Jack of All Trades, But Photographer No More

When I graduated from college, I was beyond excited to get a job in my field - I was going to work for a cosmetic distribution company AND I was going to be in the marketing department! I was thrilled, terrified, nauseous, you know - the usual. I thought I would finally be able to put all of my fancy skills to good use, but it didn't take me long to realize that college had pretty much just given me a clue, and that this is where all of the learning was going to happen. My boss was a kind and patient man, and something he said to me during my first days there stuck with me ever since: "Working here, you'll learn to be a Jack of all trades, but master of none". I thought about that for a while. It was the first time I had heard that expression, and I decided I liked it. Throughout my career, it seemed that I gravitated to companies with small teams, where I had to wear many hats. And since computers were just starting to make a widespread appearance in the workplace (yup, in 2000, my friends and I would discuss who had a work email and who still used fax) the fact that I knew how to use and was good at using them made me a prime candidate for new tasks, whether they were in fact computer related or not.
  • No budget for a graphic designer? See if Sylvie can make it look pretty? (She can)
  • That spreadsheet is a mess? Maybe Sylvie knows how to fix it. (She does)
  • That needs to be bilingual - get Sylvie to translate it (Dear god, please don't. Ok fine, but promise you'll get someone else to proof it.)
  • What's this Twitter thing people keep talking about? See if Sylvie can figure it out. (She can. She did. She hates it. There! And in less than 144 characters!)
  • That copy is really boring - see if Sylvie can jazz it up and make it sound more fun. (Ok, but you might regret that one...)

There wasn't a challenge I wasn't up for and I eventually got sorta good at a lot of things. And when there was actually a budget to work with a pro? You can bet I was glued to them any chance I got to see how they got stuff done. (I apologize to all the graphic designers who had to endure my endless questions about Adobe programs only to realize a half hour later that I have no clue how to even minimize a screen on a Mac) So when I started Eclair Lips, not having the money to hire everything out didn't scare me - I was pretty sure I knew enough to at least get things started on the right foot. And while DIY'ing things can be very rewarding, it can also end up costing you in another way though: time. As my business and my kids grow, I've been feeling the pressure of having a bazillion things on my plate and a limited amount of time to do them all and still hopefully maintain my status as a nice human being. This summer, I realized that the things were not all getting done, and that part about being a nice humant? Yeah, I needed to work on that... I needed help. All kinds of it. It started with my taxes. After I bit the bullet and hired a bookkeeper (apparently you can't procrastinate taxes away), it kind of opened the floodgates. What could I do if I had more help in other areas of my business? If I cut through everything cluttering my life? I started examining EVERYTHING! (*Sigh* Bye Facebook...) And do you know what I decided to outsource next? Photography. Wow. It was a big and scary one. I always dreamed about having someone take dreamy shots for me, but never bothered to look into it because I was so sure it would be out of my price range. But late one night (that late-night desperation is good for some things I tell ya), I messaged a photographer I had been admiring on Instagram. And when she came back with pricing and I did the math (gee, how much time and money was I spending agonizing over finding or baking miniature desserts to use in my photos because I had to keep the same theme because I didn't really know what else to do?) I decided it was well worth the investment. Over the following weeks, I worked with the lovely and amazing Michelle (you can drool over her gorgeous IG feed here) who took the time to really understand my brand, my vision and everything I wanted. She was cool that there would be espresso cups, bright colours and gorgeous paper flowers, and she'd figure out what to do about the food props too! It was so exciting - and a huge weight off my shoulders. "But why would you outsource such a fun part?!!" I'm sure that's what a lot of you are thinking. And yup, taking pretty pictures can be a lot of fun. Until you have to do them quickly and consistently and you just don't have the time, the inspiration or enough hours of good light to get it done. Also, that professional touch? Yeah, it makes quite the difference! And when I got the link to a gallery filled with gorgeous photos of my products? PRICELESS! I'm so thrilled with the result, and I have to say that as much as I loved them all, I was especially excited to finally have some photos of the kids line! I was sooo stuck on how to present it in a photograph and had exactly zero styled shots for that collection before Michelle came along, and now, BAM! I've got this:



And yes, those are absolutely Paper & Peony's gorgeous flowers you see there (Chantal, you are such a doll for hooking me up! And you'll think she's a doll too when you get your hands on her book!) So how sweet is it to see a beautifully styled shot with food props I didn't have to drive around town to find or mess up my kitchen at 10pm to bake? I feels a little like this...

But what I'm most grateful for is that these photos feel so much more like Eclair Lips, and like me. You know that feeling when you decorate your place just how you want to (Ha! Take that roommate/hubby/cat! Just kidding... Sorta.) Well, it's like that. So weird that it happened when I let someone else do it for me, isn't it? I've already started upgrading even more things now that I have these amazing pics in hand (hello new biz cards and gorgeous customer thank you cards to slip into your orders!) and I can't wait to spread the excitement that they've brought to my brand all around!