In The Art Life, Episode 39, Xandra talks to sales and marketing expert Erika Lyremark (she/her) about bringing your art into your business. They discuss the value of understanding your own magic, what to do when you have too many ideas, creative packaging, and prioritising FUN!
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Read the Transcript:
Xandra: This is The Art Life. Hello, I’m Xandra Robinson-Burns, writer and the protagonist of Heroine Training. Here with me to introduce today’s interview is my co-host, actress and activist Grace Gordon. Hi, Grace.
Grace: Hi, Xandra.
Xandra: Today’s guest is my favorite business coach, Erika Lyremark, whose pronouns are she/her. I have known Erika for many years now and have worked with her. What she does is she helps female entrepreneurs develop personality-driven sales and marketing plans. She’s the author of Think Like a Stripper, and I am a graduate of her TripleXpert program, where I developed Everyday Wonderland. I was also a member of her business accelerator, MARK’D Women. So in the middle of May, I recorded this interview with Erika, which is a conversation that’s especially for the woman who wants to bring her art into her business.
Grace: I love that you are so close with Erika and that we’re getting to have this masterclass in marketing and thinking expansively about the way that you communicate your message. I got so much out of this episode, and I’m so excited that we just get to share this juicy information.
Xandra: Well, in just a moment, we will turn it over to that conversation. I’ll just say that tone-wise, it takes me back to when I first talked to Erika, and I had my notebook ready, and I had all of these questions prepared for a coaching session I was going to do when I got on the phone with her for the first time. I was like, “Okay, I need to make the most of this time.” Actually, I didn’t end up following the plan because talking to her, she just makes business seem so integrated with the life that I want to live. I just found myself exhaling with relief, “Oh, maybe it can be this simple.” Hopefully, this interview can give you a little sampling of what that is like.
Grace: Yeah, and a little sampling about looking at the business side of your art practice or your art life as not this horrible monster that intimidates you but instead something that, like you said, can be integrated and can be pleasurable. I always feel, and all of us feel like artists don’t have enough education in running a business and handling their accounting and their marketing. That is so missing in our either self-education or in our art’s programs. The fact that Erika also makes it fun and makes it heart-centered is such a gift. I learned so much from this episode, so I think we should just jump right in and let people hear it.
Xandra: Here is my conversation with Erika Lyremark. Enjoy.
Xandra: Welcome back to The Art Life, where I am here in the studio with Erika Lyremark to talk business craft. Welcome to The Art Life, Erika.
Erika: Hello, I’m super excited to be here.
Xandra: I am so excited to introduce everyone to your magic. It feels like you’ve been behind the scenes on The Art Life since before I even started podcasting with Heroine Training, you were requesting it as something that I needed to do. That was part of what you’re best at, which is seeing what should be brought out of anyone that you’re working with in MARK’D Women, et cetera. I feel like you’ve been part of the show from the very beginning.
Erika: Well, thank you. It’s very exciting. I remember when we first met, I had put out… This is what? Almost four years ago, I had put out this one-time thing that I had never done before. I sent an email to my list, and I said, “Hey, you can borrow my brain for 30 minutes, $195,” and you were one of the people who signed up for that. And then you joined MARK’D Women, and we worked together for several years and then you graduated, so to speak. It’s just so fun to see you evolve over the years and to really see you turn your business truly into art. You’re constantly crafting your business. And then just… What was it? A month ago, I messaged you, and I said, “Hey, we need to write a book about minimalism. Is that something that you’d be interested in doing with me?”
Xandra: And, of course, I said yes right away to that.
Erika: Yes. Yes. I was hoping that you would. And so I don’t want to reveal the title of it yet, but for everybody listening, let’s just say it’s a book about minimalism for people who are already minimalist or minimalist curious, but they’re already on the path to minimalism. So we are not writing this book as a how-to, it’s not a how-to guide. It’s really a conversation, a book about our experiences with minimalism and how it’s changed our life and businesses.
Xandra: I love the in medias res of it all, of just getting into where we already are in the process, in our lifestyles. I was so excited when you came up with that shift from a how-to to a we’re-already-doing-this conversation because that is the ethos of The Art Life as well, is that we love to talk about process, we love to talk about your daily life, what it looks like now, and there’ll be some details about how you got there. But most of all, I’m interested in the present moment and that’s something that you drew my attention to. You also drew my attention to this idea of business craft, that I can integrate my art with the business side of things. It doesn’t have to be these different hats. And so that happened to be the first lesson of MARK’D Women when I came on board was about witchcraft and business craft. It was just the perfect first chapter for me to start with. So I would like to start this conversation there too and ask you, when it comes running a business, how is art part of the strategy for you?
Erika: Well, art has always been a huge part of my life, and specifically I would say making physical things. That’s making things that have a life form or have a functionality, I would say, is definitely part of my craft. When I was little, my dad always had a big workshop with all the tools that you need to make anything. My dad is a master craftsman. Even to this day, he makes the most gorgeous furniture. He has this bedroom set that he made for him and his wife, and it’s this Scandinavian, Japanese style. It’s perfect because my stepmom is half-Japanese and half-Norwegian. It is just the most gorgeous deluxe furniture.
