I knew it was time for a change. It was October of 2019 and the brand that was once serving me no longer was.
If I was honest, I had built an incredible lifestyle brand. My days were filled with Pinterest boards, prop sourcing and styling. My tables were abundant with good food and friends gathered around the table. (If you’re one of the friends who watched as I photographed Thanksgiving dinner on the 1st of November…as your food got cold, I’m sorry. Thank you for your patience, support and implicit model release for 5+ years.)
BUT…I was confusing every potential customer I had.
If you’ve been around for more than 3 years, you would know that prior to an agency, this was a lifestyle blog with a studio arm. Everytime someone attempted to describe what I did – they couldn’t. They were confused. As much as I loved blogging and content creation, it was time to say goodbye to Glisten and Grace as a studio entity for good.
I started doing research, taking a deep dive into industry leaders in metropolitan areas. The business had already pivoted into a boutique agency model. But the brand didn’t reflect the quality or evolution of the business.
I put it on the calendar and set a plan into motion. In Q1 of 2020, I would launch a new site and rebrand with a clear dovetail strategy. As apart of this process, we would position all previous client work to compete in large metropolitan markets. (Our sights were set on New York and Los Angeles, hubs of advertising.)
As you might have guessed…the story unfolded in a way I couldn’t expect and truthfully BETTER than I could have expected.
It was March 1, 2020 and I spent over 16 hours refining the site. Launch graphics were ready. Our trailer video was complete. The digital launch party was ready to go for our email list. The studio walls were lined with giant post-its – laying out the pre, during and post launch phases. Content was placed into our framework for the next three months with clear revenue goals tied to each.
Little did I know that all of our plans were thrust into the abyss less than two weeks later. I sat in my office feet propped up on a bed during a call.
It was with clients terrified about what this would mean for their business.
A bit of a backstory
At the time, I lived in a tiny mountain town of Northern California. Every summer prior the city was ravaged by wildfires and had to rebuild a bit at a time. Small businesses were used to being closed a few weeks out of the summer and had to recoup loss seasonally.
But this time things were different – our town was held to the same CDC requirements as Los Angeles county. Which meant – digital transformation had to happen OR businesses would shut down.
You see that week we didn’t have one call. We had over 14. Book tours were cancelled, schools had to pivot online and people were filing for unemployment left and right.
Our decision? We had to pivot and meet business owners exactly where they were at. We charted out a new plan and focused content on business owners needs. Our stack of work was high and many days turned into late nights. Waking up at 6 AM, it was only grind.
Content was being pushed out at an alarming rate. You could feel the panic behind it all. People were wondering if they would be able to ride the wave and what it would take. That day – I made a choice. We would work with anyone who was a good fit and offer payment plans to make sure they would survive. We would point them to SBA loans to help them float expenses.
You see, we knew people’s pain points, what they needed and how to manage a team remotely. It wasn’t foreign for us. It was normal.
We had our best year to date, onboarded a team and moved to a larger market where production was still happening.
While we know for many business owners, riding the wave three years in is still a challenge. If you’re looking into the start of Q2 nervous and wondering where you’ll find new business. Use these prompts to guide you: