Friday Five

Favorite Creative: Creating a brand that is YOU is daunting.  Ashlee Proffitt is an amazing brand expert who can guide you through all the steps of creating a brand that not only sets you apart, but also targets your clients.  She shared her ideas in an interview with me that you don’t want to miss (and you can grab some free downloads to help you out!).  Just click HERE.

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Favorite Fashion:  You can’t go wrong with a maxi skirt! It can be casual or more formal.  Always perfect!

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Favorite Quote from A Fabulous Fete

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Favorite Space: I would cook in this kitchen any day!  {Source Unknown}

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Favorite Food: These Polenta Toasts with Herbed Ricotta and Bacon would be the perfect appetizer for a get together!  Talk about impressing your friends!  Get the recipe HERE from the kitchen.

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How to Connect Your Photo Biz with Your Dream Clients

Thriving Photographer Free Training

There are things in your business that you are struggling with right now, and if you just knew the right strategies and were given the right formula, you could make a huge difference.  A difference in how you feel about your business, what your business bank account reflects, and how your family is affected by your business (in a good way).  I get that!  So a couple of weeks back, I sent out a survey to our Leah Remillét Tribe of over 35K photographers to find out exactly what it is that you need most right this very minute.

The response was overwhelming and surpassingly similar. You need clear and proven steps to know not only who your target client is, but also how to connect with them.

Well… I got straight to work, and I’ve already got the first video training uploaded and ready for you!

I can’t wait for You to dive in to my brand new free training series!

We are Traveling the World for One Year!

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“THEY ARE GROWING UP SO FAST!” …That’s where this whole idea started.

You hear it from every direction, but it was only in the last 18 months that I really started to feel it.  They really are growing faster than seems possible. We are on the brink of teenage years and on the brink of a chapter that once started can only end in an equation of subtraction. I have reflected a lot over the last year. I have been considering the time I’ve had with my little family of 5, and how we want to spend these last chapters that we will get to be together under one roof. The same answer came to me over and over.  I just want to be with them more. Breathe them in, love them, and learn who they are even deeper. Grow. Bond. Strengthen. Laugh. Love. Serve.

I want to soak up as much of their childhood as I can. Instead of wishing for more time, I want to make more time. That’s when Taylor (the hubs) and I started to talk more and more seriously about doing something crazy! Something that would truly break down all of the walls, all of the distractions, and put us in a new environment of just the five of us. So…

WE (2 Parent + 3 Kids)  ARE LEAVING THE U.S. FOR ONE YEAR TO GO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD TOGETHER.
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On June 20th, we will be embarking on our biggest adventure yet. We will be leaving the United States, our home, our friends, our family, and everything that we know and are familiar with for a chance to experience life in a whole new light.
We will be starting a travel blog soon to share all the details, but for now I’ll touch on your biggest questions… And if I miss any, leave a comment and I’ll answer you in the comment section!
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 WHERE ARE WE GOING?
Our route is not set in stone, but the current itinerary includes England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Italy and France, Ireland. (If you’d like to work with me in one of these countries, shoot me a note.) Is there anywhere you think we absolutely must go, or somewhere in any of these countries that we must stop to see? Please leave a comment and let us know.  We’d love your help planning our adventure!
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HOW WILL WE DO THIS?
I will continue to work and am currently planning to keep morning hours from about 7am to noon. Taylor is going to be in charge of the education (our school that we will be pulling the kids from for one year has been amazingly supportive and helpful in getting us prepared – as well as my dear friend, Heather, who is starting an amazing Home School Blog). In each country, we will be renting a house for about a month at a time so that we can truly begin to learn the culture and see the sites.  Then we’ll be off to our next country. We are a huge foodie family (our 11 year old Adi, dreams of being a chef) so we are going to make a huge part of our travels food! Learning how to shop, cook, and enjoy the foods of each country.
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MORE QUESTIONS?
I’ll be doing a live Periscope tomorrow (Thursday, 5/19) at 10am PT.   You can drop your questions in the comments, and we will start working on a Q&A post. Also, make sure you get on this list to find out when our travel blog goes live!

Want to come along? I’ll be posting the amazing places we’ll see + the behind the scenes of making this adventure a reality on Instagram (@LeahRemillet).
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Instagram at a Glance – April

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I’m way late sharing our April Instagram round-up, but better late than never. April was a great month with big changes, the biggest being that I went from brunette to blond! I had decided that if I was going for change, I was going for change! And I have to say, I’m still really loving it!

