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!

 

 

Where are they now? Gates Councilor of Burly Stone

BURLY STONE LOGO NoBg

BURLY STONE LOGO NoBg

 

Are you wondering what happens to my Brick House Branding alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work?

 

I’m back with another round of “Where Are They Now?” case studies and I’m doing-cartwheels-excited to show you the serious waves my BHB graduates are making!

 

TGatesCouncilor

 

Say hello to Gates of Burly Stone

This week, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the official rooster in the Lucky Break hen house, Gates of Burly Stone. Gates recently rebranded Burly Stone after graduating from Brick House Branding, and he’s here to share how he injected a whole lotta handsome into his brand. Welcome, Gates… We’re so honored to have you!

 

LBC: Why and when did you originally launch your company?

Gates: We launched Burly Stone in April of 2014. Initially, it was just the outgrowth of a hobby – my hubby and I had started soap making in the summer of 2013. Before we knew it we were making more than two people could use, so we were giving soap away like it was candy. Once we got the hang of it, we had friends and family begging us for more, so it became a side hustle for us. When I was laid off in August of 2014, it felt like the universe giving us a sign, and it became a full-time endeavor.

 

As for the “why?”: We fell into a niche we hadn’t seen, and one that suited us: high-quality handcrafted soap made with guys in mind. We had been in business in one way or another long enough to realize that we might just have a little bit of lightning in a bottle.

 

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Gates: About two years ago we started to feel like we were bouncing off the edges of our brand. By this I mean that, while still happy with Burly Stone (and we had many folks who LOVED what we had in place already), we knew that there was a limit to how far our current branding would take us. We had grown and developed new products (hand balms, shave soaps, etc.), but hadn’t planned for that growth within the brand itself, so we just started slapping stuff together and hoping it would stick. We realized that we had taken the current brand about as far as it could go.

 

We wanted to be in larger markets, bigger stores, and have a truly professional presence. Our old look wasn’t polished and cohesive enough to get us into those doors. So in summer of 2016 we knew we needed to pull the trigger on a rebrand.

 

 

The Burly Stone logo BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

The Burly Stone logo BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: Please share a significant realization about the brand development process that you discovered while in Brick House Branding.

Gates: At the start of the process we were like “No worries – this will be a cakewalk. We’ll just polish some stuff up, pull together a new logo and that’ll be it.” We realized pretty quickly that doing it halfway would be far worse than not doing it at all. To do it effectively, to really arrive at a solid rebrand, you have to be willing to dig deep, to shed your preconceived notions of who and what your brand is. It’s hard work with a TON of heavy mental and emotional lifting.

 

You have to be willing to throw away EVERYTHING that came before. You may not have to, but if you’re not willing to pitch it all if needed, you may well miss the mark on your rebrand.

 

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the process, and what pieces of the branding puzzle did you DIY? 

Gates: We are incredibly lucky that we have a very close friend who happens to be an awarding winning designer. She’s worked with multi-million dollar brands, so being able to pull her in as our designer was a huge benefit. With her, we knew the visuals of the rebrand were in good hands, so it left us free to deal with the rest. Once the packaging was done, we splurged on our product photos – we used POW (Product On White) Photos, and the results are well worth it!

 

We didn’t have the budget to farm everything else out, so we plugged away on our own. I’ve done enough writing in my time that I felt I could handle the product descriptions, “about us” page, and the other written elements. While the end results may not be worthy of Shakespeare, everything hangs together and has the right feel. We’ll count that as a win.

 

As for the web site, luckily Shopify is mostly plug and play. We found a theme we liked (the Turbo theme from Out Of The Sandbox), and pushed through. It’s not 100% where we’d like it to be, but it’s pretty damn close. We’re budgeting money for web work in the coming year. We did have a friend who does a lot of web work help us out with a few minor things – just helping us refine the look a little. Don’t be afraid to reach out to knowledgeable friends and family!

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Gates: FEAR.

It’s a terrifying process, deconstructing your “baby”. You’re afraid that it wasn’t good enough before, and that it won’t be good enough after. You’re afraid to fail. Each step get a little more frightening because you’re pushing your brand in new and unknown directions. BHB is a deep dive, and that dive isn’t always comfortable.

 

But then things start to click. For us it was on our second round of logos. After BHB we spent weeks setting up brand inspiration boards on Pinterest for our designer, but the first set of logos she created just weren’t working. We left that meeting with a pit in our stomach. Out of the dozen logos she had pulled together, we only saw two that had any glimmer of what we were looking for, and even those felt far off the mark. But she worked with those two, and on the second round things started to gel. Suddenly we could start to see the new brand coming to life, and the pit in our stomach wasn’t fear, but excitement.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How has your own perception of your brand evolved since graduating from Brick House Branding?

