Next up in the series is Natasha Martin, the founder, stylist + photographer of Violet Tinder Studios. Natasha and I met on Instagram and bonded over candy-colored hues. At the time we were both selling products on Etsy (yes, that was a thing...!), we loved Instagram, and we were both really interested in styled photography. We planned a meetup, kept chatting, and both drastically altered our businesses. We were basically destined to be friends! The best part? All of these happenings were driven by social media. Read on the learn more about Natasha's work and to hear her crazy awesome, real advice for other creatives looking to leverage social media:
LISH: What do you do?
NATASHA: I'm the owner and stylist of Violet Tinder Studios, a creative house specializing in styling, product photography, and creative content. Basically, I work with businesses to create eye-catching images that bring their brand and story to life!
L: How has social media influenced your business?
N: It has been everything! When I first started selling my art and stationery a couple years ago, I used social media to share my work and projects. Over time, I found that the styling and photographing was my favorite part. It gave me an outlet to create all of these fun, colorful, crazy images I'd dream up in my head (i.e. a sea of lollipops, an ombrè Barbie-accessory rainbow) and share them with others who enjoyed it. Eventually, I shifted my entire business focus and that's what led me to where I am today. Now, I get the vast majority of my clients through Instagram, both big and small! It's such a great way to create a portfolio of your work, while engaging in a world-wide creative community. Without it, I wouldn't have the same amazing group of friends or the business I have today. I've also recently started getting more into Snapchat, as a fun way to share easy, quick, + less "curated" moments... And I'm on FB and Pinterest too, but am less involved in those than I am IG. :)
L: Did you ever expect social media to play such a large role in your professional development/business?
N: No, but to be honest, it took me getting super-involved in social media to more clearly understand what my path would be! I think I was nervous at first that I was spending so much time on something that seemed "pointless" (i.e. spending hours photographing cool arrangements of things to share), but doing it made me so happy and creatively-fulfilled, that I just kept going, with faith that it would lead somewhere. I think that would be one of my biggest pieces of advice to someone trying to figure out their own path...what are you drawn to? Do that! Keep doing that! Over and over and over... you don't have to "know" exactly where you're headed. I think you'd be surprised to find that most people who we'd define as "successful" didn't have a straight + narrowly defined path... more of a winding road to figure out the best merge of their talents + interests.
L: What are some opportunities that have resulted from social media?
N: Oh man, I could go on forever with this! But I will (try to) be succinct- I would say 1) some of my closest creative friends! It can be hard as an adult to make quality, new friends, especially ones that share the same interests. Social media has allowed me to connect with people from all over that I would never had met, had we not both been sharing our creative passions on an app. And 2) the vast majority of my clients come from social media! In today's world, it's non-negotiable that a business with a long-term plan have a strong brand presence on social media... and I think more and more of them are realizing that it's great content that they need to stand out! They turn to people like me (and you!) to find that unique, eye-catching content. I feel like social media is really changing the advertising world of the future!
L: Where do you find inspiration to keep creating?
N: Well, of all the things I struggle to find (patience, my endless pile of sticky-notes, my keys), inspiration is thankfully not usually one of them! I am inspired by so much... good music, fashion magazines, a walk outside, perusing the grocery store aisles, my grandma's house... you name it!! I'm constantly jotting down notes and ideas and then pulling from that when it's time to create. That helps me feel like there's always a "well" to draw from, in the moments I'm tired or not feeling it... Really, I think inspiration is just the ability to tap into and convey the way you see the world! Sometimes, that's a scary thing (what if people think I'm weird? or just don't "get" it?) but ultimately that's what makes someones work unique.
L: What is one piece of advice you would give to creatives who are looking to use social media to enhance their careers/business?
N: Go all in!! You can't half-ass it. If you just slap stuff up, hoping to gain followers and grow your business, you might as well not waste your time at all. Yes, there is a high bar but don't be intimidated! Take the time to share your work, the stuff you're most proud of... keep working to improve the quality of the photos you share. Post regularly (as often as you can keep up with... once a day is ideal)... Engage with others. Genuinely!! Not just as a means to draw them over to your feed. To be a part of an engaged community, you have to be engaged. And if you're working on all of that (it's ok to do it slowly, no one is a superstar overnight), you WILL grow your online presence and see it positively impact your business. It just takes dedication and patience. (I often lack the latter :))
L: Spread the love....who are your favorite accounts to follow? Any hidden gems we should know about?
N: This is hard because there are so so SO many people I love to follow and whose work I admire! Since this interview is for you, Alisha, I won't name you (but I just sort of did....haha) but a few more I love? @lizzie_darden, @thejealouscurator, @groehrs, @_wildhumm... my list could go one forever! Mainly, I love accounts with color, fun, and a unique point of view. :)
L: What's next for you - tell us about something you're working on!
N: I like to keep a lot of irons in the fire!! Haha, but really, I try to always keep a full plate so I'm never bored and am always learning and moving forward. I have a few new, exciting clients I'm finalizing some details with and am looking forward to what's to come! And I'm always mentally mapping out ways to grow my business (hire someone else? figure out how to get a larger studio space? etc...) As long as I feel slightly crazy and over-caffeinated, I know I'm ok!