April was also my birthday month and I was completely spoiled by friends, family, Thrivers, my kiddos & my husband. I pondered on cuddles with my little man and when they would end and was so grateful for all of your comments and thoughts and insights that told me that cuddling doesn’t have to be lost just because his baby hands are fading away.

My favorite blog post of the month was definitely our Free Branding Video Series & Templates (here and here)! And finally, April was dedicated to planning. We had great planning meetings over Shrimp Orzo and Sparkling Cider and are so so excited for all that’s about to come!

If you’re not already… Click HERE to follow me on Instagram!

Friday Five – Birthday Edition

I have been celebrating my #blogbirthday all week!  I can’t believe 7 years have gone by, but here I am and ready to party!  This week I have shared what I wish I had known when I started (here), and how I grew babies and a  business at the same time (here).  Today it’s time for FUN, and I want to share some of my favorite birthday finds!  Are you ready to par-tay?

Favorite Space: This is exactly how I would decorate for my blogging birthday party soirée!  Of course, you are all invited! We will sit at this gorgeous table and eat amazing delights! {in Joy the party}

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Favorite Fashion:  It’s my birthday, and I’ll wear sequins if I want to!  I guess I already did wear my sequin pants. By the way… you should always wear sequins on your birthday!  You can find this skirt at Lulu’s.

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Favorite Food: Cake is it’s food group right? Becuase this one takes the cake. 😉 t’s absolutly stunning! I’m going to make a special point to try to make it into the actual bakery of The Cake Parlour while I’m in London this July!
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Favorite Quote from Kate Spade

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Favorite Favor: No party is complete without a favor!  This is the cutest idea and of course, I love a macaron!  Enjoy!  {photography by Melanie DuerkoppStyle Me Pretty}

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7 Years Later – Growing my Babies & Business Together

When I tell the story, even I can’t quite remember how I did it.

I started my business with a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 4 month old. Who does that?? My hormones must have still been really off to have thought that was a good plan. 

But there I was wanting something of my own. Wanting my outlet… my “freedom”. I shared earlier in the week, what I’ve learned and what has impacted my business most over the last seven years (catch that post here)…

But today, as the kids and I celebrate my blog birthday, I want to talk about growing a business and babies at the same time.

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The Trenches. 

That’s how I refer to those early years. The years of diapers and sleep schedules, and nap times that never really work out like you pray they will. The work hours that have to be smashed between getting three kiddos down for naps simultaneously (which rarely, if ever happened) and the hours the rest of the world was sleeping.

The trenches also refers to those early years as an entrepreneur when you are boot strapping everything. Trying to be your own coder, copy writer, editor, designer, strategist, and everything else. All. At. The. Same. Time. It’s the trenches. I don’t know of any better way to put it. They are critical and invaluable because you learn lessons you’ll never forget – the ones that hurt. You grow, you get knocked down, you stand back up, and no matter what – you just keep going. The ones who conquer refuse to wave the white flag. Those are the trenches. And I’d say they last between 1.5 to 3 years depending on how much you hustle, you leverage, and you push.

The thing though is that I wasn’t some twenty something with no one to worry about but myself. I couldn’t live off ramen and room-mate rent. I had a family, and they needed me. I was a different kind of twenty-something.  I had a husband in graduate school, 3 babies, and a dream. And with every year they grew, so did I, and so did my dream.

But here’s the thing… As entrepreneurs we are constantly being fed mantras like ‘hustle’, ‘don’t stop’, ‘work on your dream every day’.   I fed into every line of that.  I loved it. I believed it. I still do actually, but I’ve added my own caveat….

My hustle, my work, and my dreams will have no validity if they are at the expense of my family.

7 Year Blog Anniversary Leah Remillet

I have learned to ask tough questions of my business. To make it prove it’s working for me, for my lifestyle goals, for my family – and not against it. Some of you know exactly what I mean… Somehow your dream has become an enemy that undermines your relationships, your joy, your peace. Instead of fulfilling you, it takes from you.  It leaves you more empty and more bitter. That’s not a dream. That’s a nightmare. And you may be living that, because there was a time when I was too.

I was the breadwinner.  I was also trying to be a good mom. My business had grown faster than I’d expected, and I found myself loving the income but hating who I was. I was exhausted, sad, guilt ridden, angry, and bitter. I was not living a dream, and I was terrified of how my children would remember me.

