Monday Motivation | NJ Brand Photographer

Monday's are tough! We're still in weekend mode but our list is long with things to do. Let's help each other make the transition a little bit easier. Every Monday, I will share a tip or trick I use to help me ease into the week. Hope it inspires you to take action and jumpstart into your day. 

It's time to get to work. How do you get started when your list is a mile long? Today's tip...circle three things and commit to doing them today. Extra bonus points if they are income generated tasks. Just focus on that smaller set and you'll be surprised at how much easier it feels to accomplish them. Then tomorrow, repeat with another three. Hopefully by the end of the week, that list gets tackled. The key here is to take ACTION!

Do you have a productivity tip that works for you? Share in the comments. Happy Monday!

 

Miki Spotlight | NJ Brand Photographer

MIKI SPOTLIGHT : 

Priya Virmani - Privée by Priya

I am excited to launch a new series called Miki Spotlight where I feature some of my photography clients and share more about their businesses. I work with so many interesting and dynamic women entrepreneurs that I wanted to spotlight their stories along with the images that were captured during their branding photo shoots. I hope this series inspires and introduces you to some new and interesting people.

Meet Priya Virmani, the style curator and personal stylist behind Privée by Priya. She helps women, men and young adults find the style that makes them feel good. This is done via a closet sort and assess, a shop session, and finally a style session that integrates the new pieces into the existing closet. She helps with special occasion styling, vacation and work wardrobes and seasonal updates as well.

When did you discover your passion for styling? 

I discovered very early on in my life that I loved fashion.  I have fond memories of saving all my pocket money for new clothes.  When the money ran out I went shopping in my own closet and did a closet re-style session!  My love for fashion stayed just a hobby as I went to college, got an MBA, got married and had 2 precious daughters.  I spent over ten years at a large bank and then several more years at start ups in NYC.  I was fortunate enough to spend 5 years in Paris.  The mecca of all things trendy, chic and gorgeous!  And boy! Did I learn a thing or two (or hundred!) about styling while I lived there.

Here I am now. A proud resident of New Jersey where I have finally turned this hobby and gift I have for fashion into a business.  Style is a language that I speak fluently.

Why do you do it? What do you love about it?

Why not help others with something that comes so easily to me?  I enjoy every minute of it. I love meeting new people, and uncovering their style concerns. I love seeing the joy on their faces when they find the perfect solution to their needs. I love making people look and feel confident.

How do you want your client to feel?

On top of the world! Not just on one occasion but everyday. I want them to know they will have consistency in their style. I want them to take out the stress and time it takes to dress on a daily basis. 

How are you different?

I know how to add a little oomph and edge to most closets while respecting the client’s demographics.  I am also a mean deal finder!  Styling is an art but can also be a science.  I have figured out best times of the year to shop at various retailers. 

How can people reach you to learn more?

While my website is still under construction. I am on instagram under Privée by Priya. Or email: priveebypriya@gmail.com.

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Priya is one of the most fashionable people I know and a dear dear friend of mine. Her sense of style is effortless and distinctive. She has a talent for putting pieces together to create a signature look. I love that she is comfortable shopping at both Barney's and Zara, giving her clients options at all price points. Her business is already thriving with corporate executives, professionals, coaches and speakers. If you need some fashion help or are ready to up level your style, I highly recommend reaching out to Priya for a consultation - priveebypriya@gmail.com. 

I was thrilled to have her in front of my camera during our STAND OUT branding photography session. We took photos at her home office/amazing closet and around downtown Millburn to capture her story and style. Keep an eye out for her new website coming soon! 

If you are interested in branding photos of your own,  I am passionate about helping women entrepreneurs tap into their story and share their message with confidence. 

The Savvy Experience Photo Recap | NJ Brand Photographer

Now that the kiddos are back at school (hooray!), it's time to get back to business. I have had a laundry list of to-dos that can now finally get my attention. First order of business is to share my photo recap of the creative conference I attended a few weeks back called, The Savvy Experience. Hosted by Heather Crabtree, a business mentor for creative entrepreneurs and leader of the Savvy Business Owners Facebook Group (which has over 8000 members), she brought together 65 girl bosses from across the country to shift their mindsets from business owner to CEO. We all gathered together in Scottsdale, AZ at the colorful Saguaro Hotel for two days of learning, laughing, connecting, implementing and loads of fun. 

This conference or better said, EXPERIENCE, was a game changer for me and my business. I met so many incredible, smart, creative women and finally felt like I found my people. For the last few years, I have been connecting with them online and to actually meet and see them in the flesh, was beyond amazing. Live interaction is where true relationships are built! We learned from experts who generously shared their stories and tips and strategies to build better businesses. We were spoiled with delicious food, gifts, swag and beautiful design and details. The energy was over the top and my heart and cup was full by the end. 

Scroll down to get a visual taste of the Savvy Experience.

I am so happy that I invested and attended this conference. It is never easy to leave your family behind and put yourself first. But I am so glad I DID! If you are ever on the fence about going to an event or a conference or joining a mastermind or program, just do it! You and your business need it to grow. You need to get out of your office and meet new people. I now feel super inspired and energized about where my mikifoto brand will go next. My head is full of new ideas and a newfound confidence. And I now have meaningful connections, potential collaborations and deeper ties to the Savvy community. I am ready for what's next - let's get to work! 

A Note for the Mamas | NJ Family Photographer

My fellow mamas! I know how much we crave those perfect family portraits with all of our children looking happy, getting along and dressed to perfection. Sometimes we want it so badly that we forget to enjoy the actual moment of connecting in front of the camera. But I am here to tell you and remind you that the real life stories that happen everyday with your children are golden. The moments of laughter, love, wonder, connection, energy, excitement are all amazing. Even those stressful times of fighting, tears, sadness and stress - those are meaningful stories too. This is the REAL stuff that will have us reminiscing and laughing in years time.

My philosophy is to let the kids be kids. Let the story unfold naturally. Enjoy this special family moment in front of the lens as best as you can (I realize it is not easy!). The secret to success is to be yourselves. Love on your babies, tickle them, dance along side them. Snuggle up to your husband. Bubble up with happiness as you watch your kiddos hold hands and play. Embrace the BEAUTY in the chaos! Don't worry about perfect poses and smiles. The best photos are those where you all are together and experiencing life as a family.

My family portrait session availability for 2016 is quite limited. My business has shifted to focus more on my business/branding photography so I only have a few spaces left for 2016. Right now I currently have ONE spot left in my October Mini Sessions and TWO spots left for my family packages in November. If you are looking to capture life in the fun lane and embrace the chaos, reach out to me. I would love to meet you and your family and show you how all life's moments are beautiful :)

Italy Adventure - Parma | NJ Travel Photographer

Hello PARMA. The food capital of Italy. Or some might say, the belly :) Home of Parmesan, Parma Ham and Bolognese sauce. We spent a night and day in this small riverside city and learned about cheese, wine, balsamic and Prosciutto. We took a culinary tour that peaked our taste buds, senses and love for food. We enjoyed the rural countryside and medieval castles but our time was mostly spent feasting. And loving every minute of it!

Where to stay? We booked one night at NH Hotel. A new property in the center of the city, the location was convenient. The hotel is modern and new but lacked charm and elegance. But the rooms were clean so it worked for us. 

Where we ate? We had a spectacular dinner at La Forchetta. We were able to book ahead of time from home through The Fork, which is like Open Table for Europe. The ambiance was elegant, the menu diverse and interesting, the presentation like art and the food was delicious. Definitely try the fried ravioli and my husband still raves about his "Duchess of Parma" - chicken with Parma Ham. Everything was fresh and flavorful!

Things to do:

FOOD TOUR. This is a must-do! Eat like a local and book a culinary food tour. We spent half a day with our Italian guide/food expert and visited a Parmesan/food farm, vineyards and Parma Ham producer. We learned how cheese, balsamic vinegar and Prosciutto ham are produced. It was an eye opening experience! So many sights and smells, not for everyone (beware of the Parma factory if you are a vegetarian). But we were in awe by the dedication of the family run businesses and all the hard work behind the scenes. If you are a foodie or curious traveler, this will be a highlight of your trip. 

FERRARI MUSEUM. My husband and sons are obsessed with fast cars. So of course we had to head to the Ferrari museum, one hour from Parma. It was actually a fun museum featuring the history of the famous Ferrari, complete with vintage and iconic cars. Lots of sleek design!

The next and final stop in my Italy tour is MILAN - the fashion capital. Coming soon will be more photos and information on what we did and saw in this beautiful, bustling city. 

5 Ways to Handle an Unhappy Client | NJ Business Mentor

It happens to all of us. If you are running a business, you are bound to deal with unhappy customers. It's never easy hearing their disappointment, frustration or even anger. But if we react in the right manner to manage the sticky situation then we might be able to save the relationship (and save face!). You may even be able to turn the crisis around to create a better experience for your client. 

How do we do that? How do we win over these unhappy clients? Here are my five tips to handle a disgruntled client and smooth things over :

1) LISTEN FIRST. When your client expresses dissatisfaction with your product or service, it is so important to listen actively. Let them talk. Don't interrupt and don't get defensive. Your client wants to be HEARD. Give them your full attention and act as a partner. Sometimes after letting them air out their issues, the problem can be easily solved. 

2) SHOW EMPATHY. Once the problem is stated, show your client that you understand their perspective. And make sure to tell them that you are super sorry that they feel that way. It is critical to apologize, even if you don't think you are wrong. Beware of acting defensive and argumentative. This can blow up in your face, especially with the ease of sharing on social media. 

3) RESPOND QUICKLY WITH SOLUTIONS. Time is of the essence here. Make sure you respond swiftly and offer a few solutions to the problem. Is it a refund, a discount, a free gift? Make the solutions crystal clear to avoid any confusion. Keep an open dialogue and ask if these solutions fit their expectations. See if you can work together to improve the outcome. Whatever action you suggest to correct the situation, make sure it feels good to you and seems fair. While you want to make your customer happy, you also want to keep your integrity in tact.

4) TAKE ACTION AND OVER DELIVER. Now that a solution has been agreed upon, get to work and get it done immediately. Make this client a priority. Make sure your client is well informed and in the loop. And do your very best to over deliver - finish before the deadline or offer a longer session or gift products. Surprise and delight your clients so that they remember this experience. 

5) FOLLOW UP. Once the situation is resolved, make sure to follow up with your client. Send an email or make a phone call to ask if they are happy with the outcome. Then follow up again with a thank you note in the mail. 

Dealing with difficult situations and clients can be very challenging. It takes patience and empathy plus a thick skin. These five steps show my clients that they are valuable to me. And they can help turn a crisis into an opportunity. Hope they help you take action in your next sticky situation. 

 

Italy Adventure - Cinque Terra | NJ Travel Photographer

Hello CINQUE TERRA. Located in the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terra is comprised of five fishing villages. Over the centuries, terraces and paths have been carefully built on the rugged, steep terrain, right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Cars have been banned so you must travel by footpath, train or boat between villages. Many come to hike the scenic trails in this popular tourist destination. We certainly did! We stayed two days and one night. The views were incredible and the villages full of charm. If I were to do it again, I would have stayed a second night because there was more to do and see. 

Where we stayed? La Torretta Lodge Manarola. Homey, charming and spacious with a complimentary breakfast buffet and happy hour featuring local wines. We loved the gracious staff and the rooms were a perfect combination of old world and modern design. Plus views that will awaken your soul! 

