When you're building a business, it can be hard to understand how to truly be unique, how to stand out against everyone else doing what you do, especially right now when our mindset has, shall we say, taken a bit of a hit.
Despite being filmed before lockdown, Stefania Bartolomei of One of a Style has plenty of tips to share about being truly unique, helping people with confidence from her perspective as a personal stylist.
On the show we talk about she's growing her business and finding clients, focusing on building a future for her son, and all things in between!
I really wanted to find out more about her story, how she grows her business (tips for us all!) and how she stays on top of it all (and what happens when she doesn't!)
Thanks so much Stefania, you are truly, just like your tag line - one of a kind!
Stefania's official bio
I’m Stefania, a London-based Italian style coach, and I love helping people boost their confidence by exploring and developing their personal style. I’ve got a passion for fashion, an eye for detail and a great sense of fun. And I’ve worked my magic with everyone from business leaders and brides to new mums and mumpreneurs.
My style story starts in Florence, a city where fashion is the air we breathe. Having trained in Fashion Design, and spent 10 years working in the industry, I came to London to share my Italian style secrets and passion for self-expression through One of a Style.
For me, being a personal style coach is about much more than clothes. I take time to really get to know my clients, kicking off every session with a coffee and chat, to find out what they’re like, as well as what they like, before we get started.
By understanding how my clients live their lives and how they want to feel, I can help them create a look that oozes confidence. I make shopping trip loads of fun; one of my favourite parts of my job is seeing my clients smile at their reflection as they try on what we’ve chosen.
What would you do if you hit a major bump in the road of your career and decided to start your own business? Even though this was filmed before lockdown, Fehintola "Fen" from MonAnnie Cakes has a lot to share about overcoming adversity and growing a luxury brand that now serves incredible weddings such as Sophie Turner & Joe Jonas. That's right - THAT wedding.
That's right, the latest interview in my Gin and Magic YouTube series championing strong creative women is here! Straight from my home to your eyes + ears, this week featuring the amazing Fehintola from MonAnnie Cakes!
I've known Fen and her wonderful husband Segun for a few years and I've so enjoyed watching them grow, so I was very keen to get her on to share her pearls of wisdom and that laugh!
On the show we talk about overcoming major challenges, how she's growing her luxury cake business and all things in between!
I really wanted to find out more about her story, how she grows her business (tips for us all!) and how she stays on top of it all (and what happens when she doesn't!)
Dr Fehintola “Fen” Bolodeoku is an award winning cake and patisserie artist. She was born and raised in Nigeria, where she developed a love for art, science, and flavours. She moved to the UK in 2000 and qualified as a medical doctor from the University of Cardiff.
In 2013 she took a career break to focus on her love of the culinary arts, and in 2016 MonAnnie was born. In her spare time she is an accomplished singer, enjoys crochet, and has recently acquired a taste for murder mystery TV shows.
Yay! The latest interview in my Gin and Magic YouTube series championing strong creative women is here! Straight from my home to your eyes + ears, this week featuring the amazing Laura Devine of Devine Bride!
I've had the pleasure of knowing Laura for a few years now and BL (Before Lockdown) we were co-working buddies at The Wing. I know that she's really well placed to share some wisdom in these strange times all still valid, even though we filmed this a while ago!
On the show we talk about the power of visibility, especially:
Devine Bride - Pick + Mix Wedding Planning | Multi Award Winning Blog
Based in East London for over 10 years but originally from Glasgow, I offer pick + mix wedding planning helping cool couples to plan their wedding in a more flexible way.
From planning power hours to partial planning, help on the day to hire a bridesmaid, and everything in between! My speciality is difficult dry hire venues. I’ve planned and styled a goth wedding in an industrial metal works warehouse but also an ex-fashion editor’s pretty Chiswick marquee wedding too.
My vision is to make wedding planning accessible and flexible. I offer creative ‘pick + mix’ solutions to planning, budgeting, and coordinating weddings. And I’m obsessively organised so you don’t have to be. The experience has to be easy, yet unique, innovative, and personal for my clients. Above all, it should be stress free and fun. It’s a celebration after all!
I have personally planned and worked on some 170+ weddings and events to date (under Devine Bride and as a consultant at a handful of wedding venues), and I know what’s worked, what’s not, and what’s fun!
