September is a great month to just take stock and clarify where you want to be headed before the craziness of the Autumn term takes a hold. And even if you’re already suffering from To Do List Overwhelm, it’s really worth taking some time to step back, reflect on where you want your business to be and how you’re going to get there.
I’ll be honest, two workshops and two events last week, coupled with a brand new workshop in October and two photoshoots to plan for the book means that the pressure has already set in. I have so little time to work that I have to be ruthlessly efficient about what I take on. I’m constantly asking myself, how does this help me get to where I want to be next? How is this going to move my business forwards?
None of us can take on everything that comes our way. None of us ever have enough time – even if we have all the time in the world, it won’t be enough.
You can do anything you want. Literally, anything you put your mind to. But you can’t do everything. None of us can.
So let’s take some time to rediscover that focus that we had so clearly after our summer break and make some clear plans for the year ahead. You may find this comes so easily to you. Or you may need a little more guidance. If so, may I suggest you start with my New Year Brand Shakedown? This will give you a structured walk through of where you’re at now and where you want to be headed.
The idea came to me, as the best ideas always seem to, on holiday.
There’s something quite magical that happens once you totally switch off and just relax, isn’t there? Free of constant notifications, the pressure to post a better Instagram than last time or to simply stay on top of your diary, amazing things start to happen. Your mind is clear and your creativity starts to wander. Best of all, I think the best ideas happen when you’re not even looking for them.
And so it was. Day two of the holiday, I’d settled down onto my sun lounger and picked up my magazine to read with my iced coffee. And bam! It hit me. This idea could so work for The Brand Stylist.
I’d been thinking for a while that I wanted to get my newsletters into better shape. I didn’t love how they looked, but more to the point, I was conscious that they weren’t adding as much value as I’d like. We’re all busy and I really, really appreciate those of you that let me into your inbox every month. And whilst we both want you to be up to date with the latest workshops or submissions for the book, I’d always intended to send out a little more. More in terms of value rather than quantity!
I’d wrestled with what to do for months. The truth is, I have no time. So committing to a regular ‘editorial schedule’ just seemed too much. And also too much for you guys. I find that the best emails to receive are the ones that don’t ask too much of me. So I didn’t want to send out a ginormous twenty minute read. I wanted to do something that was very accessible, but how?
Have you read The Simple Things magazine? I had a gift subscription a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it so picked up the latest copy to take on holiday with me. And there it was, a truly simple idea that blew my mind. As I read the Editor’s letter I saw in there something that just fitted so well with what I want to do. Every issue is focused around a single theme. So simple but so effective!
I started to see how this sort of thing could work for my newsletters. There are certain rhythms to business; things slow down over the summer and pick up in Autumn. January is all about fresh starts and in Spring we get creative and inspired. It ebbs and flows with the seasons and means that we can share a certain focus without things getting overwhelming.
Every month I’ll send you out a newsletter with a very particular focus. It’ll be very brief and I hope, very inspiring. If you have the time or the inclination, there’ll be links to some more in depth workbooks and resources. This month is a chance to clarify things. Taking that calm and ability to focus that you hopefully gained over the summer slowdown, we have an opportunity to take a step back and set our intentions for our business before we get overwhelmed by deadlines and our to do lists.
It’s a new way of doing things, and like everything new, it’s scary. It’s going to push me out of my comfort zone, big time. I’m already a little terrified by the boundaries of email design. I hate not being able to totally design how the text looks or exactly how things behave on different devices. But completion over perfection is something I am a big believer in for the web. You just can’t make everything look perfect all the time – you just have to do your best.
The first new look newsletter will be out next week, and I’ve already sent out a couple of emails in the new style so some of you will have already had a preview. I do hope you like – please do let me know what you think! Oh, and if you’re not already on the list and you’d like to subscribe, you can sign up here. Enjoy!
Here’s the mockup I created initially to just play about with what was possible, and hopefully those of you that have received it have found it not a million miles from my initial design. I can’t wait to share the story behind the lovely new identity for The Brand Stylist too – although looking at my diary, it could well be some weeks yet!
This week marks the return to school in the UK and for many of us, the return to routine, being in three places at once and last minute dashes for lost items of school uniform. For me, it’s the chance to once again welcome a little time back in to my life. A small chink where I can exercise, write and work on projects. There aren’t many hours, but with the ‘baby’ starting school next year I’m utterly determined to make the most of my time with her and keep a lid on the time I spend working. Those years go by far too fast.
How was your summer? We had a really magical time, travelling, chilling and making a lot of memories. We spent a week in Greece (below), a few days in the Cotswolds and visited a few UK beaches as well as Bath and The New Forest. It went by way too fast.