Gates: I’m glad you used the word “evolved” in the question, because that’s key. Over the course of BHB, everyone attending had their own “a-ha” moments about their brand. For us, it was that, while we tore Burly Stone down to its very foundation, the new look has its roots in where we started. Our rebrand is an evolution of our old branding. Everything we had done before wasn’t wrong, but BHB helped us clarify every single element of what makes up our brand.

 

In a nutshell? We used to say we were “Rugged with a refined edge”. Now we are “Refined with a rugged edge.” It’s a subtle difference on the surface, but it means the world to us. It’s led to massive shifts in how we speak as a brand, stores we reach out to, and who our ideal customer is.

 

 

LBC: Are your products are being received differently by others since the rebrand? How has their reaction evolved?

Gates: What’s great is that people seem to get it. They can see bits of the “old” Burly Stone in this new look, but see the overall elevation of the Burly Stone brand. People used to like our products, but now we’re starting to see that people love us as a brand. They’re running their hands across our shave soap labels and “oohing and aahing” over the look and feel. We’ve also learned how to speak to our ideal customer, and the results are starting to show. Thanks to BHB we’ve got the opportunity to develop a rabidly loyal customer base.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, BEFORE Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of the rebrand? 

Gates: There is a certain store that we have been dying to get into. We reached out to several times – emails and postcards, and yet we’ve never heard back from them. We reached out to them again after our rebrand and they responded along the lines of “Yes, THIS is what we were waiting for from you.”  We sent them a sample kit, so keep your fingers crossed.

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

LBC: How did the Brick House Branding experience help shape your branding process?

Gates: I can honestly say that without BHB, the Burly Stone rebrand would have flopped. I mean, it may have looked okay, but the foundation wouldn’t have been there. Lela lets you know right off the bat that this is going to be a deep dive, but she doesn’t just throw you in the deep end. The course is designed in a way that eases you into the rebranding process. It helps you deconstruct your brand, to peel back all the layers, and get to the heart of your brand. I can’t think of a single element of the rebrand that the course doesn’t cover – and there are dozens that I hadn’t even considered before I took BHB. I mean, who even thinks about whether or not to use exclamation points?

 

Looking back, Brick House Branding was vital to our rebrand. It’s incredibly comprehensive and well designed, and every painstaking step is soothed by Lela’s loving southern charm. BHB was a life saver for Burly Stone.

 

 

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

Burly Stone packaging + logo, AFTER Brick House Branding and a rebrand

 

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known at the beginning of the brand development process? What advice would you give to someone who’s getting ready to start the brand development process?

Gates: A good, solid rebrand will take time – more time than you think. It was over a year from the start of Brick House Branding until we relaunched Burly Stone, and we were working on it constantly. Even after launch there are dozens of pieces floating around that we haven’t had the time or energy to deal with yet.

 

If you’re doing it right, rebranding is a time consuming, emotionally draining process. You can expect sleepless nights, upset stomachs, and more than one “Oh god, I’m in over my head” moment. But if you push through and follow the sage advice contained within BHB, you’ll emerge with a stronger, more thoughtful brand that ties more intimately to your ideal customer. You won’t just have a logo and products, you’ll have a brand, and that is worth its weight in gold.

 

Thanks for catching up with us, Gates! We can’ t wait to see what comes next for you + Burly Stone … We’re cheering you on!

 

If you’d like to build a stronger, smart brand in 2018, then I also hope that you’ll consider joining me in the spring semester of Brick House Branding. This 9-week brand development mentorship dissects awesome brands and then helps you build your own, brick by brick, with me working right alongside you to cheer you on and ensure that you’re on the right track. Enrollment opens on April 17!

 

 

Where Are They Now? Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

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Are you wondering what happens to my LBU or BHB alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? This week we’re continuing our “Where Are They Now?” series, catching up with graduates who are truly “leveling up” their creative businesses. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on these makers + product designers!

This week we’re talking to LBU alum Lisa Buteux, whose up-leveling and streamlining of her apothecary brand Comfort & Joy led to an invitation to live pitch her line to West Elm buyers. She was then accepted to host a pop up shop in her local store, as well as have her products carried by West Elm LOCAL in her area. Congratulations, Lisa…we’re excited to share your story!

 

Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

 

 

LBC: Was this your first time participating in a live pitch?

Lisa: Yes, this was my first time.

