“We’re all going to experience seasons of business in life that will look very different. Our businesses in our lives are always changing. So it’s good to try to prepare ourselves as much as possible for those season changes.”
Today’s guest is Kaitlin Holland of The School of Styling, and more recently, the McAlister-Leftwich House, which is a wedding and event venue located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Kaitlin, like so many of our guest, is one of those multitalented people. Her entrepreneurial journey started with a vintage rental company called Simply Put Vintage, which she eventually sold in 2015, but not before starting The School of Styling, a workshop that provides creative women education and inspiration for creating beautiful work, events and spaces.
In today‘s episode, we’re chatting about choosing the right educational experiences for your business, whether it’d be in-person, or online, a conference, small group setting, one-on-one, or a mixture of those things. Kaitlin shares five steps for choosing the right education and we also share what we’ve learned from our own educational experiences.
Before we get to the interview, I want to mention that tickets are currently on sale for The School of Styling, and Krista and I will be leading two sessions during the January workshop. If you can’t make it to the January workshop, there are also workshops in March and July of next year, but you want to hurry and grab your tickets soon since they’re only on sale until October 3rd, or until seats sell out. You can find more information using the link below.
Kaitlin Holland is the Founder of The School of Styling, a creative business mentor, and the Marketing & Venue Director for her family’s business, the McAlister-Leftwich House. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Clay, and baby girl, Lucy. She was saved by Grace and she’s on a mission to extravagantly love and serve those who are put in her path. After starting a successful vintage rental company in 2012 (and later selling it in 2015), Simply Put Vintage, Kaitlin saw a need for a training environment that served the creative entrepreneur as a whole. So, she created The School of Styling to provide creative women, no matter their field or profession, with the education and inspiration they need to create beautiful work, events, and spaces. She is a cultivator of community, and the heartbeat of the workshop is found in the relationships built amongst attendees, speakers, and staff. With a background in art, she derives much of the inspiration for the workshop structure from a technical art setting. Including demonstrations, hands-on learning, and critique sessions with a like-minded group of women.
The School of Styling | McCalister-Leftwich House | Instagram
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
[00:02:13] DJ: All right. We have Kaitlin Holland here with us from The School of Styling, and I’m so excited to chat with her, because as so many of our other guests, she is multitalented. So I’m excited to dig in to her story and all of the different things that she’s had going on and going on right now. So welcome, Kaitlin.
[00:02:30] KH: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.
[00:02:32] DJ: So I don’t even know where to start really with this interview, because just to go through the list here, currently you are the marketing and venue coordinator for the McAlister-Leftwich House, which is a venue that you, your husband and your mom own together, which is your newest venture. Then before that, a few years ago, you started The School of Styling, which is an educational experience just teaching people how to create beautiful venue, events and spaces. Then before that, you owned a vintage rental company, which you eventually sold.
[00:03:05] KH: Yes. Yes.
[00:03:06] DJ: I mean, there are just so many things that I want to dig into. Then on top of that, something that I hope that we touch on sometime during this interview is just you have a two-year-old right now and then you have one on the way. As a new parent myself, we’ve definitely been wrestling with how to make it all work in this season of life. So I’m excited to touch on that with you as well.
But we always start with just your our guest story and how they got started. So can you explain to us how you got started with this vintage rental company and how that eventually led to becoming a venue owner, and then after that we’re going to dig into educational experiences, how to decide on educational experiences and the importance of education in your business.
[00:03:48] KH: Yeah, definitely. I’m excited to be here and touch all about this. I’ll try to keep each section concise, because I know that it’s been quite a journey over the past 5 or 6 years. So I was senior in college actually, and I graduated with an art degree from Elon University, which is in North Carolina, and my dad is an entrepreneur. So he started an online ticketing company called etix.com a long time ago, like 20 years ago maybe. So growing up I always saw that, like that was normal. My dad would work until 6 am, come home and shower and leave and go back during busy season or busy times.
So that to me was normal, and in my mind I always thought, “Well, being my own boss,” but I didn’t really know how that would play out. Then you’re senior in college and you realize, “Okay, I have to make a decision. What am I going to do when I graduate?”
The summer before senior summer I sat down with my dad and I just started talking to him about this idea I had of a vintage rental company, because at the time it really combined a lot of things I love. I wanted to enter into the wedding industry. I obviously loved design, and at the time I was working at a furniture retail store and I loved setting up the vignettes and picking out the pieces and things like that. So we decided that I would pursue this vintage rental company.
So I actually started that business in my senior year of college. I graduated, walked across the stage. We took a couple of pictures and I walked right to my first wedding.
[00:05:27] DJ: So you started this your senior year of college.
[00:05:29] KH: Yes.
[00:05:30] DJ: How did you start acquiring the furniture? Was that a gradual thing? I’m sure on some scale it was, like overtime you gradually acquired different pieces of furniture. But at first, like how did you even start deterring what you needed for this business?
[00:05:44] KH: Yeah. So I really – The example that I looked up to at the time, which was cool, because then she later was a speaker at The School of Styling, Jeni Maus of Found Vintage Rentals, out in California. So she was kind of like my inspiration. I loved her collection. I loved the way that she curated pieces.
So just being kind of thrifty at the time in college, and I still enjoy it, but I would go to antique shows, or go to different consignment stores. It was kind of a family affair. My dad would go with me and haul the trailer. My mom would help me redo pieces, repaint them, recover them, things like that. So we kind of honed in. My focus became vignettes, lounge, furniture, that kind of thing. So that’s what we started with, and I actually started with a storage unit, that was my dad at the time was living in a condo in Raleigh and it was one of those multi-units, just in a big room, and his was filled with vintage furniture, because that’s where I stored everything.
