How to Style Product Photos: Working With a Photo Stylist

working with a photo stylist

working with a photo stylist

 

Curious about how to style product photos or working with a photo stylist?  You aren’t alone! Many of the makers and product designers we work with at Lucky Break struggle to capture the product imagery needed to put their best foot forward as a brand. We often recommend hiring a professional photographer to help kick things up a notch, but working with a photo stylist can catapult your product imagery to the next level.

Working with a photo stylist

I’m thrilled to introduce you to LeJeanne Capers of soon-to-launch Atlas Candle Co. I’ve had the honor of working with LeJeanne on several projects dating back more than five years, and I’m especially excited about this new venture. When I connected LeJeanne to Melissa Schollaert, one of my favorite Atlanta-based photographers, Melissa recommended that she consider working with a photo stylist to assist with the shoot.

LeJeanne was delighted with the results, and she raved on how much the photo stylist helped her coordinate the shoot. I asked if she’d share some of her insights about working with a photo stylist here on the blog, and I’m honored that she took me up on the offer!

 

Founderatlascandleco

 

LBC: Tell me a bit about your business. What kinds of products have you been designing? And where you are in the brand development process?

LeJeanne: Atlas Candle Co. is an Atlanta-based luxury goods brand. We produce premium scented candles that inspire and celebrate self-love. We also host candle-making workshops and offer private label services.

Our product range includes 4 large candle tumblers, a trio votive gift set and a digital candle-making workshop series. Our photo gallery was just released a few days ago, so our brand development is 98% done. We’re eager to share the final outcome with our customers.

 

 

Atlascandlecophotostyling

 

 

LBC: Which photographer did you hire and what were your goals for the shoot?

LeJeanne: We hired Melissa Schollaert for the shoot. Her worked has been featured in Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart and Food & Wine Magazine to name a few. The main objective was capturing imagery for a library of cohesive photos for our website, blog, emails, social media, branded site, and media kit. We love how Melissa captures brands. Whether it’s a service-oriented business or product-based, she tells the story beautifully.

 

LBC: What led you to consider hiring a stylist for the shoot? And who did you hire?

LeJeanne: Our photographer, Melissa recommended that we hire a stylist. She laid out the pros and cons of having a stylist. Professionally our founder’s background is in media and advertising. She’s seen good, great and phenomenal photo shoots. The common thread was an Art Director or stylist. We reached out to both of the referrals that Melissa provided. Tristan Needham Design won our business!

 

LBC: How did you connect with the stylist? How did you know it was a good fit?

LeJeanne: We reached out via email and submitted our creative brief and brand guide. A few days after submitting our brief we connected over the phone. It was apparent right away that she had read our brief and understood our goals. Tristan provided samples of her work and walked us through her process. She asked very pointed questions during our call that lead to an inspirational mood board. The mood board was detailed and encompassed 100 percent of our goals.

 

Atlascandlecoartdirector_bts

 

LBC: What was the styling fee? And what did that include?

LeJeanne: The styling fee for our shoot was just over $1K. We hired Tristan for a Brand Editorial design which included: consultation, concept formation, custom mood board, design plan, vendor recommendations, access to all TND tabletop and styling props, day of coordination, day of timeline, day of styling, unlimited email support and phone communication. The design work was used for our video shoot as well.

 

LBC: How did you and the stylist prepare for the shoot?

LeJeanne: We were literally glued at the hip with Tristan for several weeks. We collaborated via a Pinterest mood board, Google Doc and over email and phone. She made wardrobe suggestions and offered to pick up all the items, which went above and beyond my expectations.

 

LBC: How did you feel about the collaboration? Was this a wise investment for your brand? 

LeJeanne: We saved untold hours and money by leveraging her expertise. We would hire TND again and again!

Without a doubt, this was a smart investment. As brand owners, our vantage point is subjective. Having someone with an objective viewpoint work alongside us during this process made all the difference. We asked several brand owners about hiring a stylist and all of them told me not to. They told us they pinned images and ripped magazine pictures as inspirational guides to style their photos. At Atlas Candle Co. Brand Editorial is not our expertise. We knew our main focus should remain on product design. Our decision to hire a stylist was an investment that will differentiate our brand from other candle and home fragrance companies.

 

Atlascandlecoartdirector

 

LBC: Would you recommend that other brand owners consider collaborating with a stylist?

LeJeanne: Absolutely! Having an expert on your team to advise you on areas outside your comfort zone is vital to success. More now than ever, an on-brand digital presence is necessary to sell products. Tristan literally took our vision and brought it life.

