“I think a challenge that was difficult to face during the earlier stages of my business, and still continues to linger a little bit, is the struggle with stepping outside my comfort zone and letting the world in. As a creative entrepreneur, someone who is sharing my passion with the world, it’s important that I be more vulnerable and offer insight into my story and creative process. This is not natural to me,” Ashley says.
“Personalized branding is a powerful approach to growing a business, and I know the value is certainly there, so I work hard every day to continue pushing forward and following my heart with the world by my side. The dedication to overcoming this challenge has proven to be very worth it, as I notice my business leaping forward every time I step forward and own my place as the creator and business owner behind Ashley Largesse Photography and Creatives Thrive.”
Here, the photographer, business coach and HoneyBook member shares how she turned a passion for helping others into a second venture and how she manages her time between running two businesses and raising a family.
Please tell us what makes you tick.
I’m Ashley Largesse, a wedding photographer based in the beautiful mountains of Vermont. I mainly capture weddings across the New England area but am always up for traveling further and exploring new places!
Five years ago I found myself sitting in our tiny New York apartment feeling entirely derailed. There I was with a degree in business and a great job in the corporate world, yet I felt as though I was living someone else’s life. I needed an escape, something that allowed me to find me. That’s when I found photography. Looking through my lens gave me the perspective that I needed all along!
Photographing landscapes and birds quickly grew into photographing some of the most precious moments in peoples’ lives, allowing me to trade in my desk job to start my own business. I feel eternally grateful for the experiences photography has brought into my life, and the people I’ve been so fortunate to work with.
Creatives Thrive is dedicated to helping talented, hard working creatives grow their passions into flourishing businesses. At Creatives Thrive I provide free resources, blog posts that tackle challenging topics, one-on-one coaching sessions, and strategic courses, all in an effort to help others make strides every day.
Other fun facts about me… I’m a Mama to a sweet little girl and married to the most supportive hubs. I have two pups who are just as quirky as I am. I’m a total homebody but will never turn down an opportunity to travel and see the world. If I’m out for a run, there’s a 100% chance I’m listening to rap and probably singing to myself. My hobbies pretty much include changing dirty diapers and meal prepping these days, but when free time does pop up, I can be found scoping out antique shops or cuddling up on the couch for some reading or journaling.
What’s been one your most successful projects? What made it so successful?
Right now I am very hopeful and excited about what’s happening with Creatives Thrive. The launch of this business meant I needed to take a risk. A risk to put myself out there and dedicate myself to the growth and development of something new, and big. So far I am really happy and proud of where Creatives Thrive is at, and excited for where it is headed. What I love so much about Creatives Thrive is that it’s success is completely dependent on the success and growth of the people it helps!
Have you always been a photographer?
I have not always been a photographer, but I have always felt most comfortable when exploring my creativity. When I was younger I was very often in trouble for sneakily staying behind in art class at school because I refused to leave my projects. I’ve always been drawn to painting and spent most of my childhood building “art” out of glue and anything I could source outside. Toys weren’t really my thing. Playing pretend and creating something out of nothing kept me happy and busy for hours!
What’s the craziest photo shoot you’ve worked on?
When I first launched my business I had zero weddings in the calendar and needed to get a move on with building and sharing a portfolio so that I could demonstrate what I was capable of. Problem was, I was launching my business smack dab in the middle of one of the coldest, most frigid Vermont winters. I refused to let this get in the way of my plan, so I organized a styled shoot to take place in -17 degree weather. Woah. Although I almost lost the tips of my fingers to frostbite, the photos came out beautiful and I was able to book over 25 weddings within 2 months. Worth it!
What’s one thing about the wedding business that people may not know about?
I think from the outside looking in, the wedding business can seemingly revolve around budgets and feel materialistic. These are huge misconceptions. After years of working with so many different couples and having the wonderful opportunity to meet all of their family members and friends, while witnessing some of the most emotional, honest and raw examples of unconditional devotion and friendship, I can confidently say that the wedding business truly revolves around love.
Being hired as someone’s wedding photographer, planner, videographer, florist, baker, stylist, etc. is not just about showing up and delivering your hard work. It’s about taking the time to really understand people and build a strong connection, so that you can help create one of the most meaningful days of their lives.
How do you split your time between photography and running Creatives Thrive?
Managing two businesses alongside raising a family is why coffee exists, I’m pretty sure. It’s most definitely a challenging balance, and I learn something new every day!
What I’ve found works best for me is departmentalizing and prioritizing my tasks.
First, I like to make sure I’m grouping tasks together that require the same resources. This helps me stay focused and churn out more work without wasting time bouncing in and out of applications or causing too much set up/break down time.
Second, I pay very close attention to results. I’m always analyzing my performance and discovering what marketing methods produce the best outcome. By prioritizing these result-bearing tasks, I’m able to increase my productivity. I push to do more of what works!
Any advice for others interested in pursuing being a business coach?
It is never too late or too early to dive into coaching. The reality is that there will always be someone behind you, seeking out information and mentorship as they try to grow their skillset. Do not underestimate what you have to offer to the world. Step forward and own your knowledge. Recognize that what you know is valuable. YOU are valuable.
There will always be room for new educators. My advice is to jump in and start sharing lessons you’ve learned along with tips and other advice that you’re excited to share. If you are passionate about what you’re teaching and you are genuine, the world will take notice.
How important has social media been for the development of your businesses?
How important has social media been for the development of your businesses?
I depend heavily on social media for most of my marketing efforts. These various social media platforms have opened the line of communication between myself and the rest of the world. My blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. have all given me a place to communicate the value of my products and services, while also sharing my passion for photography and helping other creatives.
What’s your favorite HoneyBook feature? And why?
I love that I can access HoneyBook from my mobile app. Last year was a wild one filled with nonstop travel for my businesses. I was rarely in the same state two weekends in a row. With a jam packed schedule, I found it challenging to find the time to set up my laptop and sit down to work every day. So instead, I retreated to using my phone and found HoneyBook’s mobile app so convenient and easy to use! My clients were thrilled to hear back so quickly upon inquiring and were extremely impressed with my ability to send contracts and take payments on the fly.
How did you hear about HoneyBook?
I heard about HoneyBook upon the launch of my photography business and immediately was intrigued. I was booking clients fast and felt totally disorganized/old school, still stuck in the midst of paper contracts and a growing filing cabinet. At the time, I was also the leader of the Burlington, Vermont’s Rising Tide Society chapter. When RTS announced its partnership with HoneyBook, I needed to see what it was all about. My expectations were very quickly exceeded.
Our members are always asking how other professionals are using HoneyBook. Are there any tips you want to share to help others unlock the full potential?
I’ve used HoneyBook heavily throughout the last couple of years, mostly to manage my wedding photography business. It has been a total game changer for me!
I migrated all of my client management activity into HoneyBook. I’ve automated most all of my processes behind the scenes – including sending and signing of contracts, payment processing, questionnaire requests, timeline approval, reporting, team management, and more.
Since HoneyBook has streamlined most of my management processes through the use of templates and other automation tools, I’m now able to allocate more time to tackling valuable business tasks that have driven my business forward.
I recently launched a new business alongside a massive career transition into coaching for creative entrepreneurs. I’m so excited to leverage all the wonderful tools that HoneyBook has to offer for Creatives Thrive as well.