I Am A Business, Man | 2013 in Review

In the past year my business has evolved and grown. I have learned so much along the way, made mistakes, signed new clients and even traveled. That’s my favorite….people paying me to travel to film and photograph them. Or being paid to travel to speak as a keynote speaker. I love that. Today, I just want to share a few highlights from some various client projects.

IMAN COSMETICS X MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

I had the opportunity to work with Iman Cosmetics again in 2013. You can see the video here and read the behind the scenes here. 

"Motown the Musical and Sheena LaShay"

What are three lessons I learned?

  1. Nothing goes as planned. Cultivate flexibility, resourceful and learn to let it go. We filmed the video in a uber tiny dressing room with very limited lighting during a time when actors were warming up for one of the shows that night. We have a strict one hour deadline, lots of materials to cover and because its a union theater, I could ONLY bring in my camera. I could not use any of my lighting. Ahhhhh. Just ahhhhhh. Even still, we all worked with what we had and we produced the video in an hour while the stage manager was saying, “1 hour to places” on the speakers.
  2. Smile. When you have a client on set and the people who pay your bills on set and they are watching the monitor or conducting part of the interview, smile and be pleasant. No matter what. Be professional. I like that in the image above you see both myself smiling and the client. That’s good and it was not staged. My 2nd shooter for the project captured that moment during filming. It makes me happy.
  3. Preplan and plan and plan. Knowing there were limitations for this shoot, knowing so many factors would be happening outside my control…I must have sent 50 million questions to my client. Even though I couldn’t prep for everything and had no clue what the set looked like before the shoot…as much as I could I asked every other possible question.

CRAFTS + CUPCAKES DIY WORKSHOPS

You can check out previous Crafts + Cupcakes post here.

"Crafts and Cupcakes" - sheenalashay.com

What is one lesson I learned?

  1. Just put it out there. I never intended to host craft parties every two months. I never intended to secure sponsors. I just never intended for any of this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the point was to do a t-shirt craft with one friend and it grew on its own. Even though it was just friends hanging out, I wanted a cute little flyer. And since, I use social media to show all the cute stuff I do, I shared that flyer and tweeted about it. And someone saw it and was interested and offered to sponsor it. And someone else saw it and bought a ticket. And that was great. So when you have an idea, play with that idea and put it out there. You never know what will come of it. Just put it out there. Stop being afraid. Stop pussy footing around shit. Stop caring what people think. Stop stopping yourself and just put it out there.

BERNADETTE PLEASANT – VIP CLIENTS

In 2013 Bernadette and I teamed up for more adventures. She had two more “Moving Meditation” parties. (Video soon to come.) We filmed Femme,  Ageless Grace“No Quiero Nada Mas” and A Bright Future.

"Sensual Movement" -sheenalashay.comWhat is one lesson I learned?

  1. Push yourself. I have worked with Bernadette so many times that I know her. I know how she moves, I can anticipate what she’s going to say, I know her standards and even before she was my client, she was and is one of my good friends. (She rocks.) Anyways, knowing this…on each shoot I look for ways to improve. We shot our 2nd video together in 2012 at a studio and while the dancers were amazing, the set wasn’t. So we shot our latest videos at a studio that had a better ambiance. I pushed myself to try new angles, new coloring and new stuff in general. Don’t get stagnant in your work even if you have a signature to what you do. Each project should be an improvement over the last one.

C.R.E.A.T.E. RETREATS

I host yearly artist retreats called C.R.E.A.T.E. You can view our collaborative photo album here. 
 

What is one lesson I learned?

  1. Just breathe. Last year it took me more time than usual to find a location for our retreat. We ended up renting a house in the South Hamptons. Our retreat in previous years has been in the same gorgeous home in Beaver Creek, Colorado on an exclusive mountain. (But we outgrew it.) So it took me longer to find a place in NY that fit our budget. And we had someone drop out last minute. And we lost one of the cars we were relying on. So I also had to rent a car…which I had not factored into the budget. And there was the “grocery shopping apocalypse.” Well, it wasn’t the end of the world…but ummm, never go group grocery shopping with eight women. NEVER. Aside from our snafus, there were no breakdowns, there were no fist fights or crying fits. We’re all classy ladies and we are sensible and we know ourselves enough and we remember to breathe. Just breathe. If you are breathing, you are alive. It’s okay.

STERLING SWEETS

Sterling Sweets is actually one of the sponsors for Crafts + Cupcakes. In addition to sponsoring the event, she also is a paying client.
 "Sterling Sweets" - sheenalashay.com

What is one lesson I learned?

  1. Over deliver. Do 5% or 15% more of what your client is paying for. Over deliver on service. Present your work ahead of schedule. Send them a link to an awesome article that references something you talked about. While filming, also talk about marketing. If they are open, provide feedback on their website. OVER DELIVER. It goes a long way. At one point Sterling Sweets made a comment on facebook about how I helped her business grow in more ways than I would ever know. She hired me to simply film a video. That statement means a lot to me.

SHELL’S LOFT

I do a lot with Shell’s Loft. For one, she is one of the sponsors for Crafts + Cupcakes. She’s an underground bed & breakfast and a boutique event space that you should be using. Just this past weekend, I had another photoshoot in her space!

"Event Rental Spaces in NYC" -SheenaLaShay.com

What is one lesson I learned?

  1. Track everything. In addition to photographing and filming various events for Shell, last year I meet with Shell one-on-one on a weekly basis consulting on business, marketing, public relations and more. She pretty much received my VIP package for all things “Small Business.” I don’t like that work. I like “boutique business” or “independent business.” In music they are called “Indie Bands” not “Small Bands”. Anywho, the lesson I learned was to track everything. I created lesson plans, homework, and more. Everything we did, every idea, every website link, every assignment was carefully tracked. This helped her and it helped me. Now I have a package of my services. Now, I could possibly have an e-book or e-course. Now, basically I have the “Sheena” brand of Boutique Business Consulting. TRACK EVERYTHING!

