5 must know interior design trends for 2018

by Flaunter
<h1>5 must know interior design trends for 2018</h1>
Surfaces shoot, April by Florence Rolfe. Photographs by Sarah Hogan

Attitudes towards interior decorating are shifting. Now more than ever, people want need quality, substance and style rather than a mountain of cheap products that infiltrate the home or office for a fleeting trend-driven moment.

While this conscientious approach allows the consumer to buy less and therefore spend more on key ‘forever’ pieces, it in no way means that less expensive items are off the table. It simply comes down to purchasing truly beautiful items that will serve a purpose for years to come.

At Flaunter we keep a keen eye on what brands are producing and what journalists and stylists are searching for. Here we investigate the key interior design trends to look out for in 2018…

 

GREENERY

Building on the trend set by Pantone with the 2017 Colour of the Year, plants are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. Which is great because not only do they look incredible, they inject life into a space, reduce stress, filter the air and absorb backgound noise! Seriously what CAN’T Mother Nature do? This year small, minimalist and exotic plants are hot. On Flaunter we’ve seen THE most spectacular vessels that are perfect to show off your developing green thumb.

Plants-interior-trends-2018

Clockwise from left: Plant stand – The Staple Collection; Brass stand – Country Road; Bedroom – Linen House; Hanging Planter and Pott – Capra Designs; Plant stand – Melbourne Table Company

 

DECONSTRUCTED LUXE

Natural and raw materials such as wood, brick and cement will be widely used – a counterbalance to the sleek futuristic feel of the last 4 years. Wood is particularly versatile – easily working in most spaces with its warmth, texture and sculptural capability.

Natural-interior-design-trend

Clockwise from left: Chairs – James Said; Tables – Bastille & Sons; Dining table – Slabs by Design; Bedroom – Project 82; Concrete planter – West Elm

 

VELVET

Velvet was huge for fashion in 2017. Obviously, the feel of this fabric is irresistible, which is why interiors are now benefiting from the luxurious velvet treatment. Working in both masculine and feminine settings, velvet works best on cosy sofas, armchairs and cushions, but if you’re feeling particularly fancy, why not throw it across the windows as well 😉

Velvet-Interior-Trend-2018

Clockwise from left: Bedhead – Heatherly Design; Cushions – Sheridan; Stool – James Said; Cushion – Kas Australia; Armchair – TK Maxx

 

COLOUR INTENSITY

Like most trends, colour intensity is a clear reaction to the 2016/2017 love affair with pastels. This feeling was first cemented at the Milan Furniture Fair where we saw brands introducing seriously bold hues, and again with the announcement of Pantone’s 2018 Colour of the Year for 2018, Ultra Violet. This trend is both unexpected and confident and we love seeing more and more colour intense pieces entering the Flaunter library!

Intense-colour-interior-trend-2018

Clockwise from left: Table linen – Lovely Linen (Casa e Cucina); Cushion – Lekkel & Co; Glasses – Zafferano (Casa e Cucina); Artwork – Lumas Gallery; Living Room – James Said

 

TECH-SAVVY & INTELLECTUALISM

The ability to seamlessly incorporate tech into the home and office is a key priority for interior designers in 2018. The demand calls for smart spaces that cleverly disguise all the modern necessities that complement rather than distract. Adjacent to this trend, is the celebration of intellectual decor – think books, bookshelves and art. Again, these pieces are intended to blend comfortably with the rest of the space, plus they give a subtle nod to the sophisticated and learned occupants (ha! okay maybe that’s a stretch)

Technology-Interior-Trend-2018

Clockwise from left: Bookshelves – Handkrafted; New York Map – Outliving; Desk – Freedom; Charger – Ban.do; Convertible table – West Elm

 

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Want to learn more about what’s trending across our brand and media community? It’s easy! Simply create a brand, or apply for a free media account to get the inside scoop!

Images: Banner by Florence Rolfe, all other images via Flaunter.com

 

Spotlight on: Aisha Hillary from accessories label Hills & West

by Flaunter
<h1>Spotlight on: Aisha Hillary from accessories label Hills & West<h1>

HI AISHA! TELL US ABOUT HILLS & WEST…

I will start with a little about me, as this influences Hills & West, my lifestyle accessory label and Digital & Agile, my strategy consultancy. I really enjoy creating and doing things a little differently. I love working with inspirational people to make beautiful things, to help their businesses grow and have some part in making their dreams come to life.

In October 2014, I left a pretty great global communications role to go out on my own. I didn’t know exactly what that looked like but I knew it was going to be a combination of all the things I loved. Within the year Hills & West was born. Not just another luxury accessory brand, I wanted to build a brand with a timeless aesthetic, handmade with integrity, using old-school techniques here in Australia. Each year I always try and learn a new skill (I have learnt to DJ, Dragon Boat race, illustrate, attempted French and meditate) to do something different, that year I did a course at Ars Sutoria in Milan on handbag making and just loved it. I returned home to resign from my job and source local makers and suppliers to design my first collection of high-quality lifestyle-accessories and work companions for the modern man and woman.

Whilst I was building Hills & West, people kept coming to me asking for help with their own brands so I set up Digital and Agile. D&A is all about working with businesses with purpose, wanting to do things differently, and helping them get digital in an agile and efficient way. I thought, why not share some of my learnings, failings and ‘aha’ moments, of my own journey. And there are many 🙂 

I am really lucky as I have the best of both worlds and I love what I do. As the Dalai Lama says, “If we are lucky enough to be living a good life then we should recognise that gift and do something for those people who have less.” So, I try and give back too through fundraising and also give 10% of Hills & West’s profits to help children around the world gain an education and get that little bit closer to their dreams. That is what life is all about.

WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE HILLS & WEST AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START?

I have quite a colourful backstory. I started here in Sydney, working for marketing agencies in marketing and digital strategy, then lived in the UK where I was an in-house fashion consultant and worked in consumer retail marketing. I returned 7 years later to launch a chartered airline out of Brisbane, where I was involved in designing livery for planes, crew uniforms, and selecting interiors for aircraft in Brazil. I have always loved learning and discovering new ways of doing things, so did a Masters in Convergent Media on the side while I working at SBS developing content across different platforms and setting up their social media communities.

