Late last year I had the absolute pleasure of photographing the lovely Leonie from The Bravery Collective. Leonie had not long moved to Brisbane from the UK to start her new adventure with The Bravery Collective. She is an anxiety and stress coach with an amazing online community. It was such a privilege to capture and create an awesome collection of photographs for Leonie to use for her marketing, social media and website.
As a Personal Branding photographer, I absolutely love meeting and getting to know my clients. Leonie is such an inspiration. I absolutely love her why and how her mission and passion in life is helping women work through their fears and be brave. As part of the Personal Branding sessions, I love following up with my clients, sharing their story and their experience. I absolutely love this interview with Leonie and have never felt more inspired to follow my own path and be brave.
Here is Leonie’s story.
Name: Leonie Gough
Business: The Bravery Collective
About Your Business
1. What is the name of your business and tell me a little bit about who you are and what you offer your clients?
I’m Leonie, owner and online coach at The Bravery Collective. I coach women 1-on-1 to transform their relationship to anxiety and stress so they can live without fear. I also run a free online community (my collective) of women dedicated to breaking through overwhelm and harnessing their innate bravery so they can live life on their own terms.
2. Why did you go into business for yourself? How did it all come about?
I think it would always have had to happen. Informally, I’ve done it my whole life. Every single place I’ve studied or worked, from 11 years old up, I’ve volunteered in wellbeing support. I’ve been a counsellor, a mentor, a welfare volunteer, a peer support volunteer, a warden. I’ve always felt that I had to, that I SHOULD be doing it. Partly, I think, because I’ve had an anxiety disorder for almost the whole of my life, and I wanted to support other people in the same situation. I’ve trained in counselling, questioning, crisis, CBT, EFT, mental health first aid. But it’s been the side-show to my real, scientific career.
In June 2016 I quit a PhD and that successful scientific career after a breakdown from extreme anxiety. I knew that I had to quit, to put myself and my health first, but it took a little while to lose the ‘failure’ feeling, because I’d been working towards that PhD for 8 years. Quite quickly after quitting, I realised that 1) that I’d been doing this all wrong, that it was my ‘proper’ career that had been the sideshow, and anxiety support that was my true strength and 2) that I had enough bravery and belief in my abilities and lived with anxiety well enough to do this.
Living with anxiety, stress, or overwhelm, every day, makes you brave. You have to be brave just to get through the days and the awful, awful nights. Strength on its own doesn’t do it. You need bravery in spades to be able to use the strength.
Hardly anyone in those circumstances knows that they are brave.
Hardly anyone has access to the therapeutic, talking, mindset, lifestyle, practical and energy resources that they need in the same place, at the same time. It’s always from multiple practitioners. There is nowhere a woman can go to get tailored, personalised support. Nowhere she can take her family and friends to explain to them that she isn’t mad. Nowhere where the practitioner is completely on her side, right there with her, and completely gets her, because she’s been there. Nowhere where she can message any time of the day or night, instead of waiting for an appointment in a stuffy room.
So I decided to create it.
Now I help other women to realise their bravery, harness it, and transform their relationship to stress and anxiety so they can live without fear.
3. What do you love about what you do now?
I love everything about it. I love being able to help women change their lives for the better. I love setting my own hours, and being my own boss. In my science career I was expected to work crazy hours, and put my work life before my personal life and health. Now, my work complements my personal life and health, rather than compromising them.
4. What is the best thing about running your own business?
Messages from my clients, celebrating a breakthrough or success. If I had been able to help just one woman to feel empowered, it would have been worth it. Getting that every day is very special.
5. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
The diverse skill set you need to keep a business going. Coaching is one part of it, the rest is marketing, social media, book keeping, web design, etc. There’s plenty of online resources to help though and other business owners are incredibly supportive.
6. If you could offer one piece of advice to a fellow business owner what would it be?
Don’t wait until you are ready. Just start. If you have a new idea and don’t know whether you can pull it off, just try. You’ll learn as you go. If you wait until everything is perfect, it’ll never happen. Also, don’t believe everything you see on Instagram! And if all else fails, take a deep breath and count to ten. Ok, so I’m bad at picking just one thing!
