Stax Cycle Club, One Year Later

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Stax: steez to the max. (For those who don't speak hip hop, steez means "plain ol style with ease.") From the minute you walk through the doors of this slightly hidden spin studio to the moment you walk out of your class, the experience at Stax is filled with warm smiles from the front desk staff, the scent of that season's blue-coloured candle, a oddly comfortable combination of butt kicking classes and heart-centred encouragement from the city's top instructors and a hard-earned high-five (and the occasional hug) at the end of class.

Stax is a spin experience like no other that I have tried. I have been spinning for many years, and if you know me, you'll likely been annoyed by my slightly evangelistic attitude toward this workout. Nowhere else in this city have I felt more positivity, unity and community than I have here. Since Stax will be celebrating their official ONE YEAR next week, I thought it apropos to sit down with co-founders Emily and Katie to chat more about their experience as entrepreneurs since Stax's launch.

It has officially been one year since you opened the door to Stax. How has the last year been?

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have to be so mentally prepared to take it on. But the rewards are massive. When we see instructors training other instructors, there's this moment of "Look at what we built!" That makes up for all the sucky stuff. When you have those thoughts where you wonder why you did this, those shiny moments come up and you know that you were meant to do this.

Doing this together was also one of the best decisions we made. You need that other person to bounce ideas off, to keep things going when you need to give yourself a break and to keep you sane. You need someone with you who is in it, who feels the same emotions, who understands it. And Katie and I have different skill sets, and they complements each other. We don't try to do the things we aren't good at - we work well together.

What have been some of your favorite moments?

We loved the TKW Ride with the Toni-Khon Woodward Foundation. They were amazing to work with, and we have built such a special relationship with them. Toni Khon was a an incredible girl, loved spin. After she passed suddenly, they started doing charity rides to help fund Toni's House which was going to support women in need. They did a ride in Calgary, and a bunch of studios got together to help out. It was such a meaningful, teary-eyed moment that you never forget.

Another highlight was our Britney Challenge. We decided to do a challenge that was polar opposite to what anyone else was doing. It was performance based, and we weren't going to just show up and put a checkmark in a box. No, you need to work for it. We just said, "you know what, you show up and put in the work we're going to send you to Vegas." That was a such a unique approach, and it was brainstormed by the team. What I love about this place is the instructors have a huge role in our business and how we market it. Our instructors are so talented and our job is to make their ideas come to life. And so they feel like their ideas are truly valued because we make it happen.

The other one is Ride the Roof. We had two instructors teach during the event. Mel G, who is one of the most legitimate, well-known and credible instructors in the city, falls high up there. And for one of our newer instructors, Shane (who ROCKED the show at Ride the Roof), this event helped him build his confidence and motivation as an instructor. I'm so proud of those two.

How has your community evolved since Stax started?

I think for me and all of our instructors, Stax has created a whole new purpose in life. Katie and I are athletes, and we are comfortable in this team environment. There was a period of time in my life where I wasn't really a part of much, and I didn't feel connected. It's crazy that we created this little circle here. It's bigger than that, too. We have so many wonderful friends - Sweat Science, Junction 9, Barre Body Studio - in Inglewood and are working together to create the most amazing hub. I also think Inglewood is like "Inglewood up to no good." It's kind of has this badass, old-school vibe to it, and that's what I like about it.

You've already touched on this, but how have you grown as entrepreneurs? What are some of the biggest lessons you can share for other entrepreneurs?

We think the biggest thing is resilience, and you need to have thick skin. You need to be ready for the criticisms, for the opportunists who might take your ideas. Our business was trademarked by a competitor right before we opened just to mess with us and force us out of this industry. We have never felt so personally attacked than we did in the moment we found out. The silver lining is that we now know more about trademarks and branding that I ever thought I would. We ended up changing our name, and we wouldn't call ourselves anything else.

The other lesson is invest your time, energy and resources wisely. Spend time doing what you can and outsource the rest. 

What do you think has set Stax apart from the other spin studios in Calgary?

Our spin program is tough. We expect our instructors to have a solid understanding of the program. Once an instructor has shown us that they can deliver consistently, we give them a lot of freedom to create their own class experience. Our classes need to be tough, I want people drenched when they walk through those doors, but I want our instructors to put their own personality in their classes.

We also don't try to be something that we aren't. It's real. We know that life is great sometimes, and we celebrate that. But we also know that life sucks sometimes, so we are going to sweat it out together.