My last job, before Hills & West, I was a global comms director for a tech business. One day I woke up and thought it was time to do my own thing. I had no idea what that looked like, however after 10 days of Vipassana and travelling for 6 months through countries like India and Nepal, realizing how lucky we are and how life is too short, I started the journey of Hills & West. I wrote about my experiences and all that was inspiring me, I started to design my first collection and define the kind of business I wanted to be. I had helped other businesses grow my whole career so thought why not create a lifestyle accessory brand, where I can give back a little while working with inspiring people myself.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF LAUNCHING HILLS & WEST & GETTING IT TO THE POINT IT’S AT TODAY?

Cash flow. Everyone talks about the challenges of managing cash flow, and it’s so true. I’ve worked in businesses where I needed to be creative with my budgets and do a lot with less; however, creating Hills & West was doing a lot with nothing. I have big ambitions and a stream of new accessories and products I would love to create, however, not having the funds to do it as quickly as I would like is challenging. You have to be satisfied with making small steps forward however if I had my way I would be flying forward.

WHAT DID YOU EXPERIENCE IN THOSE CHALLENGING MOMENTS AND HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THEM?

Everyone doubts themselves when things get a little tough – however I meditate and it helps in so many ways. When I’m in a creative rut, when I’m tired, when I need to clear my head and make a decision, it really helps me to refocus and pick up my spirits. Another thing I also have is fantastic mentors and people to bounce ideas and challenges from. Two is always better than one. Also, I constantly am grateful, although I work a lot more hours than I ever have, I absolutely love what I do.

Hills-and-West-Chevron-collection

WHY DID YOU JOIN FLAUNTER?

When I started Hills & West I spent the first few months taking people to coffee and asking for their tips. Flaunter was one of them. I was too small to have a PR agency on a retainer so Flaunter was a great way to get Hills & West out there, including an easy way to distribute my content and imagery.

WHAT WAS YOUR ‘AHA’ MOMENT? THE ONE WHERE YOU FIRST REALISED THE VALUE AND KNEW THAT YOU WOULD STICK WITH US?

When a friend sent me a picture of our Morgan 3 in 1 Backpack as part of an editor’s pic in Collective Hub. The backpack took off after that and I saw the real power of PR.

THAT’S AWESOME! CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY FLAUNTER EXPERIENCE?

I have just launched a new collection so I have uploaded my product and campaign shots and created some mood boards with different relevant themes around themes of Chevron Chic, minimalist and leather luxe. I can see that people have downloaded my products and followed my brand. It’s pretty exciting.

Hills & West is continuing to grow and flourish. Flaunter really helps you get your product in front of the right people in an easy to digest way. I also love it when bloggers and designers mood board my product for inspiration. There are just so many talented people and products out there.

BEST ADVICE FOR OTHER BRANDS JUST STARTING OUT?

Be bold, have big dreams and follow your gut. If you have enough passion and can push through when things are tough then you can make anything happen. Also, a bit of kindness always goes a long way. I am always willing to help anyone out and share some of my learnings. I have also started ‘Pay it Forward Fridays’ where I allocate two hours on Friday mornings where anyone can book in time for a chat if you have any questions. If I can help in anyway, then why not! 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW COLLECTION!

Absolutely! I’d love to introduce you to Darcy, Parker and Baxter, from my new Chevron Collection. Inspired by architecture, influenced by Italian design and handmade here in Sydney, these three have been a while in the making. Last year I spent a couple of months in Florence designing and crafting the collection. I worked with some amazing artisans looking at ways to do things differently not compromising on quality or functionality. Over the last five months, I have been working with makers and perfected the first three pieces. All pieces are the ideal companion for the chic commuter with a minimalist aesthetic that delivers maximum impact for your wardrobe.

We have carefully engineered the voids, zips, slips, and pockets so you can fit a lot in what looks to be a relatively compact space. Timeless and trans-seasonal, made to take you from office desk to dinner table. The Darcy top handle tote is an elegant overnight or office bag that is sized to easily fit a laptop and extra wears. The Parker, the perfect weekend crossbody, features an adjustable strap that allow users to wear it on the shoulder or across the body. The Baxter clutch features a detachable wristlet, if the clutch sleek aesthetic is more to your taste. All designs were made to work well in every season with any outfit. The Darcy and Baxter are available now and the Parker can be pre-ordered to get your hands on one of the first ones as they are getting handmade as we speak. I hope you love them as much as we do.

Hills-and-West-Chevron

 

Find and follow Hills & West at @hillsandwest // hillsandwest.com

Calling all Journos, Bloggers and Stylists: instantly download hi-res images from Hills & West here.  Don’t have an account yet? Simply create one for free to start searching and downloading from our library of over 300 stunning brands.

Style guru Shannon Meddings: on clients, discovering brands & fashion industry challenges

by Flaunter
<h1>Style guru Shannon Meddings: on clients, discovering brands & fashion industry challenges</h1>

HI SHANNON! TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE AND YOUR BACKGROUND…

I am a Stylist on a mission to educate and empower women to understand fashion, their shape, colours and style. I work with real people, giving everyone access to the same styling advice as the celebrities and models. Fashion can be tricky to navigate so I take the hard-work and confusion out of the process – leaving my clients with a look and wardrobe that is stylish, easy to wear and looks great!

I started out wanting to be a photographer and was lucky enough to travel parts of the world in that industry for many years until I fell into Styling while in London. This was 12 years ago. When I returned to Australia I worked with News Limited as a fashion editor and was also working as a stylist for Sunrise and X factor. At this time I also began working with Westfield as a senior stylist for their customers. This is where I saw a major disconnect with personal styling and commercial styling. Most of my Westfield clients were upset because they didn’t look like the models in the magazines or they wanted to buy certain pieces straight from magazines that I knew wouldn’t work for their body shape. This is why I knew that when I started my own personal styling business, I needed to focus on education – passing on all the knowledge I’d gained dressing thousands of people over the past decade.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL DAY?

