Boss Babe Feature: Shana Robinson
Shana Robinson is an image consultant and brand visionary who helps female business owners increase their income and influence through showing them how to BE the brand, create a lasting first impression and share their authentic selves with their audience through brand photography. Shana’s 5+ years of business and branding experience, her ability to empower people with her honesty and truth, and her personal mission to free women from their pasts have enabled her to use her extensive expertise to style and brand female business owners in Canada, the United States and beyond.
It’s her passion for helping female-owned businesses fully step into their brand and their power that made her the perfect panellist for this Saturday’s Boss Babe Pyjama Party.
How long have you been in business?
I started my first business, Electric Lady Coaching, as a life coach back in 2013. I have since transitioned from that into business coaching, speaking and eventually into Image Consulting in the past two years.
What made you decide to get into personal branding?
I chose to get into Personal Branding years ago honestly because I was obsessed with photo shoots, picking out the looks and having everything come together in a website. I loved how confident business owners were when their image was seamless. As a business owner myself, the first thing I did after registering my life coaching business was planning my photo shoot. I hired a photographer, stylist and makeup artist. The experience was so amazing and really stretched me. Having a stylist that took me outside my comfort zone was great. No matter what I did business wise after that experience, confidence seemed to always be what I brought out of my clients. It’s been amazing to come back full circle and now be the stylist on set with my phenomenal clients.
What resources did you use to help you get started?
I have been called a networking queen before, one of my zones of genius is in-person, face to face networking. Knowing how to walk into a room, confidently connect with others, make connections and build relationships is my speciality. The key is knowing what your image is before entering the room. Having a speaking background and knowing what I bring to the table is also beneficial. One of the biggest mistakes I see at networking events is when business owners push their services/products on others without finding out the needs of the person that they are speaking to. I love knowing who my ideal client is so when I make connections I can decide if they are good fit that I should prospect or if they are not a good fit, in which I can happily say it was nice to meet them or connect them with someone who is a better fit for their needs.
Facebook has always been my core spot to gain clients. I will admit I am not the most consistent with my audience but when I post I am a bit of a triple threat. I use my life coaching foundation to start conversations through my posts. My only goal online is to show how raw, real and relatable I am. I don’t have it all together by any means. My angle is to share what the gurus don’t with you. I pull back the veil to show you all the stuff that doesn’t work and the struggles of this amazing journey. Doing a styled brand shoot with myself and my partner Jessica Charuk is about so much more than some images and clothes. I am on a personal mission to FREE women from the image that they have of themselves that prevents them from playing BIG.
What challenges or difficulties have you faced with your business, and how have you overcome them?
UMMM where do even begin. I have had challenges ranging from working with the wrong clients, not having boundaries, hiring the wrong freelancers, dealing with overwhelm, and the list could go on. If I had to pick a main challenge it would be attracting the RIGHT clients. During these past 6 years I didn’t have my processes set up to deliver an amazing client experience. That being said I was constantly running into issues because there were no boundaries set up to keep things organized. On my 30th birthday (August 1) I decided that I was sooooo beyond done with doing business the way I was. I hired my amazing Back Office Manager, Brittany Mack of Back Office Boutique and she got all my ducks in a row (honestly the best money I spend monthly).
Since working with Brittany I have become more confident in my offer. Brittany took my assessment (Master of Styles) prior to us diving into my business and we got the chance to learn about each others strengths and growth areas. She is a producer with a high advocator score, this means that she is the right person for tasks that are detailed and she is also focused on the outcome being beneficial to all. I am a promoter with a high closer score. This means that I am very fast paced, interactive and love to sell. Working with Brittany really balances me out, she sees all my blind spots, slows me down to get things done right and then once we have gotten things in order she throws it back to me to go promote!
A lot of times we feel like we don’t have the money to hire the help we need but trust me not working with her cost me waaayyyyyy more. I wish I had her 6 years ago. You have to have someone in your corner who supports you without bias. She is the best team member I could ask for. Find out where your blind spots are and hire someone to help you close the gap on them.
What have been some of your biggest accomplishments since you started your business?