What can we expect from Stax in the next year?

Lots of growth. We have 20 instructors in training right now. We will be building up our schedule, adding more evening and weekend classes.

We have a cool event coming up in October. We are running a campaign with The Sweat Science called Building an Army of Strong Women. It's all about empowering each other, building a community. We have guest instructors, doing rides with some local charities and some other fun stuff!

And we might be having another challenge in November, so make sure to connect with us to be the first to know!

Connect with Stax:

Website: www.staxcycleclub.com

Facebook: Stax Cycle Club

Instagram: @staxcycleclub

5 Reasons A Business Coach is Your Best Investment Yet

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You’ve invested everything you have into this, your baby. Your passion project and the thing you love most is built on all-nighters and the last dollars in your savings account. You have given your small business everything you’ve got. Now you wait. And while you wait for the storm, clouds of fear roll in. Then, it starts to rain the doubts every entrepreneur dreads.

What if I fail? What if I’m not ready? What if I’m doing it wrong?

It feels like you’re flying blind into an abyss of unanswerable questions. And you are. Lucky for you there are some secret weapons to help you on the rollercoaster of Entrepreneurship. The first being…

HIRE A BUSINESS COACH!

A Business Coach is like having a silent and zero equity partner. Your coach is trained to focus on the individual (you!) who runs the business, not the business itself. They are adept at raising an entrepreneur’s self-awareness, pinpointing what lights them on fire and fan their flames into a wild fire of creative strategy. The job of a business coach is to transport their client outside of their comfort zone to achieve results they never dreamed of as a solopreneur.

Not convinced? Here are five reasons a Business Coach is your best investment yet.

A Business Coach can give you the competitive advantage

Business can be cutthroat, but no one is doing what you do the way you do it. A Business Coach will focus on what makes your business unique by identifying your core values. Your core values are the reasons you do everything you do – they are the foundation of what you stand for. When you are able to act from a self-aware position, you will generate business from a place of honesty and authenticity. Who will be moved by your business when you’re honest and authentic? The clients you WANT. The business and projects you WANT. You will live the life you WANT.

A Business Coach identifies blind spots, strengths + weaknesses

A Business Coach listens deeply to what you say, but also to what you omit. They are like curious children with an incessant “why?” Business Coaches are able to pierce through the stories you tell yourself to reveal the hidden thought patterns that hold you back. For an entrepreneur to be successful, they must be willing to explore the areas of their business that are not only flourishing but withering. A Business Coach acts as a flashlight illuminating the darkest corners of your life that you dare not go alone. They provide an entrepreneur with a better vision to see their own solutions.

A Business Coach provides crystal clarity on your goals

The entrepreneurial mind is a beautiful web that catches and weaves ideas into existence, and so you started a business. That’s a completely different job to your creative work and now you’re tasked with running an administrative ship in order to share your work. That’s a lot of pressure! A Business Coach can help move you to intentional strategic action, and prioritize your needs to drive business, and support sustainable and purposeful growth. What do you want to achieve and how can we get you there?

A Business Coach holds you accountable

As an entrepreneur, you already have a blossoming creative mind but how is your execution? Entrepreneurs are their own bosses and report to no one, so it can be easy to fudge deadlines. A Business Coach acts as a reminder for the promises you make to yourself. A Business Coach does not give you the luxury of promise-breaking, but they do not judge you if you miss the boat. Rather, a Business Coach uses accountability as one more opportunity to get you crystal clear on what REALLY matters.

A Business Coach helps you get unstuck + find motivation

Creatives are sorely aware of the mental roadblocks that come with sharing pieces of their soul. Sometimes the well runs shallow and you need a top up. A Business Coach is equipped to ask you powerful questions and offer up space to explore: “what’s really important to you?”, “What beliefs do you hold that limit you?” These questions have the potential to open Pandora’s box and bring you to inspiration you never thought possible.

Having a Business Coach is like having a best friend who is 100% focused on making you the most self-aware, successful and best version of yourself.

Business coaches create a playground for you to dabble in ideas you may not feel comfortable exploring with loved ones — for fear of judgment or unintentional discouragement. Coaches aren’t afraid to tell you the hard truths and will challenge you in new ways to keep you moving towards your bigger picture.

A Business Coach can be your business’ secret weapon, the rabbit up your sleeve, your greatest ally. Who wouldn’t want that?


About The Author

Kimberley Dawn is a professionally trained and certified Small Business + Life Coach through The Coaches Training Institute.