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a typical day! Every client I see has a different story, a different shape, style and colouring. On top of that, they’ll have particular lifestyle requirements including work, home life, social life and budget that I have to take into consideration while making sure they look their best. I am also the Australian correspondent for an international trend reporting company, so while I am on the lookout for options for my clients – I am also thinking about the latest pieces and looks that I can send to them.

Part of my day is now dedicated to a new service offering personalised style guides for those who may not be able to get face-to-face styling. This service is at a much lower price point, although every style and look is curated especially for them. Now the client can shop at their own convenience, with the knowledge they are purchasing the right pieces!

CLEARLY YOU DON’T JUST HELP CUSTOMERS – YOU ALSO GIVE BRANDS LOTS OF EXPOSURE!

Having an understanding of the current retail sector, it is hard for most brands to have a voice in such flooded market run by massive internationals. I love working with closely with brands to get their pieces directly into the hands of a customer. I also love introducing my clients to pieces they wouldn’t have otherwise known about or considered wearing, without my assistance. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard, “I would never have picked that up” I would be lying on a beach right now with a cocktail in my hand!

I think the biggest misconception held by both brands and customers, is who can wear their clothing. For instance, I’ve worked with women ranging from 25 to 65 and can style both spectrums in the same piece and have them both looking amazing. I think people need to get beyond age, especially in Australia. When I work I rarely talk about age, it isn’t important to me – body shape, colour and style are king.

“I think people need to get beyond age, especially in Australia. When I work I rarely talk about age, it isn’t important to me – body shape, colour and style are king.”

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER FLAUNTER?

I discovered Flaunter when I started writing fashion pages for different magazines and blogs. When it came to finding images, this was the easiest process I’d come across. Previously, I had to individually hunt down a brand contact or the brand’s PR to get images and product details. PR’s are fantastic, however, they work so hard on a myriad of tasks and (like everyone) are time poor – so sometimes getting a response to a price request or additional images took far too long. I found that having access to brands images on demand meant that I could work efficiently and more effectively! I still LOVE the site for that!

SO WHAT DO YOU MAINLY USE FLAUNTER FOR TODAY?

Using Flaunter these days for my Personal Styling clients means I am able to browse brands and know what’s available and what’s coming in. This means I can suggest that my client wait for a particular piece or send them an image so they can shop the product there and then! All my clients want to look great and of course, none of them want to waste money. A bad purchase can actually put a person off that brand for life, but when styles are personally selected for them, they know it is worth the investment. We all have our go to’s, my jobs is to create wardrobes for my clients that are stocked with go to’s, not bad decisions.

HOW DO YOU THINK FLAUNTER HELPS STYLISTS IN PARTICULAR COMPARED TO HOW JOURNALISTS AND BLOGGERS WOULD USE THE PLATFORM?

As a Stylist, having access to a brands collection is vital. If I am not across what each brand is up to then I may miss the perfect dress or top or pants that would suit my client or photoshoot story. Knowing what is out there is the lifeline of my business. If I miss a collection, that will result in missed sales for brands and great outfits for my clients.

Having Flaunter at my fingertips means less time waiting. I can discover the latest or pre-release collections and new brands AND get all the information I need in seconds. I love anything that makes my time efficient. I am also a very impatient person and not having to wait for what I need to do my job is literally everything!! The team at Flaunter are also always helpful and willing to show me styles I may have missed.

Shannon-Meddings-Stylist

YOUR ONE WISH THAT WOULD MAKE LIFE EVEN EASIER?

More brands. It’s like a library. All PR and brands should get on board! It will free everyone up to focus on more important daily tasks, rather than finding images to send to people. Having access to even more collections in real time and in one place would be a blessing!

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES ON THE HORIZON FOR THE INDUSTRY?

The biggest challenges I see are brands not having their clothes brought, and the need to combat fast fashion. The waste of money, time and resources is a make or break situation. The landscape has changed. Fast fashion is rife, Instagram is daily communication. People want new clothes for every post but they can’t afford to waste money on clothes they won’t wear. People also don’t particularly want clothes that will fall apart after one wash! Trends come and go like the weather and saying people are confused about them is an understatement. Having real fashion advice about what to buy is more important than ever.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE…

Launching my new website is my major focus at the moment. Having a beautiful platform where my clients can access the right information in the most efficient and cost-effective way, is everything my company stands for. We love fashion, we love helping and we love having our clients look amazing.

 

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We love Shannon Meddings! You can find out more about her services at her website (watch this space for her new website) and follow her super stylish life on Instagram.

How to build a media list from scratch

by Flaunter
<h1>How to build a media list from scratch</h1>

We’ve seen plenty of information out there about why media attention is important for the growth of your brand. We’ve also seen plenty of info out there about how to write media releases and who to send them to – we even wrote our own.

But what we haven’t seen a lot of? Information about how to build your very own media list to send those expertly crafted releases to.

To us, this all feels a little bit like giving someone a car, teaching them how to drive, but leaving the car keys on the bench at home. We’re rectifying that situation for you right now with some A+ media list building knowledge…

WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Understanding the way in which the media navigate their way around Flaunter is a key strategy you can use to create a well-rounded media list. In building the early foundations of your list, you’ll want to start with people who’ve been interested in your content before, so search through your email history and be sure to save the name and details of anybody in the media you speak to from now on.

FLAUNTER USERS HAVE IT EASIER
The Flaunter reporting feature gives you the names of journalists, stylists, bloggers and publications who have downloaded from you in the past. Think of all those Googling hours saved! To continue building your list from this firm foundation, check your download alert emails regularly because they include the name, publication AND email addresses of the media user who has downloaded your content.

I WANT MORE THAN JUST THE MEDIA I’VE DEALT WITH IN THE PAST
We hear you. Our first suggestion is to look back at the media who have engaged with you previously and seek out more like them. There’s a good chance that these similar media users will also be interested in you.

Also, look at brands that are similar to you and who are enjoying good media attention. The publications sharing their content are the perfect targets for your list.

