As a bestselling author and founder of The Brand Stylist, Fiona empowers entrepreneurs and brand designers to create truly extraordinary brands.
“It’s my passion: to inform, inspire, and empower people to create brands that not only look beautiful but that resonate on a deep level as well.”
Every book, every consultation, every branding client, every podcast—every single thing that’s part of Fiona’s business today was born out of that passion.
Before starting The Brand Stylist in 2014, Fiona was working as a self-taught designer for a branding company.
“I never really wanted to get into design. I went to this really academic school, where if you weren’t a fine artist, you weren’t considered to be on a creative path. I got pushed down this academic path because of that, and I never really considered creativity an option.”
Taking that job out of college was the beginning of Fiona’s plan to eventually climb the corporate ladder in a big, fancy job.
“So many great things happened in that job. I met my husband, I moved to London to launch my own store for them, I got promoted to regional director. I was learning so much about design and marketing as I sold franchises and developed designers for that company.
With her career firmly on the path to success, Fiona set her sights higher.
“My goal was to get moved to New York and open that branch of the office for the company. For me, that felt like the ultimate success.”
That is, until, everything changed.
“I discovered I was pregnant at 24 years old, and suddenly, it all changed. I was going to be a mom.”
With little financial security at the time, staying at home wasn’t an option for Fiona. She knew she couldn’t continue her job at the pace she’d been going with a baby in the mix, but she also knew she couldn’t leave. So, she asked her boss to make a change.
“My boss was amazing. They let me take nine months off for maternity leave, and when I came back, they took all the travel elements out of my job so that I could have a better routine at home for my family.”
It was a good idea in theory. But in reality? Well, it left Fiona less than inspired at work.
“On a practical level, all the bits of my job that I loved I was no longer doing. On a day-to-day basis, it just wasn’t enjoyable.”
After several encounters with entrepreneurs and business owners in her field, Fiona found herself unexpectedly charting a new path for her life.
“I was having all these amazing conversations with entrepreneurs about their businesses, and I was so excited about them. I was thinking, ‘I can help you.’”
With that in mind, Fiona attempted to hand in her notice at her current job. The goal? To build her own design agency to meet the needs of the entrepreneurs she’d met in the field. What happened next even she didn’t see coming!
“That was a bit of a turning point where I could’ve built my design agency, and I kind of wish I had in many respects. But the company persuaded me that it was a better idea to buy a print franchise and have a steady income. So, instead, that’s what I did.”
But within two weeks of changing course, Fiona knew she wanted out.
In 2008, Fiona asked the company to buy her out of the franchise. With that off her back, she was free to start fresh. And in 2009, she finally launched her own brand agency.
“I started blogging, which is how so many clients found us. It wasn’t something that looked gorgeous or super put together. I was just telling the story of who the business was. The strength of that portfolio and the distinctive way we approached the business is what I think really got us clients from all over the world almost right away.”
The biggest challenge for the business starting out? Pricing!
“At every turn, your pricing has to reflect the value you bring for the business to be sustainable. So, as we constantly move forward as a business, we look back and see if what we’re charging reflects the value we’re delivering. That approach has helped me raise prices incrementally to reflect the fact that we’re constantly improving.”
For Fiona, that increase in price isn’t just a reflection of a bottom line; it’s a reflection of a level of experience.
“Anyone can hike their prices, but if you don’t have the skill to back that up, it’s going to have a detrimental impact on your business. I remember finally having this epiphany one day after raising my prices that I wasn’t losing clients because I was too expensive (which was my fear at first). I had been losing clients because I’d been way too cheap. My pricing didn’t reflect my value.”
For Fiona, the goal was of course to make money to support her family, but more than that, to make it in a way that avoided the seemingly-inevitable burnout that comes with entrepreneurship.
“What I see is the cost involved in achieving these crazy numbers. So, when we’re talking about money, we’re talking about it in a way that doesn’t make burnout an inevitable conclusion. Right from the start, my business has always been based on supporting my family and giving me time to be with my kids. I need money to reach that goal, yes, but I also need my soul not to be crushed along the way.”
That’s why Fiona’s focus is on building a business that works for her. That means a focus on family and making space for her kids. Now a mom of three, she’s learning to parent as an entrepreneur, too, finding that elusive sense of balance between building her family and building new aspects of her brand.
“There’s definitely a struggle to find that balance, but I think building a business in a way that works for me has been key in helping me be my best at home and at work. That’s really what matters to me”
To hear the rest of the story and what Fiona is up to now, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the full transcript.
How to Style Your Brand book by Fiona Humberstone
Brand Brilliance book by Fiona Humberstone
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Fiona Humberstone is a bestselling author and founder of The Brand Stylist. An exacting Creative Director and commercially minded Brand Strategist, Fiona empowers entrepreneurs and brand designers to create truly extraordinary brands. She works with a variety of entrepreneurs across the consumer and lifestyle sectors, bringing clarity, creativity and her incisive vision to every project she works on.
Fiona has spent more than twenty years in the industry, successfully navigating countless challenging times including two recessions and a global pandemic. She has owned, grown, sold and run franchises as well as founding, building and selling her own thriving design agency.
She’s the author and publisher of the bestselling books How to Style your Brand and Brand Brilliance, variously described as ‘The business owners’ knowledge bomb book’ and ‘The book we’ve been waiting for’ by readers and press worldwide. Fiona is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to create exceptional brands and runs inspirational online courses, game-changing workshops and highly sought-after retreats.
She has a knack for capturing the essence of a business, finding clarity in a complex brief and translating commercial goals into visual assets. She is a creative thinker, an innovative marketer and thought leader in her field.
January 5, 2023