And so crafting has really been a part of my childhood and my upbringing. When I was little… I’m always looking to make things that have a functional purpose to it. So I would go into the garage, and I would make go-karts for my guinea pigs. And then I learned to sew, my mom taught me how to hand sew pillows. That was my first sewing project. And then I wanted to make my dog, Snoopy… I really loved wearing these… I don’t know if you were alive then, but there was in the ’70s, there was this style. I mean, it’s come back now, but it was this tracksuit style, jogger style of these rompers. They’re made of terry cloth.
Xandra: Erika, you know I’ve seen the Brady Bunch.
Erika: Okay. No, this is post-Brady Bunch. This is after the Brand Bunch, so it’s later Brady Bunch. This is more like Charlie’s Angels style. It was during that genre.
Xandra: Okay. Go on.
Erika: Okay. I made my dog, Snoopy, a pair of yellow terry cloth shorts so we could twinsies. Of course, he was not into wearing them, but I still made him wear them. So I’ve always been crafting and making things. My craft evolves, and it always evolves from a need that I have. When I was in high school I learned how to sew clothes, and then I went on and I got a degree in apparel design, and then I went to work in commercial real estate. I just couldn’t see myself in the apparel design world. For some reason, it just lacked a purpose. I couldn’t find my place in it.
And then when I started the current business that I have now, what I loved about it so much is that I can pour every single, crazy, random idea I had into it. And because of the internet, it’s so easy to whip things up and test them out and experiment and play with them, that I discovered this new love of digitizing my crafting. I also really learned this about myself, that I love creating these online experiences and really crafting online versus making a physical product or a physical project. But there still is always a function to everything that I do. I remember one day I was thinking in my head, “What is it like if I say to myself I’m crafting a business versus running a business?” I thought, “This is so much more fun. Crafting a business is so much more fun than running a business.” Because once you know the basics of marketing, the rest is craft and fun and magic and play and exploration. Now I say that running a business is 10% logic and then 90% magic.
Xandra: How freeing.
Erika: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Xandra: It can be that simple. I really appreciate that leadership lesson of your confidence in that structure or that balance between the logic and the magic, because, wow, it works.
Erika: It totally works. I mean, look at how your art has evolved with your essays. When you do your essays and then you post it in stories on Instagram, you make these gorgeous graphics that go along with it. So you’re not just reading this post, it’s a post that comes alive, and it has a feeling and a magical quality to it. You’re enhancing your gorgeous written word with incredible visuals that are totally unique to you.
Xandra: Thank you.
Erika: You’re welcome. The other thing that I wanted to say is that you had talked about process, and I also love process. I love watching shows about manufacturing. I love to see how things are made. I really want to understand people’s craft, so I love shows like… What is it? Chef’s Table on Netflix. Because you really understand why these chefs create the way that they do and what influences them. My business is… I’m in the sales and marketing space, helping female entrepreneurs develop their sales and marketing plans. I have a very differing viewpoint than what a lot of traditional direct response marketers talk about.
And so the way that I was taught traditional direct response marketing is that it’s all about the result. You need to totally focus on the result and that your customers don’t care about the process. I think that’s true. In some cases, I think that is absolutely true. If I’m getting plastic surgery, I’m very open that I have breast augmentation, I don’t want to know everything that my doctor did. I’m just like la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. I don’t want to know because it freaks me out. But now I’m working with a functional medicine doctor, and I want to know about the process. I want to know how she thinks. I want to know exactly what we are going to be doing.
And so now the way that I have been developing my sales and marketing for the last six months, it’s very process orientated. And so one of the things that I’ve switched from doing is creating sales pages to making what I call a product tour. In a product tour, it’s as if I’m walking a potential customer through everything that we’re going to be doing and everything that we’re going to work on, and why I’m doing it and what they can expect from their experience from that.
So yes, there’s the result of the program, but then there’s also the process of it. Because I find that the more educated my customers are about the actual process, the better results they get because they’re able to fully commit to that process and the better I’m able to coach them and to help them because they’re meeting me… It’s like we’re partners sitting at a table and they know what’s expected of them and they’re ready to show up and to partner with me. So I talk about transformational marketing versus transactional marketing. But I think part of that transformational marketing is also part of really sharing about the process. I love that you and Grace talk about process so much because I think everybody’s process is a little bit different, and I think that is such a unique story and that is what makes our art so fascinating once we can understand the process.
Xandra: First of all, I also want to point out how much I love the term product tour and how I love your names for things. When you have different little lessons and tips, they all have a fabulous name attached, and a product tour is such a perfect example of that.
Erika: Well, thank you. I can’t say that I can take credit for that because I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere else. But I just love the concept of it, of like, “Hey, take a tour. I’m going to come and show you behind the scenes. I’m going to lift the curtain because I want you to know exactly what you’re in for.”