Pro Tip: While everyone covets a position in the glossy mags, don’t dismiss smaller magazines, websites, regional newspapers and fashion/lifestyle lift-outs. These publications are often big content users and have a large loyal readership demanding locally available products.

HOW DO I REACH MY TARGETS
We’re not going to lie, it might take a little searching, but it’s worth it. If you’re not confident enough to call and ask for someone’s address (fair enough), we’ve got a few expert tips for streamlining the search efforts direct from Flaunter HQ’s very own super sleuth:

  • Flaunter users: Utilise your access to the media list. Whilst we can’t give out everybody’s email addresses, what we can offer are the up to date names, positions, and publications of active media users on our site. We promise you, this is the hardest part of your content sourcing work done – otherwise, you’ll be reading mastheads for days!
  • You’ll notice that Australia has a few huge media companies who parent the majority of larger publications within the media landscape. For example, Bauer Media, Pacific Magazines, Fairfax, News Limited, Allure Media… What’s even better, in most cases the email domain and address structure will be the same for everybody at that parent company, regardless of publication. Once you crack a few, you can pretty confidently say you’ve cracked them all.
  • Extra help can be found on websites such as Voila Norbert and Email Hunter. These sites will search for email addresses based on name and email domain. Both sites also offer Google Chrome extensions which track down the email addresses on the website you’re browsing. What a time to be alive, am I right?

 

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Now you’ve got the media list, why not make the most of it? Get started with our guide on what media love to write about and learn how to pitch exclusive content.

A comprehensive guide to taking your brand international

by Flaunter
<h1>A comprehensive guide to taking your brand international</h1>

If you’re feeling a bit of brand-related wanderlust, get ready to go global with our definitive guide to taking your business international.

When we think of jet-setters, we think of socialites in cliffside palaces, school-leavers in cramped hostels and intrepid globetrotters on a remote island paradise. But there’s a new group of travellers on the scene and they’re taking full advantage of open global markets and digitisation – savvy brands with a wanderlust for foreign customers and endless opportunities.

Whether you’ve got an international market ready and waiting or you’re looking to start from the ground up, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide on going global.

 

Go global by… knowing when to go

Think back to your last overseas vacation… I can recall months of planning; deciding where to go and how to get there, organising everything from flights, accommodation, passports, vaccinations, insurance and money all while scouring Cereal and Wallpaper to find Instagram-optimised places to eat, visit, sleep and party. Surely taking your business global demands even MORE planning?

The Harvard Business Review tells us that the move to international can often be incidental. Unlike a crazed super villain that boasts about taking over the world, a lot of brands and businesses seep through borders rather than taking countries by storm. They’ll move in baby steps, learning as they go and adapting accordingly. HBR gives the example of Apple. They launched in the US but found themselves inundated with international orders. Rather than responding in force, they slowly expanded their store locations, opening individual outlets in foreign lands on their steady way to world domination. In this case, the move to go international wasn’t dictated not by the CEO but by the customers.

That’s the good news about the digital era. While we’re all getting RSI from scrolling through Instagram, the flipside is that going international has never been easier. You don’t need to visit the country, set up a shop front or start a foreign bank account. People can find your Australian website from all corners of the globe and they’ll help you know if it’s time to go global!

Go global by… doing your research

Taking-your-brand-international-editorial-reading-bathtub

If your business doesn’t have a pre-existing international demand, don’t fret. While the residents of Timbuktu might not be inundating you with orders, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested… Take the time to complete a comprehensive review of your analytics. Find out who’s visiting your website, following on your social pages and opening your EDM’s. Know what they’re looking at, how long they’re looking at it for and where they’re looking at it from. You might find that your brand is already getting international attention but it’s not translating to orders or purchases. This will give you a pretty good indication of where possible markets lie and how you can make the most of them.

If your analytics show you’re only resonating domestically or not with the country that’s on your lust-list, don’t lose hope. Going global doesn’t have to be an organic process – just think of all the unexpected and unplanned things travel has thrown at you in the past! Start off on the right foot with a load of research and a strategy to drive your expansion. Review the market to discover how your product or service could work in the country/s you’re eyeing off. Are they familiar with what you’re offering, do they have similar products that you’ll be competing against or will you need to invest in explaining what you do and why they should be interested. Knowing what you’re in for and setting realistic expectations will help your transition get off the ground.

Go global by… going slow

Taking-your-brand-international-editorial-travel-Rome

Just like that first Europe trip where you crammed 17 destinations into 2 weeks of travel, doing too much too quickly can leave your business (and you!) completely drained. Keep your jet set life measured and restrained and ease yourself in gently – think of it as a drive through the Italian countryside rather than a whirlwind Contiki escape. If you want sustainable growth, avoid overstretching your brand and committing to more than you can afford (in both time and money).

Think about how you can expand using the resources you already have. Make use of Flaunter’s media list to find contacts and media who can connect you with audiences abroad. Add a translation option to your website, think about offering international shipping options, and start implementing international marketing solutions. Further down the line you might consider finding expats or foreign speakers to work as sales consultant or come on board in an advisory capacity. You might also connect with an influencer who targets that demographic or an international stockist who can raise your profile.

The key thing here is not to run before you can walk. Make necessary changes or increase services but make sure you have the return on investment (and that investment translates to different currencies and their inevitable fluctuations!) before going the full monty.

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Want to be even better prepared for your global domination? Get your strategies in place with a killer business plan and plenty of research on your prospective competition before making yourself media ready with the perfect Flaunter profile.

Image credit: Patrick Demarchelier for Louis Vuitton (banner); Do your research by Oracle Fox; Giampaolo Sgura for Vogue Japan

The cash flow conundrum: 7 tips for small business owners

by Flaunter
<h1>The cash flow conundrum: 7 tips for small business owners<h1>

As any small business owner knows, managing cash flow is a pretty integral part in keeping the business going. Balancing the books and paying the bills is central to staying afloat and putting you on the path to success. However, this is way easier said than done. If you don’t have a background in finance or accounting, learning the lingo and picking up on the skills can be a hard task to master. As you try to focus on producing, selling, campaigns and pitching – it’s not easy to find time to get the 411 on everything finance.

