Each month we’re going to take a look at a female entrepreneur who is absolutely OWNING IT in their business and looking awesome in their branding as they do. These awesome brand builders are the full package and they have so much to teach us when it comes to knowing your brand and connecting with customers and growing meaningful businesses that they love (that also loves them back!)
I’m so excited to Introduce Amber Chalus as Hello’s very first #AwesomeBrandBuilder!
A few years ago I stumbled across a website that instantly resonated with me. I was initially drawn in by the soft images, the feminine colours, and generally struck by what I’d consider Awesome Branding. As a fellow Canadian, yogi and entrepreneur, I quickly connected with the site’s owner and personality, Amber Chalus, and instantly became a fan!
A few months later, I was once again taken by her gorgeous branding and the overall look, feel and direction of her brand as she launched an updated version of her site and branding.
As a brand strategist, I had to reach out to Amber and find out who was behind her smart brand and talk to her a bit more about how she is so successful where so many entrepreneurs fall short: keeping her brand consistent, fresh, and on tone and message; and when it comes to having what it takes to be considered an Awesome Brand Builder, Amber would be on the very top of my list.
So, I thought it would be fitting to kick off our series on Awesome Brand Builders with the lovely Amber Chalus. Her story is super-interesting, and she is my number one example of how you can get it right when it comes to building an awesome brand. My interview with Amber is chock-full of awesome advice and interesting tidbits, so it’s definitely one you’ll want to read through the end (and probably take notes!)
Here’s our conversation:
Hello Amber! ?Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me about your truly Awesome Brand. Can you tell me a little bit about how it initially got created? Did you work with anyone to develop your business’ look and feel?
Hello Lori! It is a joy to be a part of this. Thank you so much for considering me an awesome brand builder, I’m a big fan of yours as well!
Here’s the story: I originally started my website for my local yoga classes, but after taking Marie Forleo’s Bschool I realized how CRUCIAL online branding was to my future success. I then decided to expand by creating an online brand, offering a weekly newsletter and writing blog posts. At first it was dedicated to my local students, but over time it all blossomed into a bit of a movement! The website, social media and branding design was all completed by myself. My logo was lovingly created by a designer and photos were taken by a friend of mine who is a talented local photographer and student!
Where did you get inspiration for your brand?
That’s such a wonderful question! I am a very curious person naturally – so sometimes it is hard to focus and stay with one thing. My brand is definitely inspired by the beautiful colours of the ocean, the idea of feminine freedom and the pure spacious energy I love to surround myself with. My intention was to create a brand that felt like a “breath of fresh air” when women came across my social media accounts and website. I love simplicity, nature, travel, yoga, art, music- so everything I do reflects some element of that.
Your original website and brand was a combination of soft blues and pinks, and over all very stunning, but in January of last year you launched a new look and feel that really seemed to mesh with your business, your overall vibe, and your core business services – it was a shift to a more metaphysical concept, and you replaced the more traditional feminine images like flowers and such, and incorporated sacred geometry and gold tones in a way that, although subtle, seems to connect even more with your female audience base. How did that evolve?
I LOVE that you actually noticed the change! It was quite an evolution to my brand for sure. I chose to stay with the clean whites and teals (ocean filled & spacious), I did leave some of those soft pink elements and stock images behind.
The first part of this was once I added 1:1 coaching to my business, I started getting much clearer on my “ideal client/perfect customer”. The original branding was soft and kind hearted. Which I love. But my current client (and myself as well) is a little more adventurous. She is bit of a rebel and dreams of being a risk taker. She wants more from life than what is “socially acceptable” and “pretty”. She craves adventure, passion, simple luxury, mystery, divinity and unique experiences. Not just to “feel and look better” because other people tell her she has to. So adding in the instagram photography and mandala graphics added in a feeling I just couldn’t achieve with stock photos. The second part is that the original branding was just not really me. It reflected more of what I saw other women coaches doing than who I was. And with that, the clients that were coming to me were looking for that. Which is just not my style. With the new Liberated Woman 2.0 branding it is all about creativity, liberation and freedom. It’s still loving and fresh like before, but less apologetic. Feminine but not girly. Passionate but not forceful.
I think one of the things I love most about your visual brand is the consistency. It’s something that most people struggle with, but you seem to have nailed it – right down to your Instagram feed. You incorporate the same soft colours, tones, and look and feel across the board. Is it just a reflection of your personal style, or are you put some planning and strategy into it? How much of it is deliberate, and what was your motivation behind it?
Such a beautiful compliment! Thank you. The truth is that I live simply. So everything I purchase is very intentional and reflects the way that I want to feel in my business AND life. So because beauty, nature and creativity is such a big part of my life – I delight in sharing those things with my community. I wouldn’t say that I create a strategy in advance, but I definitely make life easier for myself by literally LIVING my brand – from my tea mugs to the colour of my jewellery.