She works with Trapped Professionals, Creative Entrepreneurs + Small Business Owners to help them take positive action in their lives and businesses. Kimberley Dawn co-creates strategic + meaningful roadmaps to guide clients through the minefield of entrepreneurship.

Kimberley Dawn can help you feel like you matter. Because you do. She can help you build something that matters. Because you can.

www.kdandyou.com

Feature Friday: Timeraiser Calgary

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I have the privilege of featuring a special community event this week: Timeraiser. Timeraiser is a unique program connecting nonprofit organizations to skilled volunteers in their communities. In 2017 Timeraiser is Timeraiser150, a Canada 150 signature program. To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, each province will host a Timeraiser150 party. Timeraiser150 attendees the opportunity to earn a piece of artwork by volunteering time, not dollars.

Tell me a little bit about Timeraiser.

Timeraiser150 is a Canada 150 Signature Project supporting emerging Canadian artists and non-profit organizations.  10 Timeraiser150 parties in 10 provinces allow Canadians to bid on original art by investing volunteer time, not dollars, to causes they care about.  Each Timeraiser150 pulls out all the stops to throw a great party - from live performances to delicious local food and drink. Timeraiser is truly a celebration of creativity and community!

Online150 is an online extension of Timeraiser150.  Through Online150 Canadians from coast to coast can purchase art by volunteering their time with a non-profit organization in their local community.

Artists are paid for their work, non-profits find skilled volunteers, Canadians find meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Through Timeraiser150 and Online150, Framework aims to collectively raise more than 150,000 volunteer hours for non-profits across Canada in 2017, connecting Canadians to their communities and the causes they care about.

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How did Timeraiser start?

The event was started back in 2004 in the hopes of bridging several common gaps in the art and volunteer community; offering a new market entrance to local emerging artists, making original artwork more attainable to those in the community, and connecting non-profits with skilled volunteers. Due to the event’s success at ticking off all 3 areas, the event has continued to happen annually, and has grown across the country. The first Timeraiser party was in Toronto, and in 2015, Calgary hosted its 10th Timeraiser event!

What inspires you most about your community?

What’s really great about the Calgary event is the diversity you see in all aspects of the event and the participants. This year especially, we’ve got a wide range of art and mediums; photos, paintings, 3-Dimensional work, and everything in-between.

In addition to the art, the non-profits that participate in the event showcase the vast diversity in the Calgary community. (Non-profits can be seen at http://www.timeraiser.ca/calgary).  The non-profits represent interests such as the arts, wildlife and animal welfare, community well-being, access to athletics, and youth engagement in STEM.

It’s the pull of the artists and non-profits that have attracted such a young, vibrant, and diverse crowd year after year, and we anticipate this trend will continue for 2017. You’d be hard pressed to attend the event and not find at least one piece of art you like, and one non-profit you’d love to volunteer your time to.

Why should people attend a Timeraiser event?

I think one of the biggest recurring themes I’ve seen with Timeraiser is the possibility for success when you’re willing to try something new and/or outside of your comfort zone. So often we hear about attendees who start volunteering for a new nonprofit that they speak with and learn about at the event, and it winds up being such a great match for both involved. The attendee finds a new, rewarding volunteer outlet, and the non-profit finds a much-valued volunteer. So many of these stories and opportunities wouldn’t have happened had the attendee not been willing to reach out to the non-profits at our event. Same thing goes for our artists – many artists have gone on to return to Timeraiser year after year, after a ‘let’s give this a try’ application for their first event.

Tell me three fun facts about Timeraiser.

Since 2003, Timeraiser has:

  • Hosted 73 events across Canada
  • Invested $1,048,851 in the careers of emerging Canadian artists
  • Raised 156,602 volunteer hours from art winter pledges

How can people get in touch?

Website: http://www.timeraiser.ca/calgary 

Twitter: @TimeraiserYYC

Instagram: @Timeraiser

Facebook: @Timeraiser

Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!

Feature Friday: Sarah Beau Photography

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Sarah is one of Calgary's best and sweetest wedding photographers. With a keen eye for the perfect shot, Sarah is a master behind the lens and a rising star in YYC. Learn more about the inspiration behind the beautiful photography and what keep Sarah close to her community.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?

I’m Sarah, the gal behind the camera at Sarah Beau Photo here in YYC. I have the coolest job in the whole world that allows me to be a part of but also capture some of the best days of people’s lives. I’m a professional wedding photographer, and documenting love is my jam.sarah beau photography

What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?

