entrepreneur

Focus On: Diana Wei Fang of The Finer Points

I believe in a world where we cheer one another on and we don’t see any other entrepreneur as a competitor. (It’s why I love the Rising Tide Society so much!) I love when I see other business owners support one another and I can’t possibly count all of the times I’ve been inspired or motivated by another business owner. It can be a lonely world, sitting in a corner of your home, balancing the roles of parenthood, wife, photographer, creative and just overall human with obligations to friends and the house and hobbies and passions. It feels a lot less lonely when you celebrate all the other people who get it.


Our next Focus On is a spotlight on Diana Wei Fang the owner of The Finer Points in Washington, DC. Enjoy this peek into her business, her balance and her dreams. Be sure to follow her, cheer her on and stay tuned for more entrepreneur spotlights every two weeks.

Focus On: Diana Wei Fang of The Finer Points, Washington DC, Entrepreneur spotlight

Introduce yourself! 

Hello! My name is Diana Wei Fang and I own The Finer Points. I aim to partner with small businesses and help them to achieve their goals, whether that be in social media, event planning, or general admin skills (you know those clients waiting for you to return their email and you will get back to them… when you have time. Who can relate?). I’m based in Washington, DC, but I have clients from all over!


When did you start your business? What inspired you to do this?

I started my business in April of 2019 after my friends repeatedly told me I should start my own business. It was a moment where I had a personal failure, that gave me the push to “just do it”. I’ve always had a desire to partner with other creatives and small business owners, but it was my friends who dreamed on my behalf first.


About how many hours a week would you say you spend on your business?

I spend roughly 6 days a week, 50+ hours a week on The Finer Points. Learning the newest marketing strategy, engaging on social media, and networking are most things I do that aren’t “seen”. I also research a lot of products and platforms for my clients to see if there’s a better system for them. I like to test things out before suggesting them to my clients.

On a scale of 1-10, how balanced would you say you are between your work and family/personal life?

I try to never work on Sundays. It’s a rhythm that works well with my schedule. However, work-life balance isn’t something I strive for. For me personally, once I understood that this wasn’t achievable, I was able to be more present in my daily life. If I’m working, I try to be fully present and work. Since I’m single, I don’t have to run home to make dinner for a family or have kids to put to bed etc. However, I do try to be fully present when I’m with my friends and their families. If I’m babysitting so my friends can have a night out, or having dinner with friends, I try to put my phone away. My clients all know that I will get to their emails as soon as I am able. Waiting a few hours to hear back from me will not make or break a business deal. Am I perfect at this? No. Do I check my phone if I’m the first one to arrive at a restaurant? Yes. Having a start-up means there’s always something to do. But I aim to live life to the fullest. I also outsource a lot of things that gives someone else income, while allowing me to do more productive things. For example, I have a travel agent. Instead of being distracted by alerts of when flights are cheapest and deciding when the perfect time to purchase a hotel deal is in the middle of the workday, my travel agent does that for me. Small thing, but MAJOR in terms of staying focused throughout the day. I also hired an accountant and a lawyer within the first 30 days of starting my business. While I do my own bookkeeping, there are things that I allow for my accountant and lawyer to handle so that I can stay 100% focused on my clients. Decision-fatigue is real and protecting what I’m distracted by allows me to be present when I’m working.

Focus On: Diana Wei Fang of The Finer Points, Washington DC, Entrepreneur spotlight

What would you say is the biggest challenge in owning your own business?

Mental acrobats has been my personal biggest challenge. Even though I’ve worked with organizations, creatives, and small businesses for 14+ years, it’s daunting to do this without the backing of an established organization behind you. Am I as good as I thought I always was? Have I been pretending this whole time? Then I take a deep breath and remember the facts: I successfully fundraised HK$18.6M for a non-profit child advocacy organization. My previous organizations have been awarded for “best social media” in their respective categories. I have invested blood, sweat, and tears into these businesses and they have thrived. I am not a fraud.

What has been your proudest moment/greatest victory as an entrepreneur?

The fact that I haven’t folded yet, is probably my greatest moments. It’s a daily choice to keep doing what I do. To get up and partner with another business’ vision – to give my all so that they’re thriving – it is not easy. But yet, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything else. I’m proud of how The Finer Points is doing as I’m entering into my 6th month of business. I’m grateful for the clients who took a chance on a brand new business owner.

What is the hardest part of being a business owner?

If I want to be isolated, it’s very easy to do so. I have to be intentional about meeting with others and imparting all that I’ve learned for the next entrepreneur and small business owner. The lie that I’m alone can be an easy one to believe. The reality is, I’m not. In Washington, DC alone, there’s 140,000 small business owners out of 633,000 residents! Community is out there. Support is out there. Just have to put myself out there. Also, networking. Talking about myself and what I do is VERY hard for me (these questions are helpful).

