STARTING SMALL: Be a Creative Problem-Solver
Welcome to the latest installment of our blog series – Starting Small: Adventures of Starting a Small Business. Here, we’ll be sharing stories and lessons we learn on our journey as full-time small business owners.
One of the most important and necessary ways to find success as an entrepreneur – or in life in general, really – is to be resourceful. There’s always someone, somewhere, who has the solution to your problem. But you must be willing to become a creative problem solver.
This week, we’re sharing ways we found creative solutions to a recent challenge. Regardless of what it may seem on Instagram, it's always a struggle to keep our product photography new and fresh. We live in an old house in Midtown Memphis. One with tons of character. So, naturally, we have a decent selection of vignettes in which to place our handmade home décor for product photography. Though, shooting on the same two to three tables or shelves in front of the same white, salmon & brown walls doesn’t take long to become repetitive.
To keep our photos from becoming stagnant, we needed somewhere fresh to shoot our products. Somewhere easily accessible and on the cheaper (or free) side.
To help achieve this, we set two goals: shoot our products where people BUY them and where people USE them. Unfortunately, neither of those is out of our house. We’ve been told potential wholesale buyers (retailers who buy our products in bulk at a discounted rate to re-sell them at full retail price in their stores) like to see how your products are displayed. It gives them a better idea of whether your products could be a potential fit for their shop.
On the other hand, we imagine our online buyers like to see our products in actual home settings to get a better picture of how or where they could best display them.
SHOOT PRODUCTS WHERE PEOPLE BUY THEM
Our first goal – shoot products where people BUY them – was achieved rather easily. We could capture photographs at each show, market or festival, where we set up a booth. OR, we could take advantage of any of our in-town stockists and shoot the products in those natural settings (a stockist is a retail store that carries select ARCHd products).
To all the artists and makers reading this, we’d encourage you to try to get set up at least 10-15 minutes prior to your show’s official start. Then take that time to get as many close-ups of your products at shows as possible. You’ve already taken the time to set everything up perfectly for your buyers. So, why not capture it?! 10-15 really good shots are worth at least 2-3 weeks of social media content. These photos are also great for future show applications, which almost always require photos as part of the application.
Here is an example of product photography of our wood bud vases we've captured at three different events.
And BONUS: the interior of tents at outdoor shows typically offers great lighting, as the white tent perfectly diffuses the sunlight.
If you don’t have a professional camera, put your iPhone on portrait mode. In good lighting, you can capture some pretty decent shots.
We also recently began shooting product photography at some of our local stockists. Just in the past year, we’ve taken photos at Novel Bookstore, Stock & Belle, Bingham & Broad, Cooper Young Gallery and Painted Tree Marketplace Memphis. Each shop has ever-changing displays and vignettes already set up, a huge variety of furniture on which to place the décor and a store full of additional props and backdrops to use. The multiple photos taken there always appear like they’re from different locations.
Stock & Belle:
Bingham & Broad:
Cooper Young Gallery:
Painted Tree Marketplace Memphis:
Every couple of months, we’ll spend about 30 minutes in one of the stores capturing photography of our products after we drop off a new batch. That 20-30 minutes of shooting provides a TON of social media content, as well as a huge library of photos to choose from for market applications and our wholesale catalog. We also share those photos with our stockists for cross-promotion of our items on their own social media.
SHOOT PRODUCTS WHERE PEOPLE USE THEM
Meeting our second goal – shoot products where people USE them – took a little more creative problem-solving. My first thought was to connect with some local realtors (which I am still in the process of doing) and work out a deal. The hope was to supply art for staging purposes in exchange for being able to use an empty house for photoshoots. However, this could become a little tricky if the houses weren’t vacant. Which brings me to my next idea … Airbnb owners.
We recently connected on Instagram with Morgan from Pettigrew Adventures. Not only does she happen to own several Airbnbs in the Memphis area, they are all GORGEOUS. Seriously. Every single room in every single home is impeccably decorated. The colors are bright and fun and perfectly complement our handmade home décor. We took a chance and reached out to her for the opportunity to shoot photography in one of her properties. We worked out an agreement and had our first photoshoot last week in Lucky #7, one of her Airbnbs.
Here is an example of the same vase in the same house in three different rooms (bathroom, bedroom, dining room), for three different looks.
This is an example of how one room, the kitchen, made three completely different products look amazing!
Here are a few more of our favorites from the shoot.
Truth talk: we’ve stayed in our fair share of Airbnbs. NONE of them have been as nicely decorated as this one. We’re still looking for an excuse to book one for a staycation. Seriously, if you or your friends are ever looking for the most stylish and beautiful and BEST Airbnb in Memphis, we’d highly recommend any one of her properties (we can’t wait to visit another one and no, we were not paid to say any of this, we just like to talk about pretty things).
TAKEAWAY: BE A CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVER
Next time you struggle to find a solution to a problem, don’t overthink it. Get creative and work with the people around you who have what you need.
Kristen & Lindsey
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