I went to school for photography, and when I was finished I made a point to try every genre of photography to find my niche. I don’t think I ever thought I would be here photographing weddings, I figured it would be mundane. However, after one wedding I was hooked. The way love shows up in images, it sets my soul on fire. Watching two humans interact on such an immeasurable scale makes my heart happiest.

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What inspires you most about your community?

Calgary is such an amazing city, the diversity in the couples I get to work with, but also the diverse locations I get to photograph at. The constant assortment of venues keeps me inspired to take new images, to find new ways to photograph and to connect with my couples on a deeper level than just a client.

If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never compromise your values to collect a pay cheque.

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Tell me three fun facts about yourself or your organization.

  1. Ohh! Jinx, my dog, and I have matching tattoos. I have Zzz.. on my arm and she has it in her ear. Because friends that nap together stay together.
  2. I have Narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes me to fall asleep randomly. Fortunately, with diagnosis and a healthy lifestyle, it’s been managed and I haven’t “randomly” fallen asleep since high school.
  3. Two Phobias: Feet & Birds, and don’t even get me started on bird feet.

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How can people get in touch?

Yes, come hang out online with me!

www.sarahbeauphoto.com

Instagram : @sarahbeauphoto

Facebook : Sarah Beau Photography

Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!

xo _ britt

Feature Friday: Gypsy Skulls

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When I saw the name Gypsy Skulls pop up on my Instagram nearly a year ago, I was hooked. I even wrote a mini piece about her in this article on my fall essentials. Ayla is the beautiful artist behind the company, who not only has a creative eye but a sweet soul and an infectious kindness. Read on to learn more about her art, her inspiration and community.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?

I am the owner and artist behind Gypsy Skulls:; pressed flower art, apparel and decor. I was born and raised here in Calgary, AB and my partner and I are now raising 2 babies of our own in this beautiful city. My background lays in Kinesiology and prior to Gypsy Skulls, I worked as an Exercise Physiologist for the Canadian Sport Institute. When I had my first baby, I started doing a little bit more with Gypsy Skulls while on maternity leave and before I knew it, a full blown business had blossomed (pun intended)!

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What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?

Gypsy Skulls was manifested while I was working on a Masters degree in something completely unrelated. I needed a creative outlet and had my hand in making jewelry, crocheting etc when I came across a beautiful rendition of a Sugar Skull done in all water color florals. The flowers looked so real and beautiful it had me thinking that a Skull made of real flowers would be incredible....well it wasn't. Not the first time anyways. It looked a lot like Hannibal Lecter. But I worked hard at the skill of pressing flowers and working with them and as time went on I was able to tap into a creative side that I didn't even know existed.

I am definitely inspired by nature. Flowers are so incredibly unique and an absolute wonder to work with. I am also inspired by our incredible community of entrepreneurs who love and support each other. I am blown away by the support that Calgary has to offer small businesses and honored to be a part of this community.

What inspires you most about your community?

As I eluded to before, the on-going support that the community of Calgary has provided me with as a small business is incredible. People are shifting in how they shop and are excited to support local entrepreneurs; it is very inspiring to witness that shift in our culture.

Gypsy Skulls If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don't be afraid to say no. This took me a really long time to learn but knowing when to say no is really important to your brand and your business. Set goals for your company, know your brand and stay true to yourself. If a request isn't in line with those aspects, it is OK to say no.

Tell me three fun facts about yourself.

  1. I hate naming fun or interesting facts about myself! I always draw a complete blank.
  2. I adore cycling. It's taken a bit of a back seat since I had babies, but I have gone on many incredible adventures on my bike, including a summer that I rode across Canada (6000km).
  3. Wine is my spirit animal.

Gypsy Skulls

How can people get in touch?

Photo Credit: @lindsay_skeans
Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!

xo _ britt

Skills Entrepreneurs Should Have to Build A Successful Business

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Alright, guys, let's get real for a second. How many times have you asked yourself whether you are cut out for entrepreneurship? How many times have you questioned your ability to withstand the highs, lows and everything in between? I've owned my business for just over one year (and I totally missed my business's birthday! :O), and I have asked myself these questions AT LEAST once per month. It's natural for us as business owners to question our qualifications and abilities to build a business.

