Women With Purpose | Interview with Lauren Carnes

I am so excited to announce a continue with the new blog series for the Rachel Allene blog! This past year, I have learned so much about growing a business, building a brand, increasing online sales, growing a mailing list, etc. through the influence and expertise of other highly creative and talented women. They have encouraged me, inspired me, and taught me to be fearless in my pursuits. They run their businesses with intention, purpose, and with a heart to give back. I am excited to start sharing some interviews with these women. They will offer insight, real talk, and actionable steps for growing a successful and profitable business (while making a difference!)

Today's interview is with one of my Instagram friends and I am so thankful for her! We began our relationship on Instagram, which has turned into Skype dates, phone calls, late night texts, and just random talk about life and business. She is full of spunk, wisdom, PR tips, and good food posts. Lauren Carnes is a foodie, and she always makes me hungry when I watch her Instagram stories. 

I hope you enjoy my interview with Lauren Carnes, the creative force behind Lauren Carnes Photography, food photography extraordinaire, and yoga pant loving lady. She's truly the best. 

1. How long have you been in business?

I launched in May 2014!

2. Describe your business and brand

In May 2014, Lauren Carnes Photography began as a wedding photography business dedicated to capturing the stories of joyful, legacy-focused couples. Over the course of the past couple years, I've built the food and branding photography side of my business and have absolutely loved aligning my passion for building up others, authentic storytelling and all things food. As of recently, the business has begun transforming into something new, different and exciting incorporating all of my careers and loves into one. With a background in marketing, public relations and social media management, I had the opportunity to build strategic messaging and share stories of companies making an impact in their industry. Now, I'm partnering alongside incredible brands in the creative and food industries to help them craft their unique voice, and align all copy and visual communications to build a brand that serves them and their ideal client with ease and heart.

3. What is the biggest struggle you face with your business?

Saying yes to everything. I want to be able to do it all. With "Responsibility" as my number one Strength on the StrengthsFinder test, for me, my yeses are absolutely yeses. If I say yes, I'm going to follow through to the best of my ability, even if it makes me crazy. I love to be able to serve others, so saying yes comes easy, however, too many yeses mean it's easy for me to overcommit. As a result, I find I am not actually serving anyone well, because I must fill up my own bucket before I can fill the bucket of others.

4. How do you overcome these struggles?

A dear friend and client of mine, Natalie Franke, once shared that: "You are building a business in order to build a life. It’s not the other way around." In saying yes to everything that came my way, I quickly learned that in building a business, life was getting left in the dust. In an effort to combat that, I've created more boundaries in my business and personal life, and set intentional, focused goals that help me map out the steps to build a life I love. Some tangible ways I do so are: • Creating a clear vision for my "why" in business and letting that define my ideal jobs and clients • Blocking off weekends for important dates, vacations and free time months in advance to ensure I have margin for family and friends • Dedicating time to "me" - whether that looks like evening yoga, a relaxing Saturday morning making brunch, or wine-ing down with my husband on the couch, scheduling in and saying "yes" to the most important things help me be full, whole and healthy for the other "yeses" in my business.

5. What is a big dream you have for your business?

More than anything my dream is to love, serve and encourage people right where they are in that very moment - whether that is by helping build community through Rising Tide Society, crafting brand and communications strategy for incredible creatives, or capturing an amazing story through food photography, each element of my business comes back to the dream of helping others build a business where they thrive, not just survive. And something I've learned is that occasionally I only discover my "dream" once I am actually experiencing it. There are aspects of my brand I love so wholeheartedly I never could have dreamed of if I tried. I'm consistently in awe of the ways this business transforms and the journey I'm a part of!

6. What is your best advice for brand new business owners?

Do "you." Nothing resonates more than seeing someone fully embrace who they are and the path they are called to. You'll see what "she" is doing, and likely question if you're measuring up, but one thing I can tell you: you are absolutely more than enough, regardless of where you are right this moment. If you're living out your individual strengths and owning your unique skill sets and personality, you're exactly where you need to be! If you've never read the chapter in Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" about Little Brother and his lobster costume, run to your local bookstore and pop that puppy open immediately. And then... be the lobster with all your heart.

7. How do you recharge? What do you love doing outside of work?

Cooking & traveling with my husband, without a doubt. Pour me a huge glass of wine, pull out a new recipe, and let's go to town crafting up a delicious dish. And if my husband and I are not cooking at home, then we're likely out experiencing a new city... exploring, eating, and just "doing life" together. To me, there is nothing better!

8. How do you ditch the hustle and embrace grace?

Truly, I'm still learning. It's so hard, right?! Growing up, I was always one to hustle hard and beat myself up when I was not quite perfect (ahem... like anyone is ever perfect?). However, more recently I'm learning that there is no joy in that way of life. Instead, seeking gratitude in all things and surrounding myself with an amazing community has been life changing for me. Building genuine relationships with other creatives in similar seasons of life has helped me discover the strengths I can celebrate, and weaknesses I can recognize (and show myself grace in)... and therefore, that I don't have to be everything to everyone. Through this, I'm learning that I am the best "me" when I let hustle go and let grace in.

9. What's your best productivity tip?

Write a specific type of email to more than 3 clients? Create a template for it! You'll be amazed to see how much time you save yourself over the course of a year by creating templates for common conversations and FAQs for your brand. I love to save my templates in Gmail's "Canned Responses" and Honeybook's email and survey templates! And bonus tip: I'm obsessed with TeuxDeux for an online calendar/to do list that syncs to your phone and computer. I've used it for several years and still swear by it! I'm of the mantra: "If I don't write it down, it doesn't happen." so TeuxDeux allows me to write down my to do's from anywhere at any time, so I can tackle them quickly and efficiently when I'm at my desk!

10. To you, what does it mean to run a heartfelt business?

To me, running a heartfelt business means intentionally creating a business that fulfills my "why," and living authentically to who I am and what my ideal client needs. It means loving people well, serving them daily, and encouraging them in the small and big moments. It means taking your words and actions to heart and knowing that the work we do has the potential to make an impact beyond the realms of my client work or community.

11. What's your biggest pet peeve?

In business? Spammy Instagram comments. Nobody actually thinks we believe those are real, right? In life? Unnecessary noise. Example: TV on in the other room and no one watching it, my dog barking at me because she's frustrated I won't give her dinner... at 2pm... people honking their horns in traffic, etc

12. What's your go-to celebration when something big happens with your business?

Text my husband with way too many geeking out emojis, and then share the news with my biz besties! Then likely a "treat yo'self" night for drinks or a fun dinner to celebrate!

With a background in marketing, public relations and social media management, Lauren has always been a lover of telling great stories. For 6 years she worked alongside international brands including Nike, Airstream, the John Maxwell Company and Chick-fil-A in defining unique elements of their stories and serving as their brand voice through digital, print and in-person engagements. In May of 2014, Lauren launched Lauren Carnes Photography and began incorporating visual storytelling through branding, food and wedding photography, while also coaching and consulting creatives on photography and effective brand building to fit their unique voice. Lauren partners with creatives and food-focused businesses to align communications strategy and create a cohesive brand through copywriting and visual communications. With a passion for fostering community, Lauren serves on the Rising Tide Society Creative Council and leads the Rising Tide Society TuesdaysTogether group in Augusta, GA. When she's not photographing or creating engaging brand strategy, she can be found spending time with her husband, Chip, and their fur-baby, Sophie. Lauren loves to cook, host people for dinner (or brunch!), and explore new cities.

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Business, StrategyRachel Allene