My plan of totally taking the whole summer off and pretending I was a stay at home mum didn’t quite go to plan. But in hindsight maybe that was a little unrealistic? I did do some writing in the evening, I worked on my new branding with the lovely Shauna (more on that soon) but there were no client projects and very little social media. I loved being able to be fully present with the children, not distracted by work or any crazy schemes, I was calm and I had a total digital detox while we were in Greece. It was amazing. I deleted all my social media apps and my mail from my phone and I can’t tell you how lovely that was. I’d definitely recommend it.
We visited Ile de Re for a few nights and that was so gorgeous. Quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve seen. The light, the food, the colours… breathtaking.
I have so many plans for The Brand Stylist this year. It’s amazing how a break from deadlines, routine and the general noise can do that for you isn’t it? Can’t wait to share the process behind my gorgeous new brand identity, which I worked on with Branch. I’ve created a whole new new-look newsletter, and I want to share more on that too… So watch this space. With four events next week (two Flowerona workshops, a Flowerona event and I’m speaking at Paperfest at Top Drawer) it may not all happen as quickly as I’d like, but I’m back and very excited for the new year.
Happy Autumn! I hope you have a productive and inspiring few months.
Oh my goodness. I actually can’t believe we are at this point already! I am soooooo excited to be able to ask you to submit your projects for my next book. Eeeeeek! Read on for all the info…
After the bestselling success of the first Brand Stylist book, How to Style Your Brand, Spring 2017 will see the return of another book for creative entrepreneurs. I’ll be working with the same incredible team – top lifestyle editor Jo Copestick as well as the fabulous Matt Pereira again.
I’ve been working so hard on the manuscript and I am really pleased with how it’s taking shape. I’ve been listening to the sort of guidance you need and I know you’re going to love it. This time, the remit for submissions is a little wider – so if you’re a photographer, stylist or entrepreneur I hope you’ll submit as much as your fellow brand stylists.
Loved this pic by @alyssajoypd of #thebrandstylistbook I’m currently writing #thebrandstylistbook2 and finding it a challenge! I keep forgetting that the glossy, beautiful book that’s sat on my desk right now was once a jumble of half sentences and trailing thoughts. Onwards! #amwriting
Call for submissions
One of the things that made How to Style Your Brand so special was the range of businesses featured in the book – as well as illustrating my points what I hope they’ve also done is inspired you and encouraged you to think big about what’s possible. I’m looking for projects that will do the same job in the next book. So here’s what I’m looking for:
Show me how you’ve extended your brand across everything you do – your packaging, your website, your store, your products. I want to see it all! And if it’s beautifully styled and photographed, so much the better.
How you market your business.
I’m thinking catalogues, brochures, digital brochures as well as super gorgeous printed materials and quirky or interesting ways you create an impact with your brand.
Whether you’re a pro or a budding stylist, if you have some photography that you think is just bursting to be showcased in a (hopefully bestselling) book, I’d love to see it. I’m particularly looking for images of styled products or your brand showcased in an interesting way but there will also be space for general lifestyle shoots etc (for mood boards) so if in doubt – send it in! And talking of mood boards, last time the lovely Arianna let me use one of her fashion blogger photos for a mood board – so please do send in images of you looking fabulous if you can
Your studio/ work in progress
I’m always, always looking for beautiful images of inspiring workspaces. In the last book, super talented architects SelenckyParsons submitted some of their office projects which looked very cool, so please don’t think it’s just limited to the she shed (although some of those would be good too).
A printed, signed copy of the book; one for you and one for your client as a thank you.
Full credit in the back of the book
You retain all copyright – you’re just giving us permission to print the book
Your work featured in a beautiful book for creative entrepreneurs
How to Submit your work
This time I’ll be doing things a little differently so please read carefully (I have learned many lessons from last time!).
I’m asking you to send me a Dropbox folder with all your submissions in to keep things nice and manageable. Please don’t send me emails – they’ll break my inbox and definitely don’t send me Wetransfer links as they will expire before I have a chance to download them, assuming all goes to plan and I get my summer break with the kids. If you don’t currently have a dropbox account (and they are awesome) you can sign up for free, here.
Please make sure that your Dropbox folder is set up for me to view but not edit so that I don’t inadvertently delete your precious work. I will not be held responsible for any loss of files if you fail to do this. I’m sorry to sound mean but last time I had more than 100 submissions, I’m sure this time there will be many more. I’ve got to have a process. Protect your work and only let me view your files. You can do this by going into the Dropbox web programme and changing your settings.