Here's the thing: there are countless Gary Vee videos, inspirational quotes and success stories to make entrepreneurship look glamorous. And while inspiration and passion are important to sustaining a business, there are a few skills entrepreneurs should have to build a successful business.

Managing money

A business with poor cash flow isn't going to last long term. It's crucial to the health (and wealth) of your business that you know how to budget and understand exactly where your money is going and how to take control of your cash flow.

If you choose to do your own accounting, try an accounting software like Quickbooks that can make it easy to manage your money. If you choose to retain an accountant, be sure to ask questions to understand your numbers.

Learn how to read an income statement, balance sheet and a cash flow statement. The more you know your numbers, the more control you will have over your money - and the more you can use that to your advantage.

Skills Entrepreneurs Should Have to Build A Successful Business

Managing stress

Building a business is an incredibly stressful venture. Entrepreneurs experience many different types of stress: financial, mental, emotional and social. And while stress can be effective in getting stuff done, it can have a negative impact on our health and well-being. In fact, mental health issues affect 72% of entrepreneurs, according to this University of California study.

It's important to manage your stress appropriately, so you can deal with the inevitable and natural frustrations that arise. Some of my favorite strategies include:

  • Reach out to a support network of entrepreneurs.
  • Set boundaries between work and play.
  • Set aside time for play.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Reach out to a professional.

READ MORE: Entrepreneurship and Mental Health: Breaking the Silence

I would add here that an important skill to learn is resiliency. Businesses go through ups and downs, and having strategies in place to weather the rollercoaster will fuel you every season, even when things don't look amazing.

Building relationships

Whether you are service or product-based, relationships are the bedrock of a great business. Every day, you are building relationships with clients, customers, suppliers, vendors and investors. Learning how to navigate the intricacies of different personal and professional relationships will help you manage conflicts, win new business, hire and manage employees and build a strong company culture.

Learning how to navigate the intricacies of different personal and professional relationships will help you manage conflicts, win new business, hire and manage employees and build a strong company culture.

Skills Entrepreneurs Should Have to Build A Successful Business

Being self-aware

Being self-aware allows you to take a step back every once in a while, assess where you are, determine where you need to be, calibrate your actions and keep going. Doing this not only forces you to stop and assess, it encourages you to look at everything that has happened in your business and celebrate the accomplishments and learn from the failures.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to understand what you are good at and what you need to outsource. For example, I know I am a good strategist, so developing vision, goals and strategies are my strengths. This helps me see the bigger picture and build my business on a larger scale. I am not very good with logistics, so I have staff who take care of the details. Between the two of us, we can maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

Managing time

Your time as an entrepreneur is very limited, so it important to be wise about how you spend it.

If you've been running a business for a while now, you might be familiar with The Pareto Principle, which says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. So you have to scrupulously prioritize your tasks: you have to decide which tasks will move your business forward. Focus on those tasks, and you'll feel less stressed about your to-do list, leaving you more time to enjoy the life you're building. For

Check out this blog post for some killer productivity tips.

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy feat. It demands more mental energy, stamina and effort than you think you can handle. But here's the thing: if you're doing it, baby, you're doing it. Keep learning these skills and you'll bloom into a beautiful, badass business chick you are.

Finding Your Girl Gang: Why Friendships Are Important In Business

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A pastor once told me, "Show me your friends, and I will show you your future." In an effort to show me that the people you hang around with have a significant impact on your life and your future, he taught me a few lessons about friendship and business. Your friends are there to help you celebrate your milestones and grieve your disappointments. But your friends can also help you get more out of work and life, including business and financial success, career success and overall satisfaction.

This week, we are uncovering the reasons why friendships are important in business and hwo you can find you group of friends to achieve success and satisfication in business and life.

The importance of friends in business.

When you surround yourself with focused, ambitious, motivated and smart people, it is likely that you will adopt the same attitude. I love hanging out with people who are relentlessly pursuing love and compassion, achieving their goals with an unmatched level of grace. These people are everything I aspire to be - and hanging around them will only let me absorb, learn and become like them.

Having friends at your office or in your business is important to feeling supported, safe and productive. According to this study done by researchers in Hong Kong, workplace loneliness is related to negative performance. I went through a period at an office where I was not supported, which made me feel unsafe. As a result, my productivity and performance were poor. As entrepreneurs, feelings of loneliness can breed anxiety. When you have quality friendships that motivate you and support you, you'll find yourself more focused and passionate about whatever you do.

