In the monthly Female Founder Spotlight series, I interview inspiring female entrepreneurs, business owners, and bloggers, asking them about how they got their businesses to where they are today.
In this interview, we meet Rachel Rouhana, founder of Haute Stock the first styled stock photography membership for women entrepreneurs.
Rachel has long held on to the belief that women should have the opportunity to create financial freedom for themselves, whether through entrepreneurship or the career path of their choice.
Her mission at Haute Stock is to provide women around the world with the visual tools they need to create profitable businesses that in turn, provide them with the financial security they need to flourish in their personal and professional lives.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers about your business
I’m Rachel, founder of Haute Stock. I’m a self-taught graphic designer and photographer with a passion for all things online business. I founded Haute Stock in 2015, which at the time, was the first styled stock photography membership for women entrepreneurs.
As a mom of three, my day-to-day is always a juggle between building a successful business and sweeping up Cheerios! I run Haute Stock, managing the marketing, creative direction, and of course, leading the vision of the brand with our members in mind.
What inspired you to launch Haute Stock?
My inspiration for Haute Stock came from my own need to find beautiful, high-quality stock photography for a sales page I was creating. I couldn’t find the right photos anywhere. And when I did find a few that I liked, they were being sold individually for around $80 an image.
I knew I would need several images for the sales page, social media and so on, and at that price point, it really wasn’t affordable. That’s when I got the idea to start a subscription-based stock photo company created specifically for women entrepreneurs and bloggers that focused on high-quality, styled imagery that women business owners would actually want to use.
What is the one book that you would recommend to every aspiring female entrepreneur?
That’s a hard one! There are so many books that helped me the make mindset shift that I needed to continue to grow as an entrepreneur. One that sticks out for me is The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.
What behavior or habit have you adopted that has had the biggest impact on your business?
The thing I attribute the most to my success has been my ability to focus on just one thing. When I decided to launch Haute Stock I actually shut down a successful Etsy shop because I knew I wouldn’t be able to build both successfully at the same time without feeling completely overwhelmed.
I focused on one business, made sure I was delivering tons of value to our members, and I think that has helped me grow Haute Stock to what it is now.
Even within our membership model, I started by only offering stock photos in the library, and once I mastered that, I started adding other things like pre-made social media quotes and design assets. Then once I had a good handle on that we started adding other valuable things to our membership like content marketing guides and Canva templates.
I didn’t try to do it all at once, and I also didn’t try to run multiple products/revenue streams at once. Which some might argue puts all your eggs in one basket, but it also forces you to really go all in and figure out how to overcome hurdles to build a lasting and resilient business.
What’s one monthly subscription you could not live without?
Does Haute Stock count?! I use the library every day to download images & design assets for our online marketing!
I’d also have to say Canva! We use it daily for our business. I love that we can collaborate as a team easily and that we can create templates for our graphics to cut down on tons of design time.
What advice would you give to your younger self in relation to life and work?
Enjoy the journey! There will be lots of ups and downs but it’s all worth it in the end. And, hire help! I tried to do it alone for a long time, and I could have grown faster and with less stress, if I had of been able to get over my fear of hiring sooner.
What is something that happened to you or your business, that felt disappointing at the time that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
There have been many disappointments along the way, but honestly, there’s nothing that sorely sticks out because everything was a good lesson in the end.
I’m grateful for the things that didn’t work out, the things that sucked at the time, and the disappointments because they’ve helped me build a thicker skin and roll with the punches so much better.
There’s rarely anything in my business these days that keeps me up at night because I’ve been through a lot as an entrepreneur and it has helped me have an attitude that everything can be figured out one step at a time.
What is a commonly held opinion in your industry that you disagree with?
People often ask why they should pay for stock photos when there are so many free ones. There are lots of issues to consider when using free stock photo sites, but a big one is the time it actually takes to find good images.
The cost of having to sift through millions of images to find a diamond in the rough ends up being way more than paying for high-quality, carefully curated images that you can trust and that help you build trust with your audience!
If you could only work 2 hours per week on your business, what would you do?
I’d focus on strategy, and there are three things that I’d tackle: lead generation, conversions, and retention.
Everything else I’d have to hire out because it takes waaaay more than 2 hours a week to run Haute Stock!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about launching their own business?
Don’t wait until you have the “perfect” product or service. The only way you learn is when you launch and get feedback from paying customers & clients.
Once you have feedback, make it better and continue to have conversations with your customers. You should always be learning from your customers in terms of both the transformations that your product is helping them achieve and the problems or pain points they’re currently facing.
Building a successful business is a series of tweaks and pivots that you can only make once you put something out into the world and see how it is received.
Can you share another female entrepreneur who inspires you that you think we should talk to next? Tell us why you love to follow her journey and what lessons you have learned from her.
Someone that I’ve followed for a long time is Erin Sousa. I love the social media, marketing and influencer content she shares and the way she does it, which is always authentic and honest.
She’s a savvy marketer and new mama and she shares great balance of work/life on her social media which makes her feel very relatable to her audience. I think she’s a good example of someone doing social media really well!
Connect With Rachel and Haute Stock
If you enjoyed this interview and want to get to know Rachel better, go stalk her social channels and blog!
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