Fear Less Series | Chapter 2 – Hashtag Insta Prints
This week for Chapter 2 of The Fear Less Series we chat with Sandra over at Hashtag Insta Prints on her amazing path from business analyst to hashtagging extraordinaire. Her journey is truly amazing, and really shows that opportunity can be waiting just around the corner. Or on Gumtree.
What is The Fear Less Series?
There is strength in fear, if you know where to look.
The Fear Less Series aims to open a conversation and help women in business draw strength from their fears.
To help grow their own business, or find a connection with women going through similar thoughts and processes to better themselves every single day.
Chapter 2: Hashtag Insta Prints
This chapter explores the fears of earning enough money, confidence and trying new things. Trigger warning: This post does raise the topic of post-natal depression.
My business became my therapy for me.
What do you do / what is your business?
I used to be a business analyst for Origin Energy for 8 years! I started on the phones and worked my up. Then I left that job because I couldn’t see myself being there for the rest of my life and I didn’t like it – I felt too institutionalised.
So fast forward, I got married and had kids. At that time I was a team leader at SA Health and when went back to work, all of a sudden I couldn’t do my job anymore. To any capacity whatsoever!
I would just sit at the computer and cry – I just couldn’t make myself stop.
It was humiliating and disheartening because I’d always been quite a strong person and never been afraid I couldn’t do something, but I couldn’t do ANYTHING – even the easiest task – I would just freeze up at my desk. I was so lucky to have a really supportive boss, because even though I was there I wasn’t really able to do my job in any sort of way.
So there was a really tough decision to be made – my husband was out of work studying and I couldn’t work – so we had no income.
I thought – I didn’t have children to be miserable and I couldn’t understand why I had such bad post-natal depression when I was so okay – I knew I was a great Mum, I loved my daughters to bits, I was in a happy marriage and everything. It’s just so weird when it hits you and there’s just no reason for it.
I still remember so clearly the first time it happened – it was like someone punched me in the face with emotion and I didn’t know how I was feeling. I didn’t know if I was angry, happy or sad. I couldn’t explain it, then one day we were at Marion and I could see myself running in front of a bus – just to make it stop. I didn’t want to, I just needed it to stop. I said it to my husband and that’s when we decided it was enough. So doctors, medicine, all that sort of stuff – and I wanted to be around joy.
I knew I would struggle to be sad if I surrounded myself with joy so I stumbled across Hashtag Insta Prints on Gumtree. I don’t think I’ve ever really been on Gumtree before and I don’t know why I was even on Gumtree that night, but I saw it and I thought what a great idea.
I didn’t even have Instagram! *laughs* But the way the business (Hashtag Insta Prints) works is you print all of your guests’ photos at your event. Everyone posts their images to a unique hashtag and we grab them using our software and print out everyone’s photos. We’ve now taken the business further and we have roaming photographers who’ll walk around taking photos and looking for moments as opposed to those really posed images. We also setup photo booths as well with backdrops and everything.
We get some gorgeous, gorgeous pictures and I love it! Absolutely love it!
Putting yourself in that position, where you’re at these events that do surround yourself with joy and people celebrating is such a great idea.
Yes! So my business became my therapy for me.
Wow! That’s incredible.
I absolutely love it. We do such a good job, and work so hard for our clients. We’re there to bring joy to people and they bring their joy right back to me.
Amazing, you couldn’t have found a better answer for what you needed to do and the change you needed to have.
Yes, and it worked so perfectly for me on every level because I’m quite a competitive person as well so the sales side of the business fits that side of my ego.
I’ve always loved people, I work all of the events myself so that interaction brings joy to me as well.
Would you say as horrible as that previous time was to go through, you also thank it for leading you down this new path?
Yes! Because I still get to be the stay at home mum – which I never knew I actually wanted to be.
I knew I wanted kids, but I could always see myself returning back to work and that’s why I did return back, because I needed that side of me as well. I just didn’t know it needed to be at a completely different level, in a different industry.
I am always thankful because it was the worst path that led me to the best path.
How big is your team?
Small! At the moment, it’s myself and my husband.
I do have a couple of girls who do random events for me. I like to use mothers because I know it’s good for them and they like to fill in space and feel useful. I know as well they’ll look after my business, so I trust them with it.
