Small Business Interview: Mackayla Paul, Social Media Stylist
Meet Mackayla Paul the founder of Social Stylings. After being unable to attend her dream university in Australia due to a lack of funds, Mackayla didn't let that stop her and decided to take things into her own hands by pursuing her dream of owning her own business. She read books, took online courses and used her experience from working in Fashion and marketing to launch Social Stylings which is now a full time and profitable business. In this interview, Mackayla shares what her journey has been like so far, how she learnt how to price her services for what she is worth, her advice to new entrepreneurs and much more! Enjoy!
"If you aren’t passionate about what you offer and what you do, you’re not going to be able to push through the hard times."
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services / products do you offer?
My name is Mackayla Paul and I am a Social Media Stylist (Consultant) based in Brisbane, Australia. I started my business Social Stylings in January 2016. I work with small fashion, beauty and lifestyle labels to help them to style their Social Media Profiles so that they are on-brand and sending the right message to their ideal customers. I offer Social Media Management, Social Media Consultancy, and I also run Social Media Workshops in Brisbane.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I’ve always loved both Fashion and Digital Marketing, so upon graduating from high school I was pretty stuck for what I was going to study. Until of course I found out that New Zealanders in Australia can’t get University funding, so in the end I had to turn down my offer to go to my dream university (that I was accepted into!) due to lack of funds.
I ended up starting in the Fashion Industry in wholesale fashion sales, which I quickly realized was not my strong point (I hate being salesy!). It was in this role that the idea for Social Stylings came to me, as I realized so many small Fashion Boutiques were struggling with their Social Media Marketing.
Do you have any special training?
I’ve been doing online training courses in Social Media, SEO, Content Marketing, and Print Marketing and have also done related internships and unpaid work for as long as I can remember. I’ve got a host of online courses under my belt, but I think the thing I’m most proud of is my book collection.
Each month I push myself to read at least one business/marketing book and I’ve found it overwhelmingly helpful. My favorite book to date has been “Audience” by Jeffrey K Rohrs, which really focuses on the idea that your Social Media audience should be valued by you and treated as such. A lot of brands get it wrong with thinking of their followers just as people who they have to convince to buy their product, rather than focusing on how they can add value to their audience and say thank you to them for supporting them.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
When I started Social Stylings in January 2016, all I had was an Instagram account. And with that Instagram account I ended up booking my first Instagram Management client within a month; whose account I still manage to this day!
How soon after you started did you start seeing profits? Or when do you project to begin earning a profit?
After about 4 months of really fluffing about, working with as many people as I could and doing some unpaid work even, I have finally started turning over around $2.5k+ a month – whilst working on Social Stylings only 2.5 days a week!
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
Pricing was a huge issue for me. As I am so young and didn’t really know anyone in business, I had no-one to say, “Hey, you’re undercharging yourself!”. I only really raised my prices to something that makes me feel comfortable around June. I thankfully ended up going to some in-person networking events and found a couple of young entrepreneurs to help guide me through the choppy waves of pricing.
Note: If when you quote your client and they say “Wow that’s so cheap!”, you’re undercharging yourself.
What mistake(s), if any, have you made with your business? What have some of your biggest challenges been? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
I’ve had two lessons that I’ve learnt so far that really stick out…
Number One: You don’t have to say yes to every client.
Number Two: Have a Contract in Place with all your T’s and C’s to get signed off on before starting any project.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful business?
Passion. If you aren’t passionate about what you offer and what you do, you’re not going to be able to push through the hard times.
I am overwhelmingly passionate about giving my clients the best possible service, and doing right by them. I get so upset when a new client comes to me saying their previous consultant or agency were buying followers and likes (which is detrimental to your account!) and/or using industry jargon that made them feel silly.
I do my best to make sure my clients have a positive experience with me, and that they feel like they have a strong relationship with me to let me know if something isn’t working for them or they don’t like something I’ve posted – because I’ll fix it up, no questions asked!
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Find your niche, and then find your unique approach to your niche. There are plenty of Social Media Consultants out there, however my approach is tailored and much more relaxed. My branding is quite luxe and stylish to appeal to my ideal clients, but my attitude is very open and welcoming which my clients find refreshing.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
As soon as you possibly can, separate your business and personal finances. I only did this once I really started taking my business seriously in June and it’s made a world of difference.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
This is actually something I’m working on improving at the moment. I’ve struggled having to work a day job all day and then come home to do more work. Last week I handed in my notice and I’m going full-time in Social Stylings. I’m really hoping that this change will allow me to take some much needed break time to enjoy the little things like meditation, facials, and baths!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself having a Social Media Agency offering Social Media Consultancy, Blog Copywriting, Website Design, Graphic Design and Branding Strategy for small businesses and new fashion/beauty labels. I also see myself earning $100k a year and having the Social Stylings Agency in the most beautiful office space… white walls, high ceilings, polished concrete floors and big windows – I have a Pinterest board dedicated to décor inspiration for this office!
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I am in the process of getting certified as a Pop Pilates instructor!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and advice with us Mackayla!