Where we ate? We enjoyed fresh fish and an incredible view at Marina Piccola. We ate pizza from "fast food" shops along the way. We devoured LOTS of gelato because it was warm and our favorite place was Alberto Gelateria

Things to do :

HIKE! This is a must do. We took the train from Manarolo to Corniglia. Then we hiked from Corniglia to Vernazza which was no easy task. There is a fair amount of climbing up and down on dusty trails and broken, uneven steps. It was a rigorous, physically challenging trail but the views were absolutely stunning. Plus a pretty cool adventure for us as a family. It took about 3 hours. Bring LOTS of water and wear proper sneakers. 

Drink Granita. My boys LOVED this lemonade slushy. Fresh, flavorful and delicious. This is what helped us get through our hike. 

Manarolo Vineyard Walk. If you can bear to walk more after the big hike, this is a great trail through the grape vineyards with a view overlooking the town and sea. Lots of beautiful pockets and photo opps on this pathway.

The next blog stop will be PARMA - the food capital of Italy. I can't wait to share the photos from this part of our trip. Until then, arrivederci!

 

5 Reasons to Attend Networking Events | NJ Business Photographer

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Networking events. Do you have a love hate relationship with them? Do you dread working the room, exchanging cards or being caught in a corner with a self absorbed business boaster? I used to see networking as a shmoozing fest and a bit intimidating. But no longer! I now see networking events as an opportunity to meet new people who share a similar interest or mindset. I try to attend a networking meeting every few months. I even have started hosting my own events because I see the value of creating a space for women entrepreneurs to meet, socialize and support each other.

If you are on the fence about the networking game, here are my five reasons to jump in. I believe networking can be a game changer for your business. 

1) Cultivate Relationships. Networking events are a great way to meet people who are like minded and share a similar passion or purpose. You may surprise yourself at how many interesting people you can actually meet. Before you attend any networking event, set a goal to meet three people well. You will surely meet more, but try to spend quality time getting to know just a handful of people in the room. Ask questions, listen and offer help. Don't just talk about yourself but share your knowledge and expertise to gain trust. Ask, "how can I support you?" Your hope should be to build relationships that can result in a client, a referral, a partnership, a friendship or an alliance. These relationships take time so don't expect to leave one mixer with your biz besties. Follow up and connect afterwards. This is where the bonding magic happens. 

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2) Be Inspired. Sitting behind your desk all day as a solo entrepreneur can get boring and stale. We all need a break to mingle with others and share conversation. This helps get the creative juices flowing and sharpen your skills. I love to hear what others are doing - their new products, new launches, new branding, new ideas. This sharing of information creates a contagious energy that is inspiring and motivating for all. 

3) Boost Confidence. It is daunting to enter a room full of people and introduce yourself over and over. But it also is great practice to get your story our there and feel confident sharing it. Nail down your elevator pitch and messaging statement. Keep it short, concise and clear. Don't ramble on and on because you will lose people. The more you do it, the more natural it will become.

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4) Get Noticed. The more networking events and meetings you attend, the more visible you and your brand become. The trick is to continue to listen and offer useful information and tips to others. Be of service! People always remember the givers. All of a sudden, you become the go-to expert in your industry. Your name and business is remembered and referred. That is the reputation that you hope for!

5) Learning Opportunity. I am an information junkie! I love to watch webinars, read books and blog posts but there is nothing like learning in a face to face environment. Networking events are great places to hear live from fellow entrepreneurs how they work and flourish in their businesses. You can learn first hand how they develop new products, how they launch online, how they gain new clients, who they hired as their virtual assistant or web designer, what productivity apps are they using....the lessons are endless. The key is to ask questions and also share your top tips. I have gained so much knowledge and saved myself so much time from these conversations.

Connections. Community. Creativity. Growth. These are what I gain from continued networking. What do you think? Are you more open to attending a networking event? I encourage you to try and look for events in your area. Research local networking groups. I am an active member of BIG, a women's empowerment organization, but also attend events with Lady Savant and Savor. Also check out Eventbrite for browsing events and as a tool for hosting events. Meetup is another valuable resource for finding events at a local level. Just get started one networking event at a time and see where it can take you and your business. Happy networking!