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Small Business Feature {Girl Friday}

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Entrepreneurs are a special breed. We breathe passion, ignite creativity and open doors that don’t even exist. We aren’t fearless, but we don’t let fear stand in our way. Welcome to the start of our new series, Small Business Features. I hope you leave feeling inspired…

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note from the editor:

I met Stacy last year when she responded to a model call I had for a photoshoot. I was looking for a gorgeous tattooed woman who could pull off retro styling. She sent me an email that showed off her bubbly personality, a picture of herself, told me she had a tattoo sleeve, and I was like “Yes! This is my girl!” Our shoot was a blast, and we soon developed a working relationship, sending referrals each other’s way. When you imagine the type of friend that everyone would be lucky to have in their lives, it’s Stacy. With a smile and giggle so contagious, you can’t help but feel pure joy whenever you’re around her.

~Cori Strong, Owner of Little Bells Photography

Before you opened Girl Friday, what did you do for a living?

Before girl Friday I was a teacher.   I worked at Fairview Elementary School as a Reading Specialist.  I taught for a little over 6 years.  Once we had our son (Max) I decided I wanted to have a more flexible schedule.   So, I did daycare in my home for a few years and in the meantime taught myself how to make jewelry as a hobby.   A few years later girl Friday was born…

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Can you give us a little background on Girl Friday? What initially sparked the idea for opening a boutique salon? Can you share your inspiration for how you decided on the name?

Girl Friday has been open for almost 7 years!   Seems impossible!!  About 13 years ago, my friend Dana Rainwater (who previously owned a darling and successful business called bug-a-boo baby) asked to view my jewelry that I had been creating as a hobby.   I was having small trunk shows in friends’ homes and local businesses.  Dana was kind enough to let me display my pieces in her studio.   She was a huge part of me being able to embrace my creative side!  Dana and I created a few custom bags together, and we spent many nights on the phone at 2 am just talking about possibilities!!  A few years later, I opened an itty bitty studio of my own and started selling my handcrafted jewelry and other boutique items as my career.  After a couple years of building clients and networking my small studio/boutique, my sister Katie came up with the idea of adding the salon aspect to the business.   We realized that many of my clients were also hers at the salon she was working at.  We pretty much immediately started scouting out spaces to rent.  We looked at a few very “cracker box,” strip mall spaces and knew it HAD to be different!  I stumbled upon this giant Victorian House for sale and happened to know the owner.   We negotiated a lease agreement and literally opened up shop within a month.  We had very little time to plan or worry about if we would be successful.   I think we both knew we’d just have to do whatever it took to get us up and running.  And now 7 years later here we are!!

The name girl Friday was a given.  Katie’s husband had a buddy in a band called girl Friday.  We had ALWAYS thought it would be a great name for our someday business venture.   I remember googling “girl friday” and of course the old movie called “His Girl Friday” starring Cary Grant popped up.  This 1940’s film went very well with this very old home we had rented and the environment we were trying to create.  Then the Urban Dictionary meaning sealed the deal…GIRL FRIDAY:  a female who will help you get things taken care of; a female you can rely on when in need of extra assistance; a female who acts as a “jack of all trades”.  Yep….this was it!!!  No questions asked…We’re calling it girl Friday!!!

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What would you say your main goal or purpose of your business? What is your core passion when it comes to your industry and serving clients?

The main goal of my business is to empower people by making them feel good about themselves. The things people say after a flawless airbrush tan, a great hair experience, or a new face of make up is what it’s all about!  My core passion about this industry is the people!  Everyone from the clients we get to meet, to the incredible network of others in the industry that always seem willing to collaborate and help with any given project. Bloomington/Normal has some extreme talent in the salon field, and I have the pleasure of working with a few of the finest each day!  It’s incredible!

 

What roles do you play in your business and what types of services do you offer?

