I’m back with another rad interview with the talented and babin’ minds behind the Pinterest worthy, Brand Babes Studio. We crossed many oceans in this interview; with myself being in Australia, Megan based in New Zealand and Alarice basking in the Bali sun. The babes gave me the lowdown on running a business from two countries, what working at Brand Babes looks like and their current loves.
Grab yourself a cuppa because this is a big one! It was my first time interviewing a duo, and I absolutely loved getting two lots of perspectives and experiences on the same questions 🙂
How has 2018 been for you so far?
Alarice: It’s been a wild ride me and my little babe have been in Bali for most of this year and head back home in a week. I basically just booked a one way end of last year and end of January we were on a plane to Bali to work play and all the good stuff for as long as we pleased. It’s been such a learning curve being out here – connecting with creatives and solo mumming with no family around.
Megan: It’s been a lesson in listening to my gut that’s for sure! I quit my full-time branding job where I had pretty much climbed the full ladder, to focus on Brand Babes Studio and writing – it’s been harder for sure but I’ve never felt better about a decision! I also listened to my gut and ended up with two rescue dogs – double the love.
Best piece of advice you were ever given?
A: My grandmother always used to tell me never to compare myself to others but rather to compare myself to myself. It means I’m only ever in competition with myself and as long as I keep that competition healthy and the self talk positive all I can do is grow from that advice.
M: If you can’t change it, don’t waste your time worrying about it. It means I only focusing on better myself and what I can do, rather than expending precious time or energy on things I can’t control. We total do that too much as humans, and fretting over things we can’t do anything about doesn’t change the outcome.
What is home to you?
A: Home is a feeling! I am South African born and grew up in New Zealand. I lived in Melbourne for 3 years and my little babe was there and more recently spent two and half months in Bali. My heart is in all 4 places by home is always within me – so cheesy but so true.
M: Home is currently beach side in Tauranga – it’s where I grew up, as well as where my family and furbabies and love are. However in ways I still feel like Wellington is home and Auckland is home so I totally agree with Ally on this one!
A: Masego – Tadow. How is he not super big yet? I don’t get it?!
M: Yuma. And always a sneaky bit of Kendrick and Schoolboy Q…
What is Brand Babes and what does it do?
A: We are two babes (Megan and Alarice). One based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand and the other (me) Nomadic AF basically. Currently making my way back to NZ from Bali via Alice Springs, Australia.
M: Brand Babes Studio helps babes (m & f) to make their business stand out and show their point of difference, through design and content. Sometimes we have to help them find their point of difference first, and that’s fun too.
What inspired you to launch Brand Babes?
A: It was a concept I had been marinating on for years. Long story short and it’s probably still a long story, haha. But basically I was living in Melbourne, become a solo mum, got let go because of reasons totally out of my control and moved back to New Zealand and went F It! I’m starting this thing!
M: Lol yeah I was one of those. I saw BBS on insta and emailed Ally something along the lines of “Hey you babes, you sound like my kind of people..” and we went from there.
What’s something not many people know about Brand Babes?
A: When I first started Brand Babes Studio instead of positioning my business as a one woman freelance show I would always say ‘WE’ as if we were a fully fledged big agency. I would get inquiries like “ Hi Guys” and have a good old laugh to myself. You know the saying dress for the job you want? Well I behaved like the business I wanted to grow into.
How did you become qualified (for your job)? Did you study a degree/diploma or are you self taught?
A: I Studied a Bachelor of Design at United in New Zealand. So yes I am qualified but in many ways still self taught. Running a business in itself is the biggest lesson in my life thus far – in some ways its less Design and more Business smarts.
M: I did a Visual Communication Design Degree (Hons) at Massey. Then became one of the first people in NZ to get into AWARD School. Then got a job as a junior creative/copywriter at a big ass Advertising agency which was a whole ‘nother learning curve all together. Post that I worked my way up in a boutique branding agency doing a bit of everything – from quoting and client management to acting as creative director – which set me up well for self-employment.
How important do you think it is for a small business to have a brand, rather than just a name and a logo?
A: I will harp on about this until the day I die I swear. Look at it this way: if you don’t have a brand your business is a commodity which means the lowest price wins! If that’s how you want your business to be seen don’t worry about your brand but most people don’t. Every man and his dog has a side hustle or a business these days so you really have to cut through the noise by having a strong brand presence. Now don’t get me wrong babes – a name and a logo is a HUGGEE part of your brand but it sure isn’t the be all and end all. The way you sound, look (logo, colour palette, social media presence etc) and feel (it’s a vibe!) is what makes up your brand.
M: Adding to what Ally said, your brand is what people connect with and want to buy into. And that has to be authentic, people can smell BS from a mile away.
If you don’t have a brand you don’t really have a business, or at least won’t for very long. Truth bomb babes!
What’s it like co-owning a small business?
A: Megan, my business partner is FAB! She was the missing link to brand babes. I think I’m so lucky to run a business with someone who is so like-minded and has a very get shit done type approach. We just get on with it you know!
M: Better than working for someone else! It’s amazing getting to use your expertise and skills to help other babes, without having to go through the many layers that you would at a big agency. Those layers usually end up watering ideas down or making the process looooooong and draining.
What’s it like running a business from two separate countries?
