A little while back Laura of Gooseberry Studios & Prints, and I connected when she reached out to me about a campaign she was doing with Sick Kids. I automatically said I wanted to take part and I am so happy that I did! Laura later attended one of my writing workshops and took photos of the event. After all of our chats and emails I knew that we had a lot in common and well, like I’ve said before, meeting in person always makes a huge difference! Laura was so easy to talk to and her honesty, creativity and genuine interest in the well begin of others (and of course, animals) made our time together so enjoyable!
I am so happy to introduce Laura of Gooseberry Studios & Prints as this month’s Blooming Boutique! Gooseberry Studios began as a boutique photography studio and has developed in to so much more! From photography and art prints to brand/business development, this multifaceted company has so much to offer. Laura’s fun-loving and unique style is visible in all avenues of her work and I know you will love it as much as I do!
- Let’s start with the name! Gooseberry is the sweetest name for a studio and print shop, what made you decide to use this as the name for your company? Is there a story behind it?
There is actually! When I began developing the print shop side of the business I hunted and hunted on Google for a name that resonated with me. But after days of searching only to find that every idea I had was already taken, I turned to my little ragamuffin of a dog, Lucy, who I call Goose (she doesn’t even know her ‘real’ name, haha!) and said something along the lines of, “Oh Gooseberry! What are we to do!” Needless to say the name stuck and I later applied it to the entire studio as a whole.
- I love hearing the stories behind the creation and development of a new business. Can you tell us a little bit more about how it all began? What made you decide to open your shop(s)?
I wish I could say that the decision to start my own business was a mindful one, but in all honesty Gooseberry Studios began as a result of me being laid off many years ago from my full-time job as a web editor at a publishing company. I had always done freelance work on the side of a full-time 9-5 job and after six months of job hunting without success I was facing a choice – relocate or try take my freelance work full time. After all, the bills were piling up. So I chose the latter and dove in. Gooseberry Studios began as a boutique photography studio, but now has multiple ‘departments’ including photography, brand/business development and management, blogging and, of course, the print shop where I turn some of my photography into art pieces.
- Gooseberry is both a studio (photography) and a print shop (where you create fantastic art work), can you tell us a bit more about running a multifaceted company like this?
Well for one thing, it’s busy, but I’ve always been the kind of person who thrives on having lots of different projects on the go. No two days are alike and I have the great fortune of working with some amazing individuals on a wide variety of tasks, from family photo sessions, to building brands from the ground up, to mentoring up-and-coming entrepreneurs, to capturing weddings, to writing for magazines.
If I were to offer any small slice of advice to someone thinking of running a multifaceted company, it would be these two things… Firstly, you have to be very organized (and love being organized) to ensure that everything gets done when it needs to be done. Secondly, don’t launch a business with multiple services right out of the gate. Instead, launch with one and get that up and running in a really good rhythm and then build on to your business little by little. Growing too fast without the right support can be your undoing otherwise.
- When you start something like a small business you never really know where it can take you. What were some of the amazing moments on your journey so far and what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The day I got laid off, I left the office and took my dog to the local park where I sat on a picnic table and ugly cried. A year and a half later, I was sitting at that same picnic table with my laptop returning emails and scheduling shoots and I remember thinking how grateful I was for the freedom to have more outdoor time. Being able to choose my workspace on any given day – be it my home office, my studio, a park or patio – has been an amazing revelation. A simple yet profound luxury really. I’m also think it’s pretty cool that my work now allows me to capture a piece of people’s history, either from their personal lives or professional lives. I always imagine my clients looking back on the work I complete for them when they are old and grey and remembering the ‘good old days,’ which always brings a happy tear to my eye.
Of course, there have been challenges too. In fact, challenges never really go away, they simply change, are never what you expect, but you get better (hopefully) at managing them. My first year of business was tough and I remember feeling like I was drowning for a full 365 days, maybe even longer. It was so over-whelming, so daunting and truly felt impossible, like I was splashing around in the deep end of a pool with no idea how to even doggie-paddle. But you grow, you learn and somehow you find your way through. That drowning feeling is why I started offering brand development and business mentoring services, because I wanted to help people in their early years of business avoid that suffocating feeling.
- As someone who has experienced the entrepreneurial hustle, what kind of advice would you offer to someone looking to start their own company or wanting to take on a creative venture?
I actually wrote a blog post not too long about all the things I wish I had known before starting my business. My biggest piece of advice is “Treat yourself like a business, not a creative.” Even if you’re not making a dime from your services to begin with, establish yourself professionally. Get dressed to work for yourself, set office hours, create work flow systems and processes, and schedule two days off a week. In other words, tell yourself YOU are your new 9-5 and treat yourself with the same courtesy and kindness that you would expect from any other employer. I know this doesn’t sound like much in terms of advice, but getting into that headspace was a total game changer for me personally. Oh, and write a business plan – trust me. You – need – it.
- When we first started chatting I learned that outreach was a big part of what you do at Gooseberry. Can you tell us a bit more about this element of your company?
Giving back has always been deeply important to me. So each year I design initiatives to help make some sort of difference, even if it’s a small one. This year, for example, the print shop ran a campaign to donate 20% of all sales to SickKids Hospital. And every year during the Christmas season I run a holiday-themed dog photo booth to raise money for Sit With Me Rescue.
I’ve also recently launched a program called “Lovey Mine Sessions,” where I donate one hour photo sessions to families/individuals/pets who have a life-threatening diagnosis.
I personally believe that community is beyond important and that by giving back to the community you help to make it stronger.
- As Gooseberry continues to bloom and grow what are your hopes for the future of the company?
Maybe it’s my publishing and journalism background, or my proud bookworm side, but I’ve always dreamed of having a book published, probably a photography book ideally, which is still something that floats around in the back of my mind.
In terms of hopes for the company as a whole, I’m really excited to develop the Gooseberry blog more to get back into my writing roots and I would love to create more elaborate stylized shoots too – like Vogue-inspired concepts that are total fiction, but offer people a fun form of escapism.
Thank you so much for interviewing me for your column! Xo
Print shop: @gooseberryprints
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*Disclosure: Companies featured in this series often sponsor my posts and, or send products for review. If I love the company and their products, I am more than happy to share them with you!