She Dares To Dream: Briena Sash

 
Briena-Sash-Wellness-Stock-Shop

Seriously, I can easily spend hours browsing through Briena's Wellness Stock Shop. Her gorgeous, organic and rustic images not only resonate with my heart, they're also a huge source of creative inspiration whenever I work with a new wellness client on her new branding or website design. Sharing the same passion and values, I can't be more excited to take you behind the scene of her successful online business.
 

HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP WELLNESS STOCK SHOP?
The idea for Wellness Stock Shop came from both my desire to connect my work as a photographer with my passion for natural wellness and sustainable living, and my desire to make beautiful, affordable photography accessible to amazing wellness bloggers and entrepreneurs who share my same mission. Strong, engaging imagery is essential to standing out and gaining trust and credibility as a professional in the saturated market, and I wanted to give small business owners a chance to leverage their businesses. 

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? 
Wow. Just the motivation to keep going, especially as a solo-preneur who plays every roll in the business, is extremely challenging. People often assume that my business is simple. Just take photos and load them into a gallery. In reality, it's WAY more involved. Professional photo shoots alone are incredibly intensive - finding the right setting, lighting, props, models - then post production takes at least twice as long as the actual photo shoot. And that's only one very small piece of my job as a business owner. 

WHAT'S YOUR MOST AND LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
My absolute most favourite thing about my business is being able to work with deep purpose. I know I'm adding value to the world and working towards what I deeply believe in, and that is the best feeling ever. My least favourite thing is working mostly alone. Starting out, we often don't have the budget to hire out help and so I end up taking on everything by myself, which is overwhelming to say the least, and also feels very lonely at times.

WHAT'S THE ONE SINGLE THING YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU STARTED YOUR PERSONAL BRAND?
Honestly, in the two floundering businesses I nurtured before Wellness Stock Shop I wish I knew:
1. As a purpose-driven creative, it's useless to pursue a line of work that your heart isn't completely in alignment with.
2. Start before you're ready means you should start growing your audience before you're even ready to launch your business - so that when you do finally open your doors, you have someone to launch to.
3. Invest in your branding from the get-go. Waiting until things "get off the ground" is the very reason they never will. As small businesses, it's especially important that we invest in our branding and visual presence from the get go. We need to convince our viewers that they can trust us and that we're worthy of their investment. We need to give them a reason to choose us in the saturated market.
I realise that wasn't just one single thing. But they're equally as important!
 

"Waiting until things get off the ground in your business is the very reason they never will." {Click to tweet}


HAS THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE IMPROVED BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?
Absolutely. Working for yourself isn't right for everyone. But for us free-spirit types, it's pretty essential.

WHERE DO YOU GET AN INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WELLNESS PHOTOGRAPHY? 
Many times I simply see a beautiful piece of fruit, or setting and the inspiration strikes. I also love perusing through Pinterest and Instagram to find beautiful photos to inspire my future photo shoots.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT PEOPLE USE GOOD QUALITY IMAGES IN THEIR ONLINE BUSINESS?
People tend to underestimate photography and often choose to go scouting out imagery for free. But in reality, the photography you use will be one of the most valuable, impactful assets for your brand. Skimping and trying to piece together visuals can really jeopardise the strength of your presence in the market place. People are incredibly visual and these days have short attention spans. They make up their mind as to whether they want to do business with you or learn more about you within a split second. And guess what's going to make the first impression? Your visuals. The saddest thing is that I often see small wellness businesses settling for DIY snapshot photos or cheap looking pieced-together stock imagery because they don't think imagery matters much and they don't want to invest. The truth is, it doesn't matter how amazing your product or service is, viewers will dismiss you as amateur based solely on your visual presence. Your viewers will make a snap judgement and direct association with the quality of your product/service, based on your visuals alone. That is why it is absolutely essential that your visuals match the quality, value and message of your business. 

WHAT ARE THE LATEST TRENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA? GREAT IMAGE OVER CONTENT OR GREAT CONTENT OVER IMAGE?
These days, I put my focus mainly into Instagram which is a purely visual platform. I see people treating their business profiles like a personal album, sharing snapshots from their day-to-day life, and struggling to gain followers/paying clients. Facebook is more forgiving when it comes to visuals, but if you're building your presence on Instagram, it's essential that you build a gorgeous feed that inspires your viewers. Instagram is an incredible marketing tool, but only if you treat it like one. This involves learning and implementing strategy and the very first, foundational step to that is using only beautiful visuals. Implementing that strategy and using only the gorgeous photos from my stock photo site is what helped me to grow my audience by 10,000 followers in just 6 months.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOGRAPHY RITUALS CREATING YOUR BEAUTIFUL WELLNESS IMAGES?
I wouldn't say I necessarily have any rituals, other than using organic and eco friendly props. People often tell me they enjoy watching me get into my "zone" during a photo shoot. I definitely shift into an energy space and nerd out.

WHAT THREE THINGS MAKE A GREAT PORTRAIT PHOTO EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD KEEP IN MIND? 
Here are some of my top tips if you're looking for headshots:
1. Be sure to research your photographer. Don't choose just any photographer, based on price. That's the easiest way to end up with photos you don't like. You should browse thoroughly through the photographer's portfolio, make sure the imagery is consistently beautiful and that you love the photographer's style.
2. Make sure you choose a photographer you feel comfortable with. A huge part of getting comfortable and drawing out a naturally confident look is how relaxed you can be with your photographer. Portraits are really a collaboration between you and your photographer.
3. Splurge. This is a special occasion and it's important you feel gorgeous and confident. If getting a professional cut and style, buying a new outfit and/or getting your makeup professionally done (I recommend this last one for sure), then do it! The more confident and amazing you feel, the more that confidence will radiate through your imagery.

IS THIS YOUR DREAM JOB?
Absolutely. I carved out this niche for myself very strategically in order to fit my dream vision. I work with purpose, support others, have time, freedom, get to travel, get to inspire and encourage sustainable, organic living - nothing could possibly be better. 

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Everything you do, you are learning valuable skills that will one day bloom into something beautiful and purposeful. Everything you do and learn is valuable. But trying to do it all on your own is the very slow hard route. It's okay to invest in order to jump ahead, strengthen and speed up the process. You don't have to do it all alone. In fact, you shouldn't.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE, MANTRA OR AFFIRMATION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
As for my life mantra, I love to always remember what Albert Einstein said: "Live your life as though everything is a miracle." For business, this year a few quotes have really helped me... Marie Forleo said: "If you have a product or service you believe in — one that truly helps others — it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to market and sell it in the most effective way possible. Because if you don’t, you’re stealing from those who need you most." And that has spurred me to do things completely differently with my business - to be more proactive in getting in front of my audience, investing in products/services and support from professionals who can help me be more efficient and effective in connecting with and supporting my audience, and doing things in ways I've never done them before. It's been absolutely essential to my success.