I love working in the wedding industry because I love making people happy, there’s no better feeling, but other smaller loves include Crosstown doughnuts, bad 90’s dance music, bad electro music, and Gogglebox
An alternative title for this could be - How to stop overthinking everything and be more visible or "I’m feeling overwhelmed too. Here’s what I've been doing about it and you can too"
I wrote this post because this has been my experience and, when I speak to people, this is yours too. You want to get more done but you spend so much time dwelling, overthinking or worse panicking that you just don’t get what you want to done.
Ok so let me preface sharing these tips by saying - getting more done isn’t the key to success. Getting more of what YOU want to get done IS. A happy life is a successful life, no matter how you define that happiness.
I've been holding off sharing this blog post which, would you believe it, I started writing BA (that's Before Apocalypse - humour is one of my coping mechanisms, forgive me). I realised that now is an even more important time to share my tips because whilst there’s always going to be challenges, I believe we are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We can use the worry + fear to stop us in our tracks or we can keep it practical, get a daily routine in place however new, and understand this one important fact:
There is no race.
Glad we got that out of the way. I’m working on a bigger thing so I can help you more with building your visibility in these challenging times but in the meantime please read on to learn my tips on what to say when you have no idea what to say.
In these dramatic times, people are spending more time online than ever and it’s up to you be involved as much as you want.
I repeat, as much as you want.
We all know by now that if we want to be found by our potential clients we need to be visible. But how? Whilst we may feel despondent, these negative thoughts and feelings can be usefully added to the list of reasons why we weren’t posting on social media or writings blogs (if at all) on our sites but this time we feel better about it because we know others feel the same.
But if you feel like this might actually be a good opportunity to get started with an actual Plan of Action (caps needed) then you’re in the right place.
If you’ve been following me for a while you know I have two keen focuses - SEO and self care. Because the way I see it, being more visible takes a lot of energy at the best of times but right now it may feel a lot so in this post I’ve got self care tips AND practical solutions for your business no matter where you're at right now.
10 Self Care Tips for Self Employed People
I'm not a professional at this. I wanted to share a few things that have been helping me cope and when I share them, others have told me they have helped them too.
Try not to allow the panic + overwhelm to halt your entire life. Do what you need to do to take each day one by one (I am fully aware I am not a parent. You lot deserve medals)
I made a list of things that I've survived + thrived both personal and business-wise. This was eye opening and reassuring. Like when 10 years ago during the recession, I lost my job on which I was way too emotionally dependent, I was up to my eyeballs in debt, I lost a family member and my flat all in the space of 3 months. It was a crazy year.
I had a good tidy up of my workspace - creating a designated workspace can apparently help tell your brain you’re in the place where you do work productively.
Creating an action list that helps keep my bigger goals in mind
Having a daily cry (I don't mind admitting this, I think it's perfectly normal in these circumstances tbh)
Creating a To Daa list (celebrating the things you’ve accomplished)
I've been reading actual books (The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge is amazing and now I'm onto Elton John's autobiography)
I’ve been meditating a lot more than ever and I'm finding this book very useful (email me if you want a PDF version, they offer an electronic version out for free)
My pal Rowan has been amazing at sharing latest advice and what we can do to help ourselves as self-employed people.
Practical solutions for our businesses
Now more than ever we see how much we crave connection. Guess where we can still be connected? THAT'S RIGHT, THE INTERNET. People are spending more time online than ever, and they want something to look forward to so step into the light people, now is your time. Being a memorable brand which, let's face it, you want to be, requires the following points:
Creating a great customer experience
Are you in touch with your clients? A lot of people I know have been, and a lot of people I know are scared to be. I think the best solution is to take charge of the situation and contact them first. They'll want to hear reassurance from you to check that you have solutions in place to cover the bookings you've got together.
What questions do they have? This is where you can actually share your experience and expertise. What I always say to my clients is...you know more than the people who have hired you so share that experience, tell them your plans.
Refresh your portfolio page(s) on your website and divide it up into categories like London Wedding Cakes and Surrey Wedding Cakes, so they're more easily findable online
Update your text on your website - are you telling a story with the text on every page as well as the images?
Write those blog posts you’ve been meaning to put out for a while that you know will be useful for your audience when the time is right! Find ways to re-purpose your images and create 10 favourite X, 5 favourite X. It's a great way to then link to other content you've previously published!
