This time last year, I was 2 weeks away from giving birth, sitting at my dining room table securing the website domain, getting my email address sorted and just generally figuring out what value I wanted to add and how I was going to add it.
Shout & Co. was set up to do just that: add value. Especially for small businesses. The economy these days is geared up to help large businesses and brands succeed, often leaving smaller companies feeling relegated to the sidelines. I set out to create a support system for one-man-bands, start ups and entrepreneurs to help them grow in an often cluttered marketplace.
When you have a small budget, how do you shout out about all of the amazing things you’re doing and making when the big guys are shouting louder than you with budgets that would make your eyes water?
You do it with heart. You do it with authenticity and love that teams of 700 cannot do.
And that’s what Shout & Co. does: gives your brand heart to cut through the clutter and help you shout about your brand online. After all, that’s where it’s all happening, right?
I started my career in marketing: putting together campaigns that included billboards, print media, press releases, press parties, in store devices and large-scale guerrilla activities. The budgets I was working across were in the MILLIONS. Millions of dollars being used to tell people to buy products that were literally cheaper than a bottle of face wash. And while it was exhilarating (and scary) to be signing off copy for billboards, it wasn’t quite hitting my career sweet spot: fun, creative and flexible. I was staring blankly at spreadsheets, preparing powerpoint presentations for the board to sign off, visiting factories and briefing agencies to create fun campaigns that I wasn’t allowed to be involved in - because it wasn’t my job. It was theirs.
So I embarked on a career change: swopping the world of FMCG for the world of fashion and buying. I moved into a Trend Forecasting role, telling fashion buyers what to buy, in what colours, how long the skirts needed to be, what fabrications to book and how to put looks together. I felt like I was finally finding a spot for my creativity to flourish.
Fast forward 8 years and I was gagging at the thought of spending another day talking about sleeve lengths, trying to find new ways to get people to buy clothes they didn’t need. We had just bought a new house and as I sat on the deck of our new home, moving boxes piled above my head, I got a call from The Warehouse. They had a buyer position available - would I be keen to have a chat?
Sure. It was much closer to home, a total change of merchandise focus and pace and offered me a bit more flexibility than the conservative and overbearing confines of the Farmers’ expectations. So I went for it. I found myself travelling to exciting new places like Vietnam and Malaysia, working on a totally new category where my brain was literally splitting in 2 trying to cram all of the information in.
And I was happy there but again, my creativity was being shoved aside because… spreadsheets. Templates. Inventory systems. Fit sessions. Blegh. COME ON.
And then it happened - 2 little blue lines on my pregnancy test that confirmed what I had been suspecting days prior: a 2nd little person was on the way. And that’s when it all fell into place.
I saw out the next 9 months at The Warehouse and got to the start of my maternity leave thinking “I have a year to figure out what’s next”.
2 weeks later, I was sitting at my dining room table securing my domain name, getting my email sorted and brainstorming the value that I wanted to add.
I bundled up my marketing experience, my 12 years out the workforce buying, selling, forecasting and marketing and plugged it into what Shout & Co. was about to become: A small business’ digital marketing partner.
And 12 months later it seems like a lifetime has passed.
I have met THE most amazing business owners, PASSIONATE entrepreneurs, CRAZY CLEVER makers and people who I believe are really making it happen for themselves. Many doing it late at night, weekends, early mornings to side hustle their way out of their unfulfilling day jobs. People like I was, 12 months ago. And I get to spend my days helping them grow their businesses and stay relevant in a marketplace that can be difficult and complicated.
I have spent many late nights creating campaigns for them, brainstorming ideas for how to photograph their products, coming up with newsletter content to drive their sales and designing icons for the Instagram highlights. And it’s literally the happiest I have ever been in my career.
I have also spent an hour (or 674) feeling down, out of ideas and just generally stuck trying to figure it all out. But that’s the beauty of self-employment right? The highs are so high because the lows can be so incredibly low.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the past year, these 2 would be the most important for me:
1 - STAY IN YOUR LANE
It doesn’t matter what the “competition” is doing. It doesn’t matter how they’re building their businesses, or what great service offers they have. I need to stay in my lane and build my business in a way that makes sense to me, without casting an eye on my side mirrors. It can be exhausting watching what other digital content creators are doing and it robs me of the time and energy needed to build my own business.
2 - STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER CREATIVES
We all have our own viewpoint, our own approach to things and our unique ways of doing / seeing things. I’ve given away too many valuable hours berating myself for not having the same eye as other stylists, or for thinking that their work is better than mine. Once I accepted that my approach to styling images was unique to me, my work life was made infinitely more enjoyable. There is so much to be said for liberating feeling of being proud of the work you do!
And what I love most about my new direction in life? The opportunity to stay at home with my kids when they’re feeling sick and not have to miss a day of salaried work. Of being able to work when I’m feeling most creative and giving it a miss when I’m not. Of being able to decide what I’d like to work on next instead of being told. Of having the flexibility to pick up my kids from school at 3pm without worrying about what my boss will say.
Most of all, I appreciate the amazing business owners that trust me with their brands - who come back month after month with briefs along the lines of “happy to leave it up to you!”.
So if you’re new around these parts, welcome. If you’ve been here a while - thanks so much for all of your likes, shares, comments and support. You’re a very large part of what makes this all worth while!