Eventually we moved up to a warehouse and things like that, but yeah. So may last name at the time started with a B, so I was one of the first graduate, and I just left graduation, and we went and I was styling that wedding as well and providing furniture.
By that point I kind of fallen in love with styling, and I always say that I came to styling accidentally. I was creating look-books and photo shoots for the vintage rental company to show brands, “This is how you could use these pieces, this is –” Help them envision that. I realized very quickly my favorite part of the company was creating those vignettes and those photo shoots and designing that.
I’ve learned since then about myself. I am not the person who can sit behind the computer and do tons of contracts and delivery schedules. That is not my specialty, and that is a lot of what running a vintage rental company is. Once you have the pieces, the creativity does have its limits in some ways, because then it’s a lot of just processing orders, booking clients, that kind of thing.
So yeah, I did that exclusively for about a year, and in that time period I realized very quickly while I had a lot of skillset and knowledge when it came to design and did not know how to run a business, even though my dad was an entrepreneur and was helping me. There was just so many things I didn’t know. So I began to look for some sort of education experience conference, and this was back in 2013. So it was a very different climate then, educational climate then.
I began to look for something to help me to equip me, and I don’t think I would have been able to put it in these words at the time, but now looking back, I can tell this is really what I wanted. I wanted to learn what I needed to learn about business while still being inspired as a creative. I didn’t want to sit there and just consume tons of information, because I also have this whole other side of me, which was creative and a designer, things like that.
[00:09:02] DJ: Sure. Basically, you didn’t want to be sitting in that college business class or something that would resemble a seminar on business. Rather something that you could contextually learn what you needed while at the same time enjoying that creative outlet of yours.
[00:09:17] KH: Yeah, exactly. So I did attend a conference the fall of 2013, and I’ll touch on this a little bit later when we talk about educational experiences. But I think my expectations of what I needed and then what it was providing were very different things. So I left feeling like I didn’t really get what I needed. So that’s kind of where The School of Styling became this dream, and I looked around and I looked for an experience that served both be creative and the entrepreneur that exists within creative entrepreneurs and couldn’t find it.
My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, told me that I should probably wait a couple of years to have more business experience and then I could start it. But we weren’t married yet. So I didn’t listen to him, and I did it anyways. Really, there’s a big snowstorm in Raleigh that February. I’ll never forget. I just sat there and build up my website, plan the first workshop, and I was just so excited about it, but I didn’t know what was going to happen with it and no way did I think it was going to be a separate business. It was just kind of like, “Let me put this out there and see if this serves other people in the way that I think it would serve me and meet those needs that people are having.”
Sure enough, we had 17 attendees our first workshop, which was August of 2014, which just still blows my mind, because I think of those 17 people hadn’t come, The School of Styling may not exist. I was kind of testing it, seeing if it was viable. I really didn’t have plans for a second one. I knew I loved to do it, but I didn’t know what it would look like. Then we started getting tons of emails about future workshops, and that’s how it kind of became a business. So November of 2014 I think we filed for the LLC, all that good stuff.
[00:11:07] DJ: So you still have the vintage rental company at this time, right?
[00:11:12] KH: Correct. Mm-hmm.
[00:11:13] DJ: So as it’s going on – And you’d already hinted I think through the vintage rental company what you really figured out, was that you liked the stylist side of things.
[00:11:22] KH: Yes.
[00:11:23] DJ: So I imagine styling the furniture and everything that comes along with that. So what went into the decision to sell the company?
[00:11:31] KH: Yeah. So like you said, I’d fallen in love with styling, and that was something that I felt like I was really equipped to do and knowledgeable about, even though I didn’t know what it was when I kind of accidentally became a stylist. I was taking other styling projects at that time for brands, for weddings, events. Kind of have my hand in a lot of things. Realized pretty quickly I didn’t want to style for weddings and events. So I focused more on brand and business styling, and that was one of the reasons why I started The School of Styling, was because I come from a technical art background.
For me, I was looking around and I was looking at what was being created, and everything was very trendy and I was thinking if the trends were gone, would these compositions, would this work still stay strong? Would it still be good quality work 50 years from now? So I wanted to help educate the creative community on how to do that. How to create strong compositions that exist kind of beyond trends, beyond just what we’re in right now.
[00:12:40] DJ: Could you tell us a little bit about like what technical art background looks like?
[00:12:44] KH: Yeah, definitely. So I graduated. My concentration was actually digital art, which is similar to graphic design, but not quite graphic design. I went to a contemporary art school. So it’s a little bit different. They didn’t have a lot of the graphic design type classes. That’s what I probably would have done if I had decided to be an art major prior to attending college.
So I graduated with digital art, but in that we had to take classes in just various mediums. So I had to take drawing, and art history, and different composition classes, and painting. So you’re in this setting where you’re learning the fundamentals of design, the principles of design, which sound basic, but they’re not basic. They’re just that they’re fundamental, and then how you execute them. That’s where the artistry comes in.
So I was having to do that and all these different mediums, and different platforms and it really informed me as a digital artist when I was drawing on paper, even though I’m terrible. But I was sitting there drawing with charcoal, and I’ll never forget, I was like working with charcoal and I remember thinking how much it was like working with pottery, and then I was thinking about these different elements that I was struggling with a digital project I was working on and just all kind of clicked.
So having that background and that training not just in one medium, but in multiple and kind of seeing how those fundamentals of design play out, which is a big part of why The School of Styling is structured the way it is.