 

LBC: What do other brand owners stand to gain from the collaboration?

LeJeanne: Confidence! Working with Tristan and seeing her approach to our vision was validation that we knew our target audience and how we wanted our brand to resonate with them. As a brand owner, focusing on your product(s) or service(s) should be your first priority. Partner with someone else to help you develop your brand identity.

 

LBC: Who might benefit from hiring a stylist?

LeJeanne: Anyone selling a product or service should seriously consider hiring a stylist or Art Director.

 

LBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the project?

LeJeanne: Yes, hiring a photographer that actually sees the value in having a stylist is a game changer. Melissa and Tristan worked seamlessly. We had several conference calls and stayed connected for weeks leading up to the shoot. While the shoot itself was a half day, many hours of work went on behind the scene. The connectivity comes through in each image captured during our shoot.

 

Atlascandlecophotostyling_2

 

 

Aren’t these images g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s? I’m so excited for what comes next for Atlas Candle Co. and I’m deeply grateful to LeJeanne for sharing her experience with us!

 

 

The Disadvantages of Faire

disadvantages of faire

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been exploring the potential pros and cons of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair) here on the Lucky Break blog. Today I’m sharing some of the disadvantages as part of an ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces. While there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, there are notable disadvantages of Faire, too. I shared a few of those disadvantages in a previous blog, and I’m back with additional thoughts to help you determine if Faire is the right opportunity for your brand.

 

The Disadvantages of Faire

dowside of faire header image_part2

 

I’m pleased to share that Max Rhodes, Faire’s CEO, graciously provided answers to a tidy list of queries I sent his way. In the final two blogs of this series, I’ll share his responses, my final thoughts, and the results of the Lucky Break community survey.

 

FAIRE FAVORS BUYERS ABOVE BRANDS

There’s a general feeling among many makers and product designers that retailers are getting the better deal when it comes to Faire. They enjoy generous ordering incentives, including free shipping, free returns on first orders from any brand, and $200 cash to spend when signing up through a brand’s Faire link.

 

ERIN

 

However, artisans often believe that they’re getting the shorter end of the stick. We’re enjoying an increase in exposure, but we’re also paying a princely sum (up to 28% of the order) for the privilege of being seen. Thankfully, we’re not saddled with the burden of product returns, though passing the baton to Faire on that front creates separate issues that are worth exploring.

 

SLUGGISH CUSTOMER SERVICE

I frequently hear criticism about slow responses from the Faire team, especially as it pertains to reviewing applications for new makers. Despite those rumbles of frustration, artisan satisfaction with Faire’s customer support team appears to increase exponentially once we gain acceptance onto the platform.

 

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#LBCWantsToKnow >> January 2019: Product Development Planning for Makers

product development planning for makers

breaking business bad habits

 

We’re wrapping up our #LBCWantsToKnow series for January with a quick meditation on timing around product development planning for makers. Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject. For the month of January, we’ve been rolling up our sleeves to chat about the beginning of the year planning. And no discussion about strategic planning would be complete without thinking about product development and how to time product launch cycles.

 

Product Development Planning for Makers

Jan-3

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • rockcreeksoaps: We are super excited about a launch we’re putting out in about 2 weeks!

 

  • stellachroma: We released a hand cream and coffee body polish at the end of last year. We’re going to sit on those for a while. We’re focusing on GMP this year.

 

  • zhibathandbody: I’m helping my kiddos launch their line of natural pet products. They say the dog deserves better…yay for them! And as for me…FINALLY working on natural deodorant.

 

  • shopmilked: I want to release home fragrances. Wax melts and/or candles. I’m kinda freaking out about it because there is just so much to learn about waxes + wicks.

 

  • gavinluxe: We’re launching a Love candle in about 2 weeks.

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5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

5 things I learned about opening a brick and mortar

Opening a storefront as a maker and product designer is no easy feat! Today I’m here to share the top 5 things I learned by opening a brick and mortar shop.

 

Hi there folks! I’m Angie and I’m a member at Team Lucky Break. In addition to working with some of the planet’s best brands at LBC, I also run a thriving product-based business called bobo design studio and I’m here to share the…

 

5 Things I Learned By Opening a Brick and Mortar Shop

 

In May of 2018, I was offered the opportunity to be part of a landmark retail experience in Downtown San Jose. I was selected by the city and an organization called San Jose Made to be part of an inaugural group of up and coming brands and artisans to bring quality retail to the area. I’ve spent the last nine months nurturing that shop. As my lease comes to an end, I’ve been meditating on the magical, complicated, exhausting experience of running my own shop.

