A passionate community connector, business & brand strategist and international speaker, Suzanne Chadwick is a creative passion seeker, globe trotter and the founder & Director of The Connection Exchange.
Supporting women through business coaching, training & EPIC events, Suzanne is focused on working with women to build their business’, articulate their unique brand propositions and grow their bottom line. Suzanne believes it’s about having fun in your business, working smarter not harder, building amazing relationships and collaborating with passionate and dynamic individuals.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong! Can you please describe your work?
Hi, my name is Suzanne Chadwick and I’m a business & branding coach and the founder of the The Connection Exchange. I support women usually coming out of the corporate world. I help them start their businesses from scratch with structure and confidence so they focus on what they do best. I’m there to be sure my clients are not bogged down by trying to figure everything out.
We run mastermind and breakfast events that allow women to network, learn and connect with each other so that they feel supported. We’re also just about to launch the eXchanger training hub and mastermind matchmaker service. We will help female business owners who are feeling alone and unsupported find a small group of women who have been specifically matched to them and their business. They will be able to support each other to grow the type of business they want.
Carrie: Why is branding important for creatives?
Branding is important for any business, including those run by creatives. Remember that branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Think about it like this: imagine if the type of business you’ve created had a walking, talking fan. It does your promoting, shares your message and products or services? How amazing would that be?!
You can obviously develop the physical branding elements (logo, colours, website, etc.) that need to be in line with the look and feel that you want to project; you also need to build your unseen brand over time. It’s the experiences people have, it’s the way they feel when they come in contact with what you do. It’s something you can create, develop and hone. Even when I describe this to you, you may already be thinking of brands that you love and make you feel a certain way. Many people don’t buy a product because they need it, they buy it because of how it makes them feel.
Carrie: What is the most important advice you would give to creatives thinking about marketing and branding their artwork?
If we are talking about marketing and branding, people buy things that look amazing. When it comes to artwork it can come down to the styling, lighting and overall look of the image. Even if you don’t pay a professional to style and take your images, it’s important to know what “good” looks like. Ensure that the quality of your images are up there with the best.
It’s easier today to create high quality marketing material that it used to be. So no matter what your budget, do things well and it will get shared and in the end have a wider audience exposure.
I’ve seen some beautiful artwork presented poorly and it just makes the buying decision harder. If it looks amazing online, in person or in marketing material it just means that it’s an easier decision to buy it because I’m focused on how amazing it is and not what’s wrong with what I’m looking at. My husband and I have bought expensive art pieces; the simplicity and lighting has meant that we can see the art in all it’s glory and imagine it easily in our own home. When I’m able to focus on the work I’m thinking about my connection to the piece and the price second. Make it easy for buyers.
Carrie: How does working with someone like a mentor help a solo entrepreneur?
Wow this is a big one. I have experienced working with and without a mentor myself.
When you work by yourself you can feel like an island. You can lose your way because you don’t have others who understand what you’re trying to do who can help you. It’s actually one of the reasons I created the mastermind matchmaker service. Not everyone can afford high end mastermind programs but everyone needs their posse of people supporting them.
Having a mentor who has been there and done it before (even if it’s not in the same exact business area) means that you have another business minded person who can share their knowledge and experience. It means you’ll get there in half the time instead of stumbling through it all by yourself.
Carrie: When you work on a branding idea, how do you know when it’s complete?
Can I be honest…I don’t think it’s ever complete. Your brand is always evolving as you evolve as a business person. The power of what you do, the reach of your brand, the experience people have with it, is always going to grow and develop. As my business grows I add new experiences and tweak things here and there so that my clients get more and feel more. It’s about trying to engage people so they have a deeper connection with what you do and provide.
Carrie: Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas usually come from external inspiration. Sometimes it’s reading about other people’s stories, connecting with amazing like minded people or just seeing a gap in the market. If I’m honest, a lot of what I’ve created in The Connection Exchange has come from not finding what I’ve been looking for and so creating that in my own business.
Carrie: How do you navigate the feelings of vulnerability that show up during the creative process?
Self awareness and acknowledgement that it’s not going to be easy all the time is really important. Many of us will experience the imposter syndrome, that we’re not good enough, what we have is not enough and that we’re just faking it. Knowing that everyone goes through that (even the people you hold up on that pedestal) is important. It doesn’t mean that it’s true, it’s just something that plays in our heads. Believe that what you’re creating is worthy of the love, admiration and success that you find. To run your business you have to know that it will be tough. You have to have the self belief to push through those taught times and still create.
Carrie: When you have multiple creative interests, how do you decide when and where to focus your creative energies?
I learnt this lesson recently and it’s about trying to complete one thing at a time. I’m not an artist so artists may have a different way of working, but when you try and split your energy you don’t give any one thing enough to really make it amazing. By just focusing on one thing you can make it what you want it to be with everything you have; you know you created something you’re really proud of. If I try and do ten things at once then nothing gets done very well.
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
Losing my mojo and feeling low was an issue I had a few month ago. Once again that self awareness that it happens helps. As a friend of mine says, sometimes you have to allow yourself to sit in the puddle and splash about. Trying to pull yourself out of a funk before you’re ready doesn’t always work. Saying that, you can’t let yourself be there for too long. I allow myself a few days for a funk and then give myself a good talking to, or I connect with others who help me get back on the horse again. Surround yourself with people who support you and want to see you be successful. These people will be your lifeline when you need it most in business, so build up that community of supporters if you can. The eXchanger business community is that for me.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
There are women like Lisa Messenger, Editor in Chief of Collective Renegade magazine, who is a total disrupter, I love what she does. It’s also women in my community who are trying to create the businesses of their dreams.
Some of them are single parents, some have a lot on their plates, but they are so supportive of each other, which is inspiring. Business owners who give back to the community in a big way inspire me as well. Their business is not only about creating their own wealth but it’s about helping those less fortunate too. How amazing would it be if every single person did that?
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Allowing myself to create things I love and am seriously and deeply passionate about with no bounds, restrictions or judgement. Creativity is anything that comes from a place of inner exploration and allows you to express yourself fully. If it makes you feel alive, then that is creativity to me.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Do you get held back by having too many projects on the go? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.
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