The Expat Stories: How The Wandering Socialites Started Their Business Creating Content Around The World
If you follow us on Instagram, you have definitely seen this dynamic duo on our feed! Between photo ops and clever aesthetic, this team has stood out to us. When our continued mutual love for traveling, business and photography grew, we knew it was time to share their story and share the possibility of making your dreams come true - a reality.
If you ever wondered, how to have a traveling business or work in the social sphere and still travel, read up. These pointers from, The Wandering Socialites might just enlighten you to forge your next business or life endeavor!
Getting in with the Wandering Socialites
ENTIRE: How did you first start on your path?
The Wandering Socialites: Joe and I always wanted to get out of our routines and more importantly our hometown. I had moved across the country to California and Joe had moved to Latin America, both in irrational attempts to escape monotony.
Ironically, we both arrived back in our hometown within a week of each other. Our new endeavors both weren't what we had hoped and we needed some time to regroup. It was a bit of magic that it worked out that way.
We rekindled our relationship and with that went back to work at jobs that we hated. One day Joe got a call from a Kombucha Company that was looking for some social media help. They needed content, management, strategy etc... the company Joe was working for didn't offer those services but Joe thought immediately about me and how I could maybe help them.
This led to me managing a small brands Instagram and prompted what would be many sleepless nights strategizing about how we could grow our business. So we came up with a name, built a website, offered a few companies first dibs on a free pilot trip to Colombia / Mexico and we were off!
It took about nine months to really build out the concept, the pricing, the structure, and create enough credibility and revenue to make this a full-time thing, but we did it and here we are working like crazy people in Sicily this summer! Next month will mark one full year on the road, managing and growing a business with my best friend.
ENTIRE: Where did the name the Wandering Socialites derive from?
TWS: I remember the night very clearly. Jackie and I were in the living room on our phones and computers brainstorming a name for our new business. Jackie was looking through some photos and came across one of her favorite actresses, Audrey Hepburn. This sparked an idea. Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's was a "socialite." And Jackie and I were always more on that spectrum of travel. We didn't vibe well with the backpacker culture, nor would you find us apart of some guided tour. You'd find us in a hidden speakeasy, or at a hip coffee shop/micro-brewery. Nuzzling our way into the "know" of whatever city we were in. We also had a fancy for all things vintage, classic, and unique. We favored old American authors and black and white film and we lived our lives and fantasies out a bit differently because of that.
Also, there's the fact that "Socialites" (contains the word social) so it's a bit of a play on the original meaning.
Another major factor of our little digital agency's name is that we wanted to operate it nomadically. We wanted to bring the products we work for with us as we traveled and capture unique lifestyle content for them. We also knew that managing social content and strategy could be done from anywhere, so the idea of Wandering was always at the forefront of our lives and this business.
Hence you get the name The Wandering Socialites :)
ENTIRE: What's the process of finding your own vision and standing out for your clients and yourselves?
TWS: Joe and I take this all very seriously. When we sign on with a new client our number one priority is forming a deep understanding and relationship with the brand. Each client requires a unique style, strategy, and voice. We spend a lot of time and energy both together and with our client to make sure that we are representing their vision through our work.
Just like every person, every brand is unique. Finding the perfect balance between our creative abilities and the brand's vision is a process that I don't think either of us will ever tire from. It's been such an amazing thing to be apart of it.
As for our personal styles, it's all been a work in progress.
I try to be as authentic as social media will allow me to be. I try to have a unique style and not just copy-cat the next wave of trends. I think I'm still finding my signature every day and it develops along with me. I've also found that with each new place I visit, my style changes slightly, and sometimes it comes along with me for the next chapter.
For Joe, he is really focused on telling a story and finding his voice. He loves to write, and he has been writing before social media was even a thing. He wants to speak his mind freely, inspire others, and live as truthfully as possible. It's been difficult for him to walk the line and keep a balance personally and professionally. But I think he's starting to feel more comfortable with his style. He definitely doesn't relate to being a photographer. And understands that is not his strength, so for him, it's more about telling the story and hoping it resonates with his audience.
ENTIRE: Do you have a specific aesthetic or is your aesthetic that constant push for you your photography and your clients?
TWS: Jackie and I definitely have a specific aesthetic.
Jackie's style is vintage and timeless. She is always trying to create a unique perspective. You rarely see her trying to recreate someone else's work. She sees something and she always does a great job to capture it in a way that I couldn't ever imagine.
She definitely shy's away from taking the "epic" shot or the "iconic" shot of the different places we visit. I think her goal is to give a frequented place an alternative perspective. Her goal each time we shoot is to capture something most others would overlook.