 

Angie



The process of opening and running this store has been an incredible learning experience that can only be described as trial by fire. This was not a traditional brick and mortar where I had to locate a retail space, obtain permits, etc. My experience and reflection in this post focus on the operational side, being a maker, and opening a storefront.

 

With that said, I wanted to share some of these lessons. I hope they prove helpful if you’re considering opening a physical store for your own business. And if this isn’t in your business plan, don’t turn the dial just yet! There are good tidbits here that you can still apply to your business.

 

No amount of planning or preparation will get you ready.

When I was notified of the opportunity to have the store, I had almost no time to put it together. Running a brick and mortar was not on my radar, but when your home city says “you would be a great ambassador to our community and help bring quality retail to Downtown,” you just don’t say no to that.

 

angie blog_2

 

I had approximately 2 weeks from when the ink dried on the contract to the opening day which involved a massive street closure, big ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor kissing babies… the whole nine. Those two short weeks was utter chaos. Creating enough inventory to supply an entire store, merchandising, finalizing packaging, and developing store operation procedures were things I had to learn and build quickly.

 

I could have easily obsessed over each minor detail and fussed over creating a wide variety of products to fill a shop, but the success is in being nimble as you go while staying true to your brand. The saying “done is better than perfect” could not be more relevant here.

 

You don’t get a return on the investment of a storefront unless you’re in it for the long haul.

There are investments you plan for, and there are others that you didn’t anticipate. There was so much I didn’t know about or factor into opening a store. The large amount of capital spent in setting everything up was rough to fork over. Even on my best sales weeks and months, if you factor everything in- fixtures, rent, parking, staffing, unforeseen maintenance, retail software packages, and insurance, there is a chance that you might not come close to breaking even. The investment in creating a quality, branded shopping experience in your store is one that pays back over the life of a lease that is closer to 5 years. But how many folks are ready for the risk of a 5-year lease?

 

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What is GMP? A Quick Tutorial for Beauty Brands

When I started my apothecary brand way back in 2003, I had precious little clue about what I was doing. I’d never heard of “GMP” (good manufacturing practices) for cosmetic companies. I understood that personal care brands in the U.S. were beholden to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and I was aware of the specific rules surrounding product labeling, but manufacturing protocols weren’t a primary area of focus for me.  That soon changed.

 

 

Over the course of the next several years, I worked hard to implement GMP protocols within my indie beauty brand. That work was a Herculean challenge, since these guidelines were written with huge corporations in mind (though even the tiniest of companies within the U.S. is obligated to comply with them). So I put my nose to the grindstone and crafted distinctive strategies for making these outsized regulations workable for a micro manufacturer like myself.

 

Teaching GMP to other beauty entrepreneurs has now become a cornerstone of my consulting practice. I often hear from indie beauty brands that they believe they’re compliant, though it’s apparent that they don’t truly understand the GMP mechanisms and how comprehensive they ultimately are. Here’s an analogy I often use to explain the actual scope and power of GMP…

 

IMAGINE THIS NIGHTMARE-INDUCING SCENARIO…

 

Imagine that you receive a call from a panicked gentleman who explains that his wife has been using your makeup remover. It was purchased at a local shop, and she’s having a bad reaction when it was applied as directed. He’s driven her to the ER and she’s being examined at the moment. Her eyes are red, swollen, and painful and she’s having visual disturbances. He needs you to send him all the information you can round up about that product ASAP.

 

That frightening scenario makes my blood run cold. If you own an apothecary company, I imagine that it makes your heart beat faster, too. I’m confident that you could send him all of your company’s contact information. You could probably send him an invoice showing when the product was sold to the shop, provided that John could tell you where his wife made the purchase. You really should be able to send him a complete listing of every ingredient in the product (I’m assuming your ingredient label is complete + accurate, yes?)

 

But could you send him…

  • The date on which that particular bottle of makeup remover was made by your company?
  • The origin of every single ingredient that was used in the formula (which supplier the ingredient came from, when the ingredient was received by your company, and the related documentation that shows it met your quality standards)?
  • The physical record which displays the exact proportions of ingredients that were used and the conditions under which the eye makeup remover was manufactured?
  • The results of any microbial testing that demonstrates that the product was free of bacteria and mold when you originally shipped it to the store?

 

I imagine that better than 90% of the artisan beauty brands in our sphere couldn’t provide that information. And that’s a HUGE problem. GMP applies to brands big and small. Brands that are created in your kitchen, in your home workshop, and in commercial space. In fact, there’s no brand that’s too big nor too small for GMP, according to the FDA.

 

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