One of my biggest accomplishments have been getting certified as the first female Canadian with Eric Thomas, one of the worlds’ top speakers. Through this program I got some great training. With the late, Chris Daniel, (my mentor for the past two years). He saw me in a way that I wasn’t even seeing myself, he was such. Great champion for me and taught me so much in our time together. I was honored to have had worked with him closely in his business until his passing. He taught me to go be great and go after my dreams without compromise.
I am also extremely proud to have been flown out to style a client in Paris. That was such an eye opening, confirming moment for me. It’s when I shifted the focus of my business from total branding to styled brand photography. Prior to that I wasn’t as confident that women would invest, after that I knew that it was exactly what I wanted and needed to do. I reached out to my dream photographer Jessica Charuk from Toronto (who I had been Pinterest stalking for 2 years) and inquired about her coming down to Miami for my shoot and the shoots of two other clients. She agreed and after the shoots we decided that we didn’t eat to offer our services without each other anymore. Since then we have been booking shoots in Winnipeg.
What are 3 things/lesson you've learned about being an entrepreneur?
You have to go all in! If you want to be successful you have to be willing to go all in on your dream. That means that you need to give it time, have the ability to tweak things when they don’t go right and more than anything be tenacious. These are the three t’s that I live by. You might not get it right the first time and that is okay. As you evolve as a woman so will your business. If you are one foot in and one foot out on becoming successful, you will never reach your goal. This means you have to take the good with the bad and push through. You have to humble yourself at times when things aren’t going right. Don’t be afraid to fail, for people to not like you, for things to go wrong. You will make it if you don’t give up on yourself, the people that need your help and the vision of who you are becoming.
Be gentle with yourself, it is really easy to get down on ourselves when things don’t go right in our business, when clients become difficult, when partnerships fail or when we mess up. Give yourself permission to grow and evolve as you learn more about yourself as a business owner. In today’s society, mental illness is at an all time high. It is so important to take care of your mental health, talk to people that you can trust, and more than anything remember that you can get through the tough times.
Keep a very tight circle, not everyone is your friend. Test people before you trust them with your ideas, your struggles and your dreams. The wrong people can impact your ability to succeed and the rate at which you do. When you are in business you can sometimes feel alone and like no one gets what you are doing. It’s okay to quiet yourself, the noise and zone in with yourself. This year taught me about trusting my intuition and my inner voice. I read a post one day that said “if you have to ask others if something is right for you, then it’s wrong.” Make decisions based on where you are going and be mindful of who you allow to be in your circle of influence.
Are there challenges you face as a black female in your industry that others might not realize? How do you overcome them?
Let me start by saying the following, I am going to speak openly from the perspective of shedding light on the problems, while also aiming to provide a solution. As a young child I can still hear my father telling me a story of one of his experiences in going for a job and it was between him and another classmate. They were both the top in their class, one white and one black. My dad always told the story with the reminder that as a black person you had to be three times better than you white counterparts. If you wanted to be successful you had to work that much harder to even be seen or acknowledged for your efforts. As a Black, female business owner I can’t say that I have experienced straight up racism. What I can share with you in some struggles that I have encountered both within my race and with people outside of my race that have made being in business at times challenging.
The first struggle that I have encountered has been breaking into successful inner circles in the city. Now I can’t tell you if this is because of my race, because they don’t know me or if it’s because of my economic status. What I do know however is that even though I am friend with some people who run in these circles, who have invested in me and my business, there is still a barrier to be included. Amongst those successful individuals who run in the inner circle, whether because of talent or relationship, there is a low representation people of color. The reality is that the black population as of 2011(most recent stats that I could find) in Winnipeg is only 2.7%. Leaving 98.3% of Winnipeg that I would need to market to to become economically successful considering that this is where the majority of funding is. If I only focus on supplying my race with services, which not everyone would purchase with me, this means that I am limiting myself to an even lower percentage of financial success.
There is a food chain in this world and black women happen to fall at the bottom of it time and time again. Ask yourself, when was the last time that you sat in a room full of black powerful women, now ask yourself when was the last time that you saw the same black woman at event after event after event? This can lead to two things, the black female voice not being heard, acknowledged or respected.
