“How do you get business while moving so often?” | Gypsy Collective

Divvying out hugs and gratitude for getting together for the evening, Rachael, Yusuf and I discussed many things we had in common. Moving to the islands from the South, our slight twangs, and the perks + perils of military life which can sometimes send you on unexpected adventures all over the place. Just before she hopped in her car to head out she asked the one question I’m always asked: “How do you get business while moving so often?”. I laughed and gave credit where all the credit is totally due:

 Friends.

She exclaimed that’s in fact how she found me, a referral from another gracious photographer on Maui (thanks, Caitlin!) and I was honored to feel the love. When I decided to follow my heart and officially switch careers from Interior Designer to Wedding Photographer my husband (then boyfriend) had just joined the military and to be quite honest the future of my business wasn’t something I had really considered…or the years to follow via the Army (OR that most ‘Army Wives’ get stigmatized as “Wannabe Photographers“, but let’s just ignore that crap because it’s B.S. and will send me into a rage). I never considered having to pick up and move and certainly didn’t put much thought into building a business I could confidently take anywhere until we found out we were relocating from North Carolina to Hawai’i (in which we did a little dance). I knew business was going to be tough as hell. A sincere struggle from that moment forward, and just as making new friends was going to be daunting so was starting all over again. From scratch. Knowing no one. Then starting over again one day after that, too. It was that realization where two things became the crux which determined my ultimate life as a photographer wherever I may be: a strong online presence and genuine connections. If I’m being totally honest there really isn’t much ‘business’ to my business. I like to keep it real. I tried to make that sentence sound more ghetto, kinda how I would say it, but it looked more like I couldn’t type. So I skipped it. Just imagine it in your head.

1. Friends: I will happily say I am fortunate enough to have to have friends I grew up with who also became photographers. Collectively it made learning the industry and building a foundation a lot easier, paired with my an undeniable passion for meeting new people–connecting wherever I go–has developed relationships all across the world, spreading the word naturally. By constantly (and possibly annoyingly) proclaiming “Hey, I’m a Photographer! I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER.  I’m a phooottoggraphhherrrrr” means colleagues and BFFs are more likely to give you a shout out to their engaged pals “Hey! I know a photographer…” Couples are always heading from the mainland to O’ahu to get married, these relationships with friends and photographers (both via the internet and real life) have been pivotal in helping my business blossom and help me work with couples off-island. Thanks, ya’ll!  :)

Majority of my local business comes from besties on island (who either happen to be Photographers or in the wedding industry themselves) and past clients turned friends. Spending time with people I enjoy is important to me, as are authentic, genuine connections. They aren’t just Coordinators, Florists, or Photographers. They are friends who’s babies I watch (okay that happened once but MAN are they cute!), whose families I adore, and peers I can sit and talk to about life all day every day. When I am friends with someone I am in it, invested and I’ve got their back, so I’m grateful that the people I’ve met scattered throughout the Hawai’ian islands that are equally thoughtful and have become a big part of my life that extends far beyond business. I consider the people I appreciate more than clients or vendors, they’re legit friends.

The Internet: I don’t know much about SEO. Okay, in fact I don’t know a single thing, but what I do know is that I love being a photographer and shooting film, and I let my passion for my craft seep out into everything I put on the web. I use the social media sites that feel natural (instagramming like a fool!), I keep up with people via Facebook, and I try (ohhhh do I try!) to consistently update my blog. I am an advocate of connecting online (but not living there) and love when internet friends become real life ones. Again–I find it incredibly important to keep media presence fresh with updated content to help spread the word of where you are and what you’re shooting (and what you had for lunch, duh) but most importantly I use it as a platform to continue to harbor sincere relationships with fellow photographers, colleagues, and the people I love. Yes I just saw that video you posted of your dog eating bubbles, it was the cutest thing in the world *like*. My website doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the first page of Google and I’m not gracing the covers of Martha Stewart weddings (one day!) but being featured on reputable of-the-moment wedding blogs and simply being Ashley online does the trick.

