“Run full speed in to them. Allow yourself to fail. Failure is the most often climbed stairway to success, have gratitude for it. Exercise your rejection muscles. Ask for help. Talk about your fears with other people. Getting out of your fear bubble is important. Don’t sit in shame, go out kicking and screaming!”
There is something very special about a woman entrepreneur who is passionate about helping other women achieve their dreams. Amy Copper, what a lady! She is the founder of Trove Artist Management, the first agency in the US representing an all-female roster of photographers and stylists. When I met for her asking for business advice, she went beyond my expectations. Her action-packed method has made a huge difference in the way I approach my portfolio, clients, and business overall. A few weeks ago we met for a shoot, and lets be honest, she just killed it! I really wanted to have the chance to tell her story, and share it with you. So many aspects of her business and success are very inspiring to me. The way she found her passion, worked her way up, and now she is sharing her knowledge with other talented women who want to succeed in a very male dominant market. Please scroll down and get to meet this amazing woman and her wonderful work that is transcending everything that has been established.
*Make-up and hair by the very talented Jeni Brady http://www.jenibrady.com
- Who are you and what do you do? I am Amy Cooper and I empower female artists to make tons of money. I am the founder of Trove Artist Management, the first agency in the US representing an all-female roster of photographers and stylists. I am also a photography business coach and consultant for commercial artists of all kinds (and all genders).
- Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today? I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I never really felt like I belonged there completely, but it is a beautiful city. I honestly couldn’t wait to leave, but I am also enjoying watching it evolve now. It feels like there is a lot more artistic and entrepreneurial things happening in Baton Rouge now, which might be in part a result of some creative migration from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I started college at LSU which had a decent photography and fashion design program. While I was studying there we took a trip to NYC to visit some fashion businesses and I knew I wanted to move to NYC after that trip. Other than that I would say, growing up in the south definitely gave me an appreciation for southern hospitality and politeness. I love sending people personal notes and thank you cards.
- Name something you love, and why? Currently loving the wave of women who are allowing themselves to be vulnerable and share their stories of adversity. I have a few friends who have opened up to me about anxiety and it has been such a relief to know that I’m not the only one feeling like I am going crazy at times. They have also shared some amazing tools and resources with me. It’s so important for women (and men) to talk about their experiences, struggles, pain, success, so that the people who come after us and around us understand what is normal, what shouldn’t be tolerated, and how to move through similar situations. We don’t have to censor our struggles, let’s be brave and put it out there, ask for help. I also love a good goat brie!
- What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful? To be honest I have been very impressed with my ability to learn new technology and skills as I have been building my businesses. Since I started Trove, I’ve learned how to use MailChimp, Quickbooks, lots of Google apps, and somehow I’ve also become a SEO rockstar. I think I still have a little ways to go on my public speaking skills, copy editing, and I wish I was able to debate equality with a little more emotional detachment. Fortunately I have amazing girlfriends (and a talented husband) to lean on for anything that I need help with, and I love having opportunities to hire other women to collaborate with me on larger projects.
- How did you find your passion? My artist consulting business happened pretty organically. Photographers were coming to me for mentoring while I was working as a photography producer and art buyer in advertising. I have also been asked to do portfolio reviews and really enjoy those, so I decided to offer consulting and coaching to more artists. As far as how my agency started, I took a career course that helped me figure out how to combine my passion (empowering women and my love of art) with my experience (having been on every side of a camera in several industries). There’s no better feeling than sitting with a photographer or other artist and watching all of the light bulbs go on as we connect and work together to strengthen their business, it truly is my passion.
- What is your ideology as a creative person? I work with a lot of young artists who are trying to do too many things, they have five or ten different styles or categories of photography in their portfolio in hopes that they won’t miss out on any possible opportunity. I think it’s important to be niche and to really listen to how your work makes you feel. Don’t shoot something because you think there’s money to be made if you don’t really enjoy doing it. People will be able to see your passion (or lack there of) in your work. Obviously it’s important to experiment, but once an artist discovers who they really are, that’s when the magic happens. I also think it’s important to remember that if you are a commercial artist, more than 50% of your work is going to be business tasks, not creation, so, embrace that. I guess my ideology is: focus, be niche, work hard, and don’t skip the business & marketing tasks.
- How do you overcome your fears? Run full speed in to them. Allow yourself to fail. Failure is the most often climbed stairway to success, have gratitude for it. Exercise your rejection muscles. Ask for help. Talk about your fears with other people. Getting out of your fear bubble is important. Don’t sit in shame, go out kicking and screaming!
- How do you help entrepreneurs find who they are in order to improve their business? I dig in to feelings and fears a lot with my clients. Most of them know who they are somewhere in there, but I offer them the questions that they need to get to the right answers. My methods are always evolving but I am also lucky to have a strong marketing background and a few decades of experience paired with some decent instincts.
- Who inspires you today? You inspire me because you know who you are as an artist and you know exactly what you want your niche to be! Women who are organizing girl-gangs and networking groups inspire me. All of the artists on my roster. Women running for office. Anyone who speaks up. Oprah, Nina Turner, Anja Niemi, Amanda de Cadenet.
- Professionally, what’s your goal? I just launched a campaign called #DiversifyTheLens with the goal of getting more women photographers hired for large ad campaigns and magazine covers. I believe that there should be at least one woman in every triple-bid, or 50% of the consideration when selecting a photographer for commercial or editorial projects. Otherwise, my goals are to empower artists, boost their confidence and give them amazing business resources.
- How is it owning a business as a woman? Awesome. Same as owning a business as a man, if you love what you do. It’s certainly the right time to be a woman owning a business focused on empowering women, the niche itself has been an amazing marketing tool and conversation starter.
- What is the best piece of advice you will give to someone who wants to be start their own business? Network your tail off! I heard this great quote from Ann Miura-Ko that went something like, “Networking is having a deep curiosity about the person sitting across from you.” You don’t have to ‘work a room’ or even be an extrovert, but be truly present with the people who give you their time, and wonderful things will happen. Don’t try to figure out everything about your business on your own, ask other people for help and mentoring. I’m still in awe of the number of people who have been willing to take my calls and answer my questions. Even people who could perceive themselves as having business in competition with mine have been so generous in helping me succeed. (And then don’t forget to pay it forward!)