When they first met as wide-eyed interns at Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Magazine, Lindsey Cavanaugh and Hilary Schlesinger probably never dreamed that just a few short years later they’d consider the hosts of E! news to be their clients, and experience a mini moment of fame breaking a Justin Bieber relationship news story. But, that’s exactly how it’s happened for the duo, the founders of Vibe Tribe Creative, who have made it their goal to provide killer branding, gorgeous visuals, smart strategy and good vibrations to brands with soul.
These Women We Love are not just seriously fashionable, creative, talented and inspiring women…they’re also our friends! So before we all began our holiday travels and New Year dreaming, we nailed them down for tips on how they did it, and made it look so good along the way.
AND HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO FORM YOUR COMPANY?
L: Earlier in the summer of 2014, I had reached out to Giuliana Rancic’s team to say hello and explore what working together might look like. I didn’t know if I would ever receive a response, but days later as I was driving into the Smoky Mountains-it happened! After initial conversations with her (totally kick ass) team, it became apparent that this could be something. That existing in the corporate world didn’t have to be my reality. That it would be possible to wake up every day and be excited to check emails, the ability to create without limits.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU HAVE TO TAKE INDIVIDUALLY TO REACH THAT POINT IN YOUR CAREER?
H: In the three years prior to starting Vibe Tribe Creative, I worked for four companies in the creative marketing / digital advertising space and multiple roles within those companies. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything and learned a tremendous amount, but I never felt like my professional life was really clicking. I knew deep inside that I wasn’t connected to my work and that I wasn’t thriving in a traditional office setting. For me this created a lot of tension, emotionally and physically, and I refused to accept that success meant sucking it up in the name of paycheck, promotion or resume. Instead, I measured success based on how I was feeling inside, using my mind and body as my compass. Through these decisions, I was able to cultivate amazing energy and momentum.
L: Five months prior to Hilary and I connecting, I left my company to pursue photography full time. Having the freedom to start my day and control the outcome was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. About 8 months after leaving that job I was photographing a blogger event at lululemon and was asked to join their team for the holiday season-this was in the midst of starting Vibe Tribe and one of the best decisions I ever made. The ENERGY and encouragement of this team motivated me to keep pushing. […] When you let go of what’s comfortable, trust in yourself and follow your passions stuff happens-and it’s so cool.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU NOW?
Right now we have 20 active clients ranging from Hawaii to New York, so to be honest, no two days are alike and we like it that way! We’ve definitely started to implement more structure as we continue to grow and scale, but fluidity and flexibility is in our DNA… we like to go with the flow and it keeps us feeling fresh. The biggest constant for us is without a doubt caffeine and communication. We always touch base in the morning over coffee, whether together or apart, review our ongoing projects and priorities, then divide and conquer.
YOU’VE FOUNDED YOUR OWN BUSINESS. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU BEGAN?
The list of “wish we would have known that” moments is far too long to detail, but experiencing these learnings for ourselves has been so powerful, we’re not sure we’d collect the $200 to pass go! The highs and lows have been equally valuable and the ride has bonded us as business partners and soul sisters. That said, something we admittedly neglect and make an active effort to invest in is our internal business needs. Whether it’s tending to our website, printing business cards or reviewing invoices, we sometimes forget that servicing Vibe Tribe Creative is just as important as servicing the rest of our Tribe.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
L: That taking a risk to seek joy is the greatest gift imaginable. As growing individuals, we all owe it to ourselves to ask tough questions in order to seek fulfillment in our day to day lives. I’ve learned that it’s truly about being a part of a team *cough cough *TRIBE* that understands and supports what you need to thrive under any set of circumstances. […] Build a strong team…build a strong life!
HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN MARKET THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER?
Something that has become really clear as we put our message out there is how good it feels to just be ourselves! No two brands or entrepreneurs are alike, and when you speak from an authentic place, people can tell. There is a saying – “your vibe attracts your tribe” – and it is dead on! Half the time we market ourselves, it’s just us posting about our life, the things that make our hearts beat fast and it’s drawn in the most amazing group of doers, movers and shakers. Our advice is to just OWN IT – your voice, your message, your energy. If you’re putting it out there, the right people will find you.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU HAVE FOR NETWORKING EFFECTIVELY?