I think about my own #girlgang in Calgary. There is no way I would be able to do what I do without them. If it weren't for my business friends, I wouldn't have met my business coach - and Kim has helped me unlock doors to my creativity, resourcefulness and business savvy that I didn't even know were there. Some of other entrepreneur friends will gather to cathartically release our frustrations, fears and doubts about our work - as well as encourage each other through the journey. This group has supported this business from the beginning and has become a significant piece of its success.

I have found that building these friendships has opened up the doors to endless opportunities. Many of my friends have sent me referrals, asked me to collaborate or have contributed to my blog.

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Find your girl gang.

Entrepreneurship can be quite isolating at times, and because friendship is vital to success (however that looks for you), it's important to find your group of friends that will support and encourage you - and give you the kick in the pants you need. (We all need those every so often.)

Here are some tips to find your personal girl gang.

  • Check out MeetUp. From coffee to business to hiking, there is a group for every interest, skill level and life stage. This might take some trial and error, but finding the right group will be worth it.
  • Find an entrepreneur association, networking group or community organization. Check if your city has something similar to YYC Girl Gang, YYC Blogger Babes or The Ace Class.
  • Take it to social media. There is nothing wrong with establishing relationships through social media. For instance, I can connect with the entrepreneurs in Rising Tide Society or Female Entrepreneur Association and find support, encouragement and advice.
  • Volunteer. Nothing bonds with together than service and empathy. Find something you're interested in and get involved. You never know who you'll meet.
  • Be picky. As entrepreneurs, most of our time is devoted to building our businesses, so it's important to use that precious free time wisely to build relationships that matter.

Is your friend group amazing? Tell me about them!

 

 

Feature Friday: You Ain't Your Weight

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This week, I am sharing the story of an amazing woman with a wonderful message. I first heard about Jenna from You Ain't Your Weight from my friends at Be Social Centric. Her message is inspiring and her story is refreshing. Read on to inspire your body postivity and enjoy a great story.

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Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?

My name is Jenna Free and I am a body image coach and intuitive eating counselor. I help women ditch the diet and find peace in their bodies. I was born and raised in Calgary and still live here.

I work with women privately, in group programs and in my free Facebook Group! My passion is to help as many women as possible stop dieting and move on with their lives, so many of us are waiting on the weight. No more!

What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?

I got into this because after a decade of dieting and hating my body, losing weight, gaining weight and even getting into modeling overseas I was never comfortable in my skin. Eventually, I realized it didn’t matter what I looked like, my food and body issues really had nothing to do with food or my body! I realized I didn’t want to be skinny, I just wanted to be happy.

A couple years ago I started selling Beachbody products ( intense workout programs) and I had been doing these kinds of programs forever so I thought why not sell them? I’ll never forget one day when I was doing up my laces to do one of the workouts and I thought to myself, “ugh, this is the last thing I want to be doing right now!”. It really dawned on me that my life was no longer my own, I had to do this workout on this day, I had to eat this at this time… and on and on it goes! I had had enough, canceled my Beachbody position and started my own business helping women realize that weight loss is NOT the answer.

I help women repair their relationship with food and their bodies so they can stop being hung up on losing weight and start living! It’s amazing what women wait for when they think they need to lose weight: relationships, career goals, travel, wearing cute clothes. It’s amazing how the idea of weight loss limits us from living!! This is what I help women overcome so they can truly start living.

What inspires you most about your community?

This city is amazing, it’s big and has a lot going on but often feels like I live in a small town! The wellness community in this city is tight-knit and so inviting! When I meet one new person they know someone else I know and it’s great to have people in common in business.

If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?

Decide what you stand for and NEVER sway. At first, my messaging was a bit all over the place, I provided healthy recipes, then told someone that weight loss wasn’t the answer, then I would post a workout. It didn’t flow and so I had no strong viewpoint to provide my audience. I now hold strong in my body positive message no matter what!

Tell me three fun facts about yourself or your organization.

  1. I love pizza. (Too much? Nah, no such thing)
  2. I am filming a documentary about Intuitive Eating and Body Love right now!
  3. Our group program, The Body Love Society, is opening up in August.

 How can people get in touch?

www.youaintyourweight.com

www.instagram.com/youaintyourweight

www.facebook.com/youaintyourweight

Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!

xo _ britt

 

10 Questions to Ask A Freelance Writer

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"I have tons of time to write blogs." - said no business owner ever. Unless writing is your business or hobby, it's likely not something you want to spend a lot of time on. There's a lot involved in even a basic blog post. You have to think about the goals of your content, keywords, length, brand voice, content research, editing, image sourcing...