I’m trying to change the direction of the business too and use our services on a wholesale capacity. So I’m teaming up with photographers and DJ’s etc as a package – then they can help with marketing my business as opposed to me having to do it all.
I only want to work with amazing people I click with. It’s not about the money for me anymore, especially now my husband’s working. I used to in the beginning – I used to take on all jobs regardless of what they were paying but I also wanted the experience. So you know yourself as a graphic designer – you have to take everything!
Totally, the first year is casting your net as wide as you can before you realise you don’t enjoy some of those services and cut things back to leave what you love most.
Yes, get them out! And that’s what you have to do to become an expert, it’s in the hours. I also had another child within that start up phase but I still took as many hours as I possibly could to learn everything. Now we’re going for a more premium look – we’re re-branding and I use the SA Woman group so much! It’s where I get all my recommendations, if I need anyone – say I need a copywriter – I go straight to the group. Rachel (Hopscotch Graphic Design) did my logo, ah – that group is just amazing!
Yes! Carly (founder of SA Woman) has done an amazing job bringing everyone together and bringing that community spirit to just help, help, help!
And that’s what it is, you’re not alone. Somebody else has gone through it.
Now if we were to talk about fear – what was a scary step early on in your business which now feels small and insignificant to you?
We sunk all of our savings into this business and no income whatsoever. *laughs* So, there was a huge amount of fear.
It was especially amazing for my husband to trust me that I could make this work.
I mean, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure I could make it work, but I knew I HAD to make it work.
It was terrifying, every step of it. The first gig, we didn’t even have any training. The lady I had bought it from didn’t know what she was doing either, I had never used Instagram before that event and you just do it. Feed off of the fear and let that be what drives you to it. At the end of the day, it’s amazing.
Would you say after you’d done those first few jobs you looked back at them and thought, that was so easy now!
Yes, and the job itself is quite simple.
It’s mainly the lead up beforehand that’s quite complicated.
You definitely build it up to something in mind that it isn’t really.
Are there any aspects of the business that have scared, stopped or held you back in some way – even now?
Hmm I think, and I know this sounds really weird but for a while it was my weight – how much weight I had put on from having children. I then had to go to these events and be confident and approach people to take their photos while I was feeling quite rotten and self-conscious. Then again, I was heavily pregnant through last year as well so I just had to push through all of that and just do my job.
In terms of how that fear affected you, would you say it’s mainly an emotional or physical reaction or both!
Emotional. Once I get on the job, I get over it but leading up to the event is when I get nervous.
I don’t think that ever goes away. Whenever I’m heading to a shoot, I’m always nervous but once you’re in that moment it’s like your mind takes over and is like ‘you’re on the job, let’s do this!’.
Especially because your job is so much more on the line than when you work for someone.
Yes. It’s almost like you don’t have a choice, so you just do it!
If you do have something you’re afraid of within business, what kind of things do you end up doing when you’re avoiding them?
I just. don’t. do. them. *laughs*
Do you have them on a list, or do you not even think about them!
No, I think about them and they keep me awake at night. I know I should deal with them head-on but I just kind of leave them until I don’t have a choice. I usually have so many other things going on, that I do just leave them there until I’m forced to deal with them.
Seeing where you first started, and where you are now – what’s an aspect of your life that you feel has changed or become better as a result from overcoming those fears?
I have balls of steel right now! *laughs* I really do!
I have no problem, for example, the other day I was at a kid’s cafe and there was a lady talking about how she was getting married and I went told her all about my business as it was the right opportunity.
I’ll leave business cards on the table or if I’m at a venue and I really like it, I’ll ask to speak to their functions manager, have a chat with them and follow everything up.
I’ve just got balls of steel because I’ve got so much confidence in my business – I know it’s fabulous and everyone will love it!
I’ll shout it from the rooftops – which I wouldn’t have done before.
Do you feel like it almost flows through to your personal life with things that maybe you weren’t happy with before, now you’re like – stuff this, let’s change this or just do that.
Yes. I was always so comfortable and never used to take those risks in business. I always wanted to be my own boss but I would never have taken the risk had I not have had a choice.
Are there any other ways that you would coax yourself through fear?
Thick support. I do have a really good support network.