How important is it to you to support other entrepreneurs and business owners? What are some ways that you try to do this?

Oh man. This is so important and probably my favorite part of being in this community. Even before I had my own small business, I have loved to partner with others. Besides engaging and liking their posts on social media, I try to hire and buy from small businesses as much as I’m able to. That travel agent I told you about? Small business owner. My accountant and lawyer? Small business owners. The photos hanging in the house I live in? You got it- they’re small business owners. I’m intentional about who I may see when I go out as well. If it’s an event where photos will be taken, I will for sure be wearing something from a small business owner - you never know who will see the photo! I love cheering on someone else’s success. I’m even trying to get a hashtag going, #makeDianajealous. I want to see you living your best life. Post them on social media because then I get to cheer you on!

Focus On: Diana Wei Fang of The Finer Points, Washington DC, Entrepreneur spotlight

What are your one-year and five-year goals for your business?

One year goal: just make it. Real talk. Haha!
Five year goal: making the business scalable.

What else would you like to share? 

I just want to say, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s a form of self-care. Just because you’re a small business owner, doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. You are doing better than you think you are.

How can people find you?

Email: hellofinerpoints@gmail.com

Instagram: @thefinerpoints

Website: thefinerpoints.co


See more of our Focus On Spotlights!

Focus On: Jamie Redmond, artist and businesswoman from Syracuse, New York

I believe in a world where we cheer one another on and we don’t see any other entrepreneur as a competitor. (It’s why I love the Rising Tide Society so much!) I love when I see other business owners support one another and I can’t possibly count all of the times I’ve been inspired or motivated by another business owner. It can be a lonely world, sitting in a corner of your home, balancing the roles of parenthood, wife, photographer, creative and just overall human with obligations to friends and the house and hobbies and passions. It feels a lot less lonely when you celebrate all the other people who get it.

So, today, we’re introducing our new entrepreneur blog series, Focus On.
Our first Focus On is a spotlight on Jamie Redmond, a Syracuse, New York artist. Enjoy this peek into her business, her balance and her dreams. Be sure to follow her, cheer her on and stay tuned for more entrepreneur spotlights every two weeks.

Photo with Dog by:  Alice Patterson Photography

Photo with Dog by: Alice Patterson Photography

Introduce yourself!

I am Jamie Redmond, the artist and owner behind The Memorable Image. I create a line of greeting cards called the Animal Tales. They bring my images and stories together to hilariously explore all the lessons life has to teach us. I work out of my studio in Syracuse, NY.

When did you start your business? What inspired you to do this?

I started my business in 2013, but it took me about a year to find my footing. When I started out, I thought I would pursue 'serious' photography. But I kept finding myself drawn to creating these little images that were vignettes of daily life using toy animals. And then I'd pair them with these three sentence stories I was writing.

The Animal Tales began as a personal challenge to push me creatively. They were weird and quirky: I didn't think of them as my business. I created them for me. Each card is a little pep-talk commiserating over how amazing or heartbreaking life can be.

When I started the Animal Tales I wasn't in a particularly good place. My parents had died when I was in my 20s. I didn't know how to grieve that type of tragedy. So I threw myself into working for other people and design agencies.

When I started my own business, as busy as I was, it was like I had time to breathe for the first time in six years. And slowly that is when the grief hit me as depression. At the time I couldn't see what was going on, or how bad it had gotten, but during that time I started the Animal Tales because they made me laugh and captured my imagination. They pulled me forward.

Looking back now, I can see how each Tale was a pep-talk to myself and steeped in the legacy of my parents. My earliest memories are of my mom teaching me to read, she was huge proponent of early childhood literacy. My father would spin the most amazing stories every night, all pulled out of thin air based on the limits of my imagination. The Animal Tales became my way of staying in touch with and honoring my memories of them.

After I had been working on them for about a year I started showing them off at different craft and art shows, and they resonated with other people in a way that made the world feel just a bit smaller and more like a community.

The Animal Tales are designed to make people laugh and feel less alone in this bewildering boat of life. I like to think of them as sending hugs or high-fives in the mail.

About how many hours a week would you say you spend on your business? What are some of the behind-the-scenes things that your business requires that people may not realize? 

I spend about 50+ hours a week on my business. It is so much part of my life sometimes it is hard to tell if I am working or relaxing. Ideas come to me when I am just living life, and I have to ride that inspiration or at least record it which pulls me back into work mode.

But I thrive on the seamlessness of it. When I worked for other people I was always bringing the job home with me. Sometimes it was work to do at night, and sometimes it was sleepless nights because my mind couldn't stop running.

If I was going to be working that hard, I wanted to be doing it for myself.