Xandra: When you say that within the context of The Daily Whip, Erika Lyremark world, I can just picture it in an instant. It totally felt like yours. I love that way of thinking about touring people around the process because no matter what your product or service is, as a customer, when I’m investing in somebody’s specific thing, I have my way of doing things, and I want to see if it aligns with the teaching style and the way that a course is presented or the way that a product is put together. I care about those details and so I think that’s a great shift.
Erika: Yeah, and as the creator of something, when you write down your process, it helps you understand your own magic better. It’s very rare that people actually think through their own process because it’s so natural to us, right? It’s something that we’ve been doing for years. The more we do it, the better and better we get at it. But to write it down and to educate and inform your customer about this is why this is included in this, it’s really cool because you become incredibly confident about what you do and you stop having to mess around with the conversation of, “Does this sales page capture everything that I do?”
Erika: I have a program called TripleXpert, and it is a product and service design program. The product tour for it is 17 pages long. When people go to what would be considered a traditional sales page, it is long. It is hardcore long form sales copy. But since I started using that instead of the sales page I had before, I look at the other sales page, and it feels like I’m cheating people, like I’m cheating people out of the full adventure of what’s in store for them.
Xandra: It’s such an interesting shift to think about in the context of minimalism because even though you’re adding more words to the word count, what the product tour really does in emphasizing what you’re doing and why every single aspect is important to be included, is saying every part of this has been considered and has been tailored down and has a meaning and a reason for being here, where a lot of, and I’ve certainly been of guilty of this, a lot of products and services on the market have a lot of bells and whistles that have been added for the sake of adding more and thinking that that will help. But actually what I learned from you is to really tailor it down to a very simple core curriculum for a course, for instance.
Erika: Yeah, because the less you… Okay, so I’ll just talk about TripleXpert because it’s only three weeks long. And so when people register, I give them access to a very basic password-protected page. They put in the password and then there’s eight audios, and it’s all just like boom, boom, boom, boom, there’s transcripts and then there’s some worksheets. I remember, I had one lady who was in TripleXpert and she said to me, she was a school teacher who was starting her own side business, and she said, “When I first saw this, I thought this is it? This is what I paid good money for, because there’s nothing here.” And then she said when she went through the lessons, the design strategies, she said, “Wow, I realized how brilliant this was because it was so simple and so effortless and immediately put my brain and my creativity into action.”
And so that’s how I design the things that I do, is to keep it so simple because I work with women who already have their own level of expertise, they have their own creative ideas, and I’m not here to make replicas of Erika. I want everybody to be their own unique version of them, and I’ve taken these very complicated sales and marketing strategies, and I’ve drilled them down to the most core basic level. By doing so, it allows my customer to imprint her own craft onto them. It makes it very easy for her to develop what would be considered complex marketing strategies. But once I, again, pull back the curtain and show, “This is the core of it. Now, let’s take your idea and let’s create your version of this core concept.”
It allows for incredible creativity. In TripleXpert, everybody creates what’s called a product design brief. And so they go through the program, there’s questions at the end of each design strategy and then they answer those questions. After they’ve gone through all of the eight design strategies, they basically have their product design brief. They transfer those answers onto this product design brief, they edit it, they polish it, they make it the very best that they can. And then they have this incredible document which they can then turn over to someone to write their sales copy for them, to create a product tour if they want to do that themselves. They can use this product design brief for doing pitches, for putting together presentations, for writing sales and marketing copy. So it’s a very simple process that’s incredibly expansive. I’m always asking myself, “What’s the simplest version of this?”
Xandra: As an alum of TripleXpert, I can confirm that I still have my product design brief bookmarked on my browser, and I refer to it at least once a month as a refresher of, “This is the core.” It’s part of my 10% of, “This is through hard work that I have already put into setting up the structure of things, and I can now lean on that and play and create something that I enjoy creating for the marketing of it.”
Erika: Yeah, and then what I also love about it then my TripleXpert customers, they can use that design system again and again and again for the life of their business. They can use it for creating programs. They can use it for creating physical products. They can use it for writing books. I have a lot of customers who write books and I say, “Hey, okay, great, you’ve got your idea. Now go through TripleXpert and put together a product design brief for your book and let me take a look at it.” And they do. Again, it’s such a simple process because it allows you to take your ideas, take the concept, the design system and then put in your own ideas into it.
Xandra: So we’ve talked about this product design brief as an example of a way to have that central structure for running a business. We’ve also talked about our minimalist book and all of these different ideas and different creative projects that pop up on our minds. So I would love to know, as you’re someone who has so many ideas, how do you decide which ones to pursue?
Erika: Well, I am someone who used to struggle from what I call ‘idearhea’. I used to own the domain name, ‘idearhea’, along with about 200 other domain names. I never used it because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with it exactly. My ‘idearhea’ was so bad, back in 2011 when I was going full time in my business, my friend, Betty Jean Bell, was helping me launch my first big group coaching program. I had so many ideas, and I was so all over the place. She said to me, “Erika, if you don’t stop with the ideas, I’m quitting. I can’t take it anymore.” I thought, “Oh-oh, now I’m in big trouble.”