There’s definitely not one cut and dry formula for networking that works every time… maintaining a go with flow attitude is half the battle! A few tips we live by:
Networking isn’t always about promoting your business; prioritize personal connection. If someone can walk away feeling more energized and alive after talking to you, that feeling will be immensely more memorable than that mission statement you interjected mid conversation out of nowhere.
Own your message like it’s no one’s business and even practice talking about it before you find yourself in an external conversation. […] It’s crucial to have a strong sense of what you want to say when an opportunity arises and what you can tease out quickly if the window is short or add in if you have time to elaborate.
Know your audience. Though it’s important to stay true to your authenticity as a brand, you should always try portray your message in a way that will be relatable to the specific person or group of people you’re talking.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE HAVING A HEALTHY WORK AND PERSONAL LIFE?
Work/life balance is a non-negotiable for us and a major factor in how we run our business day to day. At a base level, we monitor this by checking in with one another daily to see how we’re each feeling. If one or both of us is feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, we find space to work personal time into our schedules or block off days to do something fun as a team (did someone say spa day?!). We do our best work when we’re good so we know that investing in ourselves also means investing in our clients.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
L: Be kind, always. Your relationships are your legacy.
H: TUNE IN. It is this practice of looking inward that has really been transformative for me. By paying attention to my mind, body and spirit, I have become more in touch with myself and what I need to reach my highest potential in a way that feels both good and natural.
WHO IS YOUR CAREER ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
L: The women of Sakara Life. Oh my gosh do I love this brand! Their visuals, mission and blog is something I stalk daily. They seem so “tribey” which is probably why I’m naturally drawn to the site-but it’s super incredible to see Whitney and Danielle make food sexy and motivate so many people to pay attention to what they put into their bodies.
H: I am totally inspired by Jessie Groveman of How You Glow. I went to college with her and always felt she had a vibrant way about her… an 11 out of 10 on my good vibes radar. I was not at all surprised to see her go on to launch a badass health + lifestyle brand years later.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
L: For me it’s the freedom to express ourselves and be real with our clients. It’s not just “oh here’s a service we can offer you.” it’s more like, “WOW. You inspire us. We want to be your friend. We want to know about your life and how we can capture it.” Most of our tribe members fly us across the country and invite Hilary and I into their homes. They open up this little part of their world and it’s such a compliment that they trust Vibe Tribe to connect the dots.
H: That’s a tough one but I think to answer simply, it’s that I get to call this my job. For years the word “job” meant something so different to me. I used to feel like I was living a double life… going to work was a chore, and the rest of my life centered around the things I felt energized by. Those two worlds are now one in the same and it blows me away every time.
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART?
H: I think Lindsey and I are admittedly creative minds first, business women second. We have come to love the business side of what we’re doing, and it’s been wild to see how much a business-related task can support and make space for the creative work we can’t get enough of.
HOW DO YOU DRESS FOR SUCCESS?
L: I’m all for comfort! Being a photographer is quite similar to being a toddler at times, I spend 85% of my time crawling around on the floor and climbing on things. Jumpsuits or ripped jeans and a T-shirt with high tops is when I feel like I’m dressed for success.
H: Dressing for success is all about feeling good in the context of what you’re doing. Since Linds and I work from home, most of the time I’m in comfy mode, which translates to jeans + a tee, joggers, or yoga clothing for me. I love it when I can find a balance of comfort, function and style.
WHAT DO YOU SEE NEXT FOR YOU AND YOUR CAREER?
L: Something that we really felt called to do was find a pro bono project where we could really dive in and give life to a message that isn’t being currently heard, or needed a design renovation. Sure enough one of our Tribe members (Catt Sadler!) connected us with her amazing mother who happens to be the CEO of an incredible foundation, Women Like Us. Each year we envision taking on a project like this, and potentially traveling overseas to capture the efforts of these hearts firsthand. In 2016, we will be launching a brand new site for them-so stay tuned!
Down the road, we definitely envision Vibe Tribe Creative workspaces for creatives can jam to some vinyl with great coffee and work on their own dreams. In the interim, we’ve just accepted the role of creative director(s) for the development of a holistic retreat center in Hawaii.
H: Echoing Linds on all the above! I also attended Create & Cultivate’s workshop in Chicago this summer and could totally see us leading creative sessions related to branding, design, photography and social media. I think we’d love to get a point where other creative professionals seek out our advice and insight, which is something I think that comes with time and experience for sure.