7. Who is your biggest business inspiration? Who do you follow or look up to either in person or online?
There are many! Nicole Connolly, Tash Corbin, Amanda Frances are current favourites.
8. Everybody has flat or uninspired days… tell me what you do to overcome these and shift your energy?
1. Have a cup of tea (I’m English, it’s compulsory).
2. Tell myself that one day will not make or break my business.
3. Try and work out whether I’m genuinely feeling stuck and overwhelmed, or just having a bit of a tired off-day. If the latter, I probably just need a rest and I have more tea, and watch some Gilmore Girls, and then go for a walk. If the former, I know I need to get over it or one day will turn into ten. So…
4. Break it down. This is my favourite thing for getting over that stuck feeling. Whatever it is I’m feeling stuck on or resistance to, I break it down into really really tiny steps. Properly tiny. So if I need to send an email, for example, I write out a to-do list that starts with ‘Sit at the laptop. Open the lid. Open the email program. Type in the address’ etc. so I can tick them off as I go. It sounds really silly, but if you can do each of those tiny things one at a time without thinking ahead, you’ll suddenly find that you’ve sent the email and now you feel a bit productive and can move onto the next thing.
9. What is the most courageous thing you have done in business?
Being open and vulnerable. It was hard at first to share my own struggles with anxiety, but it helps my clients a lot to know they’re not alone. It also took a lot of courage to share my business with my family and friends. I kept it secret for a few months! I felt like the business and personal sides of my life were separate and I worried about merging them. It always takes courage to announce you’re not following the route society expects you to take, but it was worth it, and as it happened everyone was really supportive.
10. What is one quote that you live by?
Empowered women empower women.
You are braver than you think.
About the Experience
1. Why did you book a personal branding session with Nicole Barralet Photography?
As a coach, I am the face of my business and my brand. I work online, and so potential clients need to feel that they can get to know me a little from my online presence. My own selfie collection just wasn’t up to scratch! I wanted images of me to reflect the professional, invested, caring, compassionate nature of my business. I found Nicole’s portfolio online, and loved the character she captured in her images, and the range of shots she provided.
2. What does the term personal branding mean to you?
The way you present yourself, within your brand and your business. If you’re an online solopreneur, you ARE your brand. Personal branding provides images to represent yourself, your brand, to the world.
3. How did you find the experience of being photographed by Nicole?
I really enjoyed it. I had only had one photoshoot before, many years ago, and I was pretty nervous before the shoot. Nicole put me at ease and had lots of advice and techniques to get me to loosen up and stop me looking like a ‘rabbit in the headlights’! By the end I felt really relaxed. She is such a lovely person and easy to talk to as well, which helped as it felt more like two friends having a chat than someone pointing a camera at someone else. I really appreciated that she took the time to get to know me and my business, and she had thought a lot about how the images would represent my business to my clients and the types of images I might need.
4. Were you happy with the final collection of photographs?
Over the moon! I love them.
Yay! I absolutely loved hearing from Leonie. She is such an inspiration and it was such a privilege being able to capture her essence and create some beautiful photographs she can proudly use to market her business. Here are some kind words from Leonie that sum up her experience:
Nicole was just completely brilliant – she made me feel relaxed and comfortable even though I felt very far out of my depth, she made me laugh, and was an all-round lovely person with loads of tips for a new business and for living in Brisbane and I could not be happier with the result. She is such a lovely person and easy to talk to, which helped as it felt more like two friends having a chat than someone pointing a camera at someone else. She was full of ideas of how to capture the essence of my business, and I really appreciated that she took the time to get to know me and my business, and she had thought a lot about how the images would be interpreted by my clients and the types of images I might need. I’ve ended up with such a diverse range of images that I can use for all sorts of marketing, and they’re all stunning. I could not be happier with the result. It was excellent value for money as well, Nicole is very generous with the number of images she gives you. I can’t recommend Nicole highly enough.