Forever trying to shed light on the things that keep you up at night, we knew that a quick (and simple) guide to basic money management would be much appreciated. As our expertise on this topic extends as far as an ABBA song and year 12 maths, we wrangled a true industry insider, acquisitions accountant Andy Reid, to give us the lowdown on managing cash flow for brands… 

 

Cash Flow vs. Profit

The first thing to know is that the biggest mistake small businesses can make is formulating a projected profit and loss statement and assuming that their business will be successful if they make a profit. When it comes down to it, cash flow is actually way more important than profit during the early stages of a business.

If profit has been your business’ buzzword, don’t worry. This is an easy mistake to make as the popular understanding of what “profit” is, can be a little off the mark.

Essentially, we should think of profit as a word reserved for accountants and financial experts. They use profit as a measure to look back on your year and tell you how you performed. To do this, they’ll take things like assets and accounts receivable into consideration when forming your bottom line. While it’s always nice to make a profit, keep in mind that your profit doesn’t equate to money in the bank. This is where the cash flow comes in.

Cash flow refers to all the money that is moving in and out of your business. Think of it as a kind of bank statement that gives you a bottom line based on what is actually in your pocket. If you want to have a positive cash flow, you want more money to be coming in than going out. Getting positive cash flow requires some nifty management of what you’re spending, what you’re getting and when it’s all happening.

 

Piggy-Bank-Managing-Cash-Flow

What does cash flow tell us?

It is crucial for businesses to understand where cash is coming from (inflows) and where it is going (outflows). Generally, in retail/fashion, inflows are from customers purchasing our products. Outflows can be anything from production costs, stock purchases, rent, staff, equipment purchases, marketing, loan repayments, taxes or any other operating costs. 

In businesses like retail and hospitality, this can get even more complicated because we have to deal with things such as seasonality and production lead time. For example, if we’re selling pool accessories and beach towels like Sunnylife, we may experience a significant outflow of cash in winter (while sales are low) to buy the goods required to produce our summer collection. 

It’s also important to remember that some businesses require a huge outflow well before inflows become a possibility. This is especially true for businesses who require a storefront. These costs will be classified as assets and won’t reach your profit and loss statement until a later day. These include things such as:

  • Store fit out
  • Equipment
  • Computers and POS system
  • Stock/Inventory
  • Bank guarantee (this is often 3 month’s worth of rent. It can sometimes be avoided by giving a personal guarantee, however, a bank guarantee is a good way of limiting your risk.)

You may then also have rent and staff expenses before you have opened the doors and made a sale. The buffer that your business needs to meet these expenses is called working capital

 

Cash-flow-management

7 tips for stress-free cash flow management

  1. Understand your cash outflows and inflows. Prepare a monthly cash flow forecast as far out as you can predict.
  2. Develop a good relationship with your suppliers. They may be willing to offer you better terms for payment of your invoices.
  3. Set up excellent systems and processes to collect money from your customers. Make sure that you are up to date and accurate with your invoices. Have systems in place to follow up on anything that is overdue. If your customers know that you won’t chase them, you will get paid last. 
  4. Offer convenient payment options to your customers. EFTPOS, Mastercard and Visa facilities are expected at the very least. BPay, Paypal and American Express are becoming far more accepted. If you are selling directly to consumers, consider products like Afterpay, that ensure you are paid up-front, while giving the consumer time to pay it off. Be sure to understand the costs of offering these services – the convenience comes at a price, and usually, the retailer bears it. Consider penalties for late payment that encourage your customers to pay on time. Payment plans may also mean you can collect more, faster than you would if your struggling customers had to wait until they could pay your entire invoice. 
  5. Manage your inventory and understand the true cost of it to your business. Again, a good relationship with your suppliers could mean fast replenishment when your inventory is low, and a waiver of minimum orders. 
  6. Establish a good relationship with your bank. Banks are far more likely to lend to businesses that they understand and believe in. You can often finance large capital purchases including store fit-outs and equipment. 
  7. Have a rainy day fund! A bank overdraft facility (preferably) or a credit card with good interest rates and payment terms can help you get through lean periods. Be disciplined in paying them off as soon as you have the cash available. 

 

Looking for more tips on running your small business? Why not crack that business plan you’ve been working on, learn how to avoid a PR crisis or discover how your customers can grow your business!

 

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Image credit: Lily Donaldson for Harper’s Bazaar Brazil 2012 (banner); Piggy bank – Pinterest; Managing cash flow – Harper’s Bazaar.

5 DIY tips for insane product photography

by Flaunter
<h1>5 DIY tips for insane product photography</h1>

Most people have one of two opinions on product photography – either it’s a piece of cake for anyone with a smartphone, or it’s a highly sophisticated endeavour that requires the services of a professional.

We think the truth is somewhere in the middle. With the right equipment and some basic instruction, anyone can create great product shots. With these five basic product photography tips, you can create high-quality product images that will help you convert visitors into paying customers (or whip the media into a frenzy when they see your shots in the Flaunter library!).

1. Take formal product shots — then have some fun

When you’re doing product photography, you should make the most of your time and have fun. While you’ve got your camera, lighting and products ready, you should take a wide variety of pictures.

Make sure to get the clean, simple shots that show your product from all angles. Get the front, the back and the sides, and make sure to scoot in close for some detail shots. These images can be important for the customer when they are weighing a purchase.

75% of consumers rate the quality of product images as ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ to their purchasing decision – Upwork

2. Use custom white balance

Have you ever taken a photo where the colours turned out very odd? Most likely, it was a white balance issue. On the flip side, when you get white balance just right, colours will look perfectly natural. Proper white balance is one of the best ways to get a great photo.

Just about every camera has the ability to use different white balance settings. Most cameras start on an ‘auto white balance’ mode, which (as the name implies) automatically analyzes the light in your scene and chooses a proper setting… most of the time.

Auto white balance may be good enough for snapshots, but for top-quality product shots, you need to get manual. Dig into the settings of your camera and try to match the white balance to the scene with presets.

