This podcast is to help lift up mamas who have been feeling let down, left out, left behind or just plain lost in their career while trying to raise a family; with faith filled perspective from the friend you didn’t know you needed.
I am going to run through some questions I was recently asked in a poll I did in my instagram stories a few weeks ago.
So let me ask you a question first to get you thinking while I chat about this today:
Why do you want to start a client closet?
Is it because it’s popular?
Is it because you see well styled photos all the time on Instagram?
Is it because someone you admire has one?
Is it because you truly want to offer your clients a boutique level experience?
Think about that and we will come back to that later.
I am going to start with telling you why I started my closet years ago and what I do to continue to build it to this day:
I started my client closet about 6 years ago and I have been in this industry for 12 years now but it started out very small and with what I already had because I already loved buying dresses.
I did not have a true vision back then other than I wanted to help my clients look and feel their best.
Ok let’s just dive into the questions:
How long did you have your business before starting a closet?
About 6 years before I decided to start building onto what I already had and the reason was because I wanted to for lack of a better word “control” what I was photographing – I mean anyone who gets into this work for the most part probably has some underlying passion for this work right? So I knew I had spent the majority of my adult life working for someone else, doing what someone else wanted me to do.
How do you start a client closet?
So my top tips to start (elaborate on each)
- Start with what you have
- Buy based on your sessions booked if you are new and just starting to build it.
- Buy things in the colors YOU love to photograph after all you are building a brand and this play a huge part in your editing workflow later on.
- Don’t focus on what everyone has or what they are sharing in their stories or feeds. Focus on you.
- Quality over quantity in terms of types of things you buy
What sizes do you buy and what colors?
Medium to large
You can make a larger dress smaller but not a smaller dress bigger
Choose Brand colors and colors you love to edit
What type of dresses do you go for?
Client based not trend based
But I love long, flows, boho/hippy anything that adds texture and movement.
Clients pay your bills not other photographers giving your praise with a share / like
Do you have your clients try on before their session?
Yes most times!
Before leasing a studio space I would have my clients come to my home or if they lived too far we would legit meet half way and do try ons in target parking lots y’all! There is no shame in my game.
If they live too far and there is no chance of meeting I take detailed videos of myself wearing them and expressing my size in reference to the clothing and show stretch and movement and I always come with at least 3 backups.
Do you also buy mens items?
I have recently started adding mens pieces to my client closet in the last year. I go on amazon + H&M mostly and I always get a size large because I have mostly size large men who book me so I stick with that. I buy a few styles in every color I love for my closet and it’s actually been great! Most Dad’s legit do not care they show up and do what mom + I need. It’s one hour and luckily I have the privilege of serving some of the best Dad’s ever because I communicate very clearly with them and make them a huge part of the process. I even request families to fill out my session questionnaire together which asks a lot of wardrobe questions as well.
How do you go about start a client closet for kids?
Honestly this was a HARD choice because where as with moms I can buy a ton of dresses and they will fit a plethora of women it’s not the same for kids. So I suggest if you have a few pieces you LOVE to photograph you should buy those pieces in a few different sizes so that you always have them on hand. I started again with what I had already from my boys and I have some really awesome clients who gladly gift me things they have bought to add to my closet because they would other wise just get rid of them and they know I will use them for years to come. Don’t hesitate to ask your clients they will most likely be glad to help you.
Do you require you clients to use it?
I don’t require my clients to use it. They are all paying for their photos ultimately they do have control. You have to remember that ultimately these photos are for your clients and you are here to serve them – client closet or not.
How do you get your clients to use the client closet?
Back when I first started truly adding to my closet I got a ton of models to showcase my closet and then all I started sharing on Instagram was those sessions and slowly I started gaining clients who WANTED to be styled and don’t for get that nothing good comes overnight. People tend to be slightly conditioned when it comes to group family photos in terms of style so we have to clearly communicate to them how things have changed, how we want them to dress per our style and help them understand that they will infact love every photo they get back if they trust us.
Do you charge extra to use the client closet?
No, this is factored into my cost of doing business and they can choose to use or not use my closet and it won’t affect what they pay- yes, I do have people ask for a discount if they don’t use my closet and I do not offer that because technically free to use.
How can I start a client closet on a budget?
You need to do just that- set a monthly budget of what you can spend each month on items and slowly add to your collection over time without the pressure of creating a fully stocked client closet with an unrealistic overnight expectation.
How do you set yourself apart when everyone seems to buy the same client closet pieces?
I am going to let you in my on me well kept secret…
Also thrifting is such an underrated way to add eclectic pieces to your closet
Utilize Poshmark and any other resale group you can find because not everyone looks there locally.
But Facebook marketplace is my go to place to find custom pieces for my closest because they are typically past seasons items most people are not trying to sell their souls to obtain.
What are your go to brands for maternity sessions?
Owl macrame made by my dear friend CH_ SHERIE
Local boutiques are also a great option and cab help you find pieces other around the world don’t have access too.
So my biggest piece of advice here is to focus on you, your passion, you goals and the clients you want to serve.
The second you let go of what everyone else around you is doing you start building with purpose.
If you enjoyed this episode please leave a review and don’t hesitate to reach out via my instagram DM’s!