Hey everybody, and welcome to this week's episode of Brand Your Passion. Today is exciting because we are switching things up a little bit. Normally I’m the interviewer interviewing some incredible creatives, but because there are some updates happening here at Maker & Moxie (which we will be by now!) I thought it could be fun for somebody to interview me and talk about how I have branded my passion and built this whole wild biz.
Today, I have brought in the incredible Amie Finlayson. I'll let her introduce herself, but she also happens to be my biz BFF, so I thought she would be a good match to interview me and get all the good goss out of me. Take it away Amie, introduce yourself and then you can take over.
Woohoo! Hello everyone and hello Hollie. I am really excited because I’m finally using my journalism degree - I think a lot of us creatives and business owners know all too well how it feels to have degrees that we’ve potentially never used. Let’s get into today, I feel like I’m in the host seat.
A bit about me - I’m an online business strategist and I am also the CEO of Ultraviolet MKTG, which is a marketing automation agency. I have been working online for 5 years now, so I feel like a bit of an oldie in the industry. My vision is to have fulfilled entrepreneurs who feel really good in their businesses. The way that I do that is through creating resources, courses and experiences that help entrepreneurs to work less and focus more by structuring their offers, automations and biz operations.
I’ve worked with hundreds of digital entrepreneurs all over the world. In terms of my marketing background, that has been a long journey, over 8 years now. I’ve done absolutely everything you can think of but I’ve landed in a place where I feel really good about what I do. A lot of that is because of you Hollie, because of how you helped me shape my brand and really understand what I’m good at, how I can impact the world, what I value and how I can best communicate that to an audience.
And you’re heckin’ creative also. Content creation, a podcast, writing, YouTube videos, websites. Amie is an incredible creative as well.
Let’s talk more about you because that’s what this whole episode is about! For anyone that has listened to the podcast before, they would have heard you telling the story of all the wonderful creatives that have been on Brand Your Passion. We’re switching gears and getting to hear more about you, which is super exciting.
For those people who have mainly heard you facilitate these interviews, could you tell us a little bit more about what you do and maybe some things that people don’t know about you?
Sure. So my title now is Brand Strategist & Coach for Creatives. But before that and even now, I describe myself as a multi-creative because I’m also a hand lettering artist, I really want to write a book one day, I studied graphic design and was a designer before doing brand strategy. There are so many other ways that I identify as a creative.
Things you might not know is that my business started as a hand lettering and typography studio. I started by freelancing, doing hand lettering art and design and selling my prints.
I was originally born in England. Not a lot of people know that but I moved from there to New Zealand. As an introverted youth, I hated being different and I hated my accent being different.
Did you have a proper British accent?
Oh yeah. 100%. I still do, I actively don’t use it.
Really? You sound so Kiwi though.
Yeah, but if I talk to my parents, I will sound like a broad Yorkshire lass.
Can we get a bit of Yorkshire for the podcast?
I’ve never done it publicly! But I hated it, I hated being singled out as different, so I changed my accent and copied the New Zealand accent, and here I am.
You’ve always been a creative, but it’s interesting that now you actually have a personal brand and show up online, but as a teenager you didn’t want to be in the limelight. You’re an introvert as well, which I know is where we’re very different, but we also do the same types of things. Is that something you had to transition into feeling more comfortable with, knowing that you would have to actually promote yourself as a brand?
When I first started building my personal brand and my business brand, I was very shy and very socially anxious. I really didn’t know how to be myself or talk online, I hated public speaking, all of that stuff. I had to figure out how to do all of that but in a way that still felt good to me and honours the fact that I am an introvert.
I’m an introvert but I’m a people person. I love working with people, especially in one-on-one environments or small groups and connecting really deeply. I had to figure out how to do all that people-facing stuff and put myself out there confidently, but then also look after my energy, make sure that I’m taking time for myself and looking after my introverted little self.
I actually did post on my Instagram recently about how I wish I’d never changed my accent, because now I wish I was different. Too late now!
I had to figure out how to put myself out there in a way that still felt good to me and honours the fact that I am an introvert.
Everyone knows you as Kiwi Hollie, imagine if you just started talking like that.
[In a Yorkshire accent] Ey ‘up, can I have a cup of tea?
There we go, we got the accent! You got me on to drinking Yorkshire tea too. I already loved it, but now I drink it every day because of you.
It's the one and only. If you drink anything other than Yorkshire tea, you're missing out.
You can’t sit with us! On that topic of introversion in online business, you talked a little bit about how you overcame it, but some people are still scared to really put themselves out there, even though they know it could grow their business and eventually help them sell more of their work or have deeper connections with people in their online community. Do you have any tips for those people who are currently on the fence about whether they should go more into that personal brand and put themselves out there?
I think there are two things.