Exhausted?

This is where freelance writers are worth more than gold. Well, not really. But considering that content marketing is only getting started and you only have so many hours in the day to work on your business, we are really handy. See, when you are so busy running a business creating your goods and services, trying to figure out your cash flow statement or on the phone with the IT guys for the 100th time today, the LAST thing you want to think about is building high-quality content that connects and converts.

Enter freelance writers.

I've built an entire business designed to help entrepreneurs create incredible content that resonates with their audience and eventually (with some sales funnel magic) converts a few customers.

But it's important to hire the right writer for your business. Not every writer is going to understand what you do and who you are. Hiring the wrong one will end up causing you grief and a lot more money. Finding the right writer for your business can be challenging, so I've put together a list of 10 questions to ask a freelance writer to ensure you get the right one for your business.

Use these questions to guide your search to find your unicorn writer and once you've nabbed one of us, get ready to make some content magic!

how to write an "about us" page

What is included in your price?

A good freelance writer will set appropriate prices and will be very transparent in what those prices include. Get very specific with your writer on this part because it's fraught with opportunity to overcharge and underdeliver. Now that I've scared both the entrepreneurs and freelancers reading this, here's what you want to ask:

  • Does your package include keyword or topic research?
  • How many revisions are included?
  • Is your price for a specific length of content? (Typically, this falls somewhere in the 500-2000 word range. Be specific if you need more or less.)
  • Who is responsible for providing the images?
  • Is this an hourly service or a set rate?
  • Who will be responsible for measuring and optimizing content?

How do you adapt your writing to my brand voice?

Good writers are "word chameleons". We should be able to understand your brand's unique voice well enough to write content that will resonate. If you're a light-hearted, witty brand, writers should be able to adapt. I will usually do this by taking a look at your existing content, scouting for specific words or phrases that you use often and adapt my writing to fit that. A good writer will also ask questions to understand your audience and voice to produce a good piece of content. Don't hesitate to ask a potential writer to produce a simple piece of content to evaluate whether they can adapt their writing.

READ MORE: How To Create a Brand Style Guide

Do you have examples of previous work?

A good writer should have a portfolio of work. (For example, this blog acts as a large portion of my work as a writer.) If a writer does not have a portfolio, ask them to create a blog post, sales sheet or another simple piece of content to evaluate their work.

questions to ask a freelance writer

What is your process?

Writers are inherently creative, so process isn't exactly our sweet spot. But having an effective and efficient process will ensure that your project moves forward on time and on budget. A good writer should take you through their individual process. This question should encompass a series of additional questions including

  • What do you need to get started?
  • Will you be able to meet deadlines?
  • How will I pay you?
  • How will you handle revisions and proofreading?
  • Who owns the work? Do you get author credit?

For example, here is my process. This process assumes that we have already made a connection.

  1. Fill out a content brief. This is a document designed to capture as much information as possible to understand the project, including your goals, audience, competitors, key messages, scope of the project, etc.
  2. Establish roles, responsibilities, workflow, budget, payment terms, and deadlines. This is a meaty part of the process as it sets expectations regarding who will be responsible for what (research, keywords, image sourcing, linking, etc.). This is also where we develop a workflow that will keep the project moving, and we talk about your budget, how and when payment will be handled and timelines.
  3. Sign a contract. (Hard line here: no contract, no work. It protects the both of us.)
  4. Do the work: write, edit, repeat.
  5. Sign off on the project.
  6. Pop some bubbly. I will. You can join me, if you want.

What are you reading right now?

Good writers are active readers. It doesn't matter if it's a novel, blog or comic series, but it is important to know that whoever you hire is developing their writing skills by reading.

(In case you're interested, I am reading "How to Be A Bawse" by Lilly Singh, aka Superwoman.)

questions to ask a freelance writer

With what topics and formats are you most familiar?

I used to write blog posts for a funeral home. Yes, guys, a funeral home. Now I know more about embalming and space burials than I care to. To start, I wasn't incredibly familiar or excited about the subject matter and to be honest, my writing was not as good as it could have been. This post is all about finding the right freelancer for the job, so hiring someone who neither has much expertise nor passion about plumbing may not be the right fit for your blooming plumbing business. A lifestyle writer might be a better fit for your floral business than a business writer. You'll spend less time educating your writer and more time letting them wow you with their magic.

