Over the last year of my business, one of the best things I have done to separate my senior photography business from other local photographers is partner with clothing + jewelry boutiques to provide a unique experience for my clients. Since I have made that change in my business, the most frequently asked question I have received over the last 6 months is “how did you go about partnering with local boutiques?” I absolutely love being able to provide educational resources for other photographers, so today I’ll be sharing all of my tips, tricks + secrets in order to ensure that you will score a unique partnership with a boutique in your area!!
For those who may not know, I partner with boutiques in two different ways. My Senior Styling Studio (the new storefront will be launched on the blog next week! AH!) is a place that is sponsored by multiple boutiques. Peacaloo Boutique, Boutique at Caroline Street, Monkee’s of Fredericksburg, Devin Ashton Designs, Pink Ivy and Seneca’s Bridal all sponsor clothing, jewelry + accessories that kept in the studio. Every season (or sometimes more often), these items are exchanged for new pieces so that, ideally, no senior is wearing the same piece multiple times. My seniors can then “shop” the studio on the day of their session, choose pieces that best match their style, receive on-the-spot styling advice from me + then wear these pieces during their senior portrait experience! They also have the option of purchasing these pieces for an #htpseniors discounted rate at the end of their session, but they can wear the items whether they decide to buy them or not!
In addition, Monkee’s of Fredericksburg has exclusively partnered with me to offer a more personalized, in-depth senior experience. For an Ultimate Boutique Styling Experience, we begin the day at Monkee’s where the styling professionals assist my senior in hand-picking outfits that match their personal style + the locations that we will be shooting. They get to shop the store in a private, personalized environment and play real-life Barbie doll for the day! After choosing their outfits, Monkee’s assists them in adding jewelry to complete the looks before we head out and start shooting! Each senior also receives a Monkee’s swag bag with tons of goodies + a 25% off coupon to shop the store. HTP Seniors who book this experience get to wear brands like Tory Burch, Lilly Pulitzer + Kate Spade are worn for FREE!
So, how did I approach these boutiques + how did the partnerships happen? Here are my top 5 tips to ensure that you will score a partnership:
1. Look for individually-owned boutiques!
When considering boutiques to partner with, be sure that they are locally/individually owned boutiques. Corporate boutiques normally don’t have the option to partner with other local businesses. If the boutique is local and close to where you shoot, that’s a bonus!!
2. Offer high-resolution digital files + marketing opportunities!
When I approached these boutiques, I let them know that they would be receiving high resolution digital files of my clients wearing their pieces. In addition, if I shared a photo from that session on social media or the blog, their business would be credited. So, any time a senior wears a piece from one of the boutiques, they receive the link to the corresponding PASS gallery! Additionally, I try to ensure that I frequently share images on social media that support these local boutiques + encourage followers to shop with them.
3. Assure that you will cover damage costs.
One of the top priorities of clothing boutiques is that they SELL as much as possible. So, when considering partnering with you, one of the first things they will be worried about is the possibility of damaging their goods. I let each boutique know that I will personally purchase a piece if it gets stained, stretched, damaged or otherwise unable to be sold. And I follow through with that promise! But, I also make sure I am very careful in ensuring that the pieces are handled with care.
4. Let the boutiques help you choose what is photographed!
When I go into a boutique to exchange pieces for a new season, I ALWAYS ask the boutique owner if there are any new pieces or not-so-great sellers that they would like to see photographed, so that they can use those images for marketing purposes. I want to be sure that I am serving these boutiques to the best of my ability, and I want to give them a say in what is leaving their store!
5. Have a similar target market
I always try my best to partner with boutiques who have a similar target market and ideal client. This way, the boutiques know that they are reaching potential customers when I am sharing their images, because our target markets are the same!
BONUS: Offer extras, network + be present!
I don’t ever want my boutiques to feel like I am “using” them for their products, and I want to have REAL relationships with all of the fabulous ladies that I am blessed to work with! So, if I overhear that one of them needs head shots, I will be the first to offer a complimentary mini session. Or, if I feel like their store needs updated images, I’ll offer to come in and shoot the store for 20 minutes before they open one morning. These relationships with other businesses are give + take, so be sure that you are giving as much as you are hoping to receive!