Excuse me while I freak out over here for a second, but this session of The Social Project seriously has my heart fluttering. Not only are these two ladies incredibly talented in their craft, as well as down-to-earth genuine supporters of other girl bosses, but they are just sooo on my level about everything when it comes to business, life, creativity, and so much more. This entire day with Rebecca from Hello Harmony Studio and Jennifer Hibberd left my creative soul feeling so full – in depth discussions about life and work, homemade quiche and salad with ingredients right from Jen’s garden, and some barn time with Jen, her boys and all the baby goats! [did I mention I was freaking out, I mean guys, BABY GOATS!]
If you don’t know anything about Rebecca or Jennifer then you are about to find out. Our interview was one that feels extra special to me, because it was more like an episode from a creative talk show, where we all debated back and forth – sharing ideas, insights and words of encouragement.
Rebecca, can you tell our readers a little bit more about your business and what you do.
My business is Hello Harmony Studios, I am a graphic designer for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses. My main focus is on branding and design.
And how did you get into that? Is it something you have always done or have you evolved over the years?
It’s a long story – when I started my business I was in university and I actually started an Etsy shop. When I went to school I was taking photography classes and design classes and I really loved both of them. I had decided to make my Etsy shop kind of a marriage of both – I would take photos and then put designs and quotes on the images. It was a creative outlet as well as a way for me to help pay for my education
After school I pursued photography and realized it wasn’t for me. Then the more jobs I got in the design world the more I realized, as an entrepreneur and business owner myself, how valuable it is for other business owners to have that support, someone really advocating for them and their best interests as a business.
What is it that you really love most about working with other creative business owners?
My favourite part is being able to work with them and truly learn from them myself. Being able to give them a more cohesive brand for their business or those on brand designs that really help make them look like a professional, and then seeing the confidence that my work gives them or knowing that I brought their vision to life, that just means so much because I know what its like to be a business owner and to second guess everything. Seeing all the little pieces come together through strong design & branding is really valuable. And I just feel like it gives my work so much more purpose.
Jenn, can you speak a little bit about your business for those who don’t already know?
For sure! I am a photographer, primarily weddings and boudoir. But ever since moving out to the farm I am finding myself dabbling in other stuff. Back to doing a little bit more families, a little bit of children. Just kind of a little bit of everything. But my heart is actually with birth photography right now.
And is there a pivotal moment in your life that you really felt drew you towards your industry?
[Jennifer] I feel a little bit stumped on this questions because I have honestly evolved in so many different ways in my creative business. But I was that girl that did the office job, crunching numbers with basically zero windows and took my breaks at scheduled times. And you know I preach always that it is part of self care to answer your calling even if you don’t exactly know what that is. If you’re sitting there doing something that isn’t making you happy, and if you’re doing it for more than 5 years, then you need to address that. So for me getting started in photography was kind of just the same way a lot of people stumble upon it, feeling like you need that next level camera and then you get it on sale and start taking pictures, kind of falling in love with the craft. Then before you know it people are asking you to shoot this and that for them, and so I trusted my gut and left my office job and made a better life for myself as a photographer and an entrepreneur. Then a few years later, this move here to the farm, something happened to me when I came here. Everything changed. All of a sudden my values changed, where I pictured my business has changed, there is definitely that evolution here and I can’t exactly say where it is going to take me and that is something that I kind of felt guilty about for a long time. What happened to me at the end of last year was almost like a little mini breakdown/total realization moment where I finally listened to my gut again – just like I did 5 years ago when I left that office job, I finally woke up and made some changes.
[Rebecca] And for me, My mom started her own business in 1999 when I would have been 8, and my sister was 10. She stayed at home with us while we were growing up and I thought that was so valuable. My mom always instilled in me how amazing it is to be your own boss and work for yourself so I kind of grew up watching my mom do that and I knew that it was something I wanted to aspire to. It was something that really stuck with me and helped shape me into the person I am today. I was always so proud of her and we still almost talk on the phone every day, she is even starting new business that I have been able to help her with as a designer which is such an incredible feeling. In terms of design i think I just was always drawn to being creative and I knew eventually that would take me somewhere.
So thinking back to where you started, what are the biggest changes you want to see happen with your business?
[Jennifer] The one main thing that has been echoing in my mind is; I need to write a book. I need to write a book about entrepreneurship, and the change that you go through. We shouldn’t feel that just because we chose and invested in something that we are stuck with that for life now.
[Rebecca] Oh totally. I mean I have a camera at home, I used to shoot photography, but I don’t really even touch it anymore.
[Jennifer] But the great thing is it will still be with you for life, you will eventually pick it up again, especially with your new baby on the way. And that will be so invaluable that you have that skill set, but you aren’t forced to be a photographer just because you chose that at one point in your life. We as creatives, and as entrepreneurs, need to grow and need to evolve and not be afraid of breaking that mould.
Absolutely! Girls you are speaking my language. And Rebecca I think a great plan for you might be to one day offer photography with your branding. Even if it is just for social media content – that would be such a unique offering to your clients that not a lot of other designers can offer themselves!
Now can you relate what you do for businesses to weddings in any way?
[Rebecca] Yes! It’s amazing actually, Paul and I just celebrated our anniversary and the more I thought about our wedding and that whole process the more I realizes it really does relate to design. If we were to get married now our wedding would be totally different. And it is amazing because it’s the same way when you start a business you start with a certain look and then you evolve over time, and it’s gunna be different – with the whole evolution of design and evolving as a business owner. Your brand, your style, your look, even what you offer is always evolving and we need to start embracing that change more rather than fearing it.