But we can always change. We are never stuck, and never so far gone that there isn’t hope left for us. There is always light.

So I made huge changes. I built procedures – there was no more guessing as to what should happen with each client. It was all mapped out, and I could add my little checkmark by each step. I created systems for handling email, marketing, and sales. I then went on to hire outside help including a house manager, a sales gal, a retouch artist, and a virtual assistant to proof and manage email. In the following years, I backed away from my own photography work more and more and focused on helping other photographers. In 2012, I launched my business training program specifically for portrait photographers, ‘The Thriving Photographer‘.

As a #bossmom, I have learned that real success is not something others see. It’s something you feel.

  • You feel it at the end of the day when you cuddle up with your husband.
  • You feel it when your kids snuggle up with you, and your mind is completely clear of anything but them.
  • You feel it when your business is not so dependent on you that it cannot operate without your presence.
  • You feel it when you realize you’re making decisions that are for your family’s betterment and not to portray a perception for anyone else.
  • You feel it when you purchase things with cash and ignore options for credit.

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I have also learned that success never comes without helping hands. If you won’t allow others to help you, you’re going to take a whole lot longer to get to your dream. That’s the simple and real truth of it. It’s not stronger, more impressive, or praise worthy to forgo help.  It’s foolish.  At first, most of us believe we don’t deserve the help. Then we don’t want to share our money to get the help – neither is forward thinking and both stunt growth and opportunity.

As I think back to those who have helped me over the years, I realize that the list has grown long. It is only through my opportunities and the experiences that I’ve been given that I have accomplished anything at all. I have been supported and encouraged by many additional hands… I can’t help but take this opportunity to publicly thank them.

Kari Rae, Amanda Holt, and Kat Ferraro who have worked countless hours (sometimes at ridiculous times of night) to help me love and support the amazing creatives I get to work with.

Animoto, Lens Pro to Go, Drop it Modern, Organic Bloom Frames – all of who have supported me, believed in me, and been my friend all through the years.

Laura Kathryn who was introduced to me as one of my Thrivers and attended my second Thrive Mastermind Retreat.  Working together, we dreamed up my brand and the Thrive Brand.

My Thrivers who have shared their stories of success with me, and especially those I have hugged, cried with, and laughed my head off with at any of our 6 Thrive Mastermind Retreats.

My sister Jenna who endlessly listens to me talk through business ideas and who calls and welcomes our new Thrivers.

My kids who tell me I’m famous and have unwavering faith in me. And finally, above all else is my husband – Taylor has believed in me, encouraged me, and supported me through it all. He’s let me sell furniture and a lap-top to get started, leave on countless trips so that virtual relationships could meet reality, and just keeps believing in me. Of course, it goes without saying, but must be said… My Father in heaven who loves me enough to give me trials and challenges that shape me into who and what I am, and who ultimately gives me the capability to do what I do.

Today my kiddos are a part of my dream and part of the story. I work almost exclusively while they are at school, although at this moment, I’m typing on my computer while my 9 year old types on her laptop beside me at my L-Shaped Desk. We talk about my business, and my girls (who are 11 and 10) even started their own Etsy business last year selling gold gum ball machines! My business is a huge part of our lives.  It is what sustains us, but I have learned not to let it rule us.

Instead, my business has provided us a life that we truly love. It wasn’t always like this.  It took time to figure it all out – and there is still so much more to learn.

But in seven years, my babies and my business have definitely grown up… But more importantly, so have I! I can’t wait to see what comes next and share it with you.

Business and Kids

10 things I wish I’d known when I started my business

What i wish I knew when I started my online business
Sitting in the corner of our little bedroom in our little duplex, I typed my very first post. I had started my photography business about a year prior and finding resources and information was nothing like it is today!  Pinterest didn’t exist, and blogs were not plentiful. I would scour and scour, and when I found something that could help my little business, I’d get so excited that I had to tell my hubby that very moment.

There was just one little problem. I did my scouring after everyone went to bed, so he would frequently be woken up in the dead of the night because I couldn’t contain my excitement. His enthusiasm never seemed to match mine as he sleepily tried to comprehend what I was waking him for. But the thing was, I just knew I couldn’t be the only one trying to find this info – so, I decided to start a blog, this blog. Back then it was called Go4ProPhotos.  That’s because I was the one going for pro. It makes me smile…

Time has an amazing way of expanding our minds to what’s really possible. 

