This week on my Parents in Business series I’m super excited to be featuring Zoe Hiljemark who has set up her own PR and Marketing Consultancy; helping photographers exclusively with their PR and Marketing needs. Zoe has years of PR experience and used all of this knowledge to set up her own business after having her first baby.
Do have a read of Zoe’s business story, I’m a little bit in awe about how she juggled it and managed everything with three kids all under 18 months. Wow! Hats off to you! I loved reading how happy clients are a key to successs, and happy clients are great clients to have. Do have a read of this inspiring story and how niching down has really worked for Zoe!
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
I’m a PR and content marketing consultant living in Poole, Dorset, on the south coast of England with my husband and three children. I work exclusively with professional photographers and have done for the past five years, although in total I’ve worked in PR and marketing for 16 years.
My clients are successful photographers who are busy serving clients and so need help to promote and market themselves. They want to spend more time behind the camera doing the work they love and less time promoting their business, creating content or pitching to the media. This is where I come in. I help them to source opportunities to be featured in the press and help them to consistently create and share content that positions them as an expert and builds their photography brand.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
I set up my business almost seven years ago now after having my first baby. I had decided not to return to my PR Director role in a marketing agency. I had ten years of PR experience by then. I’d worked for local, national and international clients across many different sectors, so I felt I had the credibility to go it alone. I wanted to have the flexibility to be a mum at the same time as continue my career, and freelancing seemed the perfect solution.
I’m also from an entrepreneurial family and have seen my parents run multiple businesses. I’d always wanted to run my own business, so this was the perfect opportunity. My timing wasn’t brilliant though. A month after I started the business, I found out that I was pregnant again and expecting twins!
How do you balance the business around your family and childcare?
The age gap between our eldest and the twins is just 17 months, so at one point we had three children all aged under 18 months, which was a bit mental! It was a lot to manage, and when the twins were born, I had to stop working for a while. There was no balance in my life back then! Having three such young children was all-consuming and for the first year after the twins were born, I was completely exhausted.
I fed the twins myself for a year but once that stage was over, I was able to get a nanny to care for them once a week and then devote more time and attention to the business. That was my dedicated workday when I could switch off from mum duties and focus on my clients and on being ‘me’ again. I also got a lot of help from my mum which I’ll forever be grateful for. I’m not sure how we would have coped without her support.
Now that they are all of school age, it’s easier to juggle everything. I work when they are at school. I love that I can be there for all the drop offs and pickups, can help on occasional school trips and that I can look after them at home when they are unwell.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
I am still working with my very first PR client – newborn photographer, Karen Wiltshire – who hired me to help with her PR and marketing when I first started out. It’s a big win for me that I can keep clients happy and that they choose to work with me for years, rather than months, at a time.
Generally, though, I’d say that my definition of success these days is really about me having happy clients, enjoying the work I do and having it fit comfortably around my family life. The fact that I’m attracting increasingly high-calibre photographers as clients is really the cherry on the cake.
What are your top tip for anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business?
Niching down has proven to be a brilliant decision for me personally, so I would highly recommend that business owners choose a niche market to serve.
By picking a niche, I’ve been able to focus solely on one market and become the go-to PR person for professional photographers in the UK. This has helped me to attract photography clients as well as speaking and collaboration opportunities within the photography industry. Having a specialism is well worth it, so try and find what it is that you love doing and do more of it!
Thank you so much Zoe for taking part in my series it has been a pleasure to feature you.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series just drop me an email: email@example.com. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Inscripture, Love Ladies Business Group, and This Is Silk.