I also LOVE seeing when other people create beautiful images on Instagram – which to me is very respectful of my time. If I get to enjoy a carefully thought out image that has beautiful meaning and aesthetic behind it, then I feel like I am a part of something special. Not just someone’s careless snapshot of a moment in their daily grind. Love translates. Even if it takes a few more minutes of your day.
Do you work with a design pro on your branding, website and visuals now?
I still work 100% on my own. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so- but like I said before, I love being a part of amazing experiences and projects. And so do my followers. And I haven’t quite figured out how to explain my vision of that to someone else just yet!
Where do you get your inspiration when it comes to your branding?
I initially used Pinterest to brainstorm in the beginning of my brand development. Which always made me smile at all the possibilities! But it is really too time consuming and distracting for me. These days I block all ads from my laptop so I don’t see other people’s brands too often – so that I can’t be overly influenced. But there are certain brands that I adore for their simplicity and authenticity. I may not get my style from them – but I do notice how I respond to companies that are BIG overpowering brands (leadpages/infusionsoft/webinar sales etc) vs. intimate relationship centred brands (heart felt newsletters/candid videos/community building). And those always inspire me to be that inspiring to somebody else.
Did you notice a shift in your audience’s response after your rebranding?
I have a VERY loving audience. They are always very supportive and encouraging to me, regardless of changes that I make. I am not the best at offering surveys – so I am not entirely clear about what they like best. But now that I’ve shifted – everything from my facebook page to my podcast to my instagram, I do feel like I am attracting an audience that connects with my free-spirited nature rather then just the healthy-focused branding I was focused on before.
Did you pick up any valuable “lessons learned” throughout the process of building your brand? If so, what were some of the biggest ones?
Oh lessons! They are such a big part of running any business. But especially creating a brand that is a reflection of who you are, not just a company. I think the biggest lesson I learned was to be inspired but not too influenced by the people I admire. Comparison is a total time waster and is one of the reasons that it takes me so long to commit to ideas. Learning to trust myself and what makes my heart sing is also huge. I think I learned this from Cerries Mooney of TheBrandAlchemist.com last year. She wrote a lot about creating a brand that reflects your unique identity instead of trying to conform to your customers. It really made all the difference to me! The final lesson I would cymbalta get u high have to share is that things can always CHANGE. Your brand is a living breathing creature. It flows with the seasons just like nature. So nothing is set in stone – as long as it reflects the truth for you at the time and creates change for people – then go with it!
Obviously, we can’t all do everything ourselves… at what point do you decide that you need to turn to a pro for advice or help?
I’ve given this one lots of thought over the past year. And I’ve really noticed how creating a 1:1 or 1: few business model has really limited me in income creation and hiring out. When I finally create offerings that I can sell to many people without me having to be present for the process – like a well-loved online course – then I would LOVE more help and advice. For now, as long as my business survives with my constant presence, I feel like I have to work “in it” instead of “on it”. The day I can create more consistency, then I will be hiring out anything and everything that limits me and keeps me from writing, teaching and creating.
What’s been your biggest business/brand splurge?
Definitely enrolling in Marie Forleo’s Bschool. It was a HUGE investment at the time, and I didn’t even complete all the work! But it really connected me with a network of powerhouse online entrepreneurs and ideas that shifted my idea of what was possible. And to me that is invaluable. The second would be signing up for InfusionSoft last year for email marketing. Turned out it was absolutely useless for me…and much more work and money without the return than I had hoped. Lesson learned! Mail chimp me are back together and loving life 🙂
If someone gave you an extra $5000 for your business, where would you invest it?
I would upgrade my mac to a desktop with way more video editing capabilities, hire out the editing and marketing of my podcast and get myself a rockstar social media expert/assistant that can run facebook ads for targeted list building – things that take up much of my time and take me away from what I could be doing. And I would also hire a professional videographer for an afternoon to create a brand video about myself and TLW. I always fall in love with brands I can see instead of just read.
What’s your absolute favourite part of your own brand?
That it gives me the freedom I desire. I truly live most women’s dream – I choose what I do, what I say and how I live. Which would NEVER be possible if I worked for someone else. I have intentionally created my brand in a way that will allow me to move in any direction I choose – from international retreats, online courses, writing books or even just inspiring women on social media. The simplicity and flexibility of TLW is what make’s it so special to me.
What are some tips you would give other self-driven entrepreneurs out there when it comes to building a great brand on their own?