Last time Braizen organised their folders beautifully. With each project having it’s own folder, and sub folders within that with packaging, lifestyle images and the brand identity. It would be amazing if you could do that.
Please feel free to submit up to twelve client projects. If you submit lifestyle/ studio shots they don’t count as part of that twelve- so again, maybe up to 20/30 images?
Your images must be high resolution and you must have permission from your client before you submit the project.
Another lesson learned at the 11th hour last time! If you could also send them to me at CMYK rather than sRGB which is how they come out of camera/ lightroom, then I can be sure that you’re happy with the colour variance and it also saves me around two days (really) of laborious conversions.
Please download this spreadsheet and fill out all relevant details. This means I can just copy and paste and I won’t get the essentials like company names or website spelt incorrectly.
Finally, please send an email to submissions at fionahumberstone dot com with a link to your shared Dropbox folder – did I mention set to view and not edit only?
Inside your Dropbox folder please make sure there is…
a signed artwork release for each project
the completed spreadsheet with correct details (essential as this is the information we will use to credit you in the book)
your downright gorgeous submissions with high resolution CMYK files
Please DON’T send wetransfer files and absolutely no email attachments please
you can email submissions at fionahumberstone dot com
The kids are back at school on 6th September, so whilst I will probably be unable to resist sneaking a peek, I’ll be back at my desk in earnest working through everything then so please be sure you have your gorgeous work to me before 6th Sept.
I can’t wait to see what you have to share. Seriously! Get them sent in! xx
G . F Smith are quite possibly The World’s Coolest Paper Company and a few weeks ago I had the very great honour of working with them and their gorgeous team of paper consultants.
If you haven’t come across G . F Smith yet, then my goodness are you in for a treat. They produce absolutely exquisite papers in a whole heap of finishes and colours. They are innovative, dynamic and really, really nice people.
I’d met some of the team at Paperfest last year and they invited me to run a session for their paper consultants on colour psychology.
Together we spent a really creative, innovative and hands on day exploring how the team could use colour psychology to better understand their clients’ brands.
It was a chance for the team to engage with their beautiful product in a different way as well as add to their extensive skill set.
“Enlightening!” Paul Scharf
“A totally new perspective on categorising colour.” Mark Jessett
“Really insightful, well structured and fun!” Vanessa Fletcher
We had a really intensive day together during which we categorised the entire collection into seasons (all I can say is: Wow!) and I’m really excited to see where the company go with their newfound knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next and getting involved with some very exciting future plans! Watch this space…
Oh, and if you’re in the UK and haven’t ordered your copy of The Collection yet then you must! You’re in for a real treat. Legion Paper sell all 50 Colorplan papers in the US and have a really inspiring set of paper samples too…
I really loved adapting the theory for an in house team and this is definitely something I’m looking forward to doing more of in the future. Images by the wonderful Katie Spicer Photography.
Do you ever find that a trip away, or just a complete digital detox, can inspire some seriously big (and scary!) ideas?
Ever since I returned from New York I feel like I have literally been full bursting with inspiration. And I find that taking some proper time out over the kids holidays is an essential part of me running a successful business. This year will be no different. For six weeks, from 22 July until the kids go back on 6th September, my focus will be all about them.
No business planning. No writing. No client projects and definitely no email. The out of office is going on. I’ll check in once a week but that’s it. My social media will also grind to a halt.
I’m in awe of anyone who can juggle both but for me, I need that total mental switch off. I want to focus on the kids; have fun with them, mess about with them, let the world go by slowly and explore with them without agenda or rush. They grow up so fast and it’s important for me to just shut down the work. And yes, I do realise that I’m very lucky that I’ve created a business that lets me do that.
And so for the next couple of weeks life is a little flat out. Those of you following me on Instagram will know that as well as the usual end of term mayhem I also have (quite literally) a wall of stuff to complete in less than three weeks. It’s the stuff of nightmares, but it will all be worth it 😉
For the past two years, I’ve deliberately kept my business as small and manageable as possible. I was determined to keep things below the VAT threshold until Poppy goes to school next September so that my work didn’t impact too much on my time with the children.
Also, having run a very big business before, and juggling all the cashflow/ VAT/ overheads that come with that, I just wanted to keep things simple.
This year, however, I’ve found that balancing my workload so that I could say ‘yes’ to as much as possible without tipping over the threshold totally stressful. I’ve got to the point where actually, not being VAT registered is holding me back. I ummed and aaaahed for months. Worrying I was going back on my plan, worried work would take over my life, but also frustrated that I was turning so much down.
I spoke to my lovely friend Elizabeth, who knows all about how important it is to me to keep things manageable and she said something so, so wise that I wanted to share it with you. She said:
By keeping your business small, are you keeping your creativity small?