 

LBC: What did you do in advance to prepare?

Lisa: I printed copies of my “about” page and line sheet. I also put together little sample bags to give to the people I met at West Elm.

 

LBC: How were you feeling as your prepared?

Lisa: I was nervous, but excited and honored to have been given this opportunity. It felt like being pushed from the nest for the first time. It was one of those defining moments where you realize that your hard work is being recognized.

 

Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

 

LBC: What was your mindset as you walked into the pitch?

Lisa: I felt a mix of thoughts and emotions. Some of my inner conversations went something like, “Well, Lisa, here we go! This is the summation of all that you have worked for, and you have been blessed with the opportunity to share your story with the ‘big guys’… Let’s DO this!”

 

LBC: What kind of questions were asked of you during the pitch?

Lisa: They mainly focused on the story of my business, and were very interested in the “why” of my business. They were happy to hear that I also have a program where I give back to an organization that helps women and their children recover from abusive situations.

 

LBC: How long did the pitch session last and who was present?

Lisa: I pitched to two stores. Each session lasted about 15 minutes. I was interviewed by one store manager for each.

 

Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

 

LBC: What was the outcome of your pitch to West Elm?

Lisa: I am happy to share that my products were accepted into one of the West Elm stores in New York City. I will also be part of the catalog for all of the LOCAL stores in my area, so I may be in other locations as well. I have done one pop up so far, with another scheduled.

 

LBC: What role has Lucky Break played in the evolution of your business?

Lisa: Where do I start? Without Lucky Break, I would definitely not be where I am today.  I took Lela’s LBU Live “how to wholesale” course, which taught me MUCH more than how to wholesale. I really learned about all the aspects of running a small product-based business. It was the best thing I ever did for Comfort & Joy Apothecary. Lela is the quintessential mentor, and delivers courses worth their weight in gold. She digs DEEP, and is so very thorough. Lela truly cares about her students, and takes what she does very, very seriously. I am so blessed and fortunate to have met her and taken part in her programs.

 

LBC: What was the most important business lesson you learned last year?

Lisa: Stay the course. Keep fighting. Stick to your “why”. Don’t give up.

 

Lisa Buteux of Comfort & Joy Apothecary

A shot of Lisa’s West Elm pop up

 

LBC: What do you wish you had known or been better prepared for going into the pitch with West Elm? 

Lisa: I made a line sheet on the fly. Soon after that, I used Lucky Break’s VIP Line Sheet Design Service, and they created an absolutely beautiful and professional line sheet and order form for my business. I feel proud to share them with new and potential stockists.

 

Q: If you were given the opportunity to live pitch again, would you?

Lisa: Yes, absolutely!

 

 

Many thanks to Lisa for spending a few minutes with us. The entire Lucky Break team is cheering you on!

Are you an LBU or BHB Alumni with some big news to share? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “LBU/BHB ALUMNI” as the subject line. We love to celebrate alongside you and shout out your success…

 

Where Are They Now? Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted HoneyBee

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

 

Are you wondering what happens to my LBU or BHB alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? This week we’re continuing our “Where Are They Now?” series, catching up with graduates who are truly “leveling up” their creative businesses. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on these makers + product designers!

 

This week we’re talking to LBU and Brick House Branding alum (and longtime Lucky Break client) Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted HoneyBee, whose recent top-to-bottom  rebrand has been the jet fuel that propelled her business forward this year – we’re talking tripled and quadrupled wholesale accounts and sales numbers! I’m honored to have played a part in her company’s evolution, and thrilled to share the results with you here today. Welcome, Stacia!

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

 

LBC: Why did you originally launch your company?

Stacia: The original inspiration for Handcrafted HoneyBee was essentially an extension of teaching my live classes in skincare. I loved being able to essentially be a “teacher-in-a-box,” and the kits allowed me to expand my teaching reach. Within a year of launching, however, I began to really want those lessons to have meaning beyond a simple skincare product, and we began to incorporate empowering messages as part of the kit experience.

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Stacia: In July of 2015, we were invited to Etsy Open Call in New York to pitch 5 major retailers—including brands like Nordstrom and Land of Nod. The overall feedback from the buyers was that our brand messaging needed refinement and that our packaging needed to step up a few notches. After coming home, I spent a few months meditating on what this was really going to mean for my brand. I asked myself: are we on a general trajectory that feels right? Are we really carving out a niche for ourselves that is in line with my strengths and passions? Along with these questions, we also looked at some practical questions. Who was really buying and using our kits? And how could we best serve that audience? The process of answering those questions led us to decide in September of 2015 that we wanted to rebrand to focus on educational skincare, and to hone our core audience to girls and young women (with tangential offerings for grown women as well).