Having real genuine relationships on the web (but mostly real life!) while showcasing an authentic online presence has helped me to create a sturdy foundation for my photography business that I am confident I will be able to easily carry on wherever God may lead us next. (please be Italy, pleaseeeee be Italy).

 

 

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Week of Lasts

This week wraps the last of “get all the things done” before my wedding season truly begins, the last FULL week of being two years away from thirty instead of one (omfg), and last few #hilife days for my yoga loving and should be flute donning friend Danica as she will no longer be an island girl as she relocates her adventures to San Diego.

Le sighhhh.

North Shore iphone instagram

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Simple + Earthy Packaging Inspiration

Feels like it’s been forever that I have been scouring the internet in search of packaging inspiration that suited me. Ideas layered upon ideas, I felt there were lots of pretty options out there but none of them really shouted ‘ASHLEY’! Archival wooden boxes are beautiful, and I wish I was as elegant as the ‘fine art film’ look of linen gently tied with silk ribbon but none of these elements quite reflect my own personal bright, eclectic and feminine style with a bit of edge. Not to mention insanely expensive. And just when it felt like I couldn’t call one one more company and to hear an outrageous quote, or search pinterest for ‘photography packaging ideas’ I finally FINALLY came up with my own (and a year later found someone to make it happen).

In my search I sourced lots of great things other photographers were doing, but I wanted something different. Something of my own devices that I hadn’t really seen. So instead of looking towards the industry I was in I let my mind venture and took note of what inspired me in fashion. I know that it feels so good to hold a solidly made product in your hands with the prettiest details, gift wrapped so nice that you hardly even want to open it. That the quality of paper and mixture of textures has a subconscious impact and even the most insignificant of detailing can make all the difference. In my online search unique and ‘un-photography’ related business packaging was hard to come by but I found myself most inspired by the lighthearted and fun boxes in retail (in particular monthly subscription boxes!). Soon I will unveil my own, but for now here are some fun ideas I uncovered while perusing, best suited for a clean, organic and downright hipster style:

One  |  Two  |  Three  |  Four  |  Five  |  Six

1.  I love the idea of individually labeling items with simple wraps and including a small local goodie or jam.

2. Using a rubber stamp to detail a wooden box with your logo makes it custom for a pocket-friendly price. Add a ribbon with a sweet tag and boom! Gorg.

3.  Instead of a $75 box just for the album how about wrap it up pretty with a custom tag, instead? Makes it feel more like a gift, dontcha think?

4 + 5: Inspired by clever monthly subscription boxes simple can be fabulous. Consider adding some pattern paper to make it feel more complete and good-to-go.

6. Custom made proof boxes from HHBoogie feel like treasures from the past.

If you’re looking for ideas outside the realm of Pinterest, check out theDieline.com, full of cool, quirky branding and clean, cutting edge graphic design and packaging. Also consider taking a nod from some of your personal favorite brands! I did!

 

 

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Wearing a bikini on the beach with Britney Spears.

I will start this post off by saying it’s not nearly as exciting as one would expect. Nor do I win any cool points, as my husband is the link behind this afternoon at the beach and I was just the wife who found it absolutely necessary to greet everyone with a box of freshly made Leonard’s malasadas. However once you think about it, it is kinda surreal however people are just…well…people.

On Wednesday Marshall + I packed up the jeep with two umbrellas, every beach towel in the house and about a million boogie boards to meet David and his girlfriend…Britney Spears to usher them onto a secluded beach on island. Random, I know. Even more random is this photo she later instagrammed with my giant behind in the background:

Here’s how it happened:

Marshall, my husband, grew up in Appomattox with David. They have kept in contact over the years, so when David decided to head to the islands with Britney and her sons he hit Marshall up. Interested in a beach day full of fun waves for the boys and nestled away from the chaos of paparazzi constantly trying to snatch an unflattering image they looked to Marshall for ideas of quiet locales. Thankfully we had just the right spot in mind that would keep unwanted intruders at bay. Marshall orchestrated with her security, we borrowed his boss’s boogie boards, I tried on multiple bikinis, my sister demanded while there I get Adam Levine’s phone number, I smeared hemroid cream over my thighs (apparently this helps with cellulite? I had never tried before, but figured today was the day!) we loaded up the jeep and set out to meet them.