It’s really fun to create these really big, over-the-top ideas, but it’s like I did not have the time, money, energy, or resources to implement these ideas. I was basically ten years ahead of my business. She had this great suggestion, and she said, “You need an idea box.” And I said, “What’s an idea box?” And she said, “Just get a box, cute little box, and then every time you have an idea, write it down on a piece of paper and then put it in the box so that you’re not forgetting about it.” I thought, “That’s a great idea. I need an idea box.”
So I went out, and I bought a really cute red box, and I started putting all of my ideas in there. Well, I’ve been in business almost full time for almost nine years, it will be nine years this September, I can’t say I have less ideas, but I would say my ideas are more focused. What has been so great about being able to do my own thing for almost nine years is that a lot of those ideas, I’ve had an opportunity to have those ideas play out. And so now when I think of, as with all of my ideas, I think of them more as a repurposing of ideas, simplifying my ideas, making my ideas better.
And so I don’t have as many random ideas as I used to. Now my ideas really flow into what is the exact project that I’m going to funnel this idea through? Who are the people who can help me with that? If it’s something that feels too big, it just goes way, way, way on the back burner. For example, I’ve been concepting this luxury handbag line for years. The concept is that it’s for the woman who does not need one more handbag. This is the kind of woman who is going to the store and hiding the shopping bag from her spouse or her partner, if she lives with someone, because she doesn’t want them to know that, yes, she bought another handbag. Because that is me, I’m often hiding things from my husband because I don’t want him to know. I’m not as bad as I used to be. But I just don’t have the bandwidth for that. I mean that is a completely different ball game from the game that I’m playing now. But I just keep drawing my ideas and my idea box for that.
Now, most of my ideas get funneled into things that I’m already doing because, I guess, I have a different intention. I’m really secure in my business. I know exactly what I’m doing, I know exactly where I’m going. And so those ideas get funneled into making what I’m doing even better. And then when I have other ideas like the book on minimalism, I approached you, and I said, “Hey, what do you think about writing this book together? Just so you know, it’s going to be a while before I can start on it. But we can start concepting and plotting our ideas now.” It’s this constant funneling process of, where does this idea go?
Xandra: I like the freedom that comes with how it sounds like you’re answering that question, because it’s not where does this idea go in terms of what’s the 12-month plan of when exactly is this book going to go to print? It’s what is more what you’re asking with where is this idea going to go?
Erika: Yeah, what’s the bandwidth? How can I process this? Does it make sense to pursue this now or is it later? Again, because I’ve been so fortunate to see a lot of my ideas be birthed in the marketplace, I know that there is a divine timing when it comes to ideas. When I wrote Think Like a Stripper, it took me four years to write that book. I calculated that it was about 3,800 hours. I had never written a back before. I was very… I don’t know, I was a beginner when it came to organizing those kinds of ideas. And so now it doesn’t take me as long to concept things but that was my first book, and so it took me a long time to do that.
I remember, I would get a lot of pressure from people like, “When is the book coming out? When is the book coming out? When is the book coming out?” I had to really learn to stand up for my creative ideas and say, “It will be done when it’s done and not one day before then. So quit asking me.” And now I’ve been concepting a serialized podcast based on the book since 2014, so that’s six years now. Still talking about, it’s still happening. The concepts are getting closer and closer and closer. But I’m running a business and there are certain things in my business that have to be taken care of before I can bring on this other huge project. It’s like, how do I organize all of my ideas so that it fits the needs of my business, because my business does have needs, and it is a fun and creative process for myself?
Xandra: I’m processing how much I’m enjoying hearing about these comparative timelines of how long it took you to write Think Like a Stripper, of the expansive timelines for current projects and being confident in your process and how long it could take. I’m just enjoying that. I also happen to know that you recently came back from a weekend in the woods. On The Art Life, Grace and I have talked about how retreats in nature have often led to epiphanies and new ideas and just understandings. Is that the case for you? What did you bring back from the woods? What did you learn?
Erika: I’m probably the most boring adventurer in the woods. I’m the kind of girl who says, “Let’s take a walk,” and then after an hour I say, “Okay, let’s go back and binge on Netflix.” And so my husband’s like, “Okay.” What I really learned is that if I take two CBD pills, I can really, really relax. I have to double dose on my CBD, and that’s honestly my biggest takeaway from the woods.
Erika: Yeah, because relaxing for me, it is not easy for me. It is difficult for me to relax. I’m super Type A, I just want to keep working and writing and concepting, and so relaxation, it’s definitely a new adventure for me.
Xandra: Well, back in January I was in a cottage in the Highlands with my husband, Steve. I got into this routine of just working in the morning and then we would go out for a walk in the afternoon. When I reframed it as a work retreat, it’s like, “This is a writing retreat in the woods instead of a vacation.” I just felt so much more at ease.