Back then my babies really were still babies (but I’ll talk about the lessons of growing business and babies later this week). None of them were even in school yet, so I would work on my business and my little blog while everyone slept. I loved it.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  It sounds like a perfect love story, but the reality is that eventually “never being able to get enough of it” landed me in an ambulance.  Lessons… so many lessons have been learned.

That’s what time does.  Time teaches you what you should have seen all along but didn’t have the maturity to recognize yet.

So seven years later… What have I learned?  I sat down and started writing a list. I was thinking back on what made the biggest difference for my growth, as well as what some of the most painful lessons had been as well. Here’s what I came up with…

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1.  Bravery matters in business (a lot). Being a business owner means taking risks and putting yourself out there. You may be rejected, you may have an idea that’s a total flop, or you may get mean emails that make you cry. None of that means you’re a failure.  YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.  The only way you actually fail is if you quit out of defeat. Teams lose, but it doesn’t mean they stop showing up to the rest of their games. You’re going to lose some.  Take your losses and learn from them. Review, revise, revamp, and re-try! Being brave has nothing to do with not being scared.  Being brave is about being terrified and moving forward anyway.

2. Only spend when you know what those dollars are going to become. Spend your dollars like they are the last ones you’re going get. If it’s not going to make you more money or save you more time… Don’t invest it, especially at the beginning.  I get it.  You feel cool saying you’re on the 27″ iMac and the latest iPhone.  You own some crazy expensive handbag or camera bag, and all of this cost money that you didn’t really have.  Let’s be honest, these items (whatever your “things” are) are not giving you more time or more money. If you’re being completely honest, it helps you feel and probably even more so look like you made it, but it’s not actually helping you make it. What will help you make it is more money in your bank account, and less or no debt. That’s when you’ve really made it.

3. Business hours aren’t (or rather shouldn’t be) just for those 9-5 folks.  “I’ll be able to do this when it works for me.” That’s what I told myself. “It will give me so much freedom.”  That’s the magic word that draws countless of us in to this crazy (but also awesome) world of entrepreneurialism. We want to do what we want, where we want, when we want. The idea is always the same –  ‘owning my own business will allow me set my own rules’. For most, that turns out to be a huge myth. Due to poor planning, a lack of attention to creating systems and procedures, and an often overwhelming desire to just focus on the “fun” stuff, we find ourselves working ridiculous hours that if you weren’t the owner, you’d never stand for!

I was slow to get organized and build my systems, and it’s one thing I wish I could have learned earlier. There is regret there because this is the area that internally affects those we love the most. When I finally did get those things in order, I no longer felt controlled by my inbox, my workload, and my to-do list. I created hours that worked for me and my family, I scheduled time for myself, I outsourced, and hired my own little virtual team, and to my surprise, my profits soared!

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4. Be kind and make connections. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Friends and family rarely get what we do. They don’t know if they should treat your “thing” as a hobby or real.  This can often leave business owners feeling deflated. Don’t let it. You have a rare sparkle in you called entrepreneurialism, and it is a gift. It makes you special! It is something that you must cherish and understand that while many won’t get it, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to see it. Because it does get lonely, it’s important to make connections. Today, this is easier than ever. It used to be really weird to have online friends, but now any long standing online business owner will tell you that they have virtual friendships that mean just as much, if not more than many of their “real-life” friendships.

5. Brand Perception isn’t just real – it’s everything. This is one of those “wish I would have sooner” things. People make a decision – a judgment – about your brand in less than half of a second. I can’t even snap that fast! That’s how quickly it happens and they don’t get to really know us.  The great news is this… we have the ability and the power to guide their perceptions directly to what we want them to think.  When decisions are made in that short of time, what are they judging? Visuals… It’s all about the brand.

Client (specifically the right clients) opportunities, such as speaking engagements, interviews, features, and collaborations, all increased, improved, and became a lot more inspiring for me once I finally committed to building a strong and very intentional brand! I don’t think I would have ever been asked to keynote for Inspired Retreat or speak at Blink Conference, Chic Retreat, Luxe Workshop, or any of the others I’ve had to decline if I was still rocking that original orange mode-podge branding (it was bad!).  In fact, I know I wouldn’t have.

Need a little help refining your brand perception? We have an amazing 2-part video series and free brand development guide here, that I highly recommend featuring brand designer Ashlee Proffitt.