Once guided through the post to a chill beach spot we casually introduced ourselves. We let the boys pick their boogie boards (they were super pumped) and began setting up shop. (We went full on ‘Hawaiian style’ and practically set up living quarters. You know how we do). Then, we let them be. So this may sound silly, but before heading out I went into serious prayer mode. Nothing like “Oh please God, make Britney my new Best Friend!” (looking back maybe I should have thrown that in there…) but more like “Just guide us today, show us what this random meeting is for, and help us to be whatever it is this person needs today…”. A friendly genuine smile, or just a guide onto a quiet, private beach. A moment of solitude. That we be the vessels in which help make someone feel relaxed and at peace for a few hours. And while there, I was shown. The waves were rolling, the sun was shining, and although I don’t personally know David and Britney, they were able to settle for a bit and somewhat chill. (Well, their version of chill is NOT my version, as they seem to always have to be ‘on guard’–this would drive me bonkers) Being the lover of Leonards that I am, I brought along a dozen mixed malasadas as people simply can’t head to Hawai’i and NOT HAVE THIS DELICIOUSNESS. That would be a travesty. I passed the Portuguese donuts out to the few security guys, insisting they have more than one, and felt immediate remorse once I opened the box up to the pop princess. You don’t get a body like that by eating donuts. Clearly I get a body like this eating donuts.

Marshall and I decided to hit the water where he and David began to reminisce, poking fun at me from being from Buckingham and Britney along with her boys made efforts to catch some waves. Marshall gave out pointers on how to best catch them which I scoffed at– hellooooo, IIIIII am the best boogie boarder in this marriage. I floated around on my giant pretzel, simply happy to be in the Pacific ocean on a Wednesday. Soon after, Marshall and I decided to reinstate our ongoing competition and ride the surf–I totally won. See, I’m telling you, it’s totally not that bruting and deep.

There was one moment while Marshall and David caught up with one another that I noticed Britney on the beach by herself. My immediate reaction as a human was “I don’t want her to feel left out…maybe I should go talk to her…”. Then my feelings as a skeptic said “maybe she doesn’t want to be bothered by me”. A wave took me out right about then, washing salt water into my sinuses and sand into my ‘kini, forcing me to get my ish together and towel off on shore. I decided to go and simply be kind to the singer and offer up some Maui Babe. What girl can resist Maui babe? I had already asked how they met (which encouraged a “did you really just ask that?” look from Marshall) so I worried maybe I wouldn’t say the right things. You know, kinda like how you probably shouldn’t say ‘da bomb’ on an airplane, I worried maybe my sense of humor wouldn’t jive and I should probably keep that joke about lacing the malasadas to myself. I don’t know how to have any sort of conversation other than a normal one and as I honestly didn’t have much to ask her, I also don’t know much about her either. Sure, I know the things you can’t avoid from the media, but I just, well, wanted to be real and talk but I worried my typical questions could be perceived as prying so I stifled my endless desire as a conversationalist and focused on working on my tan. Cause that girl was already looking local and I AM THE ONE WHO LIVES HERE.

We all shared TV shows we loved, laughed at the boys having a flipping ball in the waves, in true Marshall style he passed out hawaiian candies, laughed hysterically when David busted his ass trying to skim board (as Britney so sweetly worried about him. Here we are, cracking up…) I made sure people were eating the rest of the malasadas and we just…well…kicked it. 

It was pretty normal….mixed with awkward…but only for me, as I was encouraged to do the reverse of what I normally do and give love how the people we were with needed it, not how I perceive it. Typically I use talking and questions led by genuine interest in others to make them feel comfortable and at ease and felt in THIS instance being quiet was most likely more comforting. This is sincerely a hard concept for me to grasp. Can you imagine it? ME! Hardly talking?!?! Okay, probably more like a quarter less of words, but still.  To me THAT’S AWKWARD.

