A story of chocolate hearts. (Or why I didn’t want free flowers for a year and what that has to do with your business.)

OK, so maybe I DID quite like the idea of free flowers for a year, but not enough to actually do anything about it.

Let me back up a bit to the beginning of the story and it will all make much more sense to you, I’m sure.

The shopping centre that houses my local supermarket also has a pretty little florist shop. I walk past it at least twice a week, but I’ve never been in and I’ve never bought anything from them. Recently — for about a month — the florist shop ran a competition where if you spent over $100 at any of the stores in the centre, you could enter the draw to win flowers delivered to your home once a month for 12 months.

Free flowers delivered to my home for a whole year? Yes please!!!

But did I enter?

I walk past that particular florist shop at least twice a week. All I had to do was complete a form with my contact details.  And yet I didn’t enter. Why not? It wasn’t difficult. Nor was it time consuming. Every time I walked past the florist shop I thought to myself, “I must do that.” And yet I didn’t…not until the very last day of the competition.


So what had changed?

Why did I enter then? What changed? And no, it wasn’t that I had simply realised that I had nearly run out of time. That ‘sense of urgency’ that marketing people always say you need for special offers had nothing to do with it. In fact, the day that I did enter I had been standing in the queue at the check out of the supermarket, looking at a particularly beautiful sign advertising the competition. “Last chance!” it said. I stood there, thinking to myself, “I must do that.” Then it was my turn at the checkout. I paid for my groceries and started making my way back to the car, past the florist, as always. As I did so, a lovely young lady handed me a chocolate heart and smiled.

“Oh, thank you!” I said.

“Did you spend more than $100 at the supermarket today?”

I laughed. “When do I ever not?”

“It’s a bit like that,” she said. “Did you know you could win flowers for a year? It’s really easy. What’s your name?”

And she went on to fill out the form for me on the spot. Entry done. Had she not been there I would have gone to my car and gone home. The competition would have closed. I would not have entered, and the florist would not have had my details in their database.


So what has that story got to do with your business?

Have you ever run a competition to try to engage your target clients? To build your database? I have, and with very little success, I must say, even though the prizes up for grabs each time have been incredible, much like free flowers for a year delivered to your door.   Maybe people had meant to enter my competitions. Maybe they even really wanted to win…. but perhaps they just hadn’t quite gotten around to it. Maybe I needed to find a way of making it easier them. Here’s what I took away from my experience:

  • The young lady who did my entry for me was friendly and happy, but not gushingly so. She seemed genuinely interested in chatting with me. It was a real exchange, not scripted.
  • She was attractive and well-presented, but not threateningly so.
  • She gave me something for nothing: That chocolate heart was mine whether I entered the competition or not, and she gave it to me with no strings attached and without asking me to do anything.
  • She made it all super easy for me. I didn’t even have to pick up a pen.

Well… I didn’t win any free flowers, but I did learn a lot. Maybe next time I want people to enter a competition or sign up to my newsletter I’ll ask myself:

  • What can I give with no strings attached?
  • Is my offer attractive and well presented, but not so much so that it seems too good to be true?
  • Am I being genuinely friendly and happy? Is my offer coming from a genuine desire to give? Or am I just wanting to get something for myself?
  • How can I make the day a little easier for the people who see my offer?

What about you? Do you run a small business? Tell me, what’s worked for you in the past as a way of building genuine customer engagement?

EDITED TO ADD: Well, that competition was way back in February… and I have not heard from the florist at all. Nope! Not at all. Not even a newsletter! What a waste! They had the perfect opportunity to contact me straight after the winner was drawn to say something like, “We’re so sad that not all of you could win that we’ve decided to give you all something anyway. Enjoy this gift certificate to our store.” You can bet that would have gotten me through their door the next time I did the groceries…. So here’s my final tip:

  • Know WHY you are running your competition or special offer BEFORE you start. What’s the point of collecting addresses for your database if you do nothing with them?
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Portraits by donation

Yep, you read that right. By donation.

Drop into the studio on Friday 21st October 2016, and I will photograph you in return for a donation into my collection jar. All money collected on the day will go to Frocktober, which is a fundraising body supporting the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation in their work to find an early detection test for ovarian cancer. You could donate a gold coin, or a thousand gold coins. It’s up to you.