Tell your stories
If you're wondering how to share about any of this and indeed whether it's flippant to continue sharing stuff that isn't pandemic related, then rest assured people WANT the escapism. They WANT something to look forward to. They WANT to feel inspired. You're sitting on the gold. Don't hide away. Publish that post. Share that content.
Speak your customer’s language
Your potential clients WANT to know the answers to question you know the answers to.
Create Instagram Stories around people's commonly asked questions
Write one blog post per question so that when people google those questions you have a better chance of coming up in the results
Re-share older blog content that was popular before so you don't have to constantly create new content (cheer people up! They want escapism!)
Create easy content
Put a call out on your Stories for requests to create a playlist related to what you do (first dance playlist, working from home playlist, etc) and create it on Spotify and then share on Stories / social media
Read my blog post about how to create your best ofand do some round up posts of your own. Doesn't have to be at the end of the year! It could be your 5 favourite first dances, 5 favourite bouquets, etc etc.
You could take this time to review your big picture. Look at your goals and remember it isn't a race. I am often met with surprise that a whole module of my Let’s Get You Found group course is dedicated to making goals. Those who have already set goals go ‘pfft I have those already’ and those who haven’t set goals go ‘yeah yeah I know I should have them but well, I don’t’. The goals I’m talking about can be either personal or business but honestly this is one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my business. People, I never set specific goals until a couple of years ago and it CHANGED MY LIFE.
Take this opportunity for a digital de-clutter like cleaning up files on your computer, sorting your photos out, deleting things you don’t need any more. It's quite satisfying and makes you feel like you're doing something useful. Which you are.
If you're worried you can't do the styled shoots as planned....get in touch with suppliers you planned the shoot with and write a guest post for one other supplier in that group
Reach out to suppliers you've been wanting to forge a connection with and offer to write guest posts for them wanting nothing in return except for a link back to your website.
So there we have it, a round up of self care tips and some simple visibility tips for you to put into action. What was your favourite tip? Come and tell me on Instagram 🙂
📸Verity Westcott Photography when I was speaking at South West Wedmeetup recently.
It may or may not surprise you to know (if you watch my Instagram Stories here) that I enjoy the occasional gin of an evening. Whilst having my gin, I have a few chats with lovely people in my DMs about personal business stories recently and this got me thinking that whilst my About page is all spruced up and sparkling and ta-dahhh, I haven’t actually shared my business story here on my blog. I do LOVE reading other people’s stories because y'know #nosey, and so I thought it might be fun to share my own almost entirely in GIFs. It's important for me to inject humour as much as possible into what I do because it's a crazy world and I think kindness and humour are key.
I have always loved weddings. When I was a little girl I had an alter ego. Her name? Mrs Wedding.
I went to a convent school which I kinda loved actually.
I grew up by the seaside in Devon....
....where I watched Splash a lot indoors on VHS....
I actually won certificates at school for smiling so much. Whilst others got them for doing well in geography or achievement in maths, I got awarded for being a happy bunny.
I learned to code in HTML in 1999 when I was 16 - my dad gave me a subdomain on his business website! The masterpiece was all about Ace Ventura.....
I went to university in Bristol and studied business, and left for London and expected this.
But it was more like this...
But as a side job, I worked in rowing PR...as you do. There were quite a few perks...
Oh, and I used to organise a LOT of fancy dress parties in London.
I got very, very tired and needed a break. It was the recession and I lost my job.
My partner at the time loved India and encouraged me to go...so off I went. I very much expected this....
and instead got this...
Having all that space to think about life made me realise....
After six months, I came back to England to live on a houseboat, engaged.
I read about 100+ wedding blogs regularly. I entered all the competitions. I won my wedding photographer in a competition on a blog!
I started interning for the blog, and then, dear reader, I got married.
Meanwhile, because I like to keep busy (LOLZ) I led an international media campaign in 2010-2012 to save my houseboat community from extinction (side note: they're still there)
In that time, I also qualified as an English teacher so I could work abroad. After travelling for 18 months, I was ready to come back to England
I started to network (read: fangirl the shiz out of) the wedding world. And things started to happen....
The wedding blog where I won my wedding photographer offered me a job where I wrote and shared my adventures.