The experience was cool, so, I won’t deny it, but I genuinely tried to approach it from a different standpoint and in turn learned an exponential amount about myself. Instead of thinking about what she could do for me I wanted to think about what I could do for her (and those around her). Sure, I could kindly request a shameless instagram shoutout (dammit why didn’t I?), or ask “can I take some film photos of y’all” (while they weren’t allowed…) but in a life where trusting anyone around you feels daunting and maybe impossible, where everyone wants something and wants to exploit you for their personal gain, I genuinely wanted to make sure everyone there was comfortable and having a good time–whatever that meant; giving a beach chair to her security, offering up malasadas, and making sure the boys had all sorts of options of things to play with. Conversation or lack there of, whatever they all needed to have a glimpse of feeling ‘normal’. Yes, it’s absolutely a trade-off when you make tons of money it comes at a price, but can you ever imagine having to be so strategic with your days? Or seeing nasty instagram comments about your body in a bikini? Not having freedoms to hop up and head to the restaurant down the street without it being a giant production? I thrive off close relationships with people I love fueled by deep conversation and although I don’t know the inner workings of fame I feel sincere friendships and solid levels of trust and kindness are hard to come by. And that made me sad. It makes you wonder: is it worth all the money?

And you want to know THE WEIRDEST thing about it all? I was in my bikini on the beach with Britney Spears and didn’t give a damn. Seriously. It was SO FREAKING ODD, considering I gave much thought and attention into which suit I was going to wear, even contemplated buying a new one for the occasion and in the moment I could care less.  THAT IS UNTIL I SAW MY GIANT BEHIND HERE. Then I thought “maybe I SHOULD have cared….”

(ps: come on, Edon! Should have let the PHOTOGRAPHER take this photo, then A: their feet would be in it and B: she wouldn’t be PHOTO BOMBING the otherwise fabulous scenery. But then I’d own the copyright, and not the security guard, so that could get hair, huh?  ;) WOW there’s so much as a celebrity to think about, it seems exhausting.). I won’t lie, when I first saw this photo I got excited because as no photos were allowed by us on the beach I worried “photos or it didn’t happen”. And then THERE’S A PHOTO and my GIANT BOOTY IS THERE! Which two seconds later caused me to hyperventilate as excitement turned to sheer panic. Look, I know no one is going to look at this photo and say “Hey look, that’s Ashley Goodwin and Marshall Woods over there!” other than ME, but truly, I am kind of mortified that there is this potentially great group shot on a peaceful beach and then there’s us, straight up bombing the back. Which THEN got me all panicked as I could hear Giuliana Ranic comment “great shot, minus THOSE folks!” in her snarky way. And then, again, I realized how ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS I was being because no one gives a dern that we are back there ruining the shot…right?!?! And resisted searching all instagram comments to make sure. And now I’m over thinking it. Shesh, that’s a glimpse into her life a little bit, right? I’m too much of a baby, I couldn’t handle such fame. She, however, does it with kindness and a sweet smile. I only have good things to say about all of them, she is gentle and quiet with a sweet soul, David is generous and humble who clearly cares a lot about her (and still straight up Appomattox!  He just needs the pineapple haircut…), the kids are seriously the funniest little munchkins who act like twins and her security team, who look like they are from a scene in a Liam Neilson movie but are actually quite nice.

Do I regret not asking for a #selfie? Kinda! And sure, I could be super humble and not whisper a word about our fun day..but it is freaking Britney Spears, how do you NOT say anything? Exactly. But in seriousness, it was rather normal and uneventful and left me grateful that Marshall and I were able to unify and be the team we’ve always aspired to be, one that’s there for people. We didn’t save a life or change the world,  it’s just being around fame which probably isn’t as cool as it seems, but when you think about how little time celebrities of this nature actually get to live in the world being able to help provide them a paparazzi free day where not a soul even noticed them on the beach (seriously, no one!), then an uneventful day’s pretty awesome. I am proud that we were able to not have potential desires with selfish motives and just be for a few hoursI do however, regret not asking her how she got that perfectly wavy blonde hair back in 2000. Oooooh I used to dreammmmm about that hair.

 

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