Erika: Yeah. Yeah. Even when my husband and I travel, I always work in the mornings. It’s something that… You’d asked me about staying grounded or what are my grounding practices. Honestly, working is incredibly grounding for me. I feel such a sense of fulfillment. Really, the only time I feel like I’m working is if I’m getting my books ready for my CPA for the month. That definitely feels like work, or if I’m handling paperwork. I mean, I know this is not work, but my husband, anyway… He won’t like that I’m saying this but he ran into a pole, and so now I’m getting working on getting the car fixed. That is work to me. That is like, “I don’t want to be dealing with that at all.”
But for the most part, the accounting is once a month. I mean, my husband has never run into a pole and crashed the car before, so that’s the rare occasion. We don’t own a home, so I don’t have to handle the things that come along with home ownership that I hated doing. So work is incredibly grounding for me and I, again, I’m so fortunate that I’m able to do what I truly love to do in this world. It is such an incredible blessing.
Xandra: The way that you’ve influenced how I run my work, and what I remember from the beginning of TripleXpert was this emphasis on enjoying yourself and enjoying the process and finding things that would keep that enjoyment in motion alongside the work that needs to get done. I want to ask you some fun questions like, what are you obsessed with right now?
Erika: I am obsessed with our book about minimalism. I keep thinking about it. So I’m obsessed with that. I’m also obsessed with SKIMS, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line. It has been so fun to see this evolve. I don’t know if you remember this or if your listeners are familiar with this, but Kim had been dreaming about doing this shapewear line for 10 years. She felt like she was an expert on shapewear because she wore so much shapewear to keep all of her curves smooth and to keep everything in place. She was constantly cutting up shapewear. She would cut the leg off one side, she’s like, “Why don’t they just sell one-legged shapewear?” And so that was something that she was doing.
She had this dream of creating her own shapewear line. She was going to originally call in Kimono in which was going to be a play on her name. And then when she went to file the trademark for it, there was a lot of backlash against her using the name for traditional Japanese robe.
Erika: … for a line of shapewear. And so she had spent… I don’t know, I’m sure she lost several million dollars because things had already been put into production, trademarking, the graphic design, et cetera. But then she went back to the drawing board with her ideas, and I think it was actually Kanye who came up with the name SKIMS. I think SKIMS is 100% a better name than Kimono. It is short, it’s S-K-I-M-S. The best brand names, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Spanx, everything’s short, right? And so it’s really easy to get that logo on packaging, or if she were to come up with a line of bags or she wanted to do sweatshirts. I hope she comes up with SKIMS hoodies because I would totally buy one.
And so I am obsessed with how she is crafting this business. I have yet to purchase any actual SKIMS shapewear, but I did buy some of her masks that they made. I actually just got them in the mail yesterday. I was really impressed with the amount of packaging… I should say the amount of packaging that they did not use. The package basically came in a cardboard envelope, and then I opened it up and I was like, “Oh no, they wrapped in plastic.” And then I found this big sign on the packaging that said, “This is not plastic.” I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing. It is biodegradable.” There’s a note on there that this is biodegradable, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It had the SKIMS logo on it, and I thought, “This is the trend that I hope packaging is going.” Because I do get disgusted with the amount of single-use plastic that is used in packaging. I think if we’re going to waste planetary resources, there’s way better ways to waste planetary resources than in single-use plastic.
So I’m really, really obsessed with SKIMS and how she’s really crafting a business. That is such a great example of someone who is definitely into her craft in this crafting business. So I’m obsessed with SKIMS for sure.
Xandra: I’m obsessed with creative packaging in general, especially with a sustainability outlook. But especially these days, I’m getting so many packages delivered, I really appreciate it if there’s a little personal touch that is specific to that brand that just is like… It’s like a little welcome mat to enjoying the product.
Erika: Yes. Have you ever ordered a pair of Tieks?
Xandra: No. Do I need to?
Erika: Yes, you do. They’re ballet flats. They’re my favorite ballet flats. They’re super comfortable. They send a handwritten note with every order. They will even right down, so if you order a second pair, they will say, “Hey, we hope you enjoy your second pair as much as your first pair.” And they will reference what you purchased. They’re professional note writers.
Xandra: That’s amazing. You know what is really funny? As I’ve set up my podcast studio, this is a behind-the-scenes tour for a moment, I have these images and nice things around me, because I’m just standing here talking for a while so I want to be looking at things that make me happy. So I have this little handwritten in crayon note from my friend, Phyllis, who runs a bakery. At the moment during lockdown, it says, “Bakery delivery service.” She made this little handwritten card for me that has a glittery pipe cleaner attached to it. It’s so nice, so I have it next to my microphone. I’m looking at it right now while we’re talking about handwritten notes and packages.
Erika: Yeah, it’s those really personal touches that take just a few minutes to do, but it really makes a lasting impression on your customers because it’s so rare.
Xandra: Erika, has your Rent the Runway order arrived yet?
Erika: No, it hasn’t because I haven’t started it yet.