I helped organise a networking event and met Nu Bride who hired me as an assistant researcher. She sent me to John Nassari’s masterclass at the Savoy later that year where I met Laura Babb (who I totally fangirled over and she forgave me) as well as Nicola at Propose PR.
That was 2014. In December that year I finished my last ever temping job and had my first logo and was officially madeleinenoblejones.com (my married name).
Having gathered a lovely group of clients (turns out nice people talk about useful people in their lives!), I went off to Goa again for a few months but this time came back single.
Pouring all my energy into the business, I started getting speaking gigs.
(this is actually how much I talk with my arms...)
I had to change my name and therefore updated my brand, fully embracing my love of pink and became Madeleinejones.co and hired two assistants - Bex & Emily, so now we were 3.
I was asked to run 1:1 SEO reviews with attendees at Snap Photography Festival which went down a treat, it was here I was crowned the Queen of SEO by the fantastic Snap community, so much so that I was asked back again for a second year in 2017. (I gush publicly fairly often about the wonder that is Laura Babb but I'm not going to stop now!)
In the winter that year I made the brave decision not to go to Goa and stayed in England.
The gamble paid off and 2017 was the biggest year yet!
I rebranded the business with the amazing talents of Becky Lord.
We completed over 70 client projects and countless internal projects! I travelled all over the country sharing more SEO goodness, Pinterest fun and drank gin with wonderful people.
I'm writing this because quite a few people have asked me about it and even though I am not a launch expert, I do feel I have some lessons to share. In short, I made some money, I spent some money, I helped a lot of people, I gained some fans and some haters (oh yes!) and I learned a LOT. (trying not to swear as my Ma reads this, hi Ma!)
I have been reading up and learning about big launches for years. My goodness, it is quite something else actually doing them! I realised half way through this launch just how I've avoided trying to make 'too big a deal' out of my own launches and therefore have not reached my targets in order to make them as financially successful as possible.
When it comes to the actual delivery of whatever I'm selling, I'm fine, I blimmin' love teaching and when the people who buy from me action what I teach, they get great results. But first, you have to get people to trust you enough to buy from you, right?
I have done many different types of launches but this particular model I learned as a combination from learning from Faye Cornhill and Lisa Johnson, both marvellous business coaches and if you haven't heard about them, go Google them. They're completely different styles, but hey, I enjoy both flavours of ice cream.
So, how did I get this launch to happen? I've listed 10 but of course there are countless others. Some of them are predictable, some of them surprised me, all of them I found valuable, so you might too 🤪
1. You have to believe you can do it
This one sounds the cheesiest of all but it's 100% true. Here's what helps me believe in myself:
Reading happy testimonials + feedback
Reflecting & meditating (this is the one I've subscribed to for 9 years)
Repeating my sales goal over and over (writing it out, saying it out loud)
Sharing with my friends & family over WhatsApp (validation / emotional support)
Asking for support from business coach friends
Resting as much as possible so you reserve your energy
2. You have to set boundaries
Something I learn more and more about every day of running my business. If you don't set boundaries you run the risk of burnout. I've been there, it ain't fun. Every evening during this launch I would delete my social media apps from my phone and every morning I would re-download them. In fact, I've been doing this some weekends to give myself a break and oh boy does it feel good. See also: not checking the phone as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. Also, I made sure I rested as much as possible.
3. You have to be prepared to spend time and money planning it all
In launches prior to this I've used 99% organic posts only. In this launch, I used a mix of paid AND organic posts. I not only had paid campaigns running to get people to sign up for my challenge, I also posted a lot organically (which I do anyway):
posts on FB page
posts in my main FB group
posts on Instagram profile & Stories
Q+As on Stories and email
emails to my list (hi!)
I don't want to mention figures openly here actually, because if I read the figures I'd spent on this campaign and I wasn't in this position then I would actually be put off from launching. You have to figure out what your own targets are, what kind of effort you're willing to put in to make it happen, and what your own price points are.
My target was to get 1000 people engaged with my challenge (I got 742 in the end), and then my target was 1% conversion rate of 10 sales which I got! You might think the conversion rate is low but it was a high price point. Your conversion rate may be higher if your price point is lower and your audience is warmer (I learned a lot about warm audiences on this one).