If those don’t work, you may be able to set a custom white balance using the Kelvin scale. Most cameras give options from around 3,000 K (very yellow) to 10,000 K (very blue). You can try to set this manually, but the best way is to put a white piece of paper next to your product and get up close. Then use custom white balance to set your camera off that piece of paper.

You’ll have perfect colour every time.

3. Pay attention to details

Getting high-quality product photographs is generally a somewhat time-consuming process, especially if you don’t have a dedicated studio setup. Whatever setup you have, take the time to do the job right.

photography studio product photography

Take the time to perfect the lighting, get the background exactly right, choose the ideal angle and find the optimum colour settings to nail your image. It’ll take some time, but it’ll pay off when you don’t have to do much editing of your photos and when your customers start looking at those images.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Dust, fingerprints, or smudges on your products or backgrounds
  • Stray objects in the corner of the picture
  • Not focusing the lens properly on the subject
  • Camera shake and vibration
  • Low light levels (leading to high ISO, slow shutter speed and bad image quality)
  • Running out of batteries or memory cards in the middle of the shoot

4. Use reflections

One great way to create unique, beautiful product shots is to use reflections. Reflections create a feeling of depth and complexity in an image. There are a few ways to create reflections in a home studio.

  • A mirror. Make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned (with non-streaking cleaner), then put your product on top for a clean reflection. Shoot from a low angle, nearly parallel with the mirror, for best effect.
  • Aluminum foil. Peel a large sheet off a roll of standard cooking foil, being careful to keep it as flat as possible, then position it the same as a mirror. Be careful to keep the ragged edges out of the photo.
  • Water. Either place a thin layer of water in a tray and place your product there, or simply pour some water on a flat surface.

This method generally works best when you use a backdrop like construction paper or sheets to control the background — or when you have a pure white room — since you won’t want a reflection of your ceiling fan on your business page.

Van Santen & Bolleurs

5. Light the background, not just the product

Even a novice product photographer will figure out that a product needs to be lit properly for good photos. But lighting the background is not intuitive. Believe it or not, lighting your backgrounds can greatly increase the quality of your product shots.

Lighting the background has two positives. First, if you’re planning to remove the background from your photos (or planning to have Pixc do it for you), a bright, clean background makes this process easy and provides the best results.

Even as a beginner photographer, using these five tips, you should be able to produce some great images for your products and reap the benefits right away.

 

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This article was originally published by our friend Rachel Jacobs – Head of Content and Partnerships at Pixc, a leading eCommerce product optimization service. Pixc transforms average product photos into professional images designed to increase conversions. A lover of all things content and growth, Rachel spends most of her time planning new content, fine-tuning growth strategies and tweaking email campaigns. Take advantage of Pixc‘s free trial here!

 

Images: Marni Campaign SS 17 by Giovanni Bianco; Photography studio via Pinterest; Tin Foil by Van Santen & Bolleurs

Sam Wong from Blackbird Ventures on taking investment to grow your business

<h1>Sam Wong from Blackbird Ventures on taking investment to grow your business</h1>

“Be data-driven about everything, not just how to market the product, but what products to create and how to test ideas cheaply and quickly without going all in. It’s a fine balance because creative integrity also needs to be maintained, but it is a very high-risk thing to build a product without getting any feedback from customers before you do so.”

Today, we catch up with Sam Wong, Partner at Blackbird Ventures (and close friend of Team Flaunter!), to learn about what brands can gain from having a “startup” mentality and get her top tips for brands considering seeking investment to help them grow. 

 

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I grew up between Perth and Sydney. My parents were technology entrepreneurs so I spent most of my childhood hanging around their office and listening to business chat. I think I had quite an abnormal childhood in some respects but I think it prepared me well for my career now!

I found school quite boring and I struggled at times because I was also quite non-conformist, so I did only so much as I needed to to get by. Then in year 10 I had a brilliant English teacher who saw something in me and took me under his wing. I learned how to channel my curiosity and analytical mind into a love for learning and ended up getting good enough grades to go to law school.

I never planned on being a lawyer. It just sort of happened. I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation and cut and thrust of legal debate but ultimately it didn’t satisfy any deep thirst in me. After a bit of experimentation I moved into startups, becoming a Product Manager at SurfStitch.com. That was 3 years of intense scaling in Australia and in Europe and a wonderful CEO apprenticeship.

After that I came back to Sydney and founded my own startup, and then after that, I joined Blackbird Ventures who I had gotten to know well while I was running my startup.

SO YOU’RE A PARTNER AT A VENTURE CAPITAL FIRM… WHAT DOES THAT MEAN EXACTLY?

Venture capital funds manage a pool of capital on behalf of others. The partners are tasked with making decisions about which companies should receive investment from the fund. Being a partner means that I go out and find investments for the fund to make.

DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A VC?

No. It had never crossed my mind before I joined Blackbird.

WHAT DID YOUR LAST 24 HOURS LOOKED LIKE?

Well, I’m currently on holiday so I’ll give you last Friday…

I started the day with  4 hours and 45 minutes of back to back meetings – with potential companies and with partners who could refer investments to us in future. Then the afternoon I spent an hour working on investment legal documents for a company we’re about to invest in. This is where my legal skills come in handy!

I also had a couple of hours of fund administration – reporting requirements and general queries from the fund’s investors.

Then I finished the day by attending a pitch event for an early-stage incubator program for founders who are new migrants and refugees. Great to end the week on a high!

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS FOR BRANDS THAT ARE CONSIDERING SOME FORM OF INVESTMENT TO HELP THEM GROW?

1. Know your unit economics – if someone is going to give you $1, you should able to say how that is going to be spent, and what is the direct output you can expect for it.

2. Think carefully about who you take investment from. You can never change your mind and divorce your investor, they will be on your company register forever. Use your head and also listen to your gut. Consider how much control you want to give away as well as how much equity – you want to keep enough to keep incentivising you and your staff over many years of hard work.

3. It’s really easy for investors to say they have valuable networks and great advice but you should test this before you give away equity. If you aren’t seeing how helpful they are before they invest, don’t expect to see it after.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A COMPANY YOU INVEST IN?