One thing I don't think people realize is that some of the Tales take years to complete. I need to find the right props, the right animals, and sometimes when everything comes together and I have the image I may still struggle for the words.

Many of the Tales have two different stories, one that is light and inspirational and one that is dark and snarky. When I am ready to publish I have to decide which way the Tale is going go and that can be hard. I've had to learn to trust my instincts.

On a scale of 1-10, how balanced would you say you are between your work and family/personal life? How do you try to balance both worlds?

I'd say my work and personal life are balanced somewhere around a 5. I never feel like there is enough time or that I am paying enough attention to either one of them. It is a big struggle. But I am not unhappy with it, I just keep trying new things to see what makes me feel balanced, and learn from the times I feel stressed about it all.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in owning your own business?

FOCUS...Definitely focus. I have the hardest time not being distracted by the interwebs. It's a form of self-sabotage that I am really trying to be more aware of. Knowing what is going on in the world makes me feel like I have some sort of control through knowledge. But it doesn't actually give me control over anything and I'm not maintaining meaningful relationships with friends online. So for me, it is a big waste of time to get sucked into the waterfall of information out there.

What has been your proudest moment/greatest victory as an entrepreneur?

When I finally had the clarity to just focus on the Animal Tales. I moved away from what I was taught I 'should do' from fine art school, to what I wanted to do. It was very inspiring to have that clarity and confidence.

Jamie Redmond | Focus On: Entrepreneur Highlights by Wendy Zook Photography | Rising Tide Society, Artist, businesswoman, boss lady, community over competition, New York, Syracuse NY, the Memorable Image

What is the hardest part of being a business owner?

Time management. Knowing how much time a project will actually take. When I worked for design agencies I was really good at assigning multipliers to different designers: they would say a project would take them x number of hours, and from experience, I knew how to interpret that into actual hours.

I think we all really underestimate how much time any given task will take. I know my multiplier is three (tasks will take me 3 times longer to do that I think they will), but I am really resistant to using that when planning out my time. I convince myself I can do everything I want every day.

How important is it to you to support other entrepreneurs and business owners?

This one is HUGE for me. As a small business, I see directly how spending money with other small businesses affects them. It's like its own little economy. And I love having the stories behind what I purchase.

I actively seek out other handmade artisans, small bakeries (cake forever), farms, and shops because I want to contribute directly to someone else's dreams.

What are some ways that you try to do this?

I visit craft shows, participate in CSAs (for vegetables and flowers), go to farmers markets, seek out local bakeries and mom and pop toy shops for most of my animals.

What are your one-year and five-year goals for your business?

Ah, this is a tough one. In one year I'd like to see the Animal Tales find homes in 100 shops across the US. This year I really started to focus on wholesale in conjunction with my Etsy shop and craft shows.

In five years, I want to have a book published. Storytelling has always been my goal, and I'd really like to complete some of my longer works and combine them with my images.

What else would you like to share? You can share anything here!!!

Don't be afraid to indulge in personal projects and create for yourself. It feels like a ridiculous luxury to do that sometimes, but it is how you discover what really speaks to you. Don't be afraid to explore and pivot, but give yourself time to grow before you share it with others. Then give yourself more time.

Jamie Redmond | Focus On: Entrepreneur Highlights by Wendy Zook Photography | Rising Tide Society, Artist, businesswoman, boss lady, community over competition, New York, Syracuse NY
Jamie Redmond | Focus On: Entrepreneur Highlights by Wendy Zook Photography | Rising Tide Society, Artist, businesswoman, boss lady, community over competition, New York, Syracuse NY, the Memorable Image
The Animal Tales are designed to make people laugh and feel less alone in this bewildering boat of life. I like to think of them as sending hugs or high-fives in the mail.
Jamie Redmond | Focus On: Entrepreneur Highlights by Wendy Zook Photography | Rising Tide Society, Artist, businesswoman, boss lady, community over competition, New York, Syracuse NY, the Memorable Image
Jamie Redmond | Focus On: Entrepreneur Highlights by Wendy Zook Photography | Rising Tide Society, Artist, businesswoman, boss lady, community over competition, New York, Syracuse NY, the Memorable Image

Jamie’s Info:

Website: https://www.thememorableimage.com/

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheMemorableImage

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thememorableimage/  @TheMemorableImage

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/TheMemorableImage

Email: Jamie@TheMemorableImage.com

*****
Note: Photos are by Jamie Redmond unless otherwise noted.

Tuesdays Together & The Rising Tide Society {How a Spontaneous Leadership Role Changed Me and My Photography Business}

When I moved to Rochester, New York, two years ago, I was at a wild crossroads. My identity was all over the place -- not only with new geographic surroundings and a new place to call home, but also with my still-new photography business that had just crossed state lines and plopped down in an entirely different area. Even my role as a mom was being flipped all over the place with my kiddos entering school and all those hours as Momma coming to an end. 

