Welcome to our Community Spotlight, a series spotlighting our favorite creatives that are making their mark in the world. We’re super excited to be talking with Cody & Lexi of State of Mind, a couple of down to earth creatives that run their business from a converted Mercedes Sprinter van – which is pretty darn cool if you ask me. We’ve been ‘net friends for a while and are so excited to share their story of growth and discovery to help inspire your own creative journey. Read on to learn more about the struggles of networking (but also why it’s also valuable), and how being mobile has provided unique opportunities for their business!
Tell us about State of Mind
State of Mind is a small creative studio run by Cody & Lexi. We help people and brands that have a passion for the outdoors tell visual stories through branding, marketing campaigns, and creative direction. We run our studio out of our Sprinter van to better serve our clients by adding flexibility to travel and work with each of our clients in person or to go to places to photograph and film for specific jobs. We share our story on our blog about how we live and work out of our van!
How did you get started with State of Mind?
We were still in college during our junior year. We had a discussion about combining our skill set because we each complemented the other really well. Cody is great with video, photography, animation, storytelling… and Lexi is great with communication, design, photography, and writing. One day after messing with the idea we sat down and wrote a business plan, made a website, Instagram, and designed an entire brand together. We’ve been working on building a name for ourselves for the last three years and went full-time entrepreneur in early 2016. We have some great plans for the future that we are so excited to work on.
What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Finding clients and selling ourselves. It’s easy for us to network and make friends which have brought the majority of our client base. But, we struggle with finding consistent work, which we feel every creative goes through at one point or another. This is why we are currently working on expanding our income sources. It takes a lot of time, but with energy put into it, we feel it will be something amazing.
Selling ourselves is hard. We are looking to hire a business coach soon to help us with this. We think that we do a great job of sharing our work, creating content, and getting noticed. Our job is to help other people tell stories and sell their ideas, but when it comes to our own, it’s tough! It’s kind of like writing an about me; talking about yourself is hard. That’s why we’re looking to hiring someone else to help!
What would you say has been one of your biggest “wins”?
We had a really great opportunity to work with Stay Wild Magazine which is an adventure lifestyle magazine and got our work published last year. We also met some amazing people and got to work with North and Stanley PMI. Check out this post to read about that.
We believe those projects and building our van last year are one of the biggest wins by far. Being able to offer a service to people in our industry of traveling on a whim to locations, or to work with them in person makes us unique from the thousands of other studios and agencies.
Did you have any help building your website or did you do it yourself?
We did it all ourselves. We use Squarespace and templates as a starting point, but then we usually plan out our content to work for us. Our website has been through so many changes and tons of websites. The most important thing we’ve learned over the years of our website is that it’s our home base. It’s the place people go to learn more about us. We recently changed our site around to feature our stories and content first, instead of selling something right off the bat. We think this helps people trust us more and get to know us before we start selling something to them.
Many other people advise otherwise, but after a lot of consideration we really believe that our content is what gets people to really see our skills. Then once they get to know us more and we build that relationship that is where the work comes in.
Any advice for others looking to start out?
The best way to start out is to network. I know that sounds lame, but it can be really easy. One of the best ways to network and meet people is to just be nice and tell them you think they are cool. Build meaningful relationships because you want to, not because you think you’ll get something out of it. Don’t look at people as if they are only there to help you gain something or progress forward, look at them as if you’d genuinely want to be their friend and invite them over for dinner. That’s the best way to build something.