The roles I play….  Interesting question.   Each person that works at girl Friday owns their own little piece of girl Friday.   I’m no one’s boss, and everyone runs their business under one roof.  My daily duties are to keep a peaceful, clean, and workable environment for everyone.   I design a line of jewelry, I do all the airbrush tans, I sell LimeLight by Alcone make up and offer one on one lessons with those products.   I like to keep an ear to the ground for amazing products to offer (like the Eufora hair care we now carry.). Once I fall in love with something I like to tell EVERYONE about it!   Much like I have with LimeLight and Eufora!   On any given day you could catch me doing janitorial work, maintenance, landscaping, carrying around babies or doggy daycare at the salon.   Ha!   Sh#*t’s gotta get done!

airbrush tan, bloomington il airbrush tan salon

 

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is the fact that I always get to learn something new!   I get bored easily, so I’m always looking for something to change up.   Whether it’s re-arranging furniture or experimenting with a new line of products, the challenge of keeping girl Friday fresh and new excites me the most!

 

Everyone raves about your spray tans and your easy going personality. Why do you think you were able to build up such a devoted clientele? For people who may be nervous about stripping down in front of a stranger for a spray tan, what can you share with them about the experience to help calm their nerves?

I have to credit my sister Katie for starting the airbrush tans off with a bang!  She was the go to girl for the best tan in town for the first few years!   She built the reputation for our airbrushes and got the clientele going.   Once she decided to stay home with her babies, I took over the airbrush tans.  I had very fancy shoes to fill!   I modeled everything I do during an airbrush session after Katie’s method.   Staying professional, up-beat, easy going, and being understanding about the uneasiness that comes along with stripping down in front of someone.   I also think having a sense of humor helps!  It’s really one of those things that once the first time is over, it’s not that big of a deal ever again!

 

We’re hearing a lot about the new makeup and skincare brand you’re carrying. Can you give us some background on the company? Why did you decide to start carrying this brand over others? What response have you had from your clients who have purchased these products? Any fan favorites we should try out?

Oh my gosh…LimeLight by Alcone!!!!

Yes, this is my current OBSESSION!  One of my airbrush clients literally stood in front of me naked and pitched this product line to me!  All natural skin care (which perked my ears up) and pro make up all rolled into a commissions plan that made me want to hear more!   Once I tried a few samples and fell in LOVE with the mascara, it was a no brainer!  LimeLight has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  The Alcone brand has been around for 65 years… it’s very well established and reputable.   The make up is used by pro make up artists everywhere!  And the skin care is made with ingredients that I’m 100% comfortable putting on my skin (which is the our biggest organ mind you!).  Not only are the products the BEST I’ve ever experienced, but the people I get to work with are like my soul sisters.  Compassionate, powerful, mindful, amazing leaders that care about one another wholeheartedly.   I could go on and on about this venture!   My clients have fallen in love with LimeLight by Alcone as much as I did.   I’ve had a few friends join my team to sell alongside me as well. It just so exciting!  A few bestsellers to consider are Calm Balm moisturizer, our Perfect Mascara, and our game changing Botanical Foundation!

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Your ”Mod Mom” custom jewelry is our fave! What types of jewelry do you customize and how do you work with clients to determine the designs?

State Street Design is my jewelry line. It is all handcrafted by me.  My custom designs are client centered, and I always keep an open mind about different styles for different clients. My “Mod Mom” pieces continue to be my biggest seller. I believe the Mod Mom concept came about in a late night conversation with my friend Dana. It was her vision, and I decided to give it a try.  Before I knew it I was stamping out names of children to add to many different types of jewelry. These are great keepsake pieces and make the perfect gift!  I like to have one on one design appointments when creating a piece like this. It gives me a chance to get to know my clients and their individual style.  And I think it makes them feel like they’re truly getting a one of a kind piece made just for them (which is exactly what they’re getting).

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I am all about entrepreneurs who open businesses to serve a higher purpose, to inspire and truly help others. What is your take on this and how this plays into your business? Do you have any favorite local entrepreneurs whose vision and purpose you admire?

I have many many hopes and dreams of being an entrepreneur who inspires, leads, and helps others.   I’m not gonna lie though… sometimes it’s a challenge just keeping the electricity turned on!  Ha!  But honestly…one of the first events we took on as a team at girl Friday was a fashion show to help the Neville house here in Bloomington.  If you aren’t familiar with it, the Neville house is a safe haven for women that have been abused or fallen on difficult times. It was such a pleasure to do this event.  I loved every second of it. We do tons of donations through gift certificates and raffle items for many local charities.  We’ve collected coats for kids and gathered up food for animals. We’ve even done free haircuts in exchange for canned goods to donate to a local shelter. I’m hoping that someday I will have the financial freedom to help in a bigger way, but for now we all do what we can in our own small ways.