6. Be a sponge… The huge thick absorbent kind.  There is so much to learn and know, and we are in an incredible era where knowledge literally surrounds us and is at our very finger tips. Utilize this!  Learn, study, grow… Don’t stop.  And don’t let yourself get to busy to make time for learning!  I think by now, I’ve read over 100 business books and taken over a dozen courses and trainings. Guesstimating the average business book takes 9 hours to read and the average course about 15 hours to complete, I have invested over 10,000 hours into educating myself as an entrepreneur over the last 8 years.  That’s not including the conferences, retreats, and workshops I’ve attended. I am constantly looking for new ideas, how I can be different, and where I can be better. Not better than someone else, but better than the me that showed up last year… last month… even last week.

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7. Build your list every single day. This is one I wish I would have done even more vigorously and earlier, but I’m still pretty grateful to have learned as early as I did that your business’ success is in your list.  List building (i.e. gathering email addresses of clients and potential clients who are interested in what you have to offer and how you can help them) has been and continues to be the most important asset I have in my business. Learning to offer great value, share your personality, create interaction, and get your readers to open your emails is probably one of the most important lessons any entrepreneur in the digital age can learn. I haven’t mastered it yet, but I love that I get to keep working on it.

8. Acknowledge what you suck at. This one may seem like a bit of a downer, but the earlier you recognize where your strengths are and just as importantly what you suck at… the better your chances for success. It all comes down to time. In order to reach big dreams, you must be focused, diligent, and productive. When you’re taking on tasks that are not your strengths, you’re slow, you’re easily distracted, and your holding yourself back from getting the goal. As quickly as you can, learn to outsource. Hire people who’s strengths are your weakness and allow them to help you push the goal forward.  Do it as quickly as you can.

9. Engage, engage, engage. One of the worst feelings that a potential or current client experiences is being ignored – plus it’s just plain rude. Now sometimes an email is going to slip through a crack, or a mistake will be made.  Apologize, make it right, and move forward.   But I am not only referring to the negative.  I also want to strongly encourage you to interact with people to build relationships.   If someone engages with you by leaving you a comment on your blog, reacting to a post, or leaving you a review – Respond! Say hello, say thank you, say something…They are the lifeline of your business. Let them know how much you appreciate them.

10. Some people are just bad apples.  You’re going to run into them. It might be in the form of a client, an email from a reader, a blog comment, or a video made and shared to make fun of you, your beliefs, and your family (all of which have happened to me). If you dare to stand out, it’s not going to be only the nice people who notice. It’s going to happen. And now that you know it’s going to happen, I want you to promise yourself two things.  First, when you see it happen to someone else, be brave enough to stand up for them and not let them feel alone.  Second, if this is happening, you will acknoweledge that you are doing something right, and while you may need to cry in your closet for a little while (I did), that you will eventually  stand back up, wipe your tears, and get back to work. The only way to really shut them down is to show them just how brightly you can shine.  And hey, it could be worse – you could be married to that jerk!

11. Make sure your dreams scare you & dreams rarely come true on the first star. Dreams grow as people grow. One of my first small business dreams was to earn $1000 per month. That seemed like a far stretch back then, and I had to work hard for it!  As I reached that dream, a new dream (or goal) took it’s place. Over and over, I’ve dreamed bigger – let it scare me – and then went after it. When I don’t achieve it on my first try (and I never do), I don’t for one second think “well there you go, it just can’t work for me”. I think, “Okay. That’s not the way to get there. Maybe this is…”  Then I try another road and another road, until I learn my way around enough to finally get to my dream. Dream Big Cupcake

To sum it up,  I’ve learned that bullies exist even in grown up form.  I’ve learned that being optimistic and hopeful is a lot happier way to live.  I’ve learned to know my why (why I do, am, live, what I do) and to put the roles I play (wife, mom, business owner, etc.) in their proper order according to that why.

I’ve learned that dreams, growth, and goals take time, and that they also take a lot of uncomfortable hard work. I’ve learned that being your own boss really can be as incredible as you hoped it could be.  I’ve learned that kindness really is a great business policy,  even  especially when they don’t deserve it.

And most importantly, I’ve learned to dream big, if not for you then, because others need to see what’s really possible.

 

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I’m obsessed with these products, so must give a shout-out to:

Time to Party Tee from TomKat Studio

Bundtinins by Nothing Bundt Cakes

Golden Sparkler Candle Wand (7) by Tops Malibu