It is one thing to be excluded by those outside of your race but the reality is that as a black female business owner I am also judged within my own community. I have run into situations where my black clients (mainly in the states have chosen to fall on their commitments because they think that I should be understanding of their struggle and circumstance. This in turn perpetuates a cycle within the black community where instead of building each other up, we tear each other down. I remember having a conversation with one of peers whose advice to be after sharing some difficult client situations with, suggested that I focus on working with white clientele to avoid these problems.
Now I have worked with women from various backgrounds all of which have had amazing examples of my ideal client and clients who I would never work with again. Honestly it’s not about race it boils down to character. Character was ingrained in us at a young age and as we age our circumstances tests that character.
Regardless of what race you are, you have 7 seconds to make a great first impression. You are judged about who you are, how much money someone thinks you have, how educated they think you are, if you are trustworthy and even what level of success you have, all before you open your mouth.
This is why knowing who you are, being clear on what you bring to the table and aware of what kind of image you present is so important. You have to work through the clutter of who you have been told to be to free the woman you are supposed to be. When we do this we are no longer in competition with each other. We can walk confidently into a room, own it and not have to worry about “circumstance”
The hardest part of being a black female business owner, is that I have to challenge my thoughts on all the stereotypes that face me before I even leave the door. Struggle is a part of my races history, but struggle doesn’t define me. I have the right to sit at the table but even more importantly I know that what I bring to the table is valuable. So regardless of your race, do the work needed to believe in yourself. You deserve to be great without having to worry about what others will think of you. Ask yourself if you are putting your best foot forward, your best effort forward… if the answer is no, then look inside to solve those struggles before looking at your external struggles. Align yourself with your vision and the people who believe in where you are going. I promise you, you will attract the right people. Refuse to compromise on that vision, and become successfully you in spite of any struggles that attempt to dim your shine. You got this!
What advice do you have for local brands/bloggers/businesses when it comes to sharing inclusive content and messaging?
The biggest piece of advice I can share when it comes to sharing inclusive content is to think about the problem that you are solving with your content. Don’t focus on a race, an economical or marital status, focus on the problem and the solution. Research your topics and give a face to those who aren’t seen or acknowledged. Be open to working with people of different circumstances. But more than anything then you are presenting your brand, remember that it too will be judged. If I don’t see a version of myself portrayed in your branding, I will think that you brand doesn’t work with women that look like me.
Describe your signature/core offer.
Image consulting so that you look like the Boss You are! I work with amazing, hard working female business owners, like you. The only problem is, as amazing as you are, your image doesn’t reflect the CEO you’re becoming. Let’s work together to boost your inner and outer confidence so you can show up in-person and online as the industry expert you are.
Whether you’re a high-performance coach or running a six-figure agency, your image matters. When you look good, you feel good and show up BETTER for yourself and your audience.
You’ll never market yourself effectively if you’re too afraid to run the webinar, show up to the event, or share your personality and creativity with confidence.
Let’s make sure your outer image mirrors the sought-after professional you are.
Aligned, our VIP brand shoot package, is an 8 week experience jam-packed with the steps you need to elevate your image, skyrocket your confidence and increase your income and influence.
Ready to enroll and secure one of the limited spots for 2019! Click here to apply.
Are you launching anything new this year that you can tell us about?
I am rebranding and relaunching my personal brand Shana Robinson Enterprises with a focus on The Branding Boutique Vip and Mini Brand shoot packages. I am just so excited to free women from their past images of themselves that has been preventing them from playing big. It’s time to elevate their images so that they can show up and be seen!
In all the years that I have been in business I have never felt more authentically aligned as a woman and business owner. One of my core values is fun so it’s time to celebrate all the hard work and dance up a storm with the people who helped me reach where I am today.
Do you have any tips for other women on how to define their personal brand?
Your personal brand starts with you which means it’s imperative that you are clear on who you are, what you do, what you bring to the table and how you want to be perceived. Once you re clear on these questions you can start incorporating them into your brand build out to elevate your image. Think about the A ,B ,C ,D’s of image consulting, Appearance, behaviour, communication and digital footprint. These all have to have a consistent look, feel and experience to reflect a cohesive brand. If you are ready to elevate your brand here is my gift to you! My 60 Minute brand elevation consultation. The only 60 Minute intensive that will help you fast track your business growth. Click here to sign up for this complimentary consultation.