4. You cannot do it alone
I continue to work with a number of coaches, and a mentoring group, and this time I hired Jackie Muscat & her team who helped make this launch happen. Next time I want to hire a VA to help me with the day to day running of everything. But also, I took great solace in my support network, see also: group WhatsApps cheering me along.
5. Don't let pride stand in your way
This was a big mistake where I've gone wrong before and I see that originally I didn't make the sales funnel specific enough. I have a free training on my site - Let's Make You Shine, and I was sending cold traffic there with a video ad, to watch the free training video and expecting them to book a call with me to book onto the course (which is self guided) and then wondering why I wasn't converting very well. Indeed those people weren't even hanging around on my emailing list. It just felt unnatural and not like me. My audience is very used to being sold to and therefore much more savvy but I didn't know what else to do.
I also realised I was scared of bothering people and again had to swallow my own advice and realise that those who were interested wanted to hear from me. So I put on my big girl pants and did the work.
.....which brings me to next lesson....
6. I followed a process
I have read advice about launching before and didn’t want to follow it step by step because it felt like a) copying b) unoriginal and c) predictable.
But hey guess what? Following a process makes life so much easier plus it works! There’s a reason it’s a process! I made my content original and my audience loved it. I’ll tell you a few basics of the process:
I created a detailed target audience profile complete with pain points
I thought about the hell + heaven of my audience (what challenges do they face, where would they like to be)
I collected testimonials + case studies of successes
I wasn’t afraid to use video ads
7. I wasn’t afraid to give away a lot of information for free
I designed a 5 day challenge (I'd only ever done 3-4 days before) and with no webinar at the end this time, and instead open the doors to my live course. This time the challenge would be in its own popup FB group too.
Before the challenge, I wanted to increase email subscribers and gain more engagement traction on socials, so I updated a freebie "How to tell Google I exist" and it worked really well (see a problem, offer a solution, people want the solution). But... I didn't have a welcome sequence set up for that which would automatically go out to them before adding them to my master list, so I found it hard to hold onto those subscribers. Not impossible, just unnecessarily harder.
8. Recognise ‘what’s the cost of not doing this?’
The challenge campaign was going well, but I was stressing OUT because my website kept breaking. The back end of it was literally held together with brown sticky tape. I knew I would have to move the teaching materials away from my site but at the same time it felt expensive.
Then I realised my own advice: what's the cost of not doing this? - To my own sanity - To my bank balance - To my clients who kept (patiently) letting me know they were having problems accessing the course content
The challenge campaign increased my mail subscribers to the point where ActiveCampaign stopped accepting new subscribers (but didn't email me to let me know!) and I had to pay to upgrade with a bill of £350 (that means I'll be paying £900 or so in October when it comes to renew).
My developer was incredibly patient and worked with me through my favourite system, Asana, to sort out all the tech problems, and find good solutions.
9. Don’t be afraid to look bad
Tech gremlins crept in to the last 2 days of my 5 day challenge and so I offered to redo the last video again. This got a lot of traction which was great. I was afraid to look bad (I was afraid to sell something people didn’t want, but I knew they did, fearful that I made the challenge too thorough). I had to really get confident with what I was selling and follow up with leads - some ghosted me which happens, but others appreciated that I was persistent because they were busy but knew they wanted a solution to their problem.
10. There are no shortcuts
It comes down to this - there are no shortcuts. You have to be prepared to put in the work. Create the content to show your value and to actually go ahead and show up.
This was the biggest one for me and the running theme throughout the whole launch - you have to show up.
I wanted to let you know about 3 things I'm speaking at next month, I'd love to see some friendly faces there 🙂
Cake Makers - this one's for you! Organised by Christine and Phil of Peboryon cakes, the Cake Professionals Conference is a day to invest in yourself and your cake business. Leave refreshed and inspired! Taking place in Reading UK on 2nd March, you can get your ticket here
South West Wedding Suppliers - here's one for you! I'm speaking alongside some brilliant people at South West Wedmeetup on 3rd March at Rockbeare Manor in Devon. You can get your ticket for the one day event plus a gala dinner in the evening 🍾you can book your ticket here
Female Photographers, listen up - there’s a 3 day conference happening in Manchester UK next March with your name all over it. I’ll be there giving a talk along with an incredible line up of speakers. There are different ticket options which you can check out here and when you book, mention my name in the booking form and I’ll buy you a drink at the bar.