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Surviving Corona: Kelsey Blake

Surviving Corona, features a series of interviews with small business owners and freelancers in Toronto. Small business over Kelsey Blake shares her story of navigating the new challenges and opportunities Coronavirus presents to her.

 I often compare the passion a woman has for her business, to the passion a mother has for her children. Our businesses are like our children—we nurture them, care for them, watch them grow and evolve.
It’s a beautiful thing!  
– Kelsey Blake
Filmmaker and photographer
Found Her Productions. 

The story so far…

A year and a half ago, Kelsey transitioned into a photography and filmmaking career, working mostly with families, creating documentary family photography sessions that included short family films (think home video meets professional/cinematic film). She loved family filmmaking, but began getting inquiries from small business owners for video content. After working on a short film with an interior designer, that communicated her story and authentic self in a beautiful way, Kelsey began paying attention to other female entrepreneurs and noticing the passion that fuels their work.

Caption: A film by Kelsey Blake

She  reached out to another photographer (now her business partner!) Shannon Laliberté, to see if she would like to collaborate on pairing her photography work with some film work for her clients. Shannon is a portrait photographer that works exclusively with women to empower them in their lives and in their work. What started out as a collaboration project, has now evolved into a full on production business. 

Caption: Kelsey Blake and her business partner Shannon Laliberté.

Together they are working with female entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, etc. to create authentic photo and film content to support their businesses and their work.

Kelsey and Shanon like to invest a lot of time and care into getting to know each clients and their work, so the content that they create is perfectly customized and beautifully fits to the client.

Found Her Productions has been in the making for a long time, but they have only just launched about a month ago.

Caption: Kelsey and Shannon brainstorming.

Part of our mission is give women access to professional film and photo content that they can feel proud and excited to share! – Kelsey Blake

What is your current situation?

Before Corona, our business was gaining a ton of interest and momentum. Now the sales and leads have halted. We’re unable to film any new content, and have had to postpone some photo/video shoots. Truthfully, we’re thankful for the opportunity to slow down right now to really lay out the foundation of the business thoroughly and thoughtfully, and figure out how we can plant some seeds for future growth. 

However my biggest challenge is that I recently took possession of a commercial studio space. The intention for the space is to use it as our office for our production business, and also a co working (or co making!) space for other women. Obviously people aren’t interested in co-working right now!  So how can I put this space to use and generate revenue for it?

What learnings would you like to share about navigating this situation?

I’m learning to feel really grateful for what I have. Being a self employed/business owner can be stressful right now, but I’m so thankful to have the flexibility to adapt my work to the situation as needed. I’m learning how to split my time between my business baby and my human baby! Both require my undivided attention so it’s all about strategy! 

Caption: Kelsey with her 3 year old daughter, Quinn.

What is the support system that is helping you get through this time?  

Mindset coaching program: I’ve been in this program for about 9 months now, and have learned so many tools and coping mechanisms to maximize my mindset in all avenues of my life. These tools have been so invaluable during these times. It has also been so wonderful to have the community of the coaching program to support each other and remain in positive spirits. We have group Zoom calls 3 times a week, as well as a Facebook group, that allows us all to stay very connected. I have a ton of exercises/ readings/ lessons that I can tap into through this program, and have established a pretty important daily practice of journaling and writing. 

More contact with my family: Speaking with them much more via video chats has been really nice. It’s amazing the support efforts that come through in a time like this. 

Virtual Mastermind sessions: I have also held some to seek assistance in finding a solution for my studio space. It has been nice to have others support me, and help with creative problem solving, in what would otherwise be a really stressful situation. 

Resources you would like to share?

I would recommend following my Mindset Coach, Catherine Farquharson. She has a public Facebook group where she offers so many tips and wisdom. She hosts free Masterclasses through the group that cover a variety of topics (she’s currently doing one on Sales in this current climate). 

Plant seeds now that will be ready to sprout and flourish when the time is right. 

Kelsey Blake

Advice you would like to offer small business owners & freelancers?

My advice would be to keep thinking ahead.  It can be a temptation in a time like this to become sacred/discouraged/hopeless.  Instead see this is an opportunity to slow down. Pause. Reset. Take a look at where you’re at in your business and in your personal life.

See what needs some attention, or improvement.  What opportunities can be created now that will help us thrive once this situation all blows over? I think we have a choice as to how we want to come out of this. 

Adapt to what’s happened.
Get creative.

https://www.instagram.com/foundher.productions/

What support do you need?

What I really need right now is ideas/connections/brainstorming as to what to do with my commercial space. The space is expensive, and just sitting there empty. I have put out an open call to anyone that wants to use the space currently on an individual basis. I would love to create some connections with people now, that may eventually want to use the co working space. 

Maybe even some that would be willing to invest in the space as a partner to help build it. 

Ideas for Kelseys Co-working Space!

1. Use what you’ve got to get to where you want. Make a video promo and take some inspiring photographs of your space. Use videos and photos to tell the story of this space. 

2. Humanize your space: Since you want to create a co-working space for artists and women, visualize what qualities this space embodies and manifests. What is the personality of this space? who would find their tribe here? What would the space feel like? Once you’ve defined that write a pitch. 

3. Endorsements: Get 2-3 good endorsements from people who fit your target audience and film them. 

4. Be Hyperlocal: Use these marketing assets on social media and LinkedIn to create awareness in your local community. 

5. Connect with artists and small business owners living/working in/around your community via LinkedIn. Send them a letter inviting them to explore the space virtually through videos and photographs. Offer them a deal.

6. Create content. Write blogs, articles, features, posts about co-working spaces for artists and seed your content. 

7. Small successes lead to constant motivation:
Jeff Haden 
, Inc. Contributing Editor and the author of the book The Motivation Myth explains that continuous actions and small successes can keep you constantly motivated. This is the time to build on small success but also to keep yourself super motivated!

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