[00:14:22] DJ: Sure. That’s awesome. So what goes into selling a business? How was that – I got to imagine it’s not just simply putting a for sale sign up and –
[00:14:33] KH: Right. Yes. Well, really, it was kind of – Really, I felt like the Lord just orchestrated everything perfectly. Because we, at that time, my husband and I, I was growing the business in Raleigh, because our plan was to move to Raleigh. I graduated a semester before him. I’m a year older than him, and our plan was he goes to seminary in Raleigh, I grow my business in Raleigh, that’s where my family is. That’s why we’re moving.
Then my husband got a job at our church that have recently planted in Greensboro, which is if you’re not familiar, about an hour and a half west of Raleigh. When you have a business that is a very physical product-based service business, it’s hard to be an hour and a half away and still run it effectively. So our options became do we try to sell it, or do we move it to Greensboro? I knew at that time that like my heart wasn’t really in like restarting that business in a new city. My mom did rent it for a while in terms of like deliveries and scheduling and all of that, but it just got to the point where we are like, “We can’t serve our clients well.”
So around that time, I can’t even remember how all these happened, but basically I think I reached out to Paisley & Jade, Morgan Montgomery. I love them. She’s one of my best friends, because of what she did. I reached out and I said, “Hey, we’re going to close – We’re going to close simply put, basically. I would hate to just close it and not have the opportunity to like give all of our collection and all of our contacts and resources and everything over to you.” We did sell it, but it was more like it became absorbed into them.
[00:16:22] DJ: Sure. More like a transfer of assets.
[00:16:25] KH: Exactly. When you went to our domain name, it still had our logo and things like that, but then it directed you to Paisley & Jade.
[00:16:33] DJ: Okay.
[00:16:33] KH: So they showed up. At that time we have moved everything back into my mom’s garage. They showed up with a massive truck and took it all away and we breathed a very deep sigh of relief, and it was just perfect. It ended up working perfectly, and it’s so fun because we did a workshop there last year and it’s so cool to like go back and see so much of our collection. Still loving on and still serving the purpose that we had intended for it.
[00:17:02] DJ: Yeah. That is awesome. So eventually though you went back to having a very physically-based business in buying or purchasing a wedding and event venue, which the McAlister-Leftwich House, and if you haven’t seen the McAlister-Leftwich House, you should go on their website, because it is beautiful. I think everything you kind of picture about a southern, urban wedding venue I think McAlister-Leftwich House captures. So go online and check that out. I’ll have a link in the show notes for sure. But what spurred this on?
[00:17:34] KH: Yeah. So this was – And also felt kind of crazy. This was one reason I love talking to – Specifically talk to women, but women and men, about starting families while they’re rending business, because the timing of this probably seems crazy to most people. We were here in Greensboro, we’re very invested in Greensboro. We love this city. We don’t foresee moving anytime soon.
My husband at the time was working at our church cell. So he worked there for about four years. He stepped down when we closed last year on the venue. I was doing The School of Styling. One night we were sitting on the couch, I was very pregnant, 37 weeks pregnant, and it was very hot in August and he said – Or this is two years ago. He said, “So what’s next?”
If you know my husband, my husband is the one when have a new idea, he normally is like, “I cannot handle it. Do note tell me. Go talk to your dad first and then bring it back to me.” Like it overwhelms him.
[00:18:31] DJ: Like you were in college and he was like, “ Hey, yeah. You should probably –” Or when you had started the Simply Put Vintage, yeah.
[00:18:38] KH: Exactly. He’s a black and white by the books kind of guy and I just thrive in the gray area and sometimes it stresses him out. For him to ask me, that was huge. I was like, “I really think Greensboro needs a wedding venue.” I just kind of had a pulse on the market and the industry here while I’m not in the wedding industry or wasn’t in the wedding industry in Greensboro prior to the venue. I really felt like Greenboro was growing. There’s so much opportunity here, and that would be a great place to invest. The next day I had like 5 online listings printed out and showed him and he said, “Whoa! I didn’t mean right now. We’re not doing this this moment.” Obviously he forgot who he married, because I took that as license to look and to work and all that good stuff.”
So most of them were very urban, kind of like industrial type settings, which is just not my personal style and not what I felt like we could do well. But then there was the McAlister-Leftwich House, and it was very unique and online. It was hard to kind of tell exactly what it was, how many – Like there were two houses, but it only showed a picture of one. So we didn’t really have an idea of what it was like. But my mom was, prior to Lucy being born, and we’re talking about it and she was like, “I’ve been thinking about what’s next, and I’ve been thinking about what do I want to do and what do I want to invest in, and let’s go tour it. I said, “Okay.”
So Lucy was 10-days-old, and we went and toured McAlister-Leftwich, and we fell in love, and we just saw so much potential. We also a lot of obstacles, but we saw so much potential. So that kind of began the yearlong process of us figuring out if it was even going to be a viable business. If it was even going to be possible. We had tons we had to work through. Both homes are on historical registries.
[00:20:39] DJ: Which I feel like complicates everything from just renovations, to permits, and so on. Yeah.
[00:20:45] KH: Yes. Everything was hard. Unfortunately, the City of Greensboro wasn’t great, super easy or great to work with all the time. It took us – Once we actually closed a year later in July of 2017, it took us about three months to even start construction, because it took us that long just to get our permit.