I wanted my wedding and engagement photography business to not just survive, but thrive. But I didn't know what tools I needed, which people I needed to make it happen. Just months before our move, I had started hearing about a group of creatives called The Rising Tide Society -- a national group of small business owners and entrepreneurs who were networking online and meeting in person during monthly get-togethers called Tuesdays Together to discuss a variety of business-related topics like Pricing, Relationships, Social Media and more. I wanted a place like that to be a part of my new identity. 
 

Over the next few weeks, I put myself out there by semi-stalking and reaching out to some local photographers and one day, in a coffee shop in Victor, three of us sat in a corner enjoying some amazing muffins and sharing our dreams and wishlists. We talked about Tuesdays Together and how we wish we had a chapter in the Rochester area. And in what felt like an out-of-body moment, this very-INFJ, super-shy, sweats-in-the-center-of-attention fish out of water said "I don't mind applying for us and leading if you want me to."

I thought the application and approval process would take months, but, in less than a week I was logged in as admin to a local Facebook group and was joining leaders' email lists and planning our first meeting, held less than one month after that first exciting coffee shop date. 

My first meeting went something like this internal dialogue:
6am: I am SO excited! Oh my gosh, why do I have to wait 12 hours?!
7:15am: I'm canceling it. This was a terrible idea. 
12pm: ::checks RSVP list::
12:02pm: This is going to be amazing. Fresh start! Woot!
12:03pm: ::checks RSVP list::
12:30pm: I should skip it. Maybe they won't notice.                                                                           4pm: OH MY GOSH, TWO HOURS. It's 10 minutes away. Should I leave now?
4:05pm: ::checks RSVP list::                                                                                                                5:30pm: OK, let's go. You got this. You're basically Beyonce. You're Eleanor Roosevelt. You got this.                                                                                                                                                      5:45pm: ::sitting in parking lot, lots of sweat::                                                                                  5:55pm: "Hi, I'm Wendy! I'm so excited you're here! Wow, I'm so glad you're here! Are you so excited?" (very high-pitched, very very quick)
6pm: ::Pathetic nervous fake clearing of throat::

I spent the entire meeting freaking out SO much. I was filled with self-doubt, insane nerves and constant thoughts of "These people are so good and SO talented -- why do you think you can lead them?"

It was somewhere around the 4th or 5th meeting that I had a moment. Nothing specific happened, although I had definitely grown more comfortable (I still got nervous in my 18th meeting!); I had made incredible connections; I had received some really sweet comments and expressions of gratitude. Over time, however, I realized it wasn't about me. I had joined this movement for me, but it became about so much more than my selfish need to feel like I belong. It was about a community, a network. It was about the way certain topics REALLY helped our vendor friends that attended -- the way you saw their businesses take off on social media or the pride we all felt when they shared a success with a difficult client or with their new prices. It was about the friendships we started to see forming, the way we all felt like equals. It became about greater things like giving back to the community last November during our Philanthropy month; it was about the way our Facebook group grew to nearly 300 people who had all needed a home; it was the laughs and tears and dreams and worries we shared around coffee shops and gallery couches. 

Photo by:  Lauren Carnes

Photo by: Lauren Carnes

 



No one believes me at meetings when I tell them I'm painfully shy and timid -- and that new-found courage and comfort is because of The Rising Tide Society and my small role in Tuesdays Together. I carry myself differently now. I believe in myself so much more nowadays.

And my business has taken off in so many ways, and so much of that is because of what I've learned in 18 meetings next to other people who just "get it." They get the long days and late nights alone in your home office; they get the commitment and self-motivation it takes for a small victory and the 15 setbacks along the way. They get the family-work balance and the tricky tightrope that can be. They get being "on call" so much of the time. And they give -- they give encouragement, support, positivity and love. 

 



A new chapter is leading our family away from Rochester, New York. We'll be living in and starting over again in the Frederick, Maryland area and I'm so excited to meet new people and photograph couples across Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. 

But with every new and exciting start comes the closing of a door. And it's time for me to pass on the Tuesdays Together Rochester baton. I know it's in good hands with Michelle Crawford and Denise Lazu co-leading it to amazing new heights. But part of me is sad to let go of this group, of this "thing" that has brought so much into my world. I hope to remain a part of The Rising Tide Society and can't wait to attend my first meeting in Frederick. 

I believe in #communityovercompetition.
I believe in Natalie Franke Hayes and her commitment to creating a safe haven for entrepreneurs. 
I believe in networking and gathering in person rather than just hiding behind a computer screen. 
I believe in getting out of your comfort zone now and then. 

And now, I believe in myself. And in my dreams.