WILD MAGICAL WOMAN

I have some grand ideas about the “Wild Magical Woman” and how I want to see this part of my business grow. I ended up being able to do a beta test of the live events by partnering with Whitney Freya of The Artist Within for our Wild Magical Woman – The Creative Spirit  workshop. YAY!

"Wild Magical Woman" -sheenalashay.com

What is one lesson I learned?

  1. Less About You. More About Them. I believe its important to think about yourself and yes, when it comes to business you need to know, “what’s in it for me?” Unfortunately that mentality starts to get icky when it just seems like everyone has an agenda and not an authentic intention. I feel as if I can tell the difference. One day Whitney followed me on twitter. I saw her name pop up as a new follower, so I clicked the link to her website and LOVED IT. I didn’t feel the need to put up a “Link List” post on my website talking about her to get the traffic on my website first or whatever people do to ensure that even in promoting someone else, they are actually promoting themselves. I simply tweeted her website link directly and said, “I can’t pick my favorite post. You must read them all.” It wasn’t a sponsored tweet. It was a heart tweet. And many tweets later and a few direct messages later and lots of emails later, in less than two months Whitney and I created a 2-day workshop called “Wild Magical Woman – The Creative Spirit.” One authentic tweet of love lead to an event where tickets were $250+. Interesting how that works.

WRAP UP

I had many other clients this year too. I flew to Seattle to film Pole for the Soul. (That came about from simply thanking them for sharing another video I did for a different client. Literally, I went to her business facebook page and said “Thank you for sharing my video. I’m glad to know it resonates with you.” Later she emailed me and later I flew to Seattle to film her company.) I didn’t pitch shit. I didn’t send her an email with my rates. I didn’t link back to my website. I just said thank you and later she hired me.

I filmed a few more “Femme Fatale” videos. I learned that I have to be even more strategic when partnering with brands or bigger companies. They are not all equal in business matters and some people….you should not work with. But the ladies I filmed through that series were amazing. But I also learned, I really don’t want to work with clients who won’t sign a model release. I need to showcase my work. Not keep it a secret. Even if its pole dancing and boudoir.

"Boudoir Portrait Photography" -sheenalashay.com

I did a boudoir photoshoot and a boudoir video shoot in 2013. They were my own experiments. I had to buy nice bedding instead of using my own and I had to learn more about directing and posing. I had to learn new ways to edit. I had to hire a Creative Director to work with me. I had to invest money and time into my own experiment. (That happens. You have to do that sometimes.) I booked paying clients because of those experiments and I haven’t even released the Stella video yet. Just the teaser made people hire me.

Overall, the lessons in business is to experiment and play. To come from a place of authentic intention. To foster great relationships with my clients. To push myself. To work my way through mistakes, hiccups or situations when they don’t go as planned and still have grace, poise and dignity about me. I know its important to invest hard earned money into my company. I know clients love when you over deliver. And there are some connecting dots if you look at the selected client list above. Sterling Sweets and Shell’s Loft sponsor Crafts + Cupcakes. Sterling Sweet is a also a client and now Shell’s Loft. (How did I get a sponsor to become a paying client? That’s a post for another day.) Wild Magical Woman was hosted at Shell’s Loft. Bernadette, if you read my Femme post linked above, is the link between myself and Iman Cosmetics. Basically build a NETWORK OF AWESOME full of amazing people. Learn to work with that network. Partner on things with your network. But don’t be exclusive. Open yourself up. I did that with Whitney and we got a 2 day workshop out of it. I did that with Pole for the Soul and got a flight to Seattle out of it.

Just play. That’s how I formed my business. Every day I play…and also educate myself.

I had someone write me this year and ask for my help in business. Basically they wanted my VIP Business Consulting services but did not want to pay and they also said they weren’t going to do the research themselves. Every day I pay in one way or another for my business and I am constantly researching and educating myself. I have not figured out how to do absolutely nothing and yet live in abundance. I’m not sure what secret that woman knows that I do not. So that’s my biggest piece of advice….play, pay and learn! If you can’t do all three of those things…I honestly don’t know what to tell you.  

 

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Showing 2 comments
  • Adastra @Flexines
    Reply

    This is my third time RE-reading this, which will give you an idea of how valuable I find it!

    I agree that you have to play, pay, and learn… to a certain extent. I honestly believe that you can begin to build a business with minimal financial investment, and in some cases it is necessary. For me as a college student I invest in my education full time–there is little play in my budget for paying for my site design and all the frosting I’d like for Flexines. It definitely has required a lot of extra investment in terms of time and thinking. I thrive on creative problem solving, learning challenges, and plain old hard work so my approach does not carry over well for others. I believe in paying for professional services to make my site grow and when it is possible I fully plan to; so while it is necessary to pay, I think sometimes that takes time.

    • Sheena LaShay
      Reply

      @Adastra, Thanks for sharing. Your comment makes me realize I have to articulate better. By “paying”…I mean you either have to pay with your money or you have to pay with your time or something. Like in the example, the women did not want to pay me nor did she want to invest her own time in learning how to do it. You can’t have both. So when I don’t have the money to pay for some part of my business, I pay with my time or in other ways. In that way, I think we both are on the same page! RE: my site…for 7 years I used a free website via blogger and did what I could do to improve…then when I had the money, I also paid someone. There’s a balance to it all.

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