Firstly, and this isn’t an instant lesson or a mindset shift you’re going to have overnight, but it’s knowing that everything that makes you YOU is an asset. Saying “an asset” makes it sound like I’m trying to sell you, but it’s a great thing that makes you you. It’s the things that people are going to love about you and that set you apart. There are people out there for everyone, so whoever you are, whatever you’re into, there is an audience out there who’s going to love you and your work.
Everything that makes you YOU is an asset.
If you Google or look on Reddit, you can search anything and there’s an audience or community for that topic. Whether you’re an introverted hand lettering artist who loves metal music, like me, or an extroverted person who loves clowns and talking really loudly or something, there’s an audience for you.
There are people out there for everyone, so whoever you are, whatever you’re into, there is an audience out there who’s going to love you and your work.
Secondly, you can show up, be visible or put yourself out there in whatever way works for you. It doesn’t have to be talking on Instagram Stories or public speaking if that’s not what’s comfortable for you. It could be just sharing more of your work or organising a small group that meets in person. There are so many different ways that you can grow your brand and get yourself out there that don’t have to just be doing what you think you should be doing or what other people are doing. There’s a way that you can do it that works for you, your personality and your preferred way of living.
You can show up, be visible or put yourself out there in whatever way works for you.
I feel like in the online space, there’s so much comparison and it can feel like you’re not keeping up. So many people are telling you that you’re not doing the right things, you shouldn’t be doing one thing, you’re not investing enough money, or you’re not doing this or that.
You wrote a really interesting post the other day, which I think spoke to a lot of people. It was about the fact that especially in these communities where it’s mostly business owners and service providers, people have a tendency to shame others for not spending a lot of their time, money and resources in programs, masterminds and things that are more expensive in terms of the cost but also the time commitment. That post was really good because I think there’s a tendency for us to not feel like we’re validated if we’re not doing these things and are choosing the DIY route instead.
Is that something you can share a little bit more around and how it doesn’t need to be that way?
I have a few philosophies in terms of branding that can be different to what other people think. One of them is that I think that however you want to build or grow your brand, whether it’s DIY, in a mastermind or hiring someone, the fact that you’re trying to work on your brand at all is amazing and should be celebrated. I just want to help you wherever you’re at in that journey.
However you want to build or grow your brand, the fact that you’re trying to work on your brand at all is amazing and should be celebrated.
I’ve been in the position of starting out as a freelancer trying to sell my work and book clients, and I didn’t have any money. When I started freelancing, I was actually in a lot of debt because of the job I had before, which had stopped paying me and all this jazz, so I know what it’s like to be in a position where you don’t actually have the money to hire someone to do it all for you. You need to work, maybe you’re doing small jobs and you’re just trying to get by - you don’t have a month or 6 months to be working on your brand. Instead, you’re like, “I just need to figure out what the frick my vision is, or I just need to choose some colours that feel really good and can help me start to get some consistency in what I’m doing.”
Those little things you can do that make a difference in moving your brand forward are completely valid and amazing, and are just as good for you where you’re at as hiring someone to do it for you. I guess that’s what I was trying to say in my post - whatever you’re trying to do to work on your brand is frickin amazing. Proud of you. Love it. I’m here to help you.
Whatever you’re trying to do to work on your brand is frickin amazing.
On that note, for anyone who is stuck on their brand and needs a bit more confidence to move forward, what’s one thing that you think they should focus on now that potentially doesn’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, but can help them get that extra bit of clarity that they need?
I think one of the best things you can do is to figure out what makes you different. What is your zone of genius or unique selling proposition? Like you said, figuring out what you’re really frickin good at is really powerful. It’s when you can say - this is what I do, this is what I’m really good at, this is why you should buy my work, this is why you should support me and this is why I want to grow my community, or whatever it is you want to do.
One of the best things you can do is to figure out what makes you different.
When you figure out what it is about your personality, your work or what you do that is so different and awesome and special, you feel more confident in yourself and then more confident to share that with other people.
There are a lot of things you can do, but I think that would be the easiest, the most fun and the most powerful.
When you figure out what it is about your personality, your work or what you do that is so different and awesome and special, you feel more confident in yourself and then more confident to share that with other people.
And just getting started. So on that note again, what makes you different in your business?
The fact that I’m a creative myself is one of the things that I’m the most proud of. The reason I’m doing this and trying to help creatives build and grow their brands is because, like I said, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like trying to sell your work, book clients, grow your reputation, get speaking gigs or spots at markets, I’ve been there. So what makes me different is that everything that I do and my approach to everything is from that lens. When I’m talking about brand strategy or designing your brand, I’m always thinking about it from the perspective of a creative FOR creatives.
The fact that I’m a creative myself is one of the things that I’m the most proud of.