Yeah, it was a process and a lot of people were like, “Hey, this is going to be really hard.” Y’all need to know – I mean, we invested a lot of money upfront before we had ever even closed, and we had to hire an attorney to help us get through zoning and help us come up with a private agreement with the neighborhood. I mean, there were so many things that came up. But all these big, big mountains that we would run into, or these big walls we’d run into, and it felt like, “Okay, this is it. We’re done. We’re going to just cut our loses and pull out, because clearly we can’t get passed this.” It was just amazing. Every single one of those things was resolved in one way or another. Even my very first meeting with the city planner, he said, “Well, for venues, you’re required to have one parking spot per a hundred square foot of space that you have.” We had 12,000, which means we need 120 parking spots, but we’re also in a neighborhood and our parking lot can only hold about 15 cars.
So we’re sitting there and I’m like, “Well, this is it. It’s over. We don’t have enough parking spots.” This was back like a month in. Somebody read this obscure exception, exemption for a historic venue, or for a historic building that said, “Well, if it’s on the registry, then that doesn’t apply.” So we got through – It’s just one thing after another. So it really just felt like – It really felt like the Lord orchestrated everything so perfectly for us that we definitely doubted and we’re scared and didn’t know what was happening a lot of times. But it was just so cool to see like sometimes when we have these big dreams, like if you have an idea to launch a course or to host something, it’s pretty quick. You can pull it together quickly. Maybe it’ll take you a few months.
This took us two years, and I think that for me and my love of instant gratification, it taught me a lot in patience and building something that’s sustainable and that really is going to outlast us. I think about simply put – Or The School of Styling. Will these businesses be around when Lucy is 25 or 30 and she’s going to like, if she wants to, take over that? Probably not. But will McAlister-Leftwich? Yeah, it could be. If she wants to, it’s hers. It’s cool to build something that we can pass down.
[00:23:34] DJ: Yeah, that’s awesome. One of our – Krista and I’s dear friends, the Powers. They own Big Spring Farm in Lexington, and so I got to chat with Buddy about starting a wedding venue in another episode, and just seeing the behind the scenes with that, I know how much work goes into it even when things work out relatively smoothly. I mean, it’s just an immense amount of work and a lot of upfront cost, like you mentioned. Unlike the bared entry for being a stylist, or being a photographer even, you’re talking maybe a couple of thousand dollars, right? Whereas with a venue, it’s tens of –
[00:24:10] KH: Always very different.
[00:24:11] DJ: Yeah. Tens of minimally I would think so.
[00:24:13] KH: Yes.
[00:24:13] DJ: Yes. So that’s awesome. Well, one of the things that I’m excited about is that The School of Styling, you have sessions in January, March and July next year and they’re all being hosted right at the McAlister-Leftwich house.
[00:24:24] KH: Yes.
[00:24:25] DJ: Yup, which is awesome. So I’m excited to actually be there and we get to teach at the January sessions. So if you’re listening to this, tickets are still on sale until October 3rd. I encourage you, if you’re interested, to go and get tickets. I would like to meet you also, get tickets for January. But I’m sure any of the sessions are going to be awesome.
[00:24:42] KH: You’re all going to be great. But I will say, January is filling up really quickly. [inaudible 00:24:47]. Yes.
[00:24:49] DJ: Yeah, that’s right. Get your tickets. But one of the reasons that I wanted to chat with you is to talk through education. I think when I look around at my friends in the industry, especially those who would be considered really successful. A lot of them invest in education in some way or another or they invested in education at one point. A lot of them are working with coaches, or mentors, and that’s a priority in their business. Krista and I have made that a priority in our business, and we put aside money every year for education.
But it can be hard – I mean, there’s so many options out there, and you had mentioned – So I want to get back to this, how you were looking and didn’t quite find what you need, and that’s always kind of a bummer when you invest in something and it doesn’t provide the return that you thought it was going to.
So could you speak to why it’s important for business owners to invest in education?
[00:25:45] KH: Yeah, definitely. Actually, I had an attendee this past July workshop who said to me, and she said, “If I expect my clients to invest in me, then I need to be willing to invest in my business too.” I think that there’s a level of seriousness that comes when you’re willing to put money into investing in your business and yourself, and I think that often times we’re hesitant to because of fear. Either we feel like maybe we’re not ready, or we are fearful that, “Well, what if I put this money in there and then I don’t get what –” like you said, that return on investment. What if I don’t get what I need out of it?
So I would agree with you. It is so important to invest in education, and I have done it myself. Like I mentioned, that conference I attended. That kind of spurred on the creation of The School of Styling. Again, in 2013, it was a very different world. I think there’s way more options out there now, which means that we have to be a smart consumer of education.
But I’ve also invested in an online program, which at the time for me – And that was back in 2014. Yeah, 2014. So, again, a while ago. But at the time for me, that was the right move because of where I was in my business. I was running The School of Styling and I was nannying part time, because basically Clay was like, “If we’re going to do this, you have to make a little bit more money.”
So I was nannying as well and I would watch these classes while the baby napped and at night and things like that. So online education fit where I was and what I needed at that time. It was like you consume it and put little small increments, and that’s just what I needed. It was a great investment for me at the time.
But I will say that I think the most significant investment and also the one that has paid off the most is when I’ve invested in working either one-on-one or in those – I would say I kind of combined like a mentorship and then an in-person experience. I think they’re similar in a whole lot of ways.
So I’ve worked with a business coach pretty frequently, regularly, over the past two years, but I did a 90-day intensive program with a business coach. That was one-on-one. What I walked away with when I have those, and this is what we’d build into The School of Styling too, but when I have those sessions, you walk away with an action plan that’s personalized for you where you are, and there’s also a lot of accountability.
So I found for myself personally that I – And I’ve purchased some other online programs here and there over the years too, but I find that when I’m working either one-on-one with somebody or I’m in-person with somebody, I am so much more likely to get that return on investment, because then you say, “Hey, this is what I need and this is what success would look like for me in this.” Then they can respond and give that to you. It’s not like walking in and just kind of absorbing and sitting there and then saying, “Well, that didn’t meet what I need.” It fits what you need better I think in some ways. So, yeah. So I love in-person. I’m a huge advocate for in-person, and I can talk about that later. But I have done a combination of different things.
