This month we are thrilled to feature Emmie Cosser in The Restory Style Series. We grabbed a glass of rosé and a table out in the sun and found out as much as possible about the business ambitions of this absolutely delightful entrepreneur.
Q. Emmie let’s do the background questions right up front so we can get to the good bits! Your Instagram profile says ‘Aussie in Notting Hill by way of Paris’ – so how did that happen?
A. I’m absolutely Australian but spent time growing up in Paris, London, Sydney and even did a year in Rome before settling back here in Notting Hill. I still have conversational French and some Italian, but I’ve lost so much from not practicing. It goes so fast if you don’t speak it regularly.
Q. The same thing happened to me so I just tell people I speak ‘menu French’ and ‘menu Spanish’!
A. Brilliant! Menu French. I love it.
Q. So diving straight into your business life, you are at quite an exciting point, we hear?
A. Yes, absolutely. I started my digital creative agency, Golightly, about a year ago. I realized that I needed to spend a lot more time on managing my own brand and client acquisition than I was. I was spread across both Golightly and my blog, Top 10 Girl. It was time to follow my own advice to my clients and really focus on consolidating my identity. Right away I started attracting interesting, higher paying clients with that sharper focus.
Q. So which of the brands will you be giving up?
A. Golightly will be retired and I’ll focus all my energy on my Top 10 Girl brand. The blog and particularly the Instagram account gets lots of traction with potential clients and connections. ‘Top Girl Studio’ will have an industry blog and I’ll interview great female entrepreneurs. It will be a total shift from ‘top 10 things I did on my holiday’ and provide really valuable content like how to legitimately grow your Instagram presence. Actionable business information.
Q. Are you afraid of giving away too much?
A. No, my mother actually asked me the same thing recently. I think everything I have learned is there to be shared. Generosity opens so many doors. I plan to be giving everyone plenty of rich, useable content. I’m considering producing more advanced e-guides, which might be something people could purchase. But in general I think the more you give out the more you get back.
Q. And what have you found to be the biggest challenge as you’ve run your own business? What advice would you give others?
A. I think the biggest challenge to a ‘solopreneur’ is working in seclusion. You have to get that buzz of having a work community. Having a circle of fellow entrepreneurs that allows you to bounce ideas around is very important. It’s really important to get out of the house! Five days in a row of working in your pyjamas is a total mood killer. One of my mentors gave me some great advice, and it makes a massive difference. She told me just get up early, hide myself in a hoodie and go straight to a coffee shop. Just answer all of your emails and get ahead of everyone first thing. You’ll have a great sense of achievement and feel really energized. And listening to podcasts is a lifesaver.
Q. Do you see podcasts as entertainment or as a business tool? Is it something you’re interested in producing yourself?
A. Absolutely! I think podcasts are the new radio. They are on-demand; you have them whenever you’re ready. And sure, some of them are good fun when I’m travelling, for instance, but I use a lot of them as learning tools. The volume of information flying at us is just unmanageable and there simply isn’t time to read everything. Reading is not an opportunity to multitask. With a podcast I can be learning or be entertained while I’m designing or editing photos. I’m looking forward to doing those business profiles of entrepreneurs I mentioned earlier, as podcasts, and I’m really excited about it.
Q. I’m going to have to ask for you to give us your five favourites and a bit of description for them to tag onto the end of this interview, if that’s ok? Let’s get started with that theme of generous content sharing right now.
A. Absolutely my pleasure – I’ll share a mix of fun, intellectual and learning podcasts. Something for everyone.
Q. So your Instagram presence looks really successful. How did you get started with it? Was it a recreational tool at first?
A. Completely recreational. I was taking selfies and photos of my mum and didn’t even realise that it was a public platform until my brother told me that some of the photos weren’t very flattering. Hilarious! I got better at it of course. I realised it was a powerful business tool, though, when I was working at Covetique and with the Asos social media team.
Q. I’ve noticed lately a lot of people struggling to manage both their private and professional accounts on a few platforms. How are you coping with that?
A. Well, that’s exactly what my brand consolidation is about. I never found that my ‘business’ Instagram felt as authentic as my personal one. It became something of a chore and was not adding value to what I was doing, which becomes a waste of important time. I came to the realization that if someone didn’t like my personal persona, then we weren’t going to be a professional fit anyway. I only want to work with the people that I find to be inspirational and stimulating.
