Kristin Brause has been obsessed with brands from the age of 5, and has worked at some of London’s top digital advertising agencies, creating kickass campaigns for global brands. She has won awards for her work and learnt from the best. Now she’s on a mission to teach female entrepreneurs and bloggers kickass tips to build an online brand on Instagram.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
To be perfectly honest, I never wanted to run my own business. I thought that running a business would stifle my creativity by having to deal with paperwork and stuff. For 10 years I worked in top advertising agencies and I loved every minute of it. I always pushed myself to deliver excellent work for my clients, which included some of the world’s leading brands. My working day was a constant battle of trying to convince the client to be more courageous and to stand out from the crowd. Many brands are conservative and careful with their next steps, especially when they are paying a lot of money, which I totally understand.
5 years ago I noticed a change in the industry. Our markets became completely saturated with entrepreneurs beating big brands, and I noticed brands reaching out to bloggers and influencers on Instagram to help sell products. And although I loved brands, I loved people more. My focus began to shift, I wanted to work with girls like you and I, normal girls with this amazing drive to build their own brands. I started doing a bit of work on the side for startups, and when I saw that I could add value to other people and support them on their journey, that’s when I realized that was what I wanted to do next.
Building a brand from scratch allows me to be incredibly creative on a daily basis, and I absolutely love it. I come from a family where nobody has ever followed their dreams. Everybody has a safe job and security. All my life I’ve been told that I couldn’t do it and I always believed it. But now, my mindset has changed and I believe I can do it, and I totally will – watch me. I also want to encourage other girls who have been told they can’t, and let them know that they can.
Tell us about your business.
I help female entrepreneurs build a kickass brand on Instagram. I love brands – especially the visuals and ideas bit – and I love IG, so for me combining both is basically a dream come true. When I was working as a creative art director at some of London’s top advertising agencies, it was my job to come up with ideas to help brands sell more products.
Although I loved every minute of my job, I realized that I wanted to build my own brand. I guess it’s every girl’s dream to build a lifestyle brand, and now I’m on a mission to share the tricks of the trade with my girl tribe, and take them on my own brand building journey. I’m my own boss, my creative director and a business woman, all at the same time. And I can’t think of anything better.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I just launched my eBook “Find Your Tribe With The Value Sweet Spot Formula™”, which I am super excited about. It’s my first digital product and it’s packed with strategies and worksheets that I use myself. I call it the Bible because it is so much more than ‘just’ an eBook.
Tyler McCall, an Instagram expert with 11.5k followers calls it “AMAZING” and Sarah Voss, creator of a big jewelry brand calls it “Really educational and FUN to read! I think it will be very successful and useful to other entrepreneurs!” Those are huge compliments from big industry players to someone like myself who just started out.
Quite early on in my career, I won numerous awards for my work as an art director. Before I had even left Miami Ad School, the world’s best school for advertising, I had won a Cannes lion (which is like the Oscar for creatives). It was pretty cool but it didn’t open the doors I had hoped, which has kept me humble.
Oh, and I recently did a mini degree in nutrition, which was one of the best decisions ever, as I love to be in the know about how to eat healthy.
Where is your business based?
I’m currently based in London, UK, but I’m planning to move to Australia in Jan 2018. My boyfriend is from there, and we have been planning to move back for a while. I really can’t wait for the lifestyle change and the warmer weather. I think it’s going to give me the right environment to build the lifestyle brand I want, with lots of photo opportunities. I love palm trees, pools, exercising and eating healthy, and Australia has all that to offer plus a huge network of lifestyle bloggers and brands.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first thing I did was try to build my tribe, because I know that without one your brand is worth nothing. I did lots of social listening to identify real problems people needed help with. Before I started concentrating on Instagram, I had a different startup (a marketplace for local food startups in London) and I tried to give blogging advice as well. The marketplace idea was a good one, but with my move to the other side of the world coming up, I realized I was wasting my energy. So I put the idea on the back burner, and I’m planning to pick it up again soon. The blogging advice was a complete disaster because I didn’t listen to what people wanted, and tried doing my own thing instead. Every day was a struggle, and I didn’t enjoy it. That’s why it was important to me to start this business off better – the right way, with your audience in mind.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Content. Really, content is where you can add real value as a brand. I grew my Instagram account totally organically from zero to over 700 in less than 2 months, and my conversion rates for people clicking through to my website and downloading my freebies are as high as 33%.
I have never guest blogged or done an interview such as this one I am doing on LadyBossBlogger – which is amazing by the way. I get my brand awareness from the value I provide to the people who need it. I guess my background credentials also help, because it gives people a reason to believe in what I have to offer. My tip to anyone trying to build their own brand is to be authentic, be patient and to add value in everything you do.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Prioritizing my workload and sticking to it. There is so much to do in one day, and I would love to do it all at once. But I learned pretty quickly that this is not the right way to do it. Now I try to structure my day, and am constantly trying to embed the right systems to help me stay on top of my workload. Learning to prioritize is BIG and it’s something I’m constantly working on and improving. I believe that if you can’t focus on one thing, you won’t get much done.