[00:29:10] DJ: Yeah, and I think I would agree with you. We’ve done combinations of different things as well. There’s conferences that we attend each year that we really enjoy. I think one of the biggest benefits of a conference or something where you show up in-person with a lot of other people is just even the networking and the friendships or relationships that are formed from those experiences, and those are – I mean, they’re not only helpful from a business standpoint in the sense that now you have a community of people that maybe from that you start a mastermind, or maybe it’s just a friend who you can call and say, “Hey, this is what I’m struggling with right now. Can you help?”
Just the relationship aspect too, some of our good friends have come from just people that we met at different conferences. In addition to the education that’s provided. But I would totally agree that I think I find the biggest return on in-person stuff, but then especially one-on-one type stuff. Something that I invest in now and have in the past, but currently I’m doing so now, is one-on-one business coaching, because you can’t hide in a sea of people as you can online. If you buy an online course and you don’t complete it, most likely somebody is not going to check out and be like, “Hey, why aren’t you doing this?” or “What’s going on?”
[00:30:25] KH: They’re not going to call you up.
[00:30:27] DJ: Exactly. They’re not going to call you up. They’re not going to call you out. But when you’re working one-on-one with somebody or you’re working in as like – Even if it’s group coaching, if you show up to that next meeting and you haven’t started implementing the things that you’ve been implementing or that you said you would or that you plan to, that person’s going to ask why, and that’s a much harder conversation I think to have.
The other aspect of that is one-on-one stuff and group coaching stuff is generally a little bit more expensive than the conference stuff. So if you’re not doing what you’re talking about doing, you’re going to feel that more on your wallet.
[00:31:06] KH: Yeah. I think that’s one reason people have come back and they’re like, “Oh, I just wish your prices were lower, and I wish this, and I wish that.” But really, the people who are willing to take it seriously enough to invest in themselves are the ones who are going to show up, who are going to do the work, who are going to be engaged, who aren’t going to hold anything back, and then who are going to go home and actually implement the things that they’ve said they’re going to do.
Yeah, and I totally agree. I want to get back to the relational thing for a second, because one of the things I love most about hosting in-person workshops, obviously we work really hard to create a speaker lineup that is wonderful and trustworthy so that our audience, and our clients, our students can trust the people we’re putting in front of them. That’s where a lot of the business change happens. They’ll learn things and they’ll say, “Okay, I’m going to go.” We had an attendee say, “I’m going to double my prices tomorrow.” There are great things that come from that, but the life change that happens that we see, that happens in between them moments. They’re like over conversations with coffee and breakfast, and during – Always on the third day, we have this two-hour time period where everybody gets their hair and makeup done, their headshots done, and we have mimosas and breakfast, and it’s just a great time for people to just kind of hangout and talk and having speakers work one-on-one with someone after the whole workshop is done for the day.
That’s where the life change happens. You don’t get that when you’re online, because you’re just physically not together. There’s just something so sacred about bringing a group of people together who are going to not just share ideas and share business, but they’re going to share a life together. We’ve seen just amazing things happen post-workshop. Like you said, like friendships are formed. We actually had two attendees who came to July who are both from Boston, didn’t know each other, and are coming back together to July 2019 because now they’re great friends.
We’ve had people hire other people out of that community in terms of like employees and then also services. We just had great friendships formed. There’s a whole friend group in Raleigh that kind of started at The School of Styling. So it’s cool to see those things, and that’s why I have – We have three pillars, the equipping to educate creative entrepreneurs, encouraging people to style intentionally. We obviously talk about design. But then also cultivating that life-giving community, which we really strive to build into all of the different moments, because it is so – I mean, really, it’s life-changing. That’s where life change happens, which is cool.
[00:33:58] DJ: Yeah, that’s awesome. I think we’re on the same page. I think people listening who have gone to in-person conference would probably agree with a lot of that too. Hopefully they had a good experience. But I do want to talk about online education here for a second as well, because I think it has value for sure. I’ve taken online courses that I’ve gotten a lot of value out of. It sounds like you took an online course in the season of life where that was the perfect thing for you, because it was something that you could do in your own in between moments, right?
But I do see occasionally people who they consume a lot of online education, but they’re not necessarily implementing that, and it’s these kind of ideas like, “Well, these online courses are going to promise a certain result, right? But it’s provided you do the work.” I think some people, they consume a bunch of education, but they never get around to actually doing it.
I would love to talk about trying to decide what to invest in. What that looks like. I know a lot of probably what you’re going to say could apply to in-person workshops as well. But before we get there, what do you think about online education in general? When is it appropriate?
[00:35:10] KH: Yeah. I definitely think online education serves a purpose, and I’ve created courses before. We have one that’s available right now, styling 101, and I think it’s great for people who are in a specific season of business or life where either number one they can step away for three days or four days or whatever that time commitment is. Or they just financially really don’t have the money to make it work. Maybe they haven’t started their business yet, or just funds are really tight, things like that, because you get online education and it doesn’t matter how much you invest. If it feels costly to you, you’re going to be willing to put the work in.
For me, when I invested in that online program, it was about $2,000. Well, that was extremely costly to me. I mean, that’s costly I think in any point, but that was very costly to me at the time. So I did the work. I stood out for the small group meetings, and I did that work. But most recently, when I worked one-on-one, that cost me $5,000, and that’s costly to me. So I’m going to do the work.
