I started out this blog post, intending to just give you an update on my Kenya plans. Then I thought I might share why and how it I came to be in the place where I am heading off to Kenya and to also give a mention to one person who has influenced so much of the success of my business – the ironic thing is, this person probably doesn’t even know I exist really!
I remember I discovered Brand Camp Blog on Facebook one day back in early 2011 – Kristen’s writing just really resonated with me – it was no nonsense, practical help that made sense to the self-taught, set-up-entirely-on-her-own newbie photographer and business woman that I found myself to be at that time. I followed her blog religiously and subscribed to her RSS feed. Every single thing she wrote, seemed to come at EXACTLY the right time for me, and I would try to implement her little tips as best as I could when I had the time.
As she would say, I am definitely one of her “people”. Her book Circus Circus is the very reason that I have so many clients tell me that they booked me primarily because of my About Me page. Her customer service experiences documented in Lux Undercover, prompted me to really focus in on my client communication and the little details of my customer service. The journalling and the Very Serious Tasks in her 9-week Becoming course kicked me into action, forced me to declutter my workspace and my mind, helped me to really think about my goals and my “why” and coincidentally also streamlined my client workflow and made my life a whole lot easier!
I was also blown away by the amount of free information and help she provided. After I listened to her free recording of Sales Without Shame, I held my first in-person order session the next week and made my biggest ever sale of $2,400 (double my previous biggest sale) – and all I did was go to my client’s home, have a cup of tea for an hour or so, took some product samples and helped them choose their images so they weren’t overwhelmed.
I remember in August 2011, Kristen bought out yet another product that I loved and wanted to buy that was only out for a limited time (I had FOMO!)… but at the time, I was conscious of buying lots of e-books and courses and not actually completing them in full. So I emailed her to find out if it would be available at a later time. Her response was this (I wonder if she remembers!):
Please don’t buy Blog Camp — all the products in the world won’t work via osmosis and being downloaded on your hard drive…finish even one, and don’t worry about what you’re not buying!
Her email prompted me to stop. Calm down. And actually DO the tasks and implement all the fabulous teachings from Circus Circus, Lux Undercover and Becoming.
the reason I say she won’t know who I am, is because I am a passive internet user.
I am generally NOT a Facebook or a blog commenter. I am part of many private Facebook business groups and have NEVER, NOT ONCE, commented or posted. Unless I have met you in person or at least had a fair bit to do with you, it is VERY unlikely I will comment on something on Facebook – and seemingly, especially if “you” are a business woman that I look up to! I kind of feel like I don’t want to come across as a stalker or something (?). Which is so silly, because I know how much I love it when my blog followers and Facebook fans like and comment on my images and posts, even when I have no idea who they are ‘in real life’.
So anyway, the reason I am mentioning this, is that about two years ago, I remember seeing Kristen post something about wanting to organise a trip to Africa or Nepal or somewhere and I remember thinking what a great idea that was to be able to fund a trip through her business (she used her course, Becoming, to do this). I passively took it on board, and filed it in the back of my mind with all the great ideas I was seeing and hearing about, but I wasn’t at the right stage of my business or my life to do something like that.
….enter Suluhisho Trust….
Suluhisho Trust is an organisation set up and run by Jacinta Ojwang and her husband Antipas who are based in Kisumu in Kenya. Jacinta (nee Conroy for you Goulburn kids out there) and I went to school together and we reconnected when I photographed her and her husband, their daughter and their FIVE foster children in Goulburn in 2011.
Over the past 12 months, I have been seeing more and more of Jacinta’s selfless charitable work on Facebook.
In February this year, I remember having an ah-ha moment, and I called Jacinta to talk to her more about what she was doing, and talk about a possible trip to Kenya to help raise awareness of the work of the trust through my photography and my storytelling. For those who know me, I am not really the type to want to travel to a dangerous, third-world country all by myself, without all my creature comforts. I am that girl, who during my five years of living in the UK, (proudly) referred to myself as a Gucci backpacker :)
I am also not really the type who wants to ‘change the world’.
But the fact that I KNOW Jacinta, I have seen how much she cares, I trust her work and her charity, that she would be there with me as a familiar face, that my gifts for telling stories through my photography and my words, could actually REALLY help her and the beautiful children that she is trying to give a better life, it just all seemed to make sense to me. It is something that I NEED to do…
….re-enter Kristen and Brand Camp back into my life….
you know that saying ‘when you decide you want something, the universe seems to make it happen’ (or something like that?). After that conversation in February, serendipity was again at play, when in early March, I received an email about Kristen’s new book, “Change the World, Damn-it” – with a free chapter to download and see what it was all about. A book entirely devoted to how to integrate life-changing projects into your business – exactly like my trip to Kenya that I had been thinking about but wasn’t sure how to make happen.
I devoured the free sample and bought the book. It covers everything from how to find a project that resonates with you, to lessons Kristen learned on her trips, to getting down to the nitty-gritty of funding the project through your business. The ideas in the book helped me to formulate my plan for HOW to do this. Step by Step. From budgeting EVERYTHING to really thinking about the timeline you need, to lots and lots of ideas for how to generate the money needed to make it happen. Plus the reality of the less glamourous side of doing a trip like this (including little anecdotes such as curling up in a ball and crying on her first night in an awful, dirty, dodgy hotel in Nairobi – eek I think that might be me…!). But mainly, the book prompted me to stop THINKING about the Kenya trip and start MAKING KENYA HAPPEN.
I didn’t want to ask people to sponsor me. I thought about doing the Climb for Kenya, but thought that my limited time would be better spent on the ground, with the children, with the families, hearing their stories and telling their stories.
So I decided instead to launch my life through your lens: photography workshops for busy mums a little bit earlier than anticipated. With introductory pricing to encourage my peeps to do it sooner rather than later. And to use 100% of the profits from these workshops to fund my trip. I was petrified. I didn’t feel ready to launch the classes yet (I wanted a new website! new Facebook page! a sparkly new logo! for everything to be perfect!). I was also scared that I now had to tell people about the Kenya trip and what if no-one bought anything and then I couldn’t afford to go anymore and how embarrassing would that be.
As always has been my motto, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Five weeks after I tentatively announced my Kenya trip and three weeks after I launched my new photography workshops, the base cost of my trip was already 47% funded. My confidence soared.
A week or so ago, I announced that I was bringing my trip forward to June, and to help make a final pitch to funding the trip, I was going to work like a crazy woman for the whole of May, including my MAKE KENYA HAPPEN up to 50% off sale (which ends midnight tonight if you don’t want to miss out!).
Thanks to you guys, I am now 80% funded for my Kenya trip (and you know the finance girl in me loves a good chart!)
I am heading down to Flight Centre to lock in the flights I have held, as soon as I hit 85%. Which I reckon will be tomorrow :)
For the support, the kind words, the encouragement – thank you all. I could not have imagined only two months ago that I would be in this position today. Thanks to Kristen to always putting stuff out for me at the exact time I need it, and for Jacinta for all the fabulous work she is doing and inspiring me to want to help. And of course for the Universe for putting it all together at the right time :)
Clients, please do take advantage of the MAKE KENYA HAPPEN sale that is ending tonight at midnight. Up to 50% off digital negatives, prints and wall hangings (plus new session fees for shoots when I return!)
have a great day,