How did you overcome these challenges?
By trying to discipline myself, but also by trying new things: analyzing, tweaking, improving. I love lists, and write both a to-do and a must-do list. Everything that is affecting my business directly or is going to make me money goes on my must-do list. Everything else goes on my to-do list. I believe you have to train yourself, and be very consistent, and think of new skills like a muscle. You gotta build it up, and then work out every day in order to keep it in shape. I apply that analogy to everything in my business.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
To be frank, some days suck. But it’s usually those days when, for some reason or other, I can’t follow my routine (for example, when I travel). When I feel totally lost, I remind myself that I can do it, that I have the skills and the brains to do it. I have 100% faith in myself and I can’t see myself doing anything else. There is no plan B. I only have a plan A, which is to help other female entrepreneurs and girl boss’s build a kickass brand, while at the same time building my own. Usually, after a round of Candy Crush I’m good to go again :).
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I guess, because of my background. I grew up in East Germany where we had absolutely nothing. No brands, no toys, no colorful packaging. Everything was controlled by the state and designed to suppress western influences coming from America. When I was 5, I had the privilege to travel to West Germany. That’s when I first saw brands, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. This feeling has never left me, and I can truly say that it has shaped who I am today. For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about brands, creativity, art direction, visual styling and photography. I would like think my brand is authentic and so is my WHY – the reason behind my brand.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“What you believe, you become” by Bob Procter. Everything starts with a vision. If you believe it, it’ll become a reality. Of course, nothing is going to happen without hard work. Ever. But I really firmly believe that if you can visualize yourself doing something or achieving something, then you will set your subconsciousness on course to achieve it.
I’ll give you an example: you know those amazing images of people’s desks you see on Instagram and Pinterest, like the dream desk? I’ve always wanted to have a cool workspace like that, but I currently live in this less than pretty London flat. And, with my big move coming up, I didn’t want to break the bank, so it seemed my dream desk was out of reach. But nevertheless I kept tweaking my desk here and then, and I recently picked up a brush and painted my walls pink. When I laid out all the objects I had (like books, picture frames, my microphone) and took a picture, I couldn’t believe it, because it looked exactly like my dream desk. Over time, my subconsciousness must have guided me to collect certain objects that was an exact replica of my vision. You can see my desk on my IG profile, or if you’re in London, swing by.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Always find your own feet. What works for others isn’t necessarily going to work for you (and if someone has already done it, why bother anyways). What really flies is being authentic, honest, different and valuable. Never copy what someone else does, because copy cats are boring. People will pay you for your experience, and you just don’t get experience by copying other people’s style.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My favorite business tool hands down is ConvertKit. It just blows my mind how easy it makes email marketing. It’s one of those expenses I actually love seeing coming out of my account every month, because I feel like it provides sheer value, which I’m more than willing to pay for.
My favorite business resource is social media, hands down – especially Instagram and Facebook groups. I love reading people’s comments and questions. There is so much value in these, and the best thing is, it’s all for free. I constantly do social listening, and I always keep a spreadsheet open to collect comments and questions. It gives me a ton of product and blog post ideas that people really need. In my aforementioned eBook, I describe exactly how I do social listening, and why I believe it’s a gold mine.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein, a modern day leader and spirit junkie. I admit, it’s not my typical book choice, but it kept crossing my path on Instagram (would you believe) and so I finally decided to order it. I wouldn’t call myself spiritual, but I do always follow my gut instinct.
In Gabby’s book, she talks about the universe sending you signs in the form of numbers that let you know that you are on the right path. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the kitchen making coffee, and happened to glance at our digital kitchen clock when it’s at exactly 11:11 or 22:22 or 2:34. It’s incredible. Usually, when this happens I smile to myself, really enjoy the moment, and re-focus on my goals. It gives me an unbelievable boost of energy before I return to my desk.
What are you currently learning about for your business, or looking for help with?
I am teaching myself to create content in advance and batch-write blog posts and video scripts. Because I’m not a native English speaker, I tend to put off writing a lot, and I let my copywriting partner (who I worked with for 7 years in advertising) proof-read everything first. I feel like it’s a little handicap because I can’t just write and publish the way I want.
I’m a little jealous of native English speakers who can just go ahead and write and publish on the same day. For me, the process takes a little longer, and I feel like I’m always behind. Truth is, my copywriter is amazing, he really knows me and always improves my copy. I’m learning lots from him and I know that having a content plan in place will help me feel in control with my business. I’ve got so many ideas about what I want to do next.
What are your goals for the next few months, and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goals are to get my eBook out there and into as many hands as possible. I want female entrepreneurs to read it, use it and help me improve it with their feedback. To achieve this, I’ve created a free webinar workshop for anyone to watch. I also want to collaborate, do guest posting and really build a relationship with as many awesome female entrepreneurs out there as possible. I already have a few opportunities lined up, and I’m talking to Robin Smith, which I am so excited about.
Apart from that, I have a clear financial target in my mind that I need to hit before my move to Oz, and a bunch of creative ideas planned for my IG feed. To achieve it all, I’m trying to be very consistent and make sure I’m always learning.
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