The story of Haute Chocolate isn’t your classic case of pivoting your business by changing direction of your business to focus and adjust to one element of an original business idea. Rachel Rouhana founder of Haute Chocolate stock photography site started out in 2011 in a completely different field; making custom chocolates!
I actually started off making custom chocolates for baby showers and weddings and then quickly moved to dessert table styling and eventually to graphic design services (party printables and invitations) before finally switching gears in the beginning of 2015 to styled stock photography. I got the idea because I was creating a sales page for a party printables business course I had created and needed pretty stock photos and I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. Around the same time I started seeing more and more women entrepreneurs asking around in Facebook groups about where to find feminine stock photos and I saw an opportunity to create a service that I knew people wanted.
The name “Haute Chocolate” came from Rachel’s original business creating high-end custom chocolates so the name was a good fit. Even though she changed direction (a lot) to get to where she is now, creating styled stock photos for women entrepreneurs, she kept the name because she always wanted her brand to feel chic, feminine and classy. And who doesn’t love chocolate, right?
We asked Rachel some key questions to find out how she transitioned from making high end chocolate to becoming a sought after photography website for women entrepreneurs.
FF: You are a self-taught graphic designer and photo stylist. What tools did you use to teach yourself?
When I first started out I had no money to invest in online or in-person courses, so I would spend hours on YouTube and searching Google for tutorials and then I would take what I learned, implemented it and practiced until I got better. When you don’t have a budget you can get a lot of information for free if you’re willing to spend the time to search. But as with anything, you have to take what you learn and actually implement to see results.
FF: Kimra Luna is a big fan of your site Haute Chocolate. Would you say her role as an influencer has had a big impact on your business?
I was fortunate enough to have worked with Kimra on a set of custom stock photos early on in the launch of the Styled Stock Library, and more recently on another set of custom photos. She has always been very generous in referring my work to her community, her support has definitely helped me grow my audience!
What I love about the Haute Chocolate Styled Stock Library is that the images can be used by women in so many industries. We have graphic designers, website developers, coaches, consultants, bloggers and everything in between!
FF: Which is the most popular membership level?
Most people are currently choosing the 3 month plan, I think they want to get their feet wet and decide if it’s the right fit for them. After 3 months though, many end up switching to an annual plan for the savings.
So many places! I often see a pattern or a brand board and will get inspired for a collection. I look to fashion and interior design for inspiration all the time, and also to lifestyle bloggers to see what they’re sharing on Instagram and what people are responding to.
FF: What three factors do you attribute to your success?
Focus, consistency, and an amazing community of members who have shared the Styled Stock Library within their circles.
FF: You are on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Which of these three social networks is the best platform for your business?
I think that they all play a role. Honestly, I mostly use Facebook only for running ads, but I love both Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest for inspiration and for driving traffic to my blog posts, but mostly Instagram for the community and being able to interact with my members and followers every day!
Rachel Created A Canva Tutorial using Haute Chocolate pictures
Rachel’s stock photos are stunning. Just so perfect for anyone who needs something feminine for their website, brochures, advertising or facebook page. And many of the designs leave space for personal branding, something that can be achieved by importing Haute Chocolate designs into Canva and adding text. Not sure how to do this? Rachel has you covered in her YouTube video instructions that are so simple to follow.
We will be highlighting Rachel’s full story in the Winter edition of our Fabulous Fempreneurship magazine coming out in December 2016.
Bio: Rachel Rouhana is a graphic designer and photographer who helps women entrepreneurs create visually stunning brands to attract their ideal clients. She founded the Styled Stock Library to make it easy + affordable for boss ladies to create gorgeous graphics that get clicks, likes, shares, and ultimately lead to more sales. Obsessed with gold, glitter, and all things pink, you can often find her sipping a latte and scrolling through Instagram for inspiration.
Meet Rachel and learn how to add instant glam to your brand at the Haute Chocolate website.
Author Elaine Slatter is founder of Fabulous Fempreneurship and XL Consulting Group, a small business advisory service helping entrepreneurs with strategy and business/marketing planning. XL Consulting loves working with startups to help them get visible on line with branding and WordPress websites.