What you will receive:

  • a short, sharp shoot
  • one image of your choice from the shoot, presented as a high resolution digital file.

Sound good? I thought so. You will need to get in touch to book a time slot for the day. I look forward to hearing from you soon!



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It’s Frocktober again people!!

Yes, it’s that time of year where people wear dresses for the whole month of October (men can participate, too!) in order to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation who are beavering away doing all their science-y stuff, trying to develop an early detection test for this insidious disease. That’s one of the worst things about ovarian cancer: there is no early detection test, and the symptoms of the disease are easily attributed to other really quite innocuous things, so the disease is often misdiagnosed until late in its progress, which leads to a low survival rate compared to other forms of cancer that can be detected and treated early.

After a very busy Frocktober 2014 (with the Frocktail party, remember?) I took it pretty quietly last year….. so I’m ready to frock it again in 2016! This year I’ll be Frocking Fridays, and raising funds through my every day hero page which you can find here.

As well as that, I have teamed up with Glam Corner –  who have loads of incredible frocks for hire — to give you something very special for your next shoot with me: The next five people to book a shoot with me will receive an $80 gift certificate to hire something gorgeous to wear for your shoot!! How good is that? Go and have a look at their collection. They have an enormous variety of gowns and dresses (plus accessories, too!) in a good range of sizes. You’ll need to book and pay for your shoot in the month of October 2016, but you will be able to hire your gown and have your shoot up until the end of October 2017.

Oh, and of course, you don’t HAVE to hire a gown for your shoot. You could use your gift certificate to hire something for your Melbourne Cup party, or New Year’s Eve, or some other black tie event you have coming up. But you’d only do that if you really want to disappoint your photographer…..


AND in addition to that, if you also make a donation to my Frocktober campaign, I will match your donation with dollar for dollar value* in print and product credit so you can buy lots of gorgeous photos from your shoot.

So now you have three jobs to do:

  1. make a donation to my Frocktober campaign
  2. book your photo shoot with me
  3. choose your gown from Glam Corner

I’m looking forward to seeing you at your photo shoot all frocked up!!



*See terms and conditions for details.



  1. The Frocktober 2016 special offer may not be used in conjunction with any other offer.
  2. Photo shoot with vividity must be booked and paid for in the month of October 2016.
  3. There are five (5) Glam Corner gift certificates available, and will be distributed to the first five (5) people who book and pay in October 2016  for their shoot with Jennifer Taylor/vividity.
  4. Glam Corner gift voucher will be to the value of $80 dollars, and is to be used under their terms and conditions. Jennifer Taylor/vividity is in no way affiliated or associated with Glam Corner and you must make direct arrangements with them yourself.
  5. Photo shoot must be held at a mutually convenient time, date and location before 31st October 2017.
  6. Dollar for dollar matching will be provided in print and product credit with vividity, to be used to purchase print and product from the shoot booked in the month of October 2016. The credit value is capped at $150 Australian Dollars per person.







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Creative Market

Do you ever design things for your business? Flyers, posters, Instagram pics and memes, perhaps? Or do you make your own Christmas cards? Birthday invitations? Then you really need to check out Creative Market!  It’s a fabulous resource for design elements, not to mention inspiration!

You know, as a creative business owner, it’s easy to think you can do everything yourself. “Why would I pay someone else,” the thought process goes,  “when I have those skills already? I can just whip up a new graphic element in photoshop myself and save all that money!”

I’m here to tell you, that’s false economy. How l-o-n-g does it take to just “whip up a new graphic design element”? Sometimes hours!! Creative Market is the solution! I recently bought these gorgeous water colour blossom elements to use in a cover design for a client’s album. They were perfect, and not expensive at all.

And there are so many great designers and creators at Creative Market, you will be spoiled for choice. Oh, and you’ll find my own little store there, too, where I will upload stock shots and mock ups from time to time: perfect for your social media pages. You can find that here:


vividity on Creative Market.

Enjoy! But be careful: it’s a bit like Pinterest. You’ll go there for just a quick look and emerge maybe a couple of hours later……. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Meet the team: Eloise Proust makeup artist.

A big part of taking great portraits of women — which is what I do best in my role as a portrait photographer –  is getting them ready with great hair and makeup styling. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful team of stylists to call on for my portrait shoots, whether it’s for a glam mother and daughter session, or for a highly professional look for a corporate portrait. Today I’d like you to meet one of the team: the lovely Eloise Proust.

