Camille Allen, Callen Creative Solutions
Callen Creative Solutions of Durham, N.C., fuses visual and verbal communication and design to create clear, bold and brilliant brands.
‘Ah ha’ moment that led you to launching this business: It came during Spark & Hustle when speaker Adrienne Reed made it very clear that you can incorporate your best talents to create a business that you love, that is different and will touch people deeply. The weeks following Spark & Hustle Orlando, my vision became crystal clear and grew into what it is today. I can honestly say that there has only been one time that I can remember that I created a promotional piece, whether a slogan, advertisement, newsletter, logo, business card or brochure, that the recipient didn’t absolutely visually and verbally love! But following a tweak or two, that was fixed. I’ve always been an excellent communicator and am intrinsically a designer. It only made sense for me to do what I do.
Ideal customer: Women solopreneurs or small business owners who have a great product and amazing determination, but need brand and marketing direction and an image that backs their substance.
First customer: By walking in and asking them for their business. They said okay.
Measuring Success: I measure business success through client satisfaction and income generation. I’m seeing a monthly increase in revenue and my clients are getting more touches and gaining more clarity around their goals and strategies. I measure personal success by the amount of lives that I touch. I get emails and messages weekly from women who tell me how I’ve touched, helped and inspired them.
Biggest Struggle: I had two big struggles – fear and creating a platform. For the fear, I faced it out of necessity and launched my business scared. It was the best decision I ever could’ve made. I realized that being my authentic self created the platform for me.
Surprise!: My biggest surprise is the outpouring of support from the most unexpected people and places.
Promoting Business: I tell everybody I see, know and love about me and what I do. The best sales strategy for me has been personal touches and word of mouth. Also, speaking engagements have increased sales. I can directly tie email responses to sales. And I have spoken in front of groups who have decided to hire me on the spot and I’ve left with a check in hand. I make sure that I highlight the tangible benefits and intangible attributes of my services and give specific examples of how.
What you wish you would’ve known: What I wish is that I would’ve done this ages ago. I wish I would’ve gained more clarity on my market prior to starting. And I wish I had developed a sales strategy much earlier in the game.
What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: Continuous development, improvement and innovative ideas.
Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: Not ever. I was afforded the opportunity to launch my business full-time due to a corporate layoff. This is my destiny. I have lives to change and I can’t very well do it sitting behind someone else’s desk on someone else’s time and someone else’s mission.
Moving Forward: To become the leader and go-to girl for clear content development and image editing for women business owners and operators of beauty and lifestyle related brands. I’ve developed a branch called Callen Charm School, which is a series of events focused on this specific market. I’m exciting my target audience by hosting focused and custom crafted events, and leveraging my 15 years of event management experience to produce a well put together event with solid content and air tight logistics.
Pricing, Getting It Right: Price for profit. I learned from S&H not to charge for the time that it takes, but for the difference that it makes. My advice is to start with your target income goals and work backwards into how many clients and how many sales you need to make weekly and monthly to reach that number, then start there with how much to charge. But make sure that it is aligned with the value of your product or service.
Funding: I’m a complete bootstrapper. I started my business by using what I had, which was $3 and an envelope at best. My best advice is to secure funds when you don’t need them and build lasting relationships with investors who believe in your product and/or service.
A Few Good Tips: Let your clients tell you what they need. Don’t assume that you know because you’re the “expert.” Stay fully educated on the ever-growing and ever-changing needs of your client’s industries.
The absolute best part of owning my business is: being able to make deliberate moves that make a difference.
If I had to start over again, I would have: competed on passion and purpose instead of price.
I never imagined: shutting my brain down long enough to go to sleep would be so difficult.
If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: “Impossible in an opinion, not a fact.”