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

A Handcrafted HoneyBee kit, pre-Brick House Branding

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the rebrand process, and what parts did you DIY?

Stacia: By October 2015, we were interviewing designers to help us with our rebrand, and by November, we had signed a contract with Aeolidia. Over the next 5 months, they built an entirely new branding package from the ground up, and then in the four months following that they crafted a custom website for us as well. In addition, we utilized Aeolidia for some of our editorial kit photography. We hired POW Photography for our simple line shot pictures as well.

After Brick House Branding, we felt really confident in our ability to write powerful and compelling copy, so we did almost all of that work ourselves. In addition, because the branding guide from our designer was so good, I have been able to DIY things for subsequent product launches (such as labels and graphics) and other brand collateral (like postcards & marketing material) pretty seamlessly. That branding guide has been gold for us. I highly recommend anyone rebranding to make sure that is part of the package!

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during your rebrand process?

Stacia: Once I had settled on our new direction, I felt very anxious to have it finished and in my hands (even though I knew it would be a months-long process). It was challenging to get excited about our old branding, especially when everything behind the scenes was so forward-thinking. I really had to push through that mental barrier and incentivize myself to sell through our old material!

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

A Handcrafted HoneyBee kit, post-Brick House Branding

 

LBC: What, if anything, survived from your original branding?

Stacia: I think our internal goal of the kits to empower through creative exploration is still there, but it is much more focused now. But almost everything was torn down to the studs, assessed, and rebuilt—right down to our kit and skincare formulas. I’m glad about that, actually. It was important to analyze every single piece and make sure it was as strong as it could be moving forward.

 

LBC: Did the rebrand process take longer or prove to be more challenging than you anticipated?

Stacia: No—I was very impressed with Aeolidia’s commitment to deadlines and delivery dates. Nothing went longer than expected. And in many ways it proved to be easier than I expected, because we clicked with our designer from the start. There were so many times when we’d write to one another something like, “You’re in my brain!!!” So that actually made the process quite exciting.

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

Handcrafted HoneyBee deodorant, pre-Brick House Branding

 

LBC: What role did Lucky Break play in your rebrand and/or in the execution of your rebrand?

Stacia: Lela was instrumental in this rebrand. She was the very first one to help me look at the feedback and the sales data with a gentle-but-honest eye. She was the one who encouraged me to be brave in considering my options (I was really, really scared of the prospect of reimagining my brand). She was also the one who helped to guide me in our private sessions as I honed in on where I really wanted to take the brand. Of course, I also should mention that Brick House Branding played a huge role in helping me prepare our materials before we approached our designer. By the time we started the process with Aeolidia, we knew exactly who our customer was, where she shopped, what kinds of imagery resonated with her. In fact, Aeolidia told us several times that we were some of the best-prepared clients they’d ever had! I owe that all to Brick House Branding and the worksheets that my husband and I worked through over and over and over to really nail our brand voice.

 

LBC: How do you feel now that you’ve come out the other side? How has your perception of your brand evolved?

Stacia: This has been the best decision for Handcrafted HoneyBee. Since the launch of our rebrand 7 months ago, our retail sales have quadrupled, our wholesale stores have tripled, and I feel very excited about the potential of where we are headed. The brand perception in general has been elevated exponentially. I’m so proud to tell people that this is my business!

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

Handcrafted HoneyBee deodorant, post-Brick House Branding

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win you’ve realized because of this rebrand?

Stacia: Our Lip Balm Kit was recently recognized by the Creative Child Awards program as being the 2016 Product of the Year in the Educational Kits category; in addition, our Groovy Lamp Lip Gloss and Clay Mask Kits won the Preferred Choice Awards.

 

LBC: What advice would you give someone getting ready to start this process in their business?

Stacia: Preparation will pay off, and patience will be key. Not just patience with your designer, but patience with yourself. Patience with the process. Patience with where you are now, and patient anticipation for the “you” that is to come. Use your downtime before launch to create test groups, gather testimonials, and plan social media. And above all, allow yourself to have fun with it. Launch Day can actually be a big party rather than a stressful thing, if you allow yourself to celebrate all of your hard work!

 

Stacia Guzzo - Handcrafted HoneyBee

 

Many thanks to Stacia for spending a few minutes with us. The entire Lucky Break team is cheering you on!