Eloise Proust **

Tell us what you do for work, Eloise

I’m a professional makeup artist, specialising in bridal makeup.

Why did you start your business?

I wanted to make a career of my passions: art and makeup artistry.

What is it about your business that makes you different from other makeup artists?

I believe having and artistic background has given me a great eye for detail, and made me the perfectionist that I am. There are a lot of makeup artists around these days, and so many of them think of makeup as a mask and end up applying too much. I believe makeup is an art form. When makeup is used correctly it enhances a woman’s best features. You should notice those beautiful features before you see the makeup.

Did you do a slow transition from a day job to running your own business full time? Or did you jump in boots and all?

It was definitely a slow transition to build up my business and be able to do what I love full time. I worked in jobs through the week that I didn’t really enjoy to get me by and slowly over 5 or 6 years I began to get my name out there and was able to increase my makeup business to being a full time career.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days are always very different! Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays I’m usually up at around 5 am to travel to a wedding. I’ll do about 6 or 7 faces of makeup and then from there go to other makeup jobs in the afternoon. Those would be for women going out to a special occasion or I could be in my studio trialing makeup looks for new brides.

What do you like most about the work that you do?

I love meeting so many new and interesting people every week. I’m always on the go and I never get bored. Most of all I love what I do because I get to help women see the beauty in themselves that they often don’t see. Women are so often focused on what they don’t like about themselves, so it’s nice to bring out their natural beauty and give them that extra confidence. I always compliment every single person who sits in my makeup chair, and my compliments are always genuine. I think people underestimate the power of a kind word. One nice comment can stay with us a lifetime!

If there were one piece of advice you could give your clients, what would it be?

Less is more! Make sure you have the right foundation for your skin type and skin colour. Try to have sun protection in your foundation or moisturizer and always look after your skin before bed. Remove all makeup, especially eye makeup. I think RMS coconut oil is the best product ever for removing eye makeup and caring for your lashes. Well, that’s actually four things! Sorry. Can’t say just one!

You arrive at your jobs with a couple of suitcases full of hair styling equipment and makeup. Tell us, what’s in your own personal makeup bag?

My personal makeup bag is extremely small and simple: Laura Mercier illuminating tinted moisturizer, and a good quality hydrating foundation, often it’s Chanel Vitalumiere. I also always have a good quality mascara, and i love Terry Lash Booster Mascara. One of those lasts me a long time! I always like to have moisturized lips with a tint of colour, and I adore Josie Maran lip oil or Lano Lips lip tint. For eyes it’s nice to have one eye shadow palette you can use all the time. Eyeshadows with good pigment will last all day, and I love MAC, Tom Ford or Charlotte Tilbury.

What is one of the best things that has happened in your business life?

Just watching my business grow over the years and being able to do what I love full time. I’ve also been blessed in making life long friends through my business with the beautiful women I get to meet: clients, photographers and other makeup artists.

We’ve all had things go awry for us in business. What’s the worst thing that has happened to you in business, and how did you recover from it?

We’re all human, and mistakes are bound to happen. Touch wood, I’ve never had anything major go wrong like double booking a bride, but you’re always going to make a silly mistake here and there, like forgetting to put a trial appointment in your diary because a client called you when you were on the road, for example. You learn from every mistake and you do what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Having your own business means you are constantly learning. I think your clients will usually be very understanding if you give a sincere apology and offer to make it up to them in some way.

What do you do in your down time?

I love reformer Pilates. I find it’s a great way to de-stress and stretch, which I think is important. I love eating out and finding new delicious places for lunch with friends. Oh, and I like to go to the art gallery and spend time with my family, too.

Dog or cat?

Dog, but I’ve never owned a cat.

When I was young I used to collect….

My room was filled with crystals and candles. You are always still your own inner child, that’s for sure!

If you could meet your teenage self, what would you say to her?

Believe in yourself! And always trust your intuition. It’s rarely wrong.

Eloise is available for wedding, editorial/photo shoot, and television makeup work. You can find her here:

website: www.eloiseproust.com.au

instagram: EloiseProustMUA

facebook: Eloise Proust Makeup Artist


**Eloise’s profile picture by Carol Zat, and used with permission.




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