And of course, I had to concede that it was having an impact. Which meant that stepping up a gear was a no brainer really.
Now that the lid of VAT has been lifted, I feel like I can think so much bigger and more strategically. I can launch that retreat, run more workshops overseas and launch workshops online. I found it so frustrating having to turn down projects simply because I couldn’t take on any more paid projects without tipping over the threshold. Now I can and I find this so exciting! I still need to be very selective about what I do commit to because I am so limited on time, but at least that’s my only limit!
The knock on effects of thinking bigger
Excitingly, now I have the freedom to grow my business, I’m treating it like an actual business. I’m investing in things that I know will help me achieve my dreams. And I’m thrilled to be working with the wonderful We Are Branch on developing the Brand Stylist brand identity.
I’ll share more on that project in the autumn but it’s liberating being able to share the responsibility for what I’m doing with someone else. I love having another set of eyes and another intelligent mind on my projects and I cannot wait to show you what they are up to; they are very clever. Here’s a sneak peek of Shauna’s mood board…
If you’re worrying about juggling time off and work this summer, how’s this for an idea. How about switching off those emails, switching on your auto response and taking a proper digital detox. Rather than worrying about doing a half job at every level, just give yourself the freedom to forget about work and relax.
I realise that for some of us, we have commitments at many levels and a complete switch off isn’t possible. Six weeks off takes planning well in advance. But if you have a holiday planned, how about promising yourself that you’ll step away from your email and social media just for that week or two? The world won’t stop turning, your followers will still be there when you get back and you’ll be a much better entrepreneur for it…
What do you think? Are you planning on taking time off this summer or will you be trying to balance business as usual?
Hurrah! It’s finally here and I’m so thrilled to be able to share this with you.
So many of you have been asking me to put together some visuals for how the colour palettes actually work. Please don’t take the attached too literally. I’ve put the numbers on there so that you can reference them if you have a chips book and see how they fit together; but these colours are by no means the only tones for each season. I’ve just put together a flavour for you.
You’ll probably also find depending on your screen and your printer, the colours may not come out quite true. But whatever medium you’re looking at, my hope is that they do at least look different (sometimes subtly!) in each season.
And remember that some colours will be naturally warmer and cooler. So the yellow/orange I’ve picked for summer (second from left on the second row down) does look warm, but compared to the other yellows in that column it’s cooler, soft and does have a delicate undertone. It could almost pass for spring (and that’s where the fun starts because this is a continuum not a precise thing) but it works in summer.
Likewise, pantone 570, the turquoise second from right in the autumn row could almost fit into spring, but do you notice how much more muted it is than pantone 7465?
Oh, and remember, I’ll be running an online class as soon as is realistically possible so if you’d like to develop your colour education I will look forward to working with you then and discussing the differences in more detail 😉 I’m sorry, I don’t have time to answer any questions on this before the summer holidays.
I’m so often asked for actual, visual examples of how the colours change throughout the seasonal personalities. And I get it, it can be so confusing. So many schools of thought, so many different approaches! Some describe cool colours as being blues, whilst warm might be oranges.
Whereas in this school of thought, you have warm tones and cool tones of every single hue, it’s just about picking the right one to match in with your season.
So let’s say you decide you’d like a turquoise in your palette; you just need to find the right tone of turquoise for your season.
If your business is spring, you’ll be looking for a soft, warm colour with clarity. It’ll pop with life, energy and personality. A summer turquoise will also be soft and delicate, but it’ll have a hint of coolness about it, a grey undertone. It’ll feel classy, elegant and slow. An autumn turquoise will be warm, intense and muted. It’ll feel substantial – even at a paler tone – and it’ll feel rich, earthy and solid. A winter turquoise might be icy, it could be super saturated. Either way, it’s going to be cool, clear and intense. It’ll feel luxurious, sophisticated, confident.
The best way to do this is to work through a Pantone chips book (you can buy online or if you’re lucky, second hand on an auction site) and literally pull out the chips that feel vaguely right. Even after almost ten years of doing this I still need to put the chips side by side to spot which ones fit with the season and which ones don’t. Use natural light and take your time.
To help you visualise how the colours change throughout the seasons I’ve put together a selection that I feel illustrates each nicely. The changes are subtle but I hope you’ll see how the seasonal palettes ‘feel’.
You can download the resource in the next blog post. You’ll need to log in if you haven’t already, but once you’ve done that, you’ll have access to a wealth of resources I’ve created to help you style your brand. Enjoy!
