.

3. Clean up your shop!  Make sure you have pretty pictures and a nice presentation of your product-this includes a nice description.

4.  Remember that growth is gradual and viral.  Ask yourself everyday how can I get people talking about my brand?

Onward and Upward!  ~Katie

Katie Nguyen is the designer and owner of kangacoo designs.  A children’s clothing line started on Etsy and now sold in almost 100 stores in the US and Internationally.

 

 

 

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