Chelsea Haworth Photography
The fact of the matter is that starting a photography business can be a long, difficult process with no guarantees of success.
But with guidance from people that have made it, you can make it a much easier task to start something that will be successful in the short and long term.
With that in mind, we're starting a "Photography Entrepreneur of the Month" series in the hopes that you can draw inspiration from business owners that were once in the same position as you - just starting out and not knowing exactly what to do next.
So, get buckled in and get ready to get some insights from Valerie Best, Founder and CEO of Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories, located in Bluffdale, Utah.
Loni Smith Photography
Valerie is a mother of three beautiful children and enjoys spending time with her kids and husband going on adventures like hiking, camping, and more.
She started the company in 2012 from her basement where she designed her first maternity gown - not knowing that her creation would turn into a world-renowned high-fashion company, assisting photographers and mothers from around the world in creating show-stopping images, and helping girls and women of all ages to feel beautiful and empowered.
Surprisingly, Valerie does not have any background education in fashion or business.
Instead, she studied psychology with an emphasis in Criminology at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. When she was growing up, she either wanted to go into the military or law enforcement or work as a psychologist to help victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
Though she works in fashion now, the topics she studied still pique her interest and she spends a lot of time listening to podcasts on those subjects.
Valerie's favorite Starbucks drink is a white chocolate mocha with almond milk and no whip, a treat she usually gets on Fridays to celebrate a successful week!
About Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories
Fab Photography Rhode Island
Sew Trendy Fashion and Accessories specializes in designer maternity clothing, girls dresses, boudoir clothing, newborn photography props, and mommy and me sets.
Additionally, the company offers a wide variety of fashion accessories, like floral crowns, rhinestone crowns, and sashes.
Completing their line are cocktail dresses, separates, robes and cloaks for expecting moms, newborn and sitter clothing, and even a special line of Rainbow Baby gowns.
Sew Trendy is also dedicated to making a difference in the community, and as such, they donate 20 percent of all proceeds from their Rainbow Baby Collection to Primary Children's Hospital.
Birch Haven Photography
Sew Trendy is a relatively new company, having been founded in 2012.
The original inspiration for Sew Trendy came to Valerie when she was studying criminology.
What started as a project to make headbands and booties for her upcoming child blossomed after her grandfather gave her a sewing machine to make clothes for her soon-to-be daughter's dolls.
But when a photographer friend called needing a maternity outfit for a client, Valerie obliged and made her first garment.
The outfit looked so good that before she knew it, Valerie had an Etsy shop where she sold custom-made maternity wear.
Within a year, Valerie incorporated Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories and hired her first four seamstresses to help her meet the demand for her product.
The rest, as they say, is history! Today, Sew Trendy is one of the top maternity clothing companies in the country.
The Nitty-Gritty of Building a Successful Business
There's no doubt that there's a lot that goes into making a business something that's sustainable and successful.
For Valerie, there's a few must-know details that have helped her find success.
Understand Your Target Market
Sue Mac Photography
One of the most critical aspects of building a business is identifying who your client will be.
That something that's helped Valerie build her business so successfully...
On the one hand, Sew Trendy caters to moms-to-be with gorgeous maternity clothing that's perfect for any occasion, be that a dinner party, a photo shoot, or something in between.
Valerie's secret to attracting expecting mothers to Sew Trendy is crafting maternity wear that makes moms look and feel beautiful - even if their pregnancy doesn't make them feel all that beautiful!
Barely Blushed Photography
On the other hand, Sew Trendy targets photographers that want to build up their studio wardrobe or who offer Sew Trendy's gowns, crowns, and other products as part of their photo packages for girls, non-maternity photo shoots, and maternity photo shoots as well.
With a robust partnership with photographers from around the globe, Sew Trendy has been able to reach out to photographers of all kinds to feature the Sew Trendy brand in their photo shoots.
Sew Trendy has grown at an exponential rate!
Be on the Leading Edge of Innovation
Julie Newell Photography
Another crucial component of building a successful business is taking a leading role in creating innovative products.
For starters, Sew Trendy uses high-quality fabrics that are the right weight, the right stretch, and that fit expecting moms in a way that makes them feel gorgeous.
The company also employs stay-at-home moms as their seamstresses and crafters, a group of ladies that have a vested interest in the success of the company.
And with the incentive to see Sew Trendy be successful, their employees are committed to creating the gorgeous gowns and accessories that you see in the images throughout this article.
Those high-quality products, in turn, drive sales and make Sew Trendy the leading maternity clothing provider on the market today.
But the innovation doesn't end there...
In an era in which many companies outsource customer service, Sew Trendy strives to make each customer feel like family.
That dedication shows in the way they interact with customers, who come away from their experience with Sew Trendy feeling like they've been treated like a dear friend.
Part of building a successful business is making those connections and getting repeat business (and referrals, too!).
By committing yourself to customer service, you have a "secret weapon" for helping fuel your company's growth.
Commit Yourself to Quality
It might seem like a no-brainer that you need to put out a quality product...
But you need to have a very high-quality product to stand out amongst your competitors.
At the end of the day, Sew Trendy's commitment to quality from the moment their products are ordered until the moment their products are delivered has helped ensure their success.
And it helps that their garments are handmade with the finest materials by dedicated seamstresses and crafters that want to make each and every client look her best.
Green Light Photography
The more time and energy you devote to putting out the best quality products, the more likely you'll be to capture the attention of potential customers, convince them that your products are worthwhile, and convert them into paying customers over and over again.
But bear in mind that simply having a great product isn't enough...
You'll need to network, advertise, market your brand, and dedicate a good portion of your day to simply connecting with other people to get your name, your face, and your product out there.
The hours will add up, but if you stick with it as Valerie has, you could very well be met with similar success.
Valerie's Favorite Quote...
Belly Beautiful by Karen Marie
Valerie's favorite quote is actually her own...
“Nothing can make you happy, but you.”
Valerie uses this all the time with her kids, and often says it to herself.
It means don’t let anyone or anything bring you down. You have to decide for yourself that you are going to be happy, despite the circumstances that are affecting you. No one can fix it for you. Valerie has overcome a lot with this sentiment, and you can too!
With that, we hope you have some new found inspiration for starting your own business and finding your niche.
Thank you to Valerie Best and Sew Trendy Fashion & Accessories for sharing these tips!