Steph Schertz and I met via a Facebook group called Being Boss. Before Six Degrees Society launched in Chicago I had reached out to local Chicago businesses that looked interesting and invited them to our launch, Bushyl was one of them. Steph and I immediately planned our breakfast meeting at the new Soho House in Chicago and exchanged life stories. Her company Bushyl helps small businesses with their instagram by advising on ways to offer cohesive imagery, captions and graphics. Steph has many talents and visions, read about them below. Plus on February 23rd join Bushyl and Six Degrees Society in Chicago for an evening of speed networking and beginner calligraphy taught by Steph.
1. Steph you are a serial entrepreneur. Can you tell me a bit about your wedding planning business and what prompted you to move on to Bushyl? Also, what is the meaning behind Bushyl?
I love business ideas. I'm obsessed with Shark Tank and I only listen to business advice that says you can do 5 different things at once and still be successful. I started my first business in 2012 when I was ready to not have a boss anymore. There wasn't some noble story or burning passion behind it - I just felt like too much of my time was wasted in an environment where I couldn't leave until someone else said I could. Luckily, I had some event planning experience and a recently-engaged sister to be my guinea pig. I partnered up with a good friend who I knew would be as motivated and detail-oriented as me and we had a total blast for 3 years. The trouble was, I hadn't considered what the lifestyle of a wedding planner looked like. I just thought, "weddings are so great and I think I'd be good at it," but a successful wedding planner works a LOT of weekends and is busy all summer long. That really lost its appeal for me, especially as I planned my own wedding and knew I wanted to have kids soon. Bushyl was a more concerted effort to build a business model that worked for my personality and tie it to something I'm passionate about. I also knew that some of my favorite parts of the wedding planning business were figuring out the brand design and managing our Instagram account. Now I focus on the visual experience of a business from the client's perspective. That includes everything from logo to website to Instagram photos to email newsletters. I know that, personally, I so strongly prefer to interact with brands whose visual identity makes me smile or inspires me and I think so many businesses don't know how much they're missing out on when this side of their work is weak. I do one-on-one consulting and I'm also creating courses that deal with this topic in order to reach as many business owners as possible. Oh, and the name "Bushyl" was something I loved because it felt abundant, vaguely floral, and spelling it with a "y" meant that the domain was available (which might trump all the other reasons).
2. You are quite the creative and have such a passion for helping others better their branding and social media. What's your favorite part of branding? Any tips for entrepreneurs to make their instagram stand out?
Maybe this is the wedding planner in me, but I'm obsessed with a good mood board. In my experience, that's the first step in the process where business owners finally get to see how stunning their brand can be. It's this perfect moment that combines aspirations with attainability. When it comes to Instagram, my number one piece of advice is to embrace simplicity. We've all seen beautifully styled photos with 15 different props that all come together magically. That's not easy to do and most of the people that do it really well have had a ton of practice. Get a couple of poster boards or swaths of fabric in beautiful colors and use them as backgrounds for very, very simple photos. You'll be much closer to a feed that looks intentional and focused if you start with this approach. Also, keep in mind that your captions can be just as powerful as your photo. Don't be so literal when there's a topic you want to discuss on Instagram. A forest image can be accompanied by a microblog about the last time you experienced burnout and a photo of the pretty shoes you just bought can be more about what makes you feel powerful than it is about the actual product.
3. Do you ever get push back from family/friends about being an entrepreneur? How do you combat their feedback?
You know, I used to read stories like Hillary Swank's where her mom moved her out to LA and they lived in their car while she was auditioning because her mom believed in her so much. I used to think that your family had to be like that in order to be supportive. Now that I've been running my business for awhile, I realize that, usually, pushback from people you love is actually coming from a really good place. My parents don't want me to live in my car - that's not because they don't believe in me, it's because they care about me. When my dad says, "never quit a job until you have another one lined up" it's not because he thinks I'm going to fail, it's because he grew up in the Midwest and we're raised to be practical and hard-working. Now, if my family members question the choices I make with my business I just consider it an opportunity to prove what I know. If I don't have an answer to "but how do you make money doing that?," I'm in trouble. Try to look at these people as a sounding board for questions you're going to get from much scarier situations like sales pitches and client emails.
4. What's the best part of having your own business? Do you have any learnings as an entrepreneur that you wish you had known starting out?
The best part of owning my own business is deciding how I get to spend each day. I take direction well, but I hate wasting my time. Owning my business is the only way I've found to cut out unnecessary steps or worries and focus on what really matters without having to explain my thinking to anyone. I also love getting to talk about the subject matter of my work to other entrepreneurs - it is so fun to brainstorm with people who are putting themselves out there by starting something of their own. There's so much gratification when you see a visual identity that's thoughtful and beautiful. It's also really awesome that I can take a day off during the week and spend time with my family. My sister just gave birth to my first niece and she's the cutest human in the world. I say that from a totally unbiased place.
5. You are a calligraphy pro and are teaching our beginner calligraphy event on February 23rd. Do you have any additional hidden talents we should know about?
Oh, what a great question! Yes, calligraphy is such a fun creative outlet for me and I'm super excited about the event. I don't know if it counts as a hidden talent, but I have an encyclopedic knowledge of celebrities. If we're watching a movie or television show and you say, "how do I know that guy/girl?" I can probably tell you a handful of other movies or tv shows that person has been in, along with who they're dating and the names of their children. It's freakish and a little shameful but it's pretty fun party trick.