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!

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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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What makers, designers and retail buyers love about Faire

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As part of my ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces, I’m highlighting the benefits of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). And there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, from the perspectives of both a maker and a retailer. Faire has ambitiously harnessed technology to create advantages for all stakeholders in the world of wholesale, and I’m excited to dive in and share them with you.

 

WHAT ARTISANS LOVE ABOUT FAIRE

 

Product designers who set up shop on Faire praise the passive nature of the platform and the increased visibility among buyers. The application process is simple, the Faire team takes care of the onboarding logistics, and makers often enjoy an order within the first week. Because Faire charges no upfront fees, the marketplace involves little risk on behalf of the artisan. That’s a welcome relief to brand owners who’ve traditionally gambled thousands of dollars brands to exhibit at a single trade show.

 

Creative entrepreneurs often spend a sizable amount of time reaching out to stores off interest, never sure whether a specific buyer will appreciate their work or have the budget necessary to bring on new lines. Faire buyers shop at their convenience, which eliminates the guesswork for brands. If a boutique owner is on the Faire site, then they’re on the prowl for new products. Even when they aren’t present, brand owners are investing their energy into the 783 other facets of running a company that demand their daily attention.

 

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Faire has gathered eyeballs and buying power at record speed. As of early February 2019, the platform had vetted 19,271 retailers according to a post within their official Facebook community. That potential for exposure often translates to a respectable volume of orders, which helps to offset the higher-than-average commission structure. Brands currently pay as much as 28% of an opening order in fees on Faire.

 

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How to Sell on Faire

How to sell on faire

If you want to know how to sell on Faire, then you’ve come to the right place! This blog is part of an ongoing, deeply researched series about selling on Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). The first post, What is Faire?, detailed how Faire works, how much Faire charges, and what kinds of products Faire sells.

 

HOW TO SELL ON FAIRE

 

 

How to sell on Faire

 

In this installment of the series, I’m unpacking some of the nuances of the platform. Because Indigo Fair/ Faire is a rapidly evolving marketplace, it’s important to recognize that this data is accurate as of the time of publication. The Faire executive team is pioneering in spirit and ambitious in scope, so their efforts are an ever-changing experiment. It’s akin to building the runway as you fly the plane, but that’s to be expected when you’re- quite literally- trying to “reinvent wholesale.”

 

Getting started with Faire is deliciously straightforward. Whenever I speak to artisans within the Lucky Break community, the onboarding process is something that earns rave reviews. Co-founder Max Rhodes has often boasted about how easy it is to use Faire.

 

“Makers can apply to join Indigo Fair, and once accepted, they just send us their product catalogue to get their profile up and running. Most makers receive an order within a week, and they get paid as soon as they ship the goods.”

 

HOW ARE ORDERS RECEIVED THROUGH FAIRE?

 

Buyers shop through the Faire interface from a seamlessly curated selection of products that are chosen for them based on an algorithm that considers numerous factors. While only the Faire executives and the software development team fully understand the mechanics of the algorithm, we do have some clues about how the system works. The aesthetics of the shop and the frequency with which any particular brand is ordered factor into which products are displayed for any specific buyer.

 

Faire dispatches an email notification to the brand once a buyer places an order. Brand owners then log into the system to discover several options at their fingertips, including:

  • Accepting the order and selecting a ship date.
  • Editing the item availability to backorder an item.
  • Canceling the order.

 

Payment for orders is settled upon shipment. Because buyers often enjoy trade credit (commonly known as “net terms”) via Faire, brand owners can pay an additional 3% fee for immediate payment. If they choose to agree to net 30 terms to settle the invoice, then they can forego the additional 3% fee. In all instances, Faire guarantees payment even if the buyer defaults on their obligation.

 

HOW DOES SHIPPING WORK ON FAIRE?

Shopkeepers often enjoy free shipping on Faire, and I can confirm that there’s almost nothing that they cherish more than zero shipping fees. But who pays for that?

  • When you notify Faire that an order has shipped, you attach the tracking number for the parcel and notate the shipping cost. This has been the process since Faire’s launch.
  • Faire reimburses for the shipping fees alongside the settlement for the merchandise, according to the schedule you’ve selected. (Immediate payment for an additional 3% or settling the invoice in 30 days for no additional fee)
  • Faire passes the shipping charges on to the buyer unless the shopkeeper is taking advantage of a free shipping special. In that case, Faire absorbs the cost of shipping.
  • In February 2019, Faire rolled out an optional, automated process for printing shipping labels within the program.  This eliminates the need to manually input shipping costs and tracking numbers.  Swing by the Faire FAQ to read more about Faire’s new shipping program.

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What is Faire?- Formerly Indigo Fair

Indigo Fair

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If you haven’t yet heard of the Faire (formerly Indigo Fair) wholesale marketplace, then chances are that you soon will. Over the past few months, it seems that every other ad in my Instagram feed was a sponsored post for this new wholesale platform for makers. The messages have permeated Facebook too, encouraging both shop owners and product designers alike to dive in. But something happened in December of 2018 that essentially threw a lit match onto a waiting puddle of gasoline: Faire secured $100 million in venture capital funding.

 

That princely sum brings the total investment to $116 million. This gives Faire’s mission to reinvent the methodologies of wholesale a lot of oxygen for the burn. If the volume of emails I’ve received asking about Faire is any indication, then there’s tremendous interest within the artisan community. I’ve been exhaustively studying this wholesale marketplace for weeks, and I’m eager to spill all the tea to help you make an informed decision about the pros and cons of working with Faire.

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FAIRE (FORMERLY INDIGO FAIR)

Daniele Perito, Marcelo Cortes, and Max Rhodes originally met through their work as executives at Square. In January of 2017, they struck out on their own to launch Indigo Fair. The name was simplified to “Faire” after the established brand Fair Indigo filed suit for trademark infringement. Surprisingly, Indigo Fair never submitted a trademark application for their name. It was unlikely to win federal approval in light of Fair Indigo’s long-registered mark.

 

Describing the company as “Amazon for local retailers,” Max and his teammates realized that the antiquated wholesale model was overdue for an upgrade. There’s little debate that the means by which retailers connect with new brands has scarcely evolved in the last few decades, and it’s exciting to see someone take the reins of such an ambitious project.

 

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Faire quickly became the darling of venture capitalists, securing funding from prestigious partners like Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Sequoia Capital. This latest round of financing valued the company at $535 million… not bad for a business on the cusp of its second birthday! Headquartered in San Francisco, the tech world seems confident that Faire is on to something big. In December of 2018, Max Rhodes confirmed that “5,000 stores are actively buying on the Faire platform and 2,000 makers are fulfilling orders.”

 

HOW DOES FAIRE’S WHOLESALE MARKETPLACE WORK?

Interested artisans can apply to sell on Faire via a simple online application. The Faire team reviews each applicant before beginning an onboarding process for those who win approval. That’s one of the things makers appreciate most about working with the platform. Faire handles the lion’s share of onboarding tasks, using the product images, descriptions, and pricing information provided by brand owners.

 

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