So I think if you’re willing to take it seriously, if it doesn’t just feel like a drop in the bucket, “Oh, maybe I’ll get around to it.” Then whether it’s online or it’s in-person or it’s coaching or whatever it is, I think you’re going to see great results. But like you said, you have to do the work.
[00:36:41] DJ: Yeah, absolutely. I think especially for online courses, it’s so easy to get one and then just life takes over and it’s kind of on the back-burner and you’re like, “When I have time, I’ll get to it.” Like I said, there’s no one there. So it’s important to schedule time, I think. If you’re taking online course, to schedule time in your day and say just as you did while you’re nannying, like, “When the baby goes down for a nap, I’m going to do this even if I can only get to 30 minutes of it, or 45 minutes of it or whatever the case may be.”
[00:37:09] KH: Absolutely.
[00:37:10] DJ: The other thing I think is just asking like what kind of return, if I put in the effort here, what kind of return on my investment am I going to get? Certain things, they may seem costly. For example – I mean, $5,000 for coaching. That’s expensive. But what is the result of that coaching if you implement what you work on with your coach? It’s probably a return that’s greater, maybe significantly greater than that $5,000.
[00:37:38] KH: Right. Yeah, and like financially, it was for me, and I could see that play out. One of the things she said was she said, “I want you to make your money back what you invested in the first 90 days of us working together,” and that’s an awesome thing to hear too going into it. Knowing that there really is a tangible return on investment. I think tracking that and looking at that and just being – Like I said before, being a smart, aware consumer of that is really helpful. Then the other thing I’ll add, if you know you’re somebody who needs accountability, sign accountability even with online programs that maybe don’t have it built-in. Maybe there is like a Facebook group, or you know somebody else who’s taking it. Just go ahead and take the initiative to setup like a weekly meeting, or something that can help as a checkpoint for you, specifically if that isn’t included in the course. But I think that does help you. Like you said, you’re not going to show up to a meeting and not be prepared and not be ready. So it does help you work through the content.
[00:38:42] DJ: Yeah. Krista and I actually had something like this with books. I was guilty of – I love reading, but I would pick up a book, read a little bit of it, put it down, get another one and then I never get back to the first one. So it’s a very simple rule. It’s like, “Hey, you buy it. You need to finish it. You need to complete it. You need to implement at least one thing from it and then you can go and get your next one.”
[00:39:03] KH: Yeah.
[00:39:03] DJ: It sounds so simple, but yeah – I mean, it really keeps me from that shiny object syndrome that I sometimes have, especially when it comes to ideas and content. Another guest who was on back in I think it was episode two or three, of the first three Graham Cochran. He talked about a lot about making sure you’re not consuming too much content too, because it’s really easy to just – Especially in an online world, it’s so easy to get information from so many different places, that it’s stifling.
[00:39:33] KH: Yes. It’s analysis paralysis. If I’m constantly listening to business podcasts and reading business books and taking an online course, like if that’s all that’s coming into my brain, then I’m so much less likely to actually implement or take action or see change. It’s just overwhelming.
[00:39:53] DJ: Oh, for sure. So you have five steps for us on how we should decide what to invest in.
[00:40:00] KH: Yes.
[00:40:01] DJ: Let’s start with step one.
[00:40:02] KH: All right.
[00:40:02] DJ: What’s step one?
[00:40:03] KH: So step one is asking yourself what would success look like for you? I think going into an educational experience, whether it’s online, in-person, coaching. It’s good to know what your goals are and what you’re wanting to get out of it. Are you looking to grow in a specific area of your business? Just one small area? Is it more that you are feeling just uninspired and you need to be refreshed? Are you needing development in many areas, or in your craft and it needs to be hand-on?
I think knowing what you need and really being able to identify that for yourself will help you – When you’re looking at all of the different options, all of the different ways you can consume information and choose the one that’s going to best fit what you need right now.
[00:40:52] DJ: I really like that one, because I think sometimes we use education to fill the gap. We’re really confused and we feel like – And we’re not really sure and we think, “Okay. Well, maybe if I buy this, it’s going to.” But I think getting super intentional about saying, “Okay, what do I need to learn in order to achieve this result?” and then going to fill the gap in education that way instead of just thinking like, “If I buy this course, magically results or ideas or whatever are going to come.”
[00:41:21] KH: Going to fix all my problems. Yeah, and people are great marketers too. They’re going to make it sound like it could fix all your problems most likely. So it’s good to just know what do you need going into it.
[00:41:33] DJ: Awesome. What’s step two?
[00:41:35] KH: Step two is to create a savings plan to invest in your education. So like I said, there are two big things I hear. Either people don’t think their business is ready. They don’t feel ready. They’re not confident enough. There’s fear around investing, or they just feel like it’s too much money. But when I look at educational experiences and kind of – Obviously, there’s some that are on the lower end, and then some that are higher than this.
Generally, I think between two and $5,000 a year is a good amount to save for your experience. I know you mentioned you and Krista do that. That way when an experience comes along, or class, or whatever it might be and you feel like it is the right fit for you at that moment, you’re prepared to make that investment. Whether that’s a deposit, or that’s a payment plan, or that’s the full amount. That way it doesn’t catch you off guard, because you’re going to enter in seasons of your business whether or not you’re in one right now, you’re going to need that. So just to prepare yourself for that.
When I broke down the 2 to 5,000 a year, it’s 166 to 416 a month, which depending on your business and where you’re at may seem like nothing, or it may seem like a lot. But I think there’s always ways we can look at our business, and we invest in a lot of things, whether that’s our Starbucks drinks multiple times a week, or different online services we use. So I think just prioritizing and taking education seriously.