 

Are you an LBU or BHB Alumni with some big news to share? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “LBU/BHB ALUMNI” as the subject line. We love to celebrate alongside you and shout out your success…

 

 

Where Are They Now? Sharon Czekala of Places Soap

A "before" shot of Great Lakes Natural Soap Company products, pre-LBU and BHB

Sharon Czekala of Places Soap

 

Are you wondering what happens to my LBU or BHB alumni post-graduation? What they do with the momentum + new-found knowledge? Curious about where they take their businesses in the year following all that hard work? This week we’re continuing a new series in which we’re catching up with graduates who are truly “leveling up” their creative businesses. I hope you’ll join me in cheering on these makers + product designers!

This week we’re talking to LBU and Brick House Branding alum Sharon Czekala, who recently launched a top-to-bottom rebrand of her soap brand Places, formerly known as The Great Lakes Natural Soap Company. We are honored to share how she dug deep in committing the investment of time, money, and soul-searching that led to this gorgeous new brand-on-the-rise. Welcome, Sharon!

 

Sharon Czekala of Places Soap

 

LBC: Why did you originally launch your company?

Sharon: I quit my corporate HR job to stay home after my son was born. Once he started preschool, I knew it was time to either go back to corporate or do something on my own. I’ve always loved to cook, but at the time a home-based food business wasn’t legal, so I looked for something that combined my love of cooking with my passion for gardening and growing herbs. An apothecary business was the perfect choice.

 

LBC: At what point did you know it was time for a rebrand?

Sharon: HA! We ‘rebranded’ multiple times. But because we had no foundation, every new round of label design and random new products just took us farther along the path to being generic. After LBU, I accepted what I think I knew all along – it was going to take a huge effort and a lot of time and money to finally get it right.

 

A “before” shot of Great Lakes Natural Soap Company products, pre-LBU and BHB

 

LBC: What professionals did you tag in to help with the rebrand process, and what parts did you opt to DIY?

Sharon: We interviewed a number of branding/graphics companies before deciding on We Are Branch from Portland, OR. Shauna was awesome to work with, and really kept me on track and focused. Being able to provide her upfront with all of my completed Brick House Branding materials made a huge difference and she was thrilled with the comprehensive nature of it. It saved a lot of time at the beginning.

We also went from printing our own labels to custom-printed labels from Lightning Labels, and we had custom soap boxes designed by YourBoxSolutions. Product photography was done by Ian Curcio. A professional web site is planned for next year.

 

LBC: What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the rebranding process?

Sharon: Moving to a new graphic design firm. Prior to 2016, all of our design had been done by the same person, who had been with us for 12 years. Recognizing that she would not be able to take us to the next level and severing that relationship was painful, but necessary.

 

LBC: What, if anything, survived from your original branding?

Sharon: Nothing. At all.

 

A “before” shot of Great Lakes Natural Soap Company products, pre-LBU and BHB

 

LBC: Did the rebranding process take longer or prove to be more challenging than you anticipated?

Sharon: I took a lot longer than I ever imagined. The good news is that all that extra time meant there was a lot of time to really think through every step we were taking, so at the end I felt truly confident that everything was right.

The other advantage to a lengthy process is that the expenses were spread over a longer time period, and it was much easier to afford than I had originally anticipated.

 

LBC: What role did Lucky Break play in your decision to rebrand and/or in the execution of your rebrand?

Sharon: I wasn’t happy about how my brand looked when I started LBU, but I was anticipating just making some cosmetic changes. Between LBU and BHB, it became apparent that the changes we needed to make were going to be much deeper and more significant than ever before.

 

 

LBC: How you do you feel now that you’ve come out the other side? How has your perception of your brand evolved?

Sharon: My brand now reflects what I truly wanted it to convey. It’s more focused, and much easier to know what products are going to fit and what we shouldn’t waste time on. Everything just seems easier now – like we have a map to getting where we want to go, instead of just taking whatever path opens up in front of us.

 

 

LBC: Can you share a recent win that you’ve realized because of this rebrand?

Sharon: A large arts center is being built near us in Canton. Two days after we launched, they contacted us to be one of their boutiques when they open!

 

 

LBC: What advice would you give to somebody getting ready to start this process in their business?

Sharon: Let go of every preconceived notion that you have regarding your brand, and really open yourself up to hear things that may not be easy to hear.

Allow plenty of time for the rebrand, and view that as a good thing.

 

 

Many thanks to Sharon for spending a few minutes with us. The entire Lucky Break team is cheering you on!

 

Are you an LBU or BHB Alumni with some big news to share? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “LBU/BHB ALUMNI” as the subject line. We love to celebrate alongside you and shout out your success…