I’m learning each day that very small things can inspire and help others.  A smile, a handshake, a simple “you’re doing a great job!”  I want to be sure I’m always building people up. Giving them courage to take chances and knowing that things will work out. This is what so many people have done for me, and now I have an opportunity to do it for someone else. It’s simply the best feeling one can have!

Some of my local faves… Jenny and Georgia at Move Pilates and Yoga, Ricardo Sturdivant at 33 Tattoos and Art, Maria Kemp at Beyond Decadence, John Kemp at Kemp’s Upper Tap,  Torrey Zwanzig at Soul Haven & Co, and of course Cori Strong at Little Bells Photography!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to let our readers get to know you! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’d like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone that has never given up on me.  This journey has had major ups and few downs.  I’ve had a handful of people that have asked me “why?”

Why do you stay open when you aren’t making tons of cash? Why do you spend so much time? Why do you care so much?  Why do you let it stress you out?

The answer is simple. This business is like my last child. It is something that started so tiny and has grown with me to a point that it’s part of me. I love it! I will nourish it until it no longer needs me. And I’m hoping that day never comes.

I appreciate each of you that have helped along the way!  Girl Friday would not be here without each and every one of you!!

XOXO!!

-Stacy Winkler

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Follow girl Friday on facebook

Visit the girl Friday website

 

 

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How to Overcome Your Fear of a Boudoir Shoot

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Last month in my facebook group, I guest hosted one of my past headshot clients, Cathy Huffman, who is a transformational life coach. After Cathy’s own shoot a couple of years ago, we kept in touch, met up for coffee dates and talked about life, business, any and everything. We got to talking about how much fear and resistance women have when it comes to booking a photoshoot. Now this topic was right up Cathy’s alley. She helps people (women are her target market) identify what limiting beliefs they have, how those beliefs are holding them back from living the life they actually want and how to move past and clear their limiting beliefs. With Cathy’s business aligning so well with mine, we decided to team up and create a 3 part series that would help all of you consciously realize the fears that are sabotaging your self worth and stopping you from booking a shoot. Her Peace & Power series was originally hosted in my ladies only facebook group, but we’ve decided to post the entire series here so more people can benefit!

Cathy’s videos and exercises will help you in various areas of your life, not just when it comes to booking a shoot. As I watched the videos each week right along with my group members, I found myself thinking of scenarios when fear has taken over and made decisions for me. Cathy actually helped me become much more conscious of my thought patterns. Now when I feel anxiety/fear/anger/resentment, I can immediately notice it, acknowledge where it’s coming from and why,  then use her techniques to let it go and introduce positive thoughts and affirmations. These little changes and strategies really do have a profound effect on our lives as long as we’re willing to keep practicing. If you’re here thinking about calling me for a shoot, but there’s something holding you back, take 30 minutes to watch these three videos, print the worksheets, download the extras and take the time to really think about WHY you’re hesitant. What will a photoshoot with me do for your self-esteem and how will that impact other areas of your life?

Are you curious about what other women have thought about their own photoshoots? Hop on over to the testimonials page to read real, emotional stories from my past clients.

VIDEO ONE:  Identifying Your Limiting Beliefs

download this week’s worksheet here

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VIDEO TWO:  Clear Your Limiting Beliefs

In addition to the video lesson, click here for Cathy’s powerful audio download that she describes in today’s video.

life coaching, clear your limiting beliefs, cathy huffman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO THREE:  Celebrate Your New Normal

In addition to the video lesson, click here for your exclusive “I Have Found Peace & Power” art print.

life coaching lessons, clearing limiting beliefs, how to be positive, positive thinking, how to practice gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because Cathy is just so freaking awesome, she created a super secret extra video JUST for my readers! It’s a video lesson on “staying power”. And it is good. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. Click the image below to watch!