There are a lot of brand strategists out there and everybody has a different audience. Some brand strategists or brand designers will be very focused on building a corporate business or building a startup. A lot of that information is not going to be relevant for a creative, there’s heaps of stuff about competitor analysis, position in the market, market share percentages and all of that stuff. If you Google ‘branding’, you might find that stuff and get overwhelmed and confused.
When I’m talking about brand strategy or designing your brand, I’m always thinking about it from the perspective of a creative FOR creatives.
For me, I want to focus on the parts of branding that are actually really going to help creatives. We don’t need to look at your competitors because a lot of creatives just want everybody to be creative and succeed, it doesn’t matter who else is being an illustrator or a musician or whatever. You don’t have market share in the same way that Coca-Cola has market share.
Branding can be a bit stuffy, corporate and kind of serious, and while I definitely take it seriously and am serious about doing a good job, I have a f*cking fun time.
My personality is a little bit different sometimes. Branding can be a bit stuffy, corporate and kind of serious, and while I definitely take it seriously and am serious about doing a good job, I have a f*cking fun time. Even right now, I’m giggling and telling stupid dad jokes. You can’t see me right now but I’m wearing cow print star earrings. I’m having a good time doing it and I’m making the experience a really fun, creative time for my clients as well. It doesn’t have to be stuffy and boring.
I’m having a good time doing it and I’m making the experience a really fun, creative time for my clients as well.
So what is one of the most fun things about running your business or working with clients?
I really love doing strategy workshops. They’ve just gotten better and more fun over time. I just have a fun time working with creatives and seeing them figure out what’s awesome about them and the things that they love. It can be hard for the client sometimes, but I have heaps of fun when they realise, “Oh sh*t, I am not doing what I love, but I could be.” It’s a hard realisation, but it’s worth it and it’s going to be frickin great. So I have a great time running those workshops and helping people figure out their brand, what they want, how they can do it in a way that works for them and to see the potential of where their brand can go.
I just have a fun time working with creatives and seeing them figure out what’s awesome about them and the things that they love.
Yeah, for sure. If we go back to when we first met, I feel like you and how you speak about your business now is completely different. You were in a different phase of business when I first met you and you were in a different phase of life as well. You were a designer trying to transition into that title of a brand strategist. Now you’ve fully transitioned and you’re known by people as a brand strategist.
How did you make that transition? Do you have any tips for anyone who is thinking about making a transition in their business?
Claim the new you. It took me a long time, and even now sometimes when people I don’t know ask me what I do, I say I’m a brand designer because it’s just easier. It takes time to confidently be able to tell everybody who you are and what you do, but I started trying as much as I could to say that I’m the CEO of my business and I’m a brand strategist and coach. No longer did I describe myself as a freelance designer or a design studio or anything like that, I’m a brand strategist and coach. That’s what I do.
I totally know that it’s easier said than done. Like I said, sometimes I still mess up and in the moment am like, “Oh sh*t, why did I just tell them I’m a designer? That’s not what I do anymore, what the heck?” But it’s worth it and gradually over time, you’ll be able to confidently say, “Yeah, this is what I do.”
Claim the new you.
It’s hard, isn’t it. Because doubt can set in and you start wondering if maybe you should still take on this work. It’s really hard to just make that cut and say, “No, this is who I am. This is who I serve. I’m just gonna own that title.” Even for me, when we talked about this in my brand strategy, it was completely different to what it is now. I feel like it’s completely okay to change your title 20 times if you need to so you can get into that place where you do feel really confident to say it to anyone.
One of the things I’m most excited about asking you is about some of the behind the scenes work you’ve been doing. I have known this for a very long time, but tell us about the shift to Maker & Moxie - how you came up with the name, what the name means to you, what it will mean to your audience and any changes that are going to happen in your business because of this name change.
I started my business very quickly because I had to get the frick out of my job because it was very bad. I’ll just leave it at that. I had to leave very quickly, so I had to very quickly come up with a name. As I said earlier, at the time I was doing hand lettering and typography, and my personal work was minimal and primarily all in black and white.
That’s how Black & White Studios came about, which is what I’ve been using for the past 3-4 years, or however long I’ve been in business. My business has changed so much since then. I’m no longer doing hand lettering or typography as a service in my business. I do that in my own personal time as an artist, but it doesn’t make sense anymore in terms of what I do. It doesn’t feel on-par or aligned with my brand or the visual direction of my brand, because if you look at my brand visual identity, it is definitely not black and white. It’s very bright orange and pink with a little bit of blue thrown in there. So it doesn’t work that way and it doesn’t say anything anymore.
My business has changed so much since then.
Also, I always get tagged in things or confused in search results for black and white photography or anything black and white. All of those things lead me to realise that I’ve got to change this name.
I wanted to keep the visual identity because I am so proud of the visual identity that I have. I love my logo and I have amazing animations made by my friend Devin. I wanted to keep as much of that as I could.
I am so proud of the visual identity that I have.