Hurrah for another new week! With just three weeks to go until the children break up from school (and before I take a six week break from my business) the to do list is getting soooo focused. So much to do before the end of term, and as usual, so little time!
You might remember that back in May I asked for your input on what sorts of workshops you would like. I really appreciated the comments, thoughts and votes from (almost 400 of) you. Wow. You told me that you want all the things I want to teach the most which is wonderful. I have so many ideas for new workshops and I can’t wait to start teaching them!
Colour for Creatives Online
As you know, I’ve loved delivering each and every one of the Colour for Creatives workshops and have met some incredible people along the way. The plan is for this to eventually become a three-level online course. The Absolute Essentials which will mirror what we’ve done on the live workshops, a more advanced workshop for those of you that would like to refine your knowledge and take it to the next level and finally a third class for professionals.
I would love to launch this in the Autumn, but I met with Jo, my editor last week and we are planning to have the manuscript for book two written by the end of term (yikes!!!) and then the design and photography finished by half term so that the book is off to print by Christmas for a spring launch.
Given the amount of time and mental energy that book one took up, I’m not certain I can commit to launching an course over the same time period as well. I’m not joking when I say that would probably cause me a nervous breakdown. So let’s see how the book goes first? Once I have some time to dedicate to it, it won’t be long as I have so much planned out already.
The Brand Brilliance workshop
In the meantime, I have a brand new workshop lined up for the autumn, Brand Brilliance: a two day workshop that I’ll be running in both Surrey in October and New York (at the Good Light Studio in Chelsea, Manhattan again) in early November.
These will be more intimate events that’ll give you more one to one time with me and even more clarity, purpose and determination! Hurrah!
Brand Brilliance is all about defining what makes your business unique and letting that shine through in everything you communicate.
It’s about giving you the confidence, focus and clarity to and make sure that you’re on message, each and every time. It’s about defining your dream clients, owning your niche, identifying your brand values, creating your mission and defining your creative style. In short, it’s about determining your message.
On day two we’ll take this focus and explore works with your visual aesthetic. How do you make sure that the way you style your photos, filter your instagram images and bring your brand to life reflects the message you want to send out? We will, of course, also explore how this feeds into your brand identity: so if you’re at the start of a brand styling project this will be a brilliant jumping off point. But equally, it’ll be just as valuable to those of you who feel you have a smart looking website and logo you can be proud of that want to get a tighter handle on your brand and your focus.
You’ll leave the workshop with a Brand Blueprint that’ll document many of the creative decisions you’ve taken as well as plenty of mood boards (of course!) notes and bags of inspiration.
The workshop reflects the process I use with my one-to-one consultancy clients and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Naturally the price will need to reflect the significantly smaller groups (in the UK there’ll be a maximum of 11 students and in NY, up to 18) but I’ve also really worked hard to keep things affordable and there are instalment plans available if you’re quick! You can find out more about the class and snag your place here. Here’s the details for the New York class.
Style Your Brand with me!
Next spring I hope to launch a Style Your Brand online workshop – a chance for us to work through developing your brand identity in a safe, supportive and creative community.
The idea is that we’ll work through styling your brand with guided tutorials every week, and after five weeks, you will have a beautifully styled brand identity that you can be proud of. Can’t wait! Again, I’m very clear on how this will work, I just need to carve out the time to make it happen.
A one day Brand Clarity workshop
I do love the big workshops with their party-style atmosphere and energy and I don’t want to give that up. Being in a positive, creative and kind environment surrounded by so many wonderful entrepreneurs is a soul affirming thing and whilst I am excited about the more intimate workshops, I’ll definitely be balancing those with one day workshops too.
Expect a one day Brand Clarity workshop mid-late spring next year, certainly in London, perhaps in California late summer, depending on how things go. So many ideas, so little time!
Oh, and the big thing that I cannot. stop. thinking about.
The Brand Stylist Retreat
I’m going to be running a retreat for brand stylists next May. Eeeeek!
This was totally inspired by the students I met in New York who totally reinvigorated me and also reminded me that as Brand Stylists, we could all do with a little time to step away, recharge our batteries and work on our business. I’m still to scope out the exact agenda but the idea is that as well as sessions on thinking big and creating exciting new directions, we’ll also work on the process of brand styling and building your business. Having built and sold a successful business myself, I can’t wait to share some of the lessons, tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
Oh, and seriously. The place I have booked? Breathtaking. Here’s a sneak preview. More to follow…
Brand Brilliance. A brand new workshop to help you work out what's important, define what makes your brand truly brilliant and let that shine through everything you communicate. Brand Brilliance is coming to the UK 5&6 Oct 2016 in Surrey. Discover more and book