[00:43:06] DJ: I want to say even though you’re somebody who offers education, as do we, we are also people who invest in education. We’re not just putting education out there and saying, “Buy it.” We’re people who also know the value of investing in education. I will say that since Krista and I have been in business. On average, we’ve done probably at least two things a year I would say that are educational-based for us, where we go and we seek out.
For us, a lot of it’s been coaching, mentoring and – Yeah, so coaching, mentoring primarily. But then also, I mean, even recently, joining a mastermind group.
[00:43:44] KH: Yes.
[00:43:45] DJ: Some of them are paid. Some of them are not. But I’m so glad that you talked about that, and I think that’s just such a helpful number, the 2 to 5,000 mark, because you can attend a great in-person conference like The School of Styling if you save that much per month.
[00:44:01] KH: Right.
[00:44:02] DJ: So what’s step three?
[00:44:03] KH: Vet the speakers and the hosts of your workshop. This is something I become very, very aware of recently just in things that I’ve seen online, people I’ve met, conferences my friends have attended and things like that. We live in a wonderful digital age, but also unfortunately people can market themselves however they like. So sometimes you really have to do your homework and your research to make sure that the people that you are learning from are legit and are credible.
So I think that doing your homework and vetting the experience itself, talk to past attendees, hop on the phone with the host or with the speaker. Really take your time. I offered 10-minute phone calls during early bird week, and it was awesome to talk to people, but I also think it allows just this level of transparency that maybe wouldn’t get through an email or an Instagram post. Yeah, be sure the people that you’re learning from know their stuff and are actually going to do the things that they say they’re going to do and teach you the things they say they’re going to teach.
[00:45:17] DJ: Absolutely. Especially since as you’ve mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of really good marketers out there. So that’s important. All right. That was step three. So step four.
[00:45:28] KH: So determine what works best for you and your specific season of business in life. So we kind of touched on this before, but if you are in a season where in-person or one-on-one coaching just is impossible, then consider online. Again, if you’re filtering it all through, what does success look like to me? What are my goals for this? You’re willing to take it seriously and implement it. It doesn’t matter what you invest in, because you will see change come from it. Yeah, just kind of determine what fits best for you right now.
[00:45:58] DJ: Yeah. I love what you said there about, basically, what you put into it is what you get out of it. That’s probably more true for online education, because when you’re in-person, there might be other people around that kind of encourage you to take part and there’s some built-in accountability there. For online education, it’s a little bit more on you. But if you put the work in, often times you’ll get results out of it.
[00:46:20] KH: Absolutely. Yeah.
[00:46:22] DJ: What about step five?
[00:46:23] KH: Yeah. So this kind of goes along with what you were just saying by figuring out what motivates you and your learning style. One thing that I learned about when I started working with my business coach is the four tendencies. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. But it’s basically the four different ways that people are motivated to complete something.
So there’s the upholder, obliger, rebel and questioner, and you can take the quiz and figure out what you are. But basically it talks about how you meet expectations. Are you going to uphold something that both someone else has expected of you and you’ve expected of yourself? Are you going to resist both? Are you more likely to uphold something if there’s an external accountability?
Knowing who you are as a person, as someone who works, I think that also just helps you in your work-life in general, then also how you like to learn. So for me I’m very visual. I’m very hands-on. I love to actually get in there and do – if I’m learning about it, I want to do it with my hands. So that I know for me is just a better learning style that works. Yeah. Know what motives you in your learning style.
[00:47:41] DJ: Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the four tendencies. I feel like usually I have a pretty good grasp on that stuff since I have a master’s in education too. So I’m so interested in hearing about or learning more about that. I’ll have to get a link from you so that people can take that quiz. I know I’m going to do that probably right after this call here.
[00:47:57] KH: Absolutely.
[00:47:58] DJ: I’ll put that in the show notes. So if you’re interested in taking that quiz, figuring out which tendency you are, I’ll make sure that that link is in the show notes. So check that out. So that’s awesome. I really like how you broke those five steps down for people, because education is an investment.
I think regardless where you are in your business, you kind of always have that question, like, “Okay, if I spend the money on this, it can make things really tight. Am I going to get the return on it?” I think that going through these five things will really help people figure out what’s worth spending money on and what’s not and give people a good guide for even how much they should spend on a given educational experience.
[00:48:41] KH: Absolutely. One thing I tell people, like you mentioned earlier, we both are educators. But I never ever want someone to attend the workshop who I don’t feel like is a – I don’t feel like the workshop is a good fit for them, because if I’m just gunning for more ticket sales and I just want to fill up seats, and they come and it is not the experience they needed.
I’ve actually told people before, “I don’t think this is for you at this time. I don’t think this is going to serve what you need.” I think it’s really good to just have a good handle on all these different elements about who you are as a creator or an entrepreneur and what the experience or educational programs offer and what you need.
Yes, education is so important. I hope that this encourages someone to go and either buy a book they’ve been meaning to buy, or invest in a class, or whatever that is.
[00:49:36] DJ: Yeah. It can be just such a really, really powerful tool I think especially the in-person stuff. I think ironically, when online education started becoming a thing, people thought, “Oh, is this going to kill off all those in-person conferences?” But I think we found the opposite is true that people value the in-person experiences so much more after taking that online education, because there’s just something about it in-person experience that online can’t quite replace as valuable as online experiences can be.