Erika: Okay, so this is a conversation that you and I were having about minimalism. My wardrobe is basically jeans, black leggings, hoodies, slouchy sweaters, crop tops and that’s it. I used to wear a lot of stilettos. Now I live in Seattle, and it’s very much a walking city. When I lived in Minneapolis, you basically drive everywhere, park right out front and then you can just saunter on in stilettos, where in Seattle there’s a lot of walking. At my age, my body just can’t handle that anymore. I really, really love to walk, so I would much rather wear more comfortable shoes.
So I was having this dilemma. I really love doing photo shoots for Instagram, but I think that my clothes… I was thinking about this, I love watching HDTV. So if I would say, that’s one of my obsessions. There’s two shows I’m obsessed with and that is Restored By the Fords and Windy City Rehab. One of the reasons I love those shows is I love watching what the designers are wearing. I love seeing what Leanne Ford is wearing. Her style is very crisp, mostly all neutrals. Most of them are clothes that I would not wear but they are so totally Leanne. They look amazing. And then I love how Alison Victoria dresses on Windy City Rehab, very much how I used to dress when I worked in commercial real estate, and then a lot of things I wear now, a lot of leggings and tennis shoes and oversized sweatshirts, et cetera.
So I’m thinking about my Instagram and I think, “I want to entertain people.” That’s part of the fun of Instagram and doing these photo shoots. It’s part of the fantasy. It’s part of the dress up. That has been in the past, a huge part of my personality, is really just going all out with my clothing style. I don’t have that personal need in my personal life. I’m very comfortable wearing leggings and a sweatshirt and then white tennis shoes. That is definitely one of my go-to looks. But again, for Instagram, it gets boring. I thought, “Well, what can I do that will still honor my minimalism because I don’t want a closet packed full of clothes? I’ve had that life in the past, it does not serve me anymore.”
So I started thinking about, “Maybe I should do Rent the Runway?” So I checked into it, and I’m looking at the clothes and a lot of the clothes are way more over-the-top clothes than what I would in real life. But I think if I had a television show, or if I was on a TV show, I would definitely not be wearing leggings and a sweatshirt and tennis shoes on my TV show. It would be more interesting than that. I really want to put on a good show. And so I want to put on a good show on Instagram. Renting the runway is definitely on my shortlist.
But I have a project that I’m working on, and I’m basically writing a sales and marketing bible for my clients in my business accelerator, MARK’D Women. When I’m done, it’s going to be so big. It’s 300 or 400 pages long, but it’s basically all of my processes that I use in my sales and marketing. Part of the length of that is I’m including complete launch content, so when I launch TripleXpert, all of the content, scripts, Instagram posts. I do this product confidence workshop, so it’s about 140 pages long. Everything is included in that, because I really want people to understand my process.
So that is a huge project that I’m working on, so my glamor shots for Instagram are on hold until I can get a bigger core of that done. But as soon as that’s done, I’m definitely digging into Rent the Runway, because I want my Instagram to be more fun and interesting with cool clothes that I wouldn’t buy but that are super fun to wear.
Xandra: Erika, we’ve been talking about this offline, and you asked me about, “Do you ever just want more clothes for Instagram?” I just could not relate to this question. I was like, “What is she talking about?” But now that we’ve been talking about it some more, I get what you’re saying, and it’s part of the production design, is part of the costume design. And as I have been navigating Instagram into the online virtual spaces, I’ve been noticing how I notice the clothes, and I notice the people because of what clothes they’ve worn. It’s part of the character that you’re showing up as. Often what people see is just a static image of you, and so you might as well let the clothes do some of the talking for you.
Erika: Absolutely, and it’s one of the reasons why I love Gossip Girl. It’s one of the reasons I love the Brady Bunch, because I love the costuming on the Brady Bunch. It’s one of the reasons why I love Selling Sunset. It’s because I’m obsessed with the clothes they’re wearing. It combines two of my favorite things, interior design and high fashion. I thought, “Wow, I don’t know if it gets better than this.”
Xandra: I still haven’t seen season two, I’m so excited to start it.
Erika: I binged on it at the cabin and season three is already coming out in August.
Erika: So you better hurry up.
Xandra: Okay. Okay. Okay.
Erika: Yes. Yes.
Xandra: I will get on that. But I do have one more question for you which is from Grace, even though she’s not here. She wanted to ask you what your advice is for how artists should go about finding the right collaborators, and what do you wish artists knew about business partnerships?
Erika: I would look for collaborators who have the same work ethic as you.
Xandra: What do you mean by work ethic?
Erika: Someone who has the same work values. One of the things is I’m a hyper communicator, so I can never partner with someone who was not a hyper communicator. This is one of the reasons why I asked you if you wanted to write this minimalism book with me, is because I know that when I send you a message on Vox, I know that I’m a priority. And so even sometimes you and I can get quite busy, but I know you haven’t forgotten about me, and I know that I’m a priority. I know that I’m top of mind for you.
Xandra: Well, you are.
Erika: And vice versa. Example, with my friend Shana, we’re working on this day planner called Very Very V, and we’ve been working on it for five years now this summer. We’re in the last leg of it. We’ve cemented all of the images that we’re using. We just have one more piece of glorious, this content section that we’re not sure how to put together visually in the book. That is the last section that we’re working on.
