July 24, 2018
If there is one thing I have been more intentional and passionate about this last year in my business it is becoming more inclusive. I aspire to let it be known that my photography business is for every shape, color, culture, religion or person. Although I have my niches, with only photographing high school seniors and weddings, I want those to know that if you fit in those two categories for what you are celebrating in life then you are welcome here, in front of my lens and you are just as worthy of my time and the experience I offer!
While it is still, and forever will be, a work in progress I didn’t want to let that stop me from helping others start their journey to a more inclusive business right now. I believe we can all help each other, educate one another and be on this journey side by side. Because of this, I thought I would share a few quick tips on ways you can begin making your business more inclusive without spending a single penny. So often, myself included, people may assume that taking steps to become more inclusive within your business means they have to pay to organize styled shoots with diverse models, take time to reach out and plan sessions or seek out clients they otherwise may not attract. It can seem like a time sucker, but in reality the first few steps to getting there can be easier than it seems. However, if there was ever a scenario to pay out of pocket and invest time into something, becoming inclusive would be that for me. Knowing that you are advertising and attracting EVERYONE is something I would invest so much of myself and my business into and I believe you should too.
Although I am a photographer specifically, I believe a lot of these tips can be used by majority of business owners.
This may be one of the easiest and least time consuming ways to begin showing inclusivity. Within my business I use Pinterest a lot. Whether that be for mood boards for upcoming shoots, to show my clients “engagement style boards” or “senior style boards” to get their minds racing about how to style their session or to personally market for Brooke Michelle Photography. This year I took a step back, looked at my pin boards and wanted to cry. Everything I had been pinning showed zero inclusivity. I had white washed all my boards.
Now imagine, I book a brand new client of color, or different culture/religion than me and I send them the typical email about “hey here’s a board I created to help inspire your engagement session and get your mind racing with ideas to stand out of the box with style.” They click the link, open the board and in no way see themselves inside it. The thought of that breaks my heart!
So, what did I do? I instantly hopped on Pinterest and began to search out my ideal client. I searched key words like “boho” or “romantic” with other wedding or senior verbiage mixed in and began to add pins to my board to represent EVERYONE. The crazy thing is when you start this Pinterest starts to recognize the pins you like and in return makes your suggested pins more diverse as well! It was as simple as searching a few key words, finding diversity and plugging that into all of my inspo boards.
It may seem silly, or like no one would ever notice. But honestly, its a way to reprogram your brain and to do the inner work first. Even if no one else acknowledges that your pins are inclusive for all humans and you working towards diversity, you know that you are beginning the steps to create something beautiful and within your business you started a change. The key is to do the internal work first, so we can then go out and make our business and the world better next 🙂
Again, this ones simple. So often, in the wedding industry specifically, we nonchalantly use the words “bride and groom” when referencing… well a lot of things. I think it’s partially because it’s something that we were trained to use when it comes to wedding work, but also we have to learn to take a little bit of responsibility within ourselves and realize we have programmed ourselves this way.
To begin being more inclusive I went through all of my copy on my website, template emails, or any other form of communication a client may see. Instead of using terms like “bride and groom” try happy couple, spouse, partner, bae, boo, or any other form of the pairing! I’m highly partial to bae honestly. Also changing things such as bridal party to wedding party and so on.
It honestly takes a few hours, if that to go through and rewrite our words. And it saves us the heartbreak of a couple ever feeling like they aren’t welcome here or have to come out yet again to another wedding vendor. This is another way of doing the internal work first. Allowing us to train ourselves with the new verbiage and ultimately to make our businesses a more welcoming place for all.
This one I think may be my fav of all three bullet points! As a small business owner in the creative field we often do a lot of collaborating with other small businesses, because why not lift up others and create magic together. Sometimes it gets lonely, or we take on a project far too big to handle ourselves. So when we do, we go out and seek help from those who are stronger in the areas we lack. Things such as styled shoots, freebie downloads, blog features, client education and so many other tasks.
HOWEVER, we are hurting ourselves if we only always stick with what/who we know. A HUGE way that is often overlooked to help be more inclusive is choosing to collaborate and work with business owners who aren’t like us. Welp… I said it. And don’t worry, I am guilty and working on this too.
How can we possibly preach inclusivity, “everyone is welcome here”, and so on if we only post photos of couples of color, members of the LGBT+ community, those of other religions and so on but are strictly working with straight white business owners. And this doesn’t mean don’t support straight white business owners at all, but it means ALSO support business owners of color, of religions different than yours, of cultures outside of your norm. Eek. I’m already scared for the backlash I may receive on this.
For me this is us saying “Hey no matter who you are, i’ll be here to take your money and serve you.” But when it comes time to work for trade or me pay you, you’re not welcome.
Trust me, this is a hard freaking pill to swallow. And like I said, I am working on this too. But it’s something to reflect on, something to analyze within ourselves and our business and something to strive to be better at.
These tips were just a few small free and simple ways to begin that shift in our businesses that the world so desperately needs right now. Below are a few other resources I LOVE when it comes to learning and educating myself more on this topic!
Other resources I LOVE on diversity and inclusivity:
Broomstick Wed –> a website created specifically for those planning their wedding, to help find multicultural wedding vendors, planning tips and never feel excluded.
Have inclusive resources you love? I’d love for you to comment them below so I can expand this list for everyone! We all could use a little more education 😉
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