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As you watched the videos and did the exercises, you probably had all of these new revelations and questions…lots of questions about what to do next, where to go from here. Cathy would absolutely love to hear about your thoughts and questions! You can write her directly by visiting the contact page on her website. Click the image below and it will take you right to where you need to be.

life coach contact form, cathy huffman, questions for life coach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having some fears and nerves around doing a boudoir shoot are completely normal. And when I say normal, I mean everybody experiences this! When I meet with women for their complimentary consultation (this is before you even decide to book a shoot), we talk about these fears, how to work through them and go over exactly what your shoot will be like. Worried about not knowing how to pose or looking silly? I’ve got you covered ladies. There’s a reason I continuously study under one of the best women’s photographers in the world-to give my clients the absolute best experience and portraits. I have complete confidence in what I do and that helps my clients feel confident in booking with me. Trusting someone to photograph you and bring out your best is a pretty big risk. You want and deserve the best damned portraits of yourself that you’ve ever had taken. And I promise to do that for you.

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A gorgeous silk box filled with your beautiful matted boudoir portraits or a modern linen album with sexy details shots would make a stunning and unique gift for your significant other AND yourself this holiday season! Because of the amount of time I devote to each client, our fall sessions are limited. If you would like your order to be ready in time for Christmas, our cut-off for shoots is the last week in November. We are taking between 6-8 shoots total between September-November. To set up your complimentary consultation and book your shoot, call me (Cori) at (309) 212-6359 or email cori@littlebellsphotography.com with subject line “consultation”.

Office Hours: M-Th, 9 am-3pm

**Please allow 24 hours to respond to emails. While I would love to be able to respond right away, my days are often filled with photoshoots and meetings. Thank you so much and I hope to create some truly gorgeous portraits for you this fall!

cori strong, little bells photography, boudoir photographer bloomington illinois, chicago boudoir photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Mother’s Day Giveaway! {Bloomington, IL}

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Moms seriously don’t get enough credit in this world. And not just moms but parents in general. I will suck it up and say that I totally took my parents for granted growing up. Now that I’m a mom of two adorable little girls (my tornadoes as I like to refer to them) who may or may not be driving my sanity into the ground with all of their arguing and whining, I get it. Ohhh yes do I get it. And as a mom, it is damn hard to take a break from family life to put yourself first once in a while. But without that time for yourself, everyone suffers. And nobody wants a crazy lady for a mom/wife…

Along with some other generous vendors, I’ve put together a kick-ass giveaway for this Mother’s Day! One lucky mama is going to get an amazing gift package!

If you’re a mom and want to treat yourself, go ahead and enter! Or if you’d like to enter for your wife/mom/stepmom/some awesome mom in your life, that’s pretty freaking cool!

Rules:

You must live in Bloomington-Normal, IL (within 10 miles) to enter.

The winner must be a mom. This is a contest for Mother’s Day so please don’t be a jerk and enter if you’re not a mom or don’t plan on giving this to a mom…

Must be 18 or older to enter.

The giveaway will end on March 9th, 12 am central time. The winner will be contacted the next day with instructions on how to get her prizes!

Enter below and use the arrows to click through the exciting prizes 🙂 Good luck everyone! I can’t wait to see which lucky mama wins!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Happy Earth Day (Free Art Print Digital Download)

“There is no WiFi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection.”

I came across this quote today on Pinterest and had to share it with you. Sometimes, I hate that I’m so dependent on technology. It’s always there, someone always needs something, and I feel a major sensory overload. When this happens, I shut off my computer, leave my phone at home and go outside. Feeling the cool grass on my bare feet, inhaling the fresh pure air and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face does wonders for my mind and soul.

Next time you’re feeling stressed, sad, overwhelmed or just out of touch, take 15 minutes to go outside, walk or sit in the grass, breathe in the fresh air and appreciate. Appreciate the beautiful place we live, abundant with life.

To celebrate Earth Day, I’m giving all of my readers a free nature art print! You can download the high resolution file with both the quote and without the quote by clicking on the images. Use as a desktop background, have it printed and framed or gift to a friend. Enjoy!

blooming tree branches, sunset, nature, photograph, art, sunset, golden light, earth day, quoteblooming tree branches, sunset, nature, photograph, art, sunset, golden light, earth day, quote

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Fine Art Child Portraits-A Little Girl’s Dream Day

10 year old girl in pink tulle skirt, child princess photo shoot bloomington chicago illinois, best child photographer illinois

“It was so fun getting my hair and makeup done. It was beautiful. When I put on the skirt, I felt like a princess. The whole experience was awesome!”

-Kylie F., age 10

Building self-esteem through my portrait experience is what my business is all about.