We are looking at HUGE outcomes. We aren’t scared of losing money on an investment. We aren’t looking to minimise the downside. Rather, we are scared that even if the company succeeds, it won’t succeed on a large enough scale to make an impact for our fund size.

A rule of thumb is that we need to believe you can generate $100 million in revenue within 5-7 years at 70%+ margins. Obviously, these sorts of businesses are very rare and most don’t meet the bar.

Once we’re satisfied that the market is big enough, then we really want to partner with founders who are doing their life’s work. We want to see why they are uniquely positioned to build this business and win. We often ask ourselves “Would they be doing this even if they weren’t being paid?”. This is not just about trying to make a quick buck.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES BUSINESSES MAKE WHEN TAKING ON INVESTMENT?

Choosing the wrong investors who aren’t aligned with the mission and direction of the company. For example, an investor wants to see a return on investment in 3 years and the founders aren’t thinking of selling for a decade or more.

Or, giving away too much equity too early. This can be really problematic for later stage investors who will worry that you don’t have enough skin in the game to keep pushing hard over many more years.

YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE WORKING IN FASHION E-COMMERCE… WHAT DO YOU THINK FASHION BRANDS CAN LEARN FROM TECH COMPANIES ABOUT GROWTH AND SCALE?

To be data-driven about everything, not just how to market the product, but what products to create and how to test ideas cheaply and quickly without going all in. It’s a fine balance because creative integrity also needs to be maintained, but it is a very high-risk thing to build a product without getting any feedback from customers before you do so. Startups would never dream of doing what fashion designers effectively do each season – gamble that their brilliant ideas are exactly what the market wants at a given moment in time. They run small, quick, cheap experiments to get a positive signal early. This is something all businesses should be doing as much as possible.

BLACKBIRD HAS ALWAYS HAD A STRONG VIEW ON BACKING COMPANIES THAT ARE ‘GLOBAL FROM DAY ONE’. HOW DO YOU THINK AUSTRALIAN BRANDS SHOULD APPROACH A PHILOSOPHY LIKE THIS?

One of the reasons Blackbird only invests in companies that sell to customers all over the world from the beginning is because we believe Australia is too small a population and economy to support a really big business. The internet is a great equaliser of access and there is no reason why you shouldn’t sell to the whole world from day one. Why put a lid on your ambition?

ONE OF THE PERKS OF YOUR JOB IS MEETING WITH HUNDREDS [OR MORE??] OF FOUNDERS A YEAR – BOTH IN AUSTRALIA AND THE US. WHAT MAKES A COMPANY – AND IT’S FOUNDER/S – STAND OUT?

It is very clear when founders are doing their life’s work. You can tell that it is a compulsion or a calling more than a job. That they would be doing this somehow, even if no-one invested in their company.

They are often able to tell a much more convincing narrative as to why the world needs what they are building, and why they are the people to build it.

When you meet these people you can’t help but want to be part of the journey and help them succeed on a huge scale.

blackbird-ventures-team

The Blackbird team – Nick Crocker, Rick Baker, Niki Scevak, Joel Connolly & Samantha Wong

 

Reach out to Sam Wong via LinkedIn and Twitter and learn more about Blackbird Ventures at their Website and Twitter.

 

Spot the difference: brand vs branding

by Flaunter
<h1>Spot the difference: brand vs branding</h1>

When two terms look pretty much the same, it’s far too easy to get our wires crossed. Get your head around these industry buzz words with our guide to brand, branding and how to use both to grow your business.

As an avid iPhone user, I can honestly say I’ve experienced my fair share of autocorrect awkwardness. From hitting the wrong letter, sending the wrong emoji (winky faces are the least of your worries once you’ve accidentally sent a graphic Kimoji to your dad…) or realising too late that autocorrect has ruined everything, I’m all too aware of how the smallest differences can completely change the context of a message. Even though words can look the same, swap a few letters and chances are you’re saying something totally different.

While using “brand” instead of “branding” isn’t going to land you in the autocorrect hall of fame, it will cause confusion and can actually harm your business strategy. At first glance, it’s fairly easy to assume the terms are interchangeable. The addition of an “i-n-g” is a pretty common one that we all got our heads around in primary school. But in this case, the suffix isn’t pointing to a verb. It’s actually signalling a whole new word with its own meaning and its own way of affecting your business. In this post, we’ll help you get your head around these industry buzz words. You’ll learn what they mean, how they’re different and our top tips for using both to grow your business in the right direction.

 

What is a “brand”

brand-branding-swingtag

Think about Coles, Woolworths, BMW, Apple. To an alien invading earth, these are words are a collection of letters with no real meaning. But to us, we hear these words and we associate them with products and services; things we’ve bought, experiences we’ve had and memories we’ve made. We’re not just thinking about a logo, colour scheme or packaging, we’re pulling from everything we know, think and feel about a company and are identifying with it in a particular way. This is what a brand is: the meaning, feeling or story that goes along with the name.  

 

What is “branding”

brand-branding-business-cards

Branding refers to the tools and strategies we use to try and influence the way people see and think about a brand. Making business cards, posting to our Instagram accounts, writing on our blogs and commissioning an advertising campaign are all examples of branding in action. But be warned: branding isn’t just for graphic designers and advertising gurus because it’s happening all the time. Every email, every caption, every product and every interview will send out particular messages about your brand that will influence the way people feel, think and relate to it. This means that branding is happening each time a customer interacts with your brand, no matter for how long or for what purpose.

If you’re still a little hazy on what branding is, think back to those Mac vs PC ads that used to dominate our TV screens. Ran by Apple, they’d feature two guys who assumed the roles of a Mac and PC respectively. The PC guy would always wear an outdated, ill-fitting ensemble and liked talking about spreadsheets. The Mac guy would be in jeans and a hoodie, with sneakers, stubble and an interest in music, movies, fast systems and simple operations. This is a straight-out example of branding, where Apple personified their brand and used clothes, appearance and dialogue to make us think about them in a particular way.  

 

How does this help my business?