One thing I definitely want to touch on here as we wrap up is something that I talked about at the beginning of the episode here. You have a two-year-old. You have one on the way. Your lives are busy. Something that I didn’t realize was going to be such a change was – Maybe this sounds ridiculous to some people, but just having a kid. Especially initially, like Krista and I are pretty disciplined people and I just kind of thought to myself, “We’re going to have a baby and what’s really going to change? The baby is going to sleep, eat and we’re going to change poopy diapers and that’s what it’s going to be and that’s fine, and we’ll just kind of go on living how we’ve usually lived.”
I just realized to the process that there’s this whole demand on you now, like your total self, especially for the women who are breastfeeding just because there is – Literally, that’s how Jack, our boy, his life is being sustained.
[00:51:05] KH: Sustained.
[00:51:06] DJ: Yeah, exactly. So I would love, if you have any advice on just kind of what these transitions and different seasons of business, especially in light of becoming a parent. Do you have any advice for people out there who are navigating through that?
[00:51:21] KH: Yeah, definitely. So I think that we’re all going to experience seasons of business in life that will look very different. So whether or not you are entering into parenthood or you don’t have kids and you’re an entrepreneur. I mean, our businesses and our lives are always changing. So it’s good to try to prepare ourselves as much as possible for those season changes.
One thing, even more recently, we’ve just hired somebody to do sales for McAlister-Leftwich, which I have been doing up into this point and with the new baby coming in, all of that. It’s just too much with everything.
So I’ve kind of like thought through what are things that I’ve done that we’re trying to do in order to prepare for these different seasons and shifts. The first one, first thing is to have systems and processes in place for your business so that if someone needed to take over your role or the majority of your role, they would be able to. Your business wouldn’t stop, and I think that’s one thing with the venue, especially I’ve realized like what if we had a family emergency, or what if something happened and all three of us, my mom, my husband and I, all needed to be gone for two weeks? What would happen in the venue?
It could crash and burn, not literally, because we are the ones that everything is depending on. So having a business that has systems in place that is streamlined will help you especially if you are entering a season where you’re like, “You know what? I need to handoff these tasks. Hope you know what tasks to handoff,” but it will help you when you need to hand things off, whether that’s entering into maternity leave, or whatnot, and then your business can still go on and function as normal and it saves you time, like on an [inaudible 00:53:11].
Then I think also just being mentally prepared for seasons. I think there’s a time where we are creating new ideas, and then there’s a time where we’re investing in them, and then there’s a time where we’re seeing the benefits, we’re reaping those benefits and harvested those. There’s a time where we have to prim back again and everything feels empty and we’re like, “What did I just do? How am I here again?’
Though it’s important to remember is that everything is just a season. If it’s a season of crazy, it’s just a season. If it’s a season where sales feels slow, that’s a season. So having the right mental shift and expecting those different times where there’s going to be great growth and there’s going to be times where you turn back and you’re wondering what’s left. I think that’s okay to have all of those things.
Then finally, taking care of yourself, which I’m not always the best at, but when I do things that are not work and not mothering my child that help me stay creative and inspired, I have so much more to pour out because I have poured in. So just even fighting for that in times where it does feel overwhelming or you have nothing left to give, maybe that’s like a house project you’ve been wanting to do. That would be really fun for you.
Like I had to go to Target for two hours the other night by myself, because I needed to get out of the house after Lucy had been sick all day. I came back home and I just felt like I had so much more headspace and mental energy than I did when I left. So whatever that is, and just taking care of yourself and trying to fight for space to be creative.
[00:54:58] DJ: I think that is just some sage wisdom. Something that we’ve learned, especially through becoming parents, hiring somebody for instance. We’ve been talking about that for almost two years, and Krista and I are – We love what we do. So we spend a lot of time on it and I consider ourselves pretty capable. So we’re able to get a lot of work done.
But I think especially moving in the season of parenthood, any of those cracks in business that were just kind of cracks before, now all of a sudden they seem a little bit greater than they were or a little bit more magnified. But I think what you’re saying about seasons too, just so important and resonates and even in seasons of pruning, you prune so that there can be greater growth down the road. I’m really glad that we had an opportunity to chat about this and I have a feeling that we could have spent the entire episode of just chatting about that and the different seasons of business and navigating that.
I do want to mention for everybody listening that as we mentioned earlier in the episode, tickets for The School of Styling are still on sale. They will be on sale through October 3rd. You can go to The School of Styling website to purchase those tickets. Each workshop is going to be hosted in Greenboro at the McAlister-Leftwich house, and there are sessions in January, March and July, and Krista and I will be at the – We’ll be speaking and leading two workshops at the January session. So if you sign up for that one, that’s awesome, because we’ll get to meet in-person in January at a beautiful venue. So be sure to check that out. But, Kaitlin, where can people learn more about you and follow along?
[00:56:36] KH: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You can find us on Instagram @theschoolofstyling, and there’s links to all the workshop pages if you have questions about the speakers, or who the workshops are for, if it’s the right fit for you, things like that. You can find a lot of that information there, or on our website, theschoolofstyling.com. Then I personally, I’m @kaitlin_holland, and then the venue is McAlister-Leftwich.
If you go to one of those places most likely you’ll see the other ones too. So everything, it’s wonderful that we have this space that we can host The School of Styling at, just having kids and growing our family made traveling for the workshops more and more challenging each time. So we’re excited to have them in Greensboro and welcome people at the McAlister-Leftwich House. Yeah, you can find me there.
[00:57:31] DJ: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing your time and your expertise today and talking through I think a subject that can sometimes be so complex for people trying to figure out what to invest in. So thank you for simplifying that for people.
[00:57:44] KH: Oh, absolutely. I enjoyed it.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:57:49] DJ: Thanks for tuning in to the Brands that Book Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes. For show notes and other resources, head on over to daveyandkrista.com.