As a person who experienced bullying as a child and self-esteem issues well into adulthood, having the opportunity to help build others’ self confidence is truly amazing. I will never forget the look on these girls’ faces when they saw their reflections that day. All of the moms were in the salon with their girls, and I think we all had a few tears in our eyes as we watched our girls’ reactions (my daughter Bella was in on the fun too).

The importance of portraits

As parents, we weren’t raised in the digital era. Facebook wasn’t invented until I was in college. My parents didn’t document my life on social media. We had photo albums on the coffee table and stacked up on the bookshelves. My brother and I would regularly pull out the albums to look back on warmest memories. One of the favorite things to do was look at pictures of my parents when they were kids (there weren’t many but I was so fascinated).

Now, we are raising our kids in a digital world, with many of their childhood memories being stored on Facebook’s remote server. Many people are forgetting to print these memories and it’s only a matter of time before their digital images are corrupted or lost. Children need to see their portraits on the walls of their home. We have canvas galleries throughout our home and not only do I love seeing my kids’ sweet faces every day, they love it too! If your walls are missing your children’s portraits, have a look at this cute Canon commercial: https://youtu.be/rOAiO7Q25Ng

Why are prints more beneficial than digitals?

Displaying photos prominently in the home sends the message that our family and those in it are important to one another, and we honor the memories we have experienced,“ says Cathy Lander-Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker and a professional photographer in St. Louis, Missouri and the director of Photo Explorations, which offers workshops to girls and women using portrait and journaling for self-reflection.

This is a fantastic article that explains the benefits on having portraits on your walls. You can read the full article here.

“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.”

school aged girl in princess costume laughing and smiling, bloomington illinois child photographer, photography studio illinois

What is a fine art child portrait session like?

This is a day that is all about your daughter. As one little girl put it, she will feel like a movie star!

The couture fine art portrait session includes:

  • a 30-45 minute consultation where we’ll take your daughter out for frozen yogurt or a hot chocolate and discuss what type of wardrobe she would like and hairstyles she likes. I’ll get to know her favorite hobbies, books, music and everything that makes her personality unique. Having the chance to get to know me will also make your daughter feel at ease on the day of her shoot.
  • Professional hairstyling and light makeup by Morgan Matlock at Moda Salon
  • Your daughter’s favorite snacks and drink to munch on while she gets pampered.
  • Behind the scenes video filming and pictures taken at the salon (warning: you will cry when you see the finished video)
  • Option to purchase the HD video on a usb drive
  • 1 hour photo-shoot with 2 outfit changes
  • Access to my prop closet including the infamous pink tulle skirt (as shown in the top image)
  • In-person premiere viewing and ordering session including a custom designed slideshow video with behind the scenes footage along with 12-15 artfully retouched images.
  • 7 high resolution digital images with print release
  • A custom mobile app with the images ordered and the custom slideshow (installs on your phone/tablet and is shareable across social media)
  • 16×20 wall portrait (either fine art canvas or framed print on fine art paper)

$1,299

Order total can be split up into 3, 4 or 5 payments

Orders will be delivered once full payment is made

Add-ons:

  • Custom fashion illustration of your daughter’s favorite image

child_portrait_custom_drawing_1custom illustration of little girl portrait, drawing of girl in big tulle skirt

The girls and their parents about lost it when they saw their illustrations! Even a brother couldn’t believe how cool it was!

  • 8×8 luxurious leather or linen album will all of the images from the slideshow
  • Additional sizes of wall portraits (framed prints and canvases)
  • Mini accordion albums
  • Additional digital images

please inquire for pricing of add-ons

We will be offering petite fine art portrait sessions on a limited basis.

These sessions will take place on a pre-determined date and will be shorter than the couture sessions.

Petite Fine Art Sessions will include:

  • professional hairstyling and light makeup with Morgan Matlock at Moda Salon
  • 25 minute portrait session
  • In person viewing and ordering session with custom slideshow of 10 artistically retouched images
  • 3 high resolution digital images
  • 8×10 desk portrait
  • option to purchase a la carte items such as wall portraits, custom mobile app, custom fashion illustration, etc.

$675

total order can be split into 3 payments of $225

Join our list to be the first to hear about our coveted petite (shorter) fine art child sessions. These will only be offered a few times per year.

* indicates required


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Bloomington Illinois Fine Art Child Photographer, little girl princess photoshoots, chicago il

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