The Rachel Allene Backstory Part One
In recent weeks, I have been asked a lot about the beginning of my business and product shop. And truth be told, it’s something I think about a lot, but I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and write about it. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
During my last semester of college (Spring of 2014), I was starting to pursue my dreams of photography. I had always loved using a camera and taking photos, but I was just starting to think that I could maybe get paid for it. I was recently married and my husband and I weren’t making much money. I knew that I needed to get a job after graduation, but there weren’t many options for the degree I was graduating with. If we moved out of town, I could have found a job, but with his job we were unable to move (and didn’t want to!). So, I found a job at the local Chamber of Commerce. At the same time, I was second-shooting weddings with our couple friends who had recently started their photography business. I also decided I wanted to take an online calligraphy course. Lettering was something that interested me, but I always had terrible handwriting. I started posting about photography and custom lettering on Facebook and slowly found some family friends who wanted to pay me for my work. This reality convinced me that I was ready to start a business.
In hindsight, I was totally crazy. However, my husband and I prayed a lot about it and we both strongly felt that I was supposed to quit my job and then start a business. Most people have a business plan or business bank account before they start their business.
I quit my job and in February of 2015, I “started” my business. This looked like me spending my time researching about starting a creative business, practicing my lettering, and creating my business Instagram account.
To be honest, I wasn’t good at what I did. I didn’t have a printer. My laptop barely worked. I couldn’t write with a calligraphy nib without tracing it.
I didn’t know how to digitize my lettering.
But here I was, a business owner!
One BIG thing that made this possible was the fact that I had a tribe of supporters. My husband, family, and friends all supported me 110%. They were my cheerleaders and helped spread the word about me.
My products and photography weren’t very good, but people believed in me.
Most of 2015 was spent learning about owning a business, organizing my systems (getting a bank account, printer, etc.), marketing my products, developing a brand, and working on growing my skills. I also has started to focus on styling photography for my hand-lettering. I realized how much I loved it and decided that I wanted to offer styling or lifestyle photography instead of portrait photography.
At the end of 2015, I had an idea to make some hand-lettered mugs for Christmas. But I no idea how to do it.
I talked to one of my local business friends and she helped me by creating some vinyls for mugs. I bought a hodge-podge of mugs, adhered the vinyl to them, took some product images, and started marketing them. They sold! And people wanted more.
This was the first major turning point in my business.