When it comes down to it, the truth is that you can’t determine what your brand is. It will always be your customer who prescribes a specific identity with your business and their interpretation of your brand will differ slightly from anyone else’s. This is why branding is so important. It helps to mould your brand and influence the way people receive it, interact with it and connect with it. But how can you make sure your branding is successful? How can branding help to develop your brand and grow an identity?

  • Keep it consistent with a standard approach to everything from colours, products and tone of voice. Having a consistent message that is duplicated across your brand reinforces your identity and makes it more likely that your customers will pick up what you’re sending out.
  • Keep it authentic with a strong handle on who you are, what you’re offering and what you want to be. With so many businesses competing for attention, customers are more likely to make genuine connections with your brand if you come from an authentic place.
  • Keep it growing by acknowledging that your brand will always be a work in progress. Your brand will always need to be evolving and adapting, with layer upon layer upon layer of branding all combining to create an identity.
  • Keep it connected by prioritising your audience and creating meaningful relationships with your customers. All of your branding should reflect the relationships you create or hope to create in the future.

brand-branding-packaging-grid-minimal

 

More industry terms you just can’t wrap your head around? Check out our PR Dictionary or get ready to grow your brand with our guide to writing a business plan.

 

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Image credits: Gucci SS17 (banner); Glasfurd & Walker for Petits Vilains; Wedesignstuff for React; A Friend of Mine Design Studio for Resident GP

How to write Internal Reports that people will actually want to read

by Flaunter
<h1>How to write Internal Reports that people will actually want to read</h1>

Get down and dirty with all the ins and outs of internal reporting: what it is, who it’s for and how to make yours Not Suck.

As anyone who’s experienced the sensation can attest, there’s nothing quite as eye-roll-inducing than an internal report landing in your inbox. While it may initially seem better than what you’re supposed to be doing, a few seconds in and you’ve begun your transformation into a glazed-eyed zombie as you get lost in a jargon-packed, number-intensive document that leaves you more confused than year 11 trigonometry.  

BUT, when done right, internal reporting can hold the key to a company’s success. In fact, on point internal comms is often the sign of a company that is kicking goals right across the park. They’ll have informed and switched on employees, a strong sense of inter-departmental understanding and a management team who can make informed decisions on budget, funding and future directions.

So, if you’re looking to try your hand at internal reporting or maybe want to spice up your company’s approach to it, get scrolling! We’ve got all the intel on understanding what internal reporting is, what it does, who it’s for and how to make sure yours don’t induce a new breed of glazed-eyed zombies!

What is internal reporting (and is it right for my business?)

When we get right down to it, internal reporting is actually pretty simple. Beneath all those graphs and numbers we’re essentially just talking about collecting and – you guessed it! – reporting on information that can be used internally. And don’t be fooled into thinking internal reporting is the domain of big business because even the smallest of company’s can get in on the party! Your reporting might be less intensive, frequent or department specific, but you’ll reap rewards all the same. You’ll be…

  • Increasing accountability as results are measured and shared
  • Encouraging internal goal setting
  • Promoting internal awareness as everyone is kept up to date with company activities and results
  • Assisting with team building through the encouragement of transparency.

Vogue-Italia-Office

What should my reports include?

First things first, be aware that the primary purpose of internal reporting is to help people make decisions. You want to provide them with the data and information that gives them an accurate and informed overview of relevant results, teams, divisions and projects. Ask yourself who your audience will be and what kind of tone, approach and content they’re most likely to respond to. When it comes to what information makes the cut (or gets cut), we’d recommend recalling those wise words Coco Chanel once said: “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Take her wisdom and apply it to your reports by refining, refining again and then refining some more! People will always appreciate brevity and you don’t want to foster a reputation for rambling!

If you’re lost on where to begin, you might want to start crunching the numbers on:

  • Outgoing costs (spending)
  • Incoming costs (sales, sponsorships)
  • ROI
  • Website hits
  • Social media growth
  • Social media engagement

It’s also pretty important to contextualise your information, presenting data in a way that is easy to understand and makes sense. For instance, don’t just throw the past month’s website hits into a graph. Interpret the data by explaining where the hits are coming from, what their source is, how different pages rank and the amount of time being spent on each one. Be clear about why this information is important, how it compares to previous and/or projected results and how the data fits into the bigger picture. In short, you want to be turning that data into usable information.

Internal-Reporting-Model-Backstage-Clapping

How to make my reports not suck

Since I’m sure we’re all hoping people actually read the reports we’ve slaved over, it’s worth ensuring all your content is as inviting, interesting and engaging as possible. Avoid the aforementioned glazed-over looks and spice things up with some of our top tips for on point reporting:

HOOK THEM IN – As with ANY publication, you should be drawing your readers in with a headline that catches their attention and gets them excited about what’s to come. Follow this up with an opening that immediately addresses what the report is, why it’s important and why they should bother reading it.

ORGANISATION – In spite of our current (read: messy) desk situation, we can honestly say that we respond better to organisation. Give us a clearly structured story and we’ll always process it quicker and easier than we would a Tarantino film. Don’t stop at turning your data into information, organise your information into a narrative to help your readers make sense of it and encourage them to keep going. In the same breath, always try to eliminate superfluous jargon that could alienate readers and have them switching off before you can win them back.

GO VISUAL – It’s been reported that 93% of internal communication professionals believe that video has become essential. It helps people absorb a report’s message, increases a feeling of personalisation and is super accessible and flexible. Where possible, use videos, images or infographics to break up your text (or get rid of it all together), illustrate your point and get your message across. If you don’t have the time or money to produce your own visuals, there are some great free resources available!

CHANGE IT UP – If you’re not keen on monthly reports or daily data snapshots, you can set your internal communications onto high speed with a company-specific social media network, or intranet portal. Think of it as a personalised Linkedin, where your employees are kept up to date with bite-sized snippets into what’s going on. They can check the reports at their leisure and it becomes an online archive of all reported information.

 

Now you’ve got your internal reporting down pat, bring your PR skills up to speed with our guides on researching your competition, pitching exclusives to the media, and creating news when you have none.

 

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Image credits: That’s Impressive Report by Glasgow Letterpress,  Report Writing – Vogue Italia, Zimmermann backstage – Andrew Swartz