A: Absolutely no different to when we were both in New Zealand. Funny thing is that we have never actually met in person. Megan is in Mount Maunganui and I was based in Auckland. We work very similarly and we also use a really handy tool – Asana. It’s a babe’n project management tool and helps us streamline our business.
Favourite client project thus far?
A: Now come on we love our babes equally. But if I was to pick a fun project I would say The White Sands branding we created for Vanessa Prosser’s Airbnb. I had followed her on Instagram for a very long time and she herself without even knowing it has a really strong personal brand. So the Airbnb branding was a cross over between her dreamy Palm Beach life and beautiful home for guests to stay in. She was an absolutely bloody dream client – she trusted the process, she just got what we needed from her every step of the way and everything was aligned perfectly. We created her entire brand in just a week with the help of an intern at the time – which is absolutely unheard of!
M: I freaking loved working alongside Courts from Bodylove NZ to help rebrand her biz. It was one of the more collaborative projects we’d worked on as that was her style, which led to a lot of great brainstorms, a brilliant new brand name, and a clear direction for the brand. I can’t wait to see how it develops as she does! It helps that that industry is my jam, I love health and mental health!
Any client that trusts our expertise when we make recommendations, while still offering their two cents as they know their biz, is a fave for me.
What got you into copywriting? Was it always on offer at Brand Babes or was it naturally introduced to fulfill client needs?
A: I never offered copywriting until Megan came on board – but had been outsourcing the work for the past year as I identified very early on that you can’t polish turds. Content comes first then Design!
M: It’s always come naturally to me. After tossing up between design and journalism I actually started my degree as a graphic designer – designing for my whole four years but in the last two making advertising and copywriting my main focus. During my time at the advertising agency I saw how powerful putting together the right combo of words can be. It’s crazy right, a simple sentence can tell your whole story. Not many people can do that and it’s a pleasure to be able to solve this for Brand Babes Studio clients.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
A: It starts with coffee and a Bali breakfast! The second the little babe is with his nanny so I can actually have a meal in peace. I’m such a foodie so I honestly just would not start my day anyway else. From there I refer to my to do list which I always write the day before. I’m not a morning person so I don’t want to be doing tough things like thinking what I need to do. It’s how I keep myself accountable.
M: Get up before the sun and run – usually with my #1 furbaby Pip. This is followed by a coffee while I start my first 3 hour block of the day. I’ve found I work best in 3 hour blocks, and if I’m in the flow or have an asap deadline I carry right on. Working mostly from home means that when I have breaks it is housework (yaaaaay) but I usually follow this by hopping across the road for a beach stroll with both of my dogs, before getting back into the next 3 hour block. Work wise I can be doing anything from calling babes to go over their brand point of difference, coming up with names and taglines, working on their internal strategy, full-length articles for magazines, or getting babes website content tiyyyght.
What advice would you give to young, aspiring business owners?
A: Well done you for taking that leap of faith and starting a business. Now don’t stop at one – something I’ve realised is that multiple income streams are super important. There is never the “right” time to do something. Make sure you get to a point where you are outsourcing work. You can do many things but you can’t do it all. Don’t over load your to do list if anything you can probably only get 4 main things done right in a day. Be kind to yourself and take breaks – your business is not your life even if you think it is.
M: Follow your gut! It sounds simple, it never is, but it’s always worth it. Plus the universe will make sure you know when you’re not doing so, so it’s better to listen to that gut straight away.
What can we expect to see from Brand Babes in 2018?
A: We are working on a range of passive income streams what those are you will soon find out!
A: Latte – double shot always.
M: Soy flatty for me! Or a long black when I’m really needing a hit.
Fave coffee shops/cafes at home
A: Odettes, Orphans Kitchen, The Botanist and my Auckland local – Urban in the east
M: I heart Luca for coffee and for their Real Rad Food peanut butter balls. Drooling just thinking about it.
Go to outfit
A: I have these pair of black pants I bought from Glassons that I basically just wear everyday – its kind of gross but I’m taking a page out of Mark Zuckerberg’s book so whatever!
M: Running clothes – I’m that girl that showers after a run and puts another version of active wear on for the next activity.
A: Beach day with the little babe, book in hand (although if the little babe is in tow I’m probably not going to get through the first page).
M: Big run with the doggo, followed by coffee on the beach with the dogs and my man, then TBH some client work if I’m loving it!
A: Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso will forever be my favourite book! I have read it 3 times and as I am writing this am thinking about reading it again. I am a podcast addict and I love love love Your Creative Start, The Starving Artist and Girlboss podcast.
M: Agreed babe! I loooove Your Creative Start and also Oprah’s Soul Sessions.
Ultimate travel destination
A: I have a huge list but lately have been super drawn to London. I’ve met a fair few awesome people from London in Bali and even though I don’t love cities I have been feeling super compelled to visit of late.
M: I did a bit of a Europe trip last year with just a backpack, my BMX and my Boyf and would love to do that again. Currently feeling like doing the same thing but touring the South Island!
A: Obviously when my little babe was born but also my second child Brand Babes. When I realised, well damn I actually have a proper business here.
M: When I opened up about an Eating Disorder for the world to see in the hopes that it would help some other babes. Deep right! Oh and when I passed by scooter licence in Rarotonga lol.
Where can we find you online?
You can find us on Instagram all day every day: www.instagram.com/brandbabesstudio
And our website of course: www.brandbabesstudio.com
Have a wee stalk babes! You know you want to.