However, I don't think that always bleeds through for our clients. She has a great skill in capturing a unique style for our clients. Most of the work we do is anonymous, we do it on the brand's behalf, and therefore it's super important to leave your personal style behind when you're working for the client.
What I'm always most impressed by is how she's able to develop and maintain a unique style for our clients.
For me, I have definitely piggy-backed off Jackie. I would be lying if I said she hasn't worn off on me stylistically. Though I've always wanted to portray things the way I do now, she's definitely made me see things in a different manner.
I try to be as creative as possible with both my pictures and my captions. I don't copy and paste Pinterest quotes or steal words from some famous author (unless they're warranted) and I try to create content that is my own. Much of it has been very recent. In the past, I've taken some really shitty pictures and I've been working hard to improve on that.
Working with the brands is special for me. I've always loved working on branding projects. Helping brands see their vision, voice, and evolve over time. That is one of many passions in life and to be able to be a part of it with so many great brands is truly an honor.
ENTIRE: The pressure on a new business or goal can be heavy? What have you done to help your brand grow and help in funding?
TWS: This is a great question!
Getting a business off the ground is one of the hardest things we've ever done. There is always a lot of pressure in the beginning.
We were working full-time jobs to support ourselves while trying to manage a small group of clients that thought we were more established than we really were.
I think one of the smartest decisions we made was to go into this 50/50. It allowed us to dedicate all of our "free time" to the business without compromising our relationship. We also have a really good dynamic for business. Joe is good at things that I suck at and vice versus. Being in it together made the emotional roller-coaster more tolerable. We grew stronger together on so many levels.
Another important thing to mention was that both of us funded the business ourselves. We had both worked and saved money (which was a huge factor in us surviving) but also meant we didn't have investors over our shoulders manipulating how we did business and asking us why we were bending over backwards for our clients.
I remember Joe and I were driving across America and our clients were all late on paying us. It was super stressful and there was really nothing we could do about it. Luckily, we both had savings to use as an advance until the money came in (which it did) but I'm sure that if neither of us had this safety net that our situation would grow to be a lot graver.
Essentially, there will be a lot of bumps in the beginning. But over time those things get ironed out and you adapt quite quickly. For us, it's only been a little over a year and a half since we started. But how much we've grown is incredible. This is now a full-time job for both of us and we have a pretty cool team around us that are growing in responsibilities every day.
Growing our brand and investing all of our profits back into ourselves is the number one reason we have not needed to raise funds. This, I think in long run will pay off and has taught us a lot of valuable lessons.
Doing a great job for our clients, being super responsible, generating results and being obsessed with social media has helped us grow our client list.
We've been able to continually grow through referrals, inbound requests, and a consistent sales effort. There is no such thing as auto-pilot. You have to work for it every single day.
ENTIRE: What has been your favorite location(s) so far?
TWS: Joe's Favorites in order:
- Terrasini, Sicily
- Merida, Mexico
- Medellin, Colombia
- Jardin, Colombia
- Montreal, Canada
Jackie's Favorites in order:
- Terrasini, Sicily
- Montreal, Canada
- Nice, France
- Merida, Mexico
- Lima, Peru
ENTIRE: What are some tips for a fellow expat or new start up to live this lifestyle that your company has developed?
TWS: Operating a business while traveling is no picnic. You run into crappy wifi or no wifi, flight delays, lack of sleep, bad connection while on calls etc.. you also have the temptation to live life and do work later.
One of the main tips we have is to start your business and prove it successful before traveling. Prove that you can run and operate your business successfully first. And have a really good plan.
Joe has had several business plans fail prior to The Wandering Socialites and most of them failed due to loose planning and lack of discipline.
The goal for us has always been freedom. And a huge part of freedom is honesty. Our clients have always known that we are nomadic. That we travel non-stop. We freely share our Instagram handles with them. But we've also always been responsible with their money and their brands.
People are opening up to the idea of location independence. And running a business location independently is totally doable. But it starts with being honest with your clients, yourself, and your capabilities.
Like we said before, it took us 9 months before we started traveling full-time. 9 months of trial and error before we could even successfully operate our business from our home. After that, it was still very difficult, but humans tend to adapt to these situations quite quickly. And if your clients understand your lifestyle before signing the dotted line, then they'll be a lot more understanding when you experience a connection blackout or an email getting stuck in an outbox for a few days. They'll actually at some point embrace it.
Building on relationships, keeping accountability, and having respect for your clients and their brands goes a long way. It's a hugely rewarding experience to bounce around the globe with the one you love while building a business, making money, and funding all on your own.
And it's something that we know a lot of people are capable of doing as well! Best tip of all is to START TODAY!