How do you launch a business around a passion, starting from nothing but a laptop and raw talent? I sat down with Katie Geddes, the founder of SALT Design, to learn how this mother-of-two started her business on the side while working full-time.
SALT Design believes in style for everyday living, mixing styles and breaking the rules. Katie has lived this philosophy since starting her business, and incorporates it into her online presence, her networking, and in her unique way of making a name for herself. Here she shares her top three tips for building a successful business around something you love.
Build a community of like-minded people.
“One of the things that propelled my business forward is collaborating with other influencers online and in my local community. When you create a friendly community of like-minded people you can get together, bounce ideas off one another, and join forces on projects. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice - buy them a coffee and pick their brain about what has worked for them. Most people are happy to pay it forward. A great way to collaborate on Instagram is to offer to do a takeover of someone’s page - they get free content, and in return you get the ability to tap into their network.”
“One way I’ve collaborated with local entrepreneurs and launch my business was by hosting a Midsummer Soiree. I gathered nine local and NYC-based businesses to participate in the event and showcase their curated goods, such as SEANOE, S.V.Decker, Sunday Forever, The Lovet Shop, and Fresh Flower Bar under a large wedding-style tent in my yard. I scattered highboy tables throughout, and created a large living room montage in the driveway in front of my barn where people could relax and enjoy a cocktail (and also buy the furniture). My intention was to create an experience: music played in the background, amazing food and drink were generously donated by Giulios Pizza and Kazaam! Elixirs, Fresh Flower Bar offered custom flower crowns, Holly Allen was styling hair, and attendees were offered complimentary Reiki sessions. I invited people to walk around my home to experience my style first-hand and everyone received a succulent plant as a parting gift. Not only did the event feel magical from start to finish, I got a few new clients and over 100 new followers and subscribers via the iPad they signed into upon arriving. Instagram activity the next day was abuzz with awesome pictures of the event, talk about SALT Design, and people showing off their purchases and flower crowns.”
Capitalize on what makes you different.
“It’s so easy to look at other successful people and think you should be like them, but the only person you can be in an authentic way is yourself. You need to figure out who you are, what you love, and your unique style. Look to people you admire for inspiration, but then figure out what YOU want to focus on and be about.”
“A big part of my brand is to actually break common misperceptions. I find that people incorrectly conjure up the stuffiness vibe when they think of a ‘designer’. So for the Midsummer Soiree, I wanted to give the opposite impression. I wore a full-length pink tulle skirt, black tank top and no shoes. I could feel the grass in my toes...it was such a fun outfit. Part of my mission in design is to encourage people to have fun, not take themselves too seriously, and help them design a home that affords them a soft place to land at the end of the day. I strive to evoke that feeling when people land on my website, Instagram page, or receive my branded content.”
It’s going to be scary, but do it anyway.
“I never wanted to look back and say ‘I wish I would have followed my passion and started my own business.’ The fear of regret is what keeps me moving forward. I would tell people just starting out: ‘It’s going to be scary and it’s supposed to be, but trust the process. Move it forward every day just a little. Even when you have zero confidence, keep plugging away. Some days you will feel like you can’t do it anymore or that you aren’t moving anywhere, but eventually you will look back and see how much you’ve accomplished.’”
“It’s also important to get past feelings of discomfort. One thing I’m working on for myself is getting more personal online. I don’t post pictures of myself or personalize my posts nearly enough. I realize that people want to see the person behind the brand, so I’m trying to strike the balance between sharing more about myself and giving people the design content they came for.”