I have quite a few good friends I’ve made through SA Woman like Katherine from Crane Creative and Carly from SA Woman & She Nurtures and the girls I’m in the Inner Circle with. I will just reach out for help to them and say ‘Hey, I’m struggling with this – does anyone know what I can do to overcome this?’ Or I’ll speak to my husband.
Words are also really bad for me, the actual writing side, I’m pretty terrible at it. If I have to write something I get incredibly stressed. I know what’s in my head and what I write are two completely different things.
I just seek help and outsource wherever I can, because if not, I’ll just sit there and be a mess.
Do you get frustrated from that when you can’t express what you want to?
Yes, because it’s your own business, it’s your baby and you kind of want to be over everything – but it’s not realistic. You can’t be good at everything. I try to focus on the things I’m really good at.
For example, I love creating the templates that all the photos are printed on. It brings me joy because at the end of it they always work out to be so beautiful. I never send anything that I’m not 100% happy with. People don’t realise the amount of time I spend on those. Particularly when I take 5-6 hours to get it perfect and to match up the fonts and everything. It doesn’t matter though, because this brings me joy while the other aspects I outsource don’t bring me joy. It brings me tears, frustration and sleepless nights, so I hand it over.
I think that is just so important to recognise when you don’t enjoy something. Even when you tell yourself, I’d love to be good at this but at the same time, I love doing this other activity way more, so why am I sitting here being frustrated and annoyed, when someone else could be doing it, who loves the activity and can do a better job.
That’s exactly right. That’s what it comes down to.
So I’ve done my own business cards several times and the last one that I did – I loved the look of them, then when I got them back from the printers I realised I hadn’t put on there what I actually do! *laughs*
I was like, well…that’s useless and I’d spent hours – HOURS – on it.
I was 9 months pregnant, ready to just give birth any second and thought well, I probably should’ve packed my baby bag rather than done those cards. *laughs*
I was like – they look so good…now what do I do.
*laughs* Okay, so if you had one piece of advice you could give someone who’s trying to overcome a fear in their business – what would you tell them?
It’s so hard, because you want to tell them to just do it, but then, it’s not necessarily the right thing to tell someone to do it if it’s a terrible idea either.
So I would probably tell them to reach out to their community. To their support people, talk to them and get as much feedback as they possibly can about it.
Sometimes I think the case is the idea is too big, or needs to be broken down by talking about it.
Or someone letting them know what that first step is, because they might be struggling to know what that is.
Exactly. I think sometimes if you just give them a little bridge which triggers the ‘oh my god’ moment in their eyes and they say – it’s so easy! You’re then like ‘Yes! Now go and do it!’ *laughs*
Yes. The more you talk about it, the easier it is. At one of my Inner Circle sessions with Carly, there’s two other beautiful ladies in there who were talking about expanding their business and we all just had these ideas that no-one had ever thought of.
The girls had ideas for my ideas, I had ideas for theirs and, it’s so crazy, the more you talk about it the more real it becomes.
It’s also more people holding you accountable to doing something, as well as the better ideas and input you have from them.
Definitely. I think it also gives you that confidence in your idea, and to tell yourself it’s going to happen.
Yes. I started to add paper flowers to my business – giant, big, kick-ass paper flowers I wanted to import.
I thought to myself “I could sell them for this much…” then my husband says “Well, what about import tax – have you looked into that, and have you looked into this…” and I was like “Nup. None of those.”
I guess that idea was just a dream! But these are things you have to be realistic about.
So then, do you think working with fear within your business is necessary to grow?
Would you say you welcome fear in your business?
Yes. I always have. I’ve always really liked stress and fear. To a good capacity, because when you get to that stressed situation where you have to focus – the world get’s a little bit slower and I get a little bit faster. I become more focused and more driven.
And, it’s okay to fuck up.
Don’t be afraid. I’m big into setting goals this year, my friend says to me – what if I don’t hit them. I said, who cares. If you fall 99% of the way there and you don’t get 1% are you going to be upset? No! It’s okay not to make them.
Yes, when I have people come to me and say this is too scary, I can’t do this – I say “What’s the worst that can happen?”. If it’s not going to hurt you or anyone, then why not give it a go?
And you really only get one life!
Have you been through any of these fears? Do you use a support network to get you through stages of your business? Leave your thoughts and comments below!