Q. So, like Seth Godin advises us, it’s all about finding your tribe.
A. Exactly. I want the whole 360 about someone – I want to know they’re well rounded. I always look up someone’s Instagram and even 12 pictures are like a little magazine of who they are. I know how they want to project themselves. I’m incredibly visual so Instagram is a great platform for me. I think it suits people in creative industries in particular.
Q. Speaking of you being a visual person, was photography and digital always a passion of yours?
A. Not at all. When I was younger, fine art was my jam. I refused to have anything to do with computers or digital photography, but eventually realised that I probably would not earn a living with canvas and oils. My parents were incredibly supportive about me finding my own way. They always told me to find a way to work for myself and that I wouldn’t love working for someone else. So I shifted into photography and digital art. I absolutely love all the tools for working with digital photos. It means that anyone can have access to creating art. We can create art with apps on our phones – it makes that world totally accessible to everyone. Think of the talent that is out there.
Q. And where do you get your inspiration for content creation? How do you keep it fresh?
A. I find it is best to avoid looking at other social media like Instagram and Pinterest as a source of inspiration. By virtue of finding it there, it’s already been done. I find the best thing is to close your laptop and go outside. Go to a gallery. Go to a museum. Open your mind completely and just soak in what you see. Find new colour combinations or shapes. You’ll never be at the forefront of content creation by recycling ideas. We can only see so many photos of avocado toast.
Q. What other advice would you give to people starting their own agency or consultancy?
A. To work by the 80/20 rule. If you feel you have 80 percent of the knowledge to do the job, then just go for it. Dive in and learn the remaining 20 percent as you go! Don’t miss opportunities because you think you have to start from a position of perfection.
Q. So besides tightening up your own brand identity, what is the next thing on the cards for you?
A. I really want to hold a networking brunch to connect all of the great people I know. I think a lot of my clients and friends could work together if I could get them in a room together. You all have so much to offer. And a lot of their clients are your exact client base. I know you’re expanding now and I want everyone to experience your services. I am invested in your success in that I need you guys! Vanessa won me over completely during my first call to The Restory. I had fallen over in the rain in my favourite Stuart Weitzman boots and needed help with all the marks. I was flying out the next morning and there wasn’t even time for her to fix them personally so she talked me through it all on the phone. How amazing is that? That level of care inspires a lot of loyalty.
Q. That IS lovely – I had no idea! Well, we would absolutely love to meet everyone you suggest, that’s a really generous offer and comes at a good time, as we are looking to grow even more over the next few months. What feedback do you have for us? What is the most valuable part of our service to you?
A. The trust, I think. I know I can hand anything over to you and whether it is of great sentimental value or an expensive piece, it will be fixed to perfection. I don’t have to worry about it or explain what I need. Which is amazing because I think, especially for solo business owners, we are so busy that we need to be able to entrust certain things to other professionals.
Q. Well, here’s to many years of looking after your shoes and bags in future. Thanks for such an amazing interview – I think there’s going to be a lot that doesn’t make it in because we’ve gone way over time, but I loved every minute.
A. Likewise! I’m so happy to have you ladies in my circle of entrepreneurial friends, and looking forward to find ways to collaborate and support you.
1. Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin.
This is great for a plane journey. I could listen to Alec for hours on end, in fact, I often do…
2. Women of the Hour
As the voice of my generation, Lena Dunham just ‘gets it’. Her podcast is wordy, feminist and full of interviews with interesting non-celebrities that I would otherwise have never found.
3. Being Boss
I love this podcast for the super practical tips I take away from it. From managing clients to how to design your website, there is everything you need to start and manage your own online business.
4. Tim Ferris
What can I say, I feel like he is the older brother I never had. His book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ convinced me to leave the 9-5 and start my own thing. He is amazing, eccentric and crazy but utterly captivating. There are some absolute golden nuggets in his podcast but just take everything with a pinch of salt!
5. Garance Dore, Pardon my French
There is something about radio and podcasts that feels so intimate and Garance is the perfect example of this. Her beautiful accent, mixed with her self-deprecating attitude is utterly dreamy. When I followed her on Instagram I had no idea she was this intelligent and funny, I feel a bit like she is my new French best friend!