BOHN: Storytelling with Both a Personal & Corporate Brand
A perfect example for why we love Instagram and sharing stories is because of the opportunity to make a genuine connection with someone we’ve never met. We had already been following Karin Bohn, founder of House of Bohn for a little while when she made a comment on one of our posts. It was nice to hear from someone we'd been curious about. So naturally, this prompted the question “do you think she’d like to be interviewed?”. Fingers crossed.
The truth is, is that most entrepreneurs we contact for interviews say “yes”. However, not everyone does and not everyone wants to share their interview in the same way. That’s okay. We all have our own business priorities. But what was most surprising was when we heard back from Karin’s team as they suggested more of a cross-promotion: to video the interview for their vlog…awesome!
Instead of writing out the interview how we normally do in Q & A style, you can see segments of this on her vlog which is now live!
When arriving at the office of House of Bohn, I already knew a little what to expect. I had already watched many of her videos (loved Negotiate This! vlog: check it out). But this was my first time meeting her in person. Let me tell you, Karin is very welcoming as is her team and little pup, Oscar (who spent the entire time napping on her lap).
Meet Karin, Interior Designer, natural entrepreneur and boss (pronounced 'bauss'). This woman has been running her company for 8 years and developing businesses since she was in elementary school. Have I mentioned yet that she was the designer for the $58.8 million Vancouver residence, that was the most expensive real estate in Canada? Just a little tidbit. I should note though that Karin is no overnight success (nor does that exist). She has worked hard and committed her energy into growing her business to last indefinitely. How? The old fashioned way: by cold calling and building honest relationships.
Does the idea of cold calling make you skiddish too? A common feeling.
You wouldn’t guess because Karin exudes confidence and certainty. But how she describes her first cold calls is relatable to most. “I used to brace myself and have to take deep breaths before calling a business. I’d leave a message by talking really quickly and hang up.” You wouldn’t guess this was once the case as her business is steadily growing. Clearly, she has overcome that anxiety because in fact, they’re about to grow into their third office! What once started out as a small office for 3 people, her team is expanding and with very talented people in design, media and marketing. But how does one begin growing a team? I mean, you don’t get an in-house team plus several contractors on your roster overnight, right?
Karin described her early days after hitting her 1 year mark. She had an intern working intermittently on various projects, but made the leap to fully employ someone because she could no longer wear the many hats it took to successfully launch a project. Rightly so. She recommends to wait until you can clearly see the voids in your business, then make the move to fill them. You need to be ready to jump into the next chapter, with a clear focus.
Jumping into the very first or the fifth chapter can be daunting and tumultuous especially in the beginning stages of business growth. How did she deal with the emotional and financial pressures in between projects?
To make it succinct, she stated quite simply "you need cash, credit or customers otherwise you'll fail." Cash to launch, credit if you don't have it and lastly, customers to keep your business rolling. Might sound obvious, but so many businesses fail because they don't plan to have these "three C's".
But let’s back up a little…
I wanted to know more about the relationship between her company and personal social media accounts. To their audience, all of their storytelling is purposeful and connecting. And to us, what is really shining is her personal Instagram account. Why? Because audiences want to build relationships with the people behind the image of a company. "Who are they? What do they think? What's their life really like?" many of us wonder. Which is why Karin’s social profile and personal website are so on point. You’ll see that she covers design of course, but as well, fashion and lifestyle. But for someone who appears to have it all organized, I was really curious if she ever has “holy s**t, what am I doing?!” moments?
“Oh yes, all the time!” She exclaimed candidly (don't worry, you're not alone).
This was a favourite moment because I wanted to uncover the layer beneath what is being published while what is occurring behind the scenes. Let me point out here that she shares a lot of #BTS on her Youtube channel, but I wanted to share with those aspiring entrepreneurs out there that even after 8 years of success, many, like Karin still question themselves. This is a good take-away from this inquiry because if you want to find success with your marketing strategy, you should be questioning yourself all along the way. Why? Because by doing so, you'll be keeping company objectives in check and discerning how to distinctly speak intelligently to your audience.
In Karin's case, her audience on social is primarily entrepreneurial women while her design clients are mostly entrepreneurial men. She described this as a delicate balance while moving both profiles forwards, and establishing both brands to run parallel to one another. Sounds like a pretty cool challenge, don't you agree? How awesome it was to meet a perceptive entrepreneur who also understands the intricacies in working with both women and men. Oh yes, there's a difference. She stated that women don't negotiate as much whereas men will be more open. Hearing her describe this made her even more compelling as a business woman as she recognizes the nuances when communicating with both sides, who naturally have different points of view.
Like with Karin, the transparency factor in sharing with your audience should be one of the focuses in your strategy, something we always explain to our clients. This is key to storytelling because others want to see the polished look of a brand, but also know the raw aspects. This is the authentic way to tell stories. Talk to your audience and not at them.
Karin is demonstrating how to wisely speak to different audiences and create quality conversations online. Offline, you'll find her fostering growth in her workplace and providing a continuously supportive environment. This is a woman who is making her mark. Someone not to miss and will be fun to see what she develops both in design and storytelling over the next few years.
- JM -
Karin on Instagram: @karinbohn
House of Bohn on Instagram: @houseofbohn