Erika: But she is someone who has the same work ethic as me. She only puts out work that she feels is her very best. So I know that when she sends me designs, I know that she spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the designs. When I am sending her content, she’s in charge of all the visuals and I’m in charge of writing what’s in there, and she knows that I have done my very best to put together the very best content that’s possible. We’re both really, really committed to the day planner even though it’s taken as a long time to really figure out what we’re doing together.
Erika: If someone doesn’t have the same ethic as you, it’s never going to be a good match. And you also have to work with someone that you know it’s going to be a 50/50 contribution match. You have to know that they’re going to put just as much effort into it as you are. I would recommend that you really get to know somebody for at least a year before you jump on a collaboration.
Xandra: Wow. Yeah. Yeah, I love that.
Erika: Unless, here’s the flip side of that, the other thing that you could do is if you’re not sure you could say, “You know what? I’m going to be the co-pilot in this collaboration. This is your show. I’m simply here to collaborate with you.”
Xandra: So setting the roles upfront.
Erika: Yes. Yes. Not everybody is going to be a… I can think of some people in my life that I would love to do some collaborations on, but it would definitely have to be my project. Because of the way our minds work, I don’t think that it could be a 50/50 creative split.
Xandra: Yeah. That’s so good to know and to take a moment to define.
Erika: Yeah. Another example as I’m thinking is, if you are someone who loves high quality and perfectionism, putting out the most perfect product that you can is important to you, don’t collaborate with someone who does not have the same perfectionist ideals that you have.
Xandra: Right. I feel like tying up this conversation in a bow with a gem that you taught me that is relevant to this lesson and relevant to a couple of other themes that you brought up as well, is the importance of knowing your priorities. Because before you see if they align with somebody else’s, you first have to know what your own are. That’s an action step that is coming to mind for me.
Erika: Yes. I always say discipline is knowing your priorities and acting upon them. Discipline is not being formulaic or robotic or doing things that you don’t want to do. Discipline is getting really, really clear on, “Hey, these are my priorities, and they’re so important to me that I’m going to put them above everything else, and I’m going to act on them.”
Xandra: It has served me well since that particular week in MARK’D Women, so thank you for that.
Erika: Well, I can tell in your work. Your work is top notch, for sure.
Xandra: Thank you. Erika, we love to end these episodes by asking each other and asking our guest, what is the art life? So what is the art life?
Erika: The art life for me is… When I started The Daily Whip journey, I came up with a name for my online empire, The Daily Whip, back in 2008/2009. It’s so interesting because back then it was really about hardcore momentum and motivation and productivity. I’ve kept the name, The Daily Whip, because it is still very much a part of my personality. I’m very opinionated. I’m super bossy. If I have an idea for you, you’re absolutely going to know about it. But now my art life is more in tune with what Shana and I are doing in our Very Very V day planner, and I cannot wait to share it with the world.
We have this motto in Very Very V and that is ‘procrastination is the new productive’. For me that being… Yeah, I’ll say it again, procrastination is the new productive. For me, that means living my life, I’m not working up with what’s on my daily whip list, grind, grind, grind, grind, grind, momentum, momentum, momentum, intensity, intensity, intensity, get it done. Now, I’m like, “How can I make this just this the most delicious experience ever. How can I give all of my attention and energy to whatever it is in front of me?” I would say my day is not fast food, it is definitely a seven-course meal.
Xandra: Oh, la la. I do love a dining metaphor.
Erika: Yes. Me too. Especially for someone who doesn’t really cook. But that’s how I think of it, it’s like, “I want to enjoy and savor every moment of my day, and I never want to feel rushed or stressed or panicked with how much there is on my, back to the dining metaphor, how much there is on my plate.”
Xandra: Well, you have taught so much, and I’m just so excited to share this conversation with everyone to show how scary simple and elegant your business craft can be. Erika, you have a fabulous Instagram that I have to insist that everybody follows, which is @dailywhip. Where else can people be introduced to your work? What is their trajectory that you recommend at the moment for getting familiar with you and what you do?
Erika: Well, first I want to say that if you decide to follow me on Instagram, of course I’m deeply honored, and make sure to message me. Send me a DM. Again, I’m a hyper communicator. I love hearing from people. I love chatting with people. So definitely hop on over to Instagram say hello to me in the DMs. And then go to DailyWhip.com/Adventure., and this is where I have stockpiled a bunch of freebies. They’re different depending on what’s going on in my business. But now you can grab a free read of Think Like a Stripper, but you have to go DailyWhip.com/Adventure. If you want to get a sneak peek… It’s actually the full book, but it’s on my website, you have to read it on my site. But you just go to DailyWhip.com/Adventure, and I’ve got some other goodies over there for you as well, so I hope to see you over there.
Xandra: Well, thank you for laying out, for rolling out the adventure map. We will live a link to that page in the show notes. Erika, it’s been fun. Thank you so much.
Erika: So fun, our first interview together.
Xandra: We’ll have to have you back to talk all about Very Very V when it arrives, because Grace and I love planners. Stay tuned everyone.
