1. What's your entrepreneurial story? More specifically, how did you become a boss woman?
I've never wanted a "traditional" job. Since I was eight years old I've wanted to be an archeologist. I wanted to travel and work in the dirt and spend my time with people and objects that lived thousands of years ago. So I attended the University of Houston where I pursued a BA in anthropology. Unfortunately, at the time of my enrollment there weren't too many classes centered around ancient archeology and I got a little bored. I added a second major in nutrition.
It was during my exploration of nutrition that set me on the path that led to where I am today. I’d already planned to become self employed x-amount of years after I graduated but, after the birth of my daughter, I decided that working remotely would be best and began to create and sell online nutrition plans. My mentor at the time was a personal trainer who just happened to also be a highly sought after digital marketing consultant. She'd worked with BIG corporations and created social movements I'd heard about long before I met her. She showed me the ropes and schooled me on all of her strategies and wisdom so that I could grow my own business. She taught me how to show, not sell, and that authentic connection would be more financially and personally fulfilling than "selling" ever could be.
Eventually, she referred me to a client who needed some serious help with the quality and cadence of their Instagram photos. So the seed for my current business, White Bayou Collective, was planted. It didn't take much for me to fall in love with curating visual platforms but what I really fell in love with was making genuine connections. Creating movements to inspire community formation is my true love. Getting paid to do it is an unbelievable privilege.
2. What was the turning point that put you on the work-path you're on today?
There have been a lot of them. Having my daughter was obviously a big event that completely changed the path I was on. But if I'm being honest, the thing that really made me go all in was discovering the Being Boss Podcast and Facebook group in January 2015. Up until that point I didn't really know there were other people doing what I was doing. I didn't know that "social media managers" and "branding experts" were real titles. I had just been doing what I knew worked, and doing it for other people in exchange for money. But coming across a group of 900 (at the time) people all doing what they loved and taking it seriously completely blew my mind. I found support, I found inspiration, and I found friends in that group and I don't think I would be where I am today without it.
3. For someone who wants to change their work situation but doesn't know where to start; what would you tell them?
Read up on Newton's First Law of Motion. Seriously. The most prevailing principle in my life is the Law of Inertia. You just have to LEAP. Take a course, go to a networking event, book a side client. An object in motion will stay in motion and that applies to life and business. If you're sitting around waiting for the time to be right, I promise you, you will die waiting.
4. What would you say was your most difficult and proudest boss woman moment?
Hands down, my most difficult moment was signing my first "client." At this point I'd been out of the work-force for half a decade as a full time student and I was used to the blissful freedom of not having to answer to anyone. I was afraid. What if I failed? At the same time though, I hungered for a purpose. I was hungry to make a difference, both in the work-place and to my family in a financial way. So I signed the client. Then the most difficult thing was signing the second client. And the third. There's always that fear that you're a one hit wonder. That your success was just a fluke. How lucky could you be to be repeatedly successful? But the trick is to realize that your success is not the imposter - that little voice telling you it was luck is. I'm getting much better at recognizing that.
My proudest boss moment was realizing that I was not wasting my degree. I'm trained in anthropology and, at a certain point, I realized that I was actually using so much of what I know in my business. Since then I've looked for every opportunity to incorporate practical anthropology to solve marketing and business obstacles. It's been so much fun!
5. How do you handle the nuts & bolts of business i.e. paperwork, money, taxes, etc ... Do you hire someone or do you handle it yourself?
I outsource my end of year taxes. Because I file jointly with my husband I have this nagging fear that somehow I'm going to end up making a mistake and costing him. I handle most everything else myself though. I did hire an editor on retainer this year, however, and I couldn't live without her. It is such a behind-the-scenes part of my business, but the peace of mind it brings me to know that my articles, emails, and marketing copy are proofread is invaluable.
6. Favorite business apps or sites you're using?
I wouldn't be able to handle my money and paperwork myself if it weren't for Freshbooks. They make it so easy to track my expenses and invoice clients and I can't rave enough about their customer support. For everything else, I'm afraid I'm a little old school. Part of my job is content strategy and execution but I just have not found a content scheduler that I'm in love with. So, instead of programing things into a scheduler I use Dropbox and Google Docs to schedule content. I also prefer pen to digital. I make a list for absolutely everything and I write my days out in a Day Designer planner. I will say that I couldn't live without Google Calendar invites. Having the calendar on my phone is the only way I know I have a meeting, phone call, or interview.
7. If you could change one business decision from your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?
The prices I charged at first. I was insecure in my skills in the beginning and, while I did have much to learn, I charged way too little. I found out only months later that interns in my field were making more than what I signed my first client for. But I love that client and hope to be with them for years to come, so maybe it was fate.
8. Hiring a graphic designer and/or photographer for branding can be daunting for some. What advice would you give them?
Put as much value in your search for a designer/photographer as you do in a search for a life partner. These are people you are paying to portray you and/or your company. In the online world, they will create your first impression, not you. Also, don't cut corners to save money. These services are part of your branding and they are as crucial to your online business as the location and building is for a brick and mortar store. Save up for your perfect designer if you have to. It will be worth it.
9. How do you deal with days you're feeling uninspired?
Fortunately (or unfortunately some days) I have a million hobbies. I was raised by a single mother who thinks nothing is impossible and, I think as a result of being raised with that philosophy, it just never occurred to me that I couldn't do everything that I wanted. So, if I'm feeling uninspired in my business I draw, sew, crochet, write, refinish furniture, garden, etc... Lately, I've been super into painting landscapes and reading long novels. Experiencing passion in one project always inspires me to look at another with fresh creativity and zeal. I also like to get outside and play with our five rabbits. When I get home after a long and stressful day the first place I go is the "bunny pen."
10. What is the best business advice you ever came across?
That's a tough one. It’s not inherently business related, but my favorite book is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. The novel is full of so many phenomenal lines but the one that sticks with me the most is this: "Fate needs accomplices, and the stones in destiny's walls are mortared with small and heedless complicities." It's a more poetic way of saying "God helps those who help themselves." I believe that to be true in every aspect of life, not just business. If you want something - Make. It. Happen.
An anthropologist, turned creative business owner, Bri Gore blends cultural understanding and photography in a new approach to help brands create quality social media campaigns.