Tip1: You do you. Listen to your heart and trust your instincts. It’s going to feel weird at first – but you will eventually discover that people are attracted to you when you are fully connected with what makes YOU smile. So find that and share it.
Tip 2: Surround yourself with like-minded soul sisters. Even if they aren’t in business, you need to have people in your life to lift you up when you feel like you just can’t do it. They will be your cheerleaders and you will do the same for them!
Tip3: Stop following the insta-famous “business” women who live on a beach somewhere exotic, have crazy tight bod’s and boast about their 7 figure launches. You can be happy for them…but watching their every move will only take you further from your path. Stay focused on YOUR next best step. Not theirs.
Bonus: Simplify! If I see one thing in common with the women I coach or meet that are too “busy” or “distracted” from creating their dream brand – it’s because they are literally drowning in office clutter, old files on their computer, out-dated beliefs that hold them back and a closet filled with ill-fitting clothes that keep them always “finding something”. If you truly want to succeed with this – I would highly recommend that you start by clearing your plate – both in your home/office and your mind!
I’m a big proponent of being authentic in your brand, and I noticed that way back in the early days of your website, you mentioned that someone else may have taken a liking your look and feel a little bit too much! You hinted that someone may have copied part of your design. Can you talk a little bit about that? How did it get resolved?
Well, this was one of those unfortunate parts of being part of an online Facebook “community”. It happened because I shared a “win” and showed the design of my new website to the group – and one of the women went ahead and mirrored my website design, including my scripted logo and copy. I was in shock. I actually saw it on her Instagram account in a photograph she had taken in a library. You could say that she was “inspired” by my website to the max. I never contacted her but did remove her from my email list. I feel like for all the hours and hours she spent clicking from my page to the theme editor – she still didn’t feel like she did something wrong. Wasting my time with her wasn’t worth it. But I will add, that in the future, if someone was to copy/replicate my writing/content then I would most certainly take action. I’ve really become much more confident and believe in what I create for my community. And with that, I would be a little more fierce!
How much of the “Amber Chalus, The Liberated Woman” brand is Amber Chalus, the woman answering these questions right now?
I once heard from a branding coach that “We are not our brand. Our brand has elements of who we are, but it’s separate and unique”. Which I really love. The Liberated Woman, Amber Chalus, is who I am when I am at my best and who I am striving to become. It’s also what I want for other women. But me, right now – I more of the creator or artist of The Liberated Woman idea- sharing her vision with a world that needs it!
Okay, your turn. Do you have any specific advice or words of wisdom for growing your own brand and business for women starting out?
If you are just starting out, I would begin by saying “Congratulations, beautiful. You aren’t wasting one more moment of your life in someone else’s vision. Let’s do this!” Then I would ask her what exactly she wants to get out of creating a brand/business for herself. I know your readers are super smart women – and have likely heard this before. But if you don’t know WHY you are doing this, then stop creating/writing/designing anything else for your business until you do. Even if it is something simple like “To have the freedom to eat lunch at 4pm and sleep in till 10am.” or “So that I can be at home for my family instead of in traffic.” For me, I want to EXPERIENCE the beauty, elegance and adventure of life to the fullest. And owning my own business gives me that freedom. To decide yes to this and no to that. Instead of waiting for “days off” or “retirement” to come around! The more you believe in your vision – the more other people will be willing to follow you along on the journey!
Once you know the “why” then close your eyes and look inwards. If you want a beautiful, consistent and well loved brand – then you can’t be following 50 other brand newsletters and listen to 100 other gurus in order to stand out. Ask yourself, what do you love to wear? What do you love to read? What do you love to listen to? Where do you love to travel? Who do you love to spend your time with? Then narrow it down…figure out what the most common aspects of all of them are. You will discover the colours/images/ideas/feeling that you ALWAYS seem to return back to. To me, that is your brand essence – it’s something only you can offer and that no one else can replicate. Build your brand from that place – learn the systems from the experts. But cultivate your brand from within.
Thank you SO much for sharing so much insight into your business! I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who absolutely LOVES what you’re with your brand and in your business, and I’m sure there are many awesome female entrepreneurs out there who you inspire!
You are endlessly welcome Lori! I have been looking forward to this for a while now and couldn’t be prouder to contribute.
Amber Chalus, founder and creator of The Liberated Woman is a Free-Spirited Explorer, Coach, Yoga Teacher and Podcast Host. Her mission? To empower women to Escape the Ordinary, Discover Their Bliss & Find Freedom Within. She believes that every woman deserves to feel connected to her body, radiate with confidence and live the life of her dreams. Her current home is located in the wild heart of Canada with her charming British husband and adorable rescue pup, Indiana.
Find out more about Amber and check out her awesome business and brand for yourself at www.AmberChalus.com.