Erika: Okay. Bye.
Xandra: Grace, welcome back.
Grace: Wow, thank you.
Xandra: What is the art life?
Grace: The art life is 10% logic and 90% magic.
Xandra: I was going to say that.
Grace: Is that what you were going to say? Because it was so good. Because it’s so good that I guess for this episode, for the first time, I think we should just have the same answer. I think the fact that that spoke to us means that it’s something worth sharing multiple times.
Xandra: All over the place. You’re going to see this all over our online homes. I have other runners up. I had so many things to choose from.
Grace: Listen, then I’ll pass it back to you, Xandra, and ask you, what is the art life?
Xandra: The art life is personal. I was thinking about as much as I have learned about integrating art and business with Erika, there is also an important distinction of, where is the line? The line for me is that art is personal and business is functional. I really love Erika’s emphasis on that, by way of handcrafted furniture, of what your business does is it serves a purpose, it serves a function for somebody else. That’s the very slight distinction that I find when I’m creating. It’s like, what is for my life and what is the part that is for others?
Grace: I’ve just never heard a business coach or writer, marketing strategist speak about these topics in a way that Erika does, but also in a way that I feel I respond to, like my heart responds to, right? I mean I’ve drudged my way through learning certain tactics or certain necessary to-do list items for running your own business, like I do. But the way that Erika talks about her ideas, it excites me.
Xandra: Right? That’s it. That’s what she does.
Grace: Yeah. I also really appreciated the shift that she was so open about talking about process over product. That’s what we talk about in our show so much, but it’s also a journey that we’re on and part of the purpose of this show. Part of the service that is giving our audience is also reminding them that we’re constantly learning this lesson, and we’re constantly adjusting and that we haven’t always thought this way. To have Erika talk about her own journey from product-focused marketing to process-focused, to talking about her product tour that she now does, which is all about showing her potential clients the process of working with her, it’s incredible. I’m just so glad that she showed how she markets her work in a process-oriented way, but also that she was open about the fact that this was a growth moment for her. This was an evolution in her business, that she didn’t always think that way. She didn’t always market her materials that way. And that there is a way to do that.
Xandra: Grace, you’re reminding me of one of the key benefits that I gained from being in MARK’D Women, her program, on an ongoing basis, was that we as member of this would be let in on what Erika was trying out, how she was evolving her business, her evolution revolution as she would call it. We got this week-by-week, day-by-day glimpse into what she was trying out in her own business. The next week we might get a, “Okay, well, here’s what I’m adjusting from last week idea.” It was this in real time, constant updating of the way that Erika was running her business in a way that was refreshing and not like, “So we have to reinvent the wheel again?” It was just a refining and example that that’s what we’re going to have to do in our own work as well as the world changes, as markets change, and as we change as individuals. It’s evolving our business alongside all of that. It was cool to learn by her example and learn the lessons that were so solid from her years and years of experience like this.
Grace: Your business shouldn’t be stagnant, your art should be stagnant, of course. The real longtime clients or audience members, followers of your work, depending on what perspective you’re coming from, they want to invest in you. They’re not investing in a specific product, they’re investing in your life’s work. The way that she talks about these things and the way that we’re talking about it right now is a great reminder that calling in your audience, calling in your clients to see that evolution happen and talk to them about it, is so much more engaging than suddenly radically changing or shutting something down and starting a new business and starting from scratch. You can keep those same people with you if you just open the line of communication.
Xandra: Yeah. Well, Erika goes into a lot more detail about her overarching journey from what we’re talking about, of transactional marketing to transformational marketing and a lot of other gems along the way in her book, Think Like a Stripper, which you can get for free at DailyWhip.com/Adventure. Her Instagram is just an exemplification of the life that she lives and the new ideas that she’s innovating, and it’s gorgeous.
Grace: Her Instagram is delicious.
Grace: Oh my gosh, I find myself looking at it every day. By the way, I have such an Instagram crush on her.
Xandra: It is The Daily Whip after all. So that’s @dailywhip. Enjoy. We recorded this interview so long ago now that one of the things that is now dated is that Erika, I can confirm, has placed and received her first Rent the Runway package. So I’m looking forward to seeing outfits on her Instagram soon.
Grace: Well, with that, I hope everyone checks out her book and her Instagram as well. I’m just so grateful that she came on the show, and I really admire her. I feel like I learned so much. So thank you, Erika.
Xandra: Thank you so much, Erika, for this interview that was talked about from the conception of The Art Life, and it’s finally here. I’m so excited about that. Until next time, from my side of the world, I wish you all a good morning.
Grace: And from my side of the world, I wish you a good night.
Xandra: This is The Art Life, a Heroine Training podcast with Grace Gordon and me, Xandra Robinson-Burns. You can find us online at theartlife.show and send letters to The Art Life, c/o Grace Gordon, P.O. Box 4292, Valley Village, California, 91607, or email us, email@example.com. Our theme music is ‘The Stream’ by Rorie. Thank you for joining us.