[Jennifer] It’s easy to say that, but people really are conflicted with it. There is something that just happens to you, you are just consumed by this idea of what you should be – until you give yourself that grace and that freedom to change, it is such a load off when you do! I would never just come out and say I am no longer doing wedding photography – that is crazy, I love weddings and I get the best clients, but I did say this year I was going on a sabbatical and I have been soaking in every moment, and it is so good for the soul.
So what is your one piece of advice for someone who needs to take that next step with their branding but might be afraid?
[Rebecca] Your brand should feel like you because as entrepreneurs and business owners our work is so connected to who we are.
We have talked a lot about the evolution of branding, so I am curious is your brand today what it was when you first started?
[Rebecca] When I first started my brand was all polka dots with pinks, purples and blues – really bright colours. The more and more I was trying to make that vision a reality in my branded pieces or on social media I kept thinking these are not the pictures I am taking, these aren’t the designs that I am drawn to, this isn’t even what my house looks like. It felt honestly like it was a whole different entity. If you are trying to wear a mask or dress and look a certain way you are going to feel like an imposter, and you already kind of do when you are a business owner, so it is always better when you feel the most like yourself as possible. If it doesn’t feel like you then you wont feel connected to your brand or your work and then your clients wont feel connected to you as well.
So did you find with that branding you were actually attracting a different client then what you wanted?
Yes for sure. And when I switched my branding, it was actually when one of my husbands co-workers started making maple syrup and they wanted me to do a logo. It would have been the first logo I ever created – it was this intricate hand drawn logo that I just really fell in love with the process of it all, I felt so connected to it that afterwards I decided to reorganize my brand around that feel and that look. So now I choose to show a lot of nature photography, and earthy tones, and the people who are reaching out to me also like a similar aesthetic. I can honestly say that now I find I am getting clients who are better aligned with the kind of work that I am putting out there.
Lets talk a little bit about the work/life balance – I want to know how you both manage it, because I find the two of you do it so well.
[Jennifer] It’s self care. It comes down to listening to yourself, really knowing what it is that you need from life. I don’t think that comes easy to everybody but I think there are small steps that you can take to get better and stronger at listening to your intuition. Definitely moving out here to the farm was eye opening, the seeds were there for me to make changes and grow. But it was important for me to understand that it wasn’t a step back – although it was my fear to make the decision and it was my fear to be public about it.
[Rebecca] I can speak to that a little too, because I find that in the entrepreneurial world the hustle is something that is romanticized. For me to be able to understand that I value having dinner with my husband, even if that means we have to eat dinner at 430pm because he leaves for a night shift – I will stop working at a certain time and make sure that we sit down together. And then being okay with that decision, realizing how that makes me feel. A lot of it is trying to let go of what you think the world thinks you should be doing. What we feel is expected of us. So for me my family always comes first. I love what I do and I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to do this but at the same time the hustle is never something that I’ve loved. I need to take time off, I need to walk my dog, so if I prioritize those things as much as I prioritize my work then I am just happier and I can spend more time enjoying my projects.
Absolutely, and I think finding that balance is so important – but it is equally important to find that balance on the work side, so realizing why it is you do what you do. So with that in mind, what would you say your “why” is?
[Rebecca] I think growing up and watching my mom as an entrepreneur and now being one myself, my why is just being that support person for other entrepreneurs. Helping them get clarity and confidence. Really it is all about helping them take that next step in the direction they want to take for their business.
[Jennifer] My why is changing all the time. The why I do the specific work, besides the obvious supporting my family, the thing that is driving me right now is supporting female entrepreneurs. I love creating content and speaking to people who are doing what we do.
And lastly I want to know if you could describe yourself as an animal what do you think you would be?
[Rebecca] I have always loved otters. I love that they are just cute and playful, but whenever you see them lying in the water and holding hands – it is just the sweetest thing to me, and I am a huge casual romantic at heart but I also think it could relate to my business in the sense that I am holding your hand through the process.
[Jennifer] Without over thinking I am going to say horse. I don’t own a horse, I think I have only ridden a horse a few times in my life, but I just feel like that strong, independent, running wild through the field in the sunset is totally me.
Those goats though! Total heart eyes over here. Also, since we were dishing about what Rebecca does best [branding!] we decided to do a little branding exercise for The Social Project. Rebecca came up with some amazing logo options that are shown in some of Jen’s images. Big things are happening over here and I cannot wait to share more with you! I also think it is safe to say that all three of us were in agreeance that there are a lot of crazy things that come with being an entrepreneur but it is honestly so so so worth it! If you are here because you are thinking about becoming one, or maybe you already are but just need a little help – Jennifer, Rebecca and I are teaming up to help you find your magic, create an impressionable brand and gain some killer Instagram content. Email me at email@example.com for more information!
Thank you so much for following along with The Social Project. As always, I want to leave you all with a question and a challenge – who did you inspire today? Who could you inspire tomorrow? Or maybe you need the inspiring? Whichever or whatever it is get out there and create, spread some empowerment and truth around and lift each other up! You never know what might be brewing, or what magic you might create.
If you’re interested in being a part of The Social Project, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to follow Rebecca & Jennifer on Instagram