The core icon of my logo is the ampersand, so my restriction in finding a new name was that I wanted to keep the ampersand in the middle of the name so that I could keep the logo and keep all of the branding. Those were the technical parameters for changing the name. But I also wanted it to feel good to me, say something to my audience and feel like the kind of energy that my business has.
I also wanted it to feel good to me, say something to my audience and feel like the kind of energy that my business has.
I was brainstorming a whole bunch of names, a bunch of stuff that would resonate with creatives, creators and makers, and a bunch of words about the energy, the results and the transformation that I want to help people have. I had a bunch of different names and then I went through the process of seeing if those names already existed.
Eventually I found Maker & Moxie. Obviously all of you are makers in some way - making your art, making your creativity, making music, making writing, making whatever you’re making. And then if you don’t know what ‘moxie’ means, it’s this old timey but badass feeling word that means courage, confidence and gumption. It’s often used to describe badass women, creatives, entrepreneurs or innovators. I also love that it has an X in there, because I just feel like anything that has an X or a Z in there feels exciting and snazzy and badass. It just felt great.
All of you are makers in some way - making your art, making your creativity, making music, making writing, making whatever you’re making. 'Moxie' is this old timey but badass feeling word that means courage, confidence and gumption. It’s often used to describe badass women, creatives, entrepreneurs or innovators.
I’m in the process right now of changing everything, redoing the logo and changing the name in all the software that I use. That’s where we’re at with the name and that’s how it happened. I hope you will love it!
This is the biggest secret I’ve ever kept. I just want to tell people. I think you are doing something very brave and doing it in a way where you’re actually setting everything up to be really successful. You’ll have that brand be really known for what you do and who you help, so I think it’s an amazing thing. You did a great job.
Thank you. You would hope as a branding person that I know how to do this kind of thing. But yeah, I’m trying to set things up with this name for the future, because where is it going to take me? I don’t know how it’s going to work going forward.
Yeah, talk more about where this is going to go.
I have a bunch of ideas. If you know me, you know that I just can’t stop thinking of new ideas and new things to do. Essentially, I want Maker & Moxie to be the new go-to place for creatives who want to build and grow their brand.
I want Maker & Moxie to be the new go-to place for creatives who want to build and grow their brand.
Right now, it’s not just me running this thing anymore. I am the person doing the strategy and the implementation, but I also have an assistant, a designer, a podcast editor and this team of people who make this whole business happen. That’s going to grow because in the future, I’m thinking about potentially bringing brand design back into Maker & Moxie and having an agency style model, where I do the strategy and then we’ll work together to do your brand identity. I’m thinking of having a bunch more resources, events, meetups, communities and so much great stuff, so I wanted a brand name that could encapsulate all of that and is going to work for whatever I’m doing in the future.
I’m thinking of having a bunch more resources, events, meetups, communities and so much great stuff, so I wanted a brand name that could encapsulate all of that and is going to work for whatever I’m doing in the future.
Don’t hold me to any of those ideas by the way, because I could change my mind! But that’s the plan and that’s why I wanted the name to fit all of those things.
Yeah. I feel like it’s real CEO vibes. You’re stepping into that role and you’re ready to take charge and serve the creatives in your community. It’s very exciting.
I think that’s a great question to end on, because Maker & Moxie is the future of your business and all the people that listen to this podcast fit into that community of creatives. So on an end note, especially as this is your own podcast, I want to give you the opportunity to plug yourself, anything you’re currently working on, or anything that you want to share with the creatives that are listening right now. Where can they find you?
You’ll be able to find me at makerandmoxie.com or @makerandmoxie everywhere. If you want to work with me, I have a bunch of options because I’m here to help you wherever you’re at. I have a shop that’s full of resources to help you start working on your brand, and you can check those out at my shop.
Next month, I’ll be launching my group brand strategy program and the waitlist is open now. So go and get your booty on there by clicking here! That’s a super fun way that you can get yourself started doing your brand strategy in a group.
Or to get the whole shebang, you can always book in for a one-on-one brand strategy.
Yeah, it’s a good time. So yeah, that’s how you can work with me!
I hope you have all enjoyed listening to me answer some questions. I would obviously love for you to let me know how you feel about the name, and if you have any more questions about my story or anything that’s going on with Maker & Moxie, you can always find me on the ‘gram and flip me a DM.
Thank you to Amie for doing this with me. If you want to check out Amie, which you should, especially as us creatives sometimes struggle with structuring our businesses and getting into the zone with actual business stuff, then you want to talk to Amie. Amie, where can people find you?
Otherwise, if you’re looking for the agency side of things, you can find me at @UltravioletMKTG, short for ‘marketing’.
Make sure you get the spelling of my first name right, because everyone gets it wrong!
Yes, Amie and I both live that ‘IE’ life.
Thanks everybody for listening, I will see you in the next one!
August 11, 2021
Brand Your Passion