How do you source credible research?

If you're trying to rank, drive traffic or even establish a little brand awareness, developing authority in your industry is essential. Linking to non-credible sources in your content will not help you. Ask a potential writer where they find their information and how they vet a particular source.

What pieces need to be in place for a successful content project?

Content is created for a purpose and an audience. Good writers will create content keeping the goal and the audience always front of mind.

What do you know about SEO?

Good writers will understand how to incorporate white hat SEO practices into your content. They will understand how to weave in keywords, add alt tags, build links and adapt to algorithm changes.

What do you love about writing?

Nothing is more infectious than someone who loves what they do. Their passion is palpable, and that passion is transposed into great work. 

After your conversation with a potential freelancer, you should understand:

  • how the work will get done;
  • who will be responsible for what;
  • how much the work will cost;
  • the logistics of the project (payment terms, deadlines, etc.); and
  • whether a writer is right for your business.

Hiring a freelancer writer is not much different than hiring an employee. Passion, culture and character are essential components to a great professional relationship. These questions should give you confidence that you've hired the right person for the job.

Think you and I would make some content magic? Click the button below to learn more about how Bourbon & Honey can help create amazing content for your business.

 

Feature Friday: Maya Gohill

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I was first introduced to Maya at the media opening of Calcutta Cricket Club. Brimming with passion and soaking up inspiration everywhere, Maya is one of the most talented artists I have seen. I had the chance learn more about this incredible woman, what inspires her and what advice she has for budding artists.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your work. Where are you from? What do you do?

I paint what I call “satirical portraits” and my narrative pieces tend to be whimsical, colourful and of an abstracted reality. I have done several family portrait -type pieces for private clients, and a handful of larger pieces, the largest being the 1000+ square foot mural that I did recently for the Simons department store in downtown Calgary. Most recently, I stepped out of the world of oil painting momentarily to design a new, vibrant and fun, Indian restaurant called Calcutta Cricket Club, which in many ways looks and feels similar in style to my paintings. 

I have been an oil painter since I graduated with an undergrad BFA degree from UofC in my hometown of Calgary. I continued to develop my skills via a graduate degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I spent a large portion of my professional life teaching at the post-secondary level in both California and Calgary, at ACAD, but lately I have settled into working full time as a painter.

What inspires you to do what you do? How did you start doing this work?

I’m constantly inspired by other artists whom I admire, such as Olaf Hadjek, Guim Tio, and David Hockney among others, and I am inspired significantly by the world of interior design. I love strong shapes, patterns, and colours when they are put together in striking and intelligent ways. I find myself inspired by combinations where I see this, be it in an unusual piece of furniture, a beautifully-styled and well-balanced room, or an illustration or painting.

Inspiration lies everywhere.

In many ways the path I took was not an option, it just was. In university, I took general studies courses but found myself not as engaged with the subjects as I was by art and art history. I had always been a creative child, making art and drawing at a young age, and I come from a family of artists and creatives. My grandfather was a photographer and filmmaker, and my grandma was an artist. Other relatives have also followed creative paths. It sort of runs in the family.

What inspires you most about your community?

I love that Calgary is growing so quickly and that it has such a hunger to become a vibrant and interesting culture. Despite that Calgary’s population is over a million, it still has the feel of a small town, with the fact that there are fewer than three degrees of separation between most people. This makes it a very friendly place to live because you don’t need to go far before you bump into someone you know. This is especially true in the art and design industry which is a big part of my social group. Calgary is a great place. The majority of my favourite people all live here.

If you could give anyone who is starting out in your field one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be fearless and only answer to yourself and your dreams.

Tell me three fun facts about yourself.

  1. I can always estimate the right size of container for emptying leftovers. Never too empty or overflowing - always just right. :)
  2. I have an obsession for thrifting vintage furniture and home goods, and I rearrange my house probably once every month.
  3. I once had my portrait painted by Don Bachardy, life partner of the late Christopher Isherwood (author), and the subject of several David Hockney paintings, and films such as Cabaret, Chris & Don, and Christopher and His Kind. In his portrait he made me look a little like Rhea Perlman from Cheers.

How can people get in touch?

Website: www.mayagohill.com Email: art@mayagohill.com Twitter: @MayaGohill Instagram: @mayagohill

Do you know of a person, business, non-profit or other organization doing amazing work in Calgary? Tell me about it! Visit the Feature Friday page for more information!