I was a big fan of Chip, JoJo and the entire Magnolia brand before visiting The Silos. Although, that’s just a silly thing to say, because, really…who isn’t? After Geoff and I had booked our trip to Austin, Texas to celebrate our 10 year anniversary together and realized how close we would be to Waco, we couldn’t pass up the chance for a day-trip. We woke up before the sun, grabbed ourselves a Starbucks and were on way. A quick hour and 20 minutes later, we were parked and walking up the most lovely and inviting of spaces.
Somewhere along the way in building our own business, I have become a customer service/client experience junkie and have come to love assessing, dissecting and analyzing the overall experience that I have with any given business that I interact with. I can’t help it. It’s just fun. :) Our visit to the Silos was truly a great one. I’m so excited to share what made our experience what it was and what our takeaways can be as business owners. Here are 5 the five things I learned about the customer experience at Magnolia Market!
1. Branding is About Creating a Feeling
The Magnolia brand is warm and welcoming and in our experience at the Silos, that was certainly translated through the staff onsite. Everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces that made you feel like they genuinely loved their jobs. I myself felt friendlier and happier as we explored the crowded shop and waited in line for some truffle fries (highly recommended, by the way…Milo Biscuit Company’s food truck…you won’t regret it). I think that was in large part from the team members, overall atmosphere of invitation, kindness, gentleness and service that they have created. So often we think of branding only in terms of visual design and aesthetics. But branding, of course, is much more than fonts and logos and colors. It’s those intangible feelings that you feel when you interact with it.
Takeaway / Application: How do I want potential and current customers to feel when they interact with my business? What things do I need to start doing, stop doing and keep doing to evoke these feelings?
2. Design Matters and Consistency Is Key
I’m such a sucker for great design and solid, consistent branding, so interacting with the Magnolia brand at the Silos was a feast for my senses! Y’all, it’s pretty. It’s all so darn pretty!
A common topic in my coaching sessions is the importance of and the how to’s of pulling your brand through each and every aspect of your business in order to reach your ideal client. At the Silos, they sure do it right. The Magnolia brand and their customer experience has been intentionally and thoughtfully handcrafted. They have done a remarkable job at carrying their brand across all fronts at the Silos. From the beautiful installations and décor in the market, to the curated products they offer, to the music they have playing on the back lawn, to the calligraphy they use on their bakeshop signage…and on and on and on. The cumulative experience evokes a feeling of complete delight within me and leaves me wanting to pack my bags and move to Waco! :) Everything is on brand and everything is beautiful.
Takeaway / Application: Great branding matters to the overall customer experience. Review your visual identity and assess every touch point of your brand and customer experience. Is it well designed and aesthetically pleasing? And is it consistent across all mediums and interactions?
3. Enact Small, Creative Solutions to Lessen Frustrations
From a customer experience standpoint, the greatest pain point at The Silos lies in their capacity and ability to accommodate the thousands of people that come through the shop and grounds each day. It’s a great problem to have, yet still, a problem. Per the recommendation on the Magnolia site, we visited the Silos on a weekday morning arriving before the doors were opened, so we didn’t experience the frustrations that I’m sure visitors experience daily. We also went in the spring without the added factor of the Texan sunshine in those brutally hot summer months. No doubt, they will continue to work to solve problems related to wait times, parking, etc., but I could see how they had taken steps to ease customer frustrations by making small changes and employing creative solutions. The line is long when checking out? They have two members of the team instead of one at each register to speed up the process and retain a friendly demeanor: one to complete the transaction and one to bag the items while chatting it up with the customer. The parking lot has filled up? They offer customers another free, easy (not to mention, fun!) option to park in a nearby lot and then ride the town trolley over. They’ve also devoted a section of the website with 7 Tips For Enjoying Your Visit, which has suggestions for how to make the most of your visit and avoid potential frustrations.
Takeaway / Application: What are the pain points that my customers/clients experience and what can I do to ease them or even eliminate them altogether?
4. Do Sweat the Small Stuff.
After paying for our items in the market, we stepped out the front doors and looked down to see a Magnolia staff member replacing one of the small flowers that I suppose had wilted along the walkway next to the front lawn. It was such a small thing and seemingly insignificant to many, I’m sure. But not to me. I certainly took notice of this attention to detail and could feel the focus on excellence at the Silos and of the greater Magnolia brand. In my opinion, it’s often the little things that can separate the good companies from the great ones. It’s in the little things that make me believe that the company aims high and is always striving to put their very best foot forward in the experience that they have to offer to the customer. It instills trust in a company and often will keep me loyal as a customer.
Takeaway / Application: What are those small things in your business that you can do to make it and the experience you provide to your customers excellent? Maybe it’s the packaging that you use to ship your product. Maybe it’s double checking the emails you send customers to make sure there are no spelling errors. Pay attention to and be thoughtful about the small things and take pride in doing them well.
5. Purpose > Product.
“We believe that friends who feel like family are the best kind of friends and that nothing matters more than family.” – excerpt from the Magnolia Manifesto
Yes, I was on a little piece of Cloud 9 as I skipped around shopping in the market…trying to resist spending up all of our money on tea towels and cute notepads and striped pillows. And enjoying the deliciousness of the chocolate chip cookie from the bakery was basically straight heaven in my mouth. But I think the thing I was most inspired by and most enjoyed about our visit to The Silos was seeing how and experiencing the ways their greater values were lived out. Family. Community. Heart.
Noted on the website is Joanna’s vision for The Silos to be a gathering place for community and her desire for it to be a place to “slow down, turn off your phone and connect with people.” You can’t help but see and feel these values come to life as you relax out on the lawn in bean bags (stylish bean bags, of course) watching kids toss around a ball and families enjoying the simplicity of pushing each other on the beautiful swing set…chatting about whatever. I met two Baylor grad students while I was there that told me they often come to The Silos to eat lunch and hang out. Y’all, I just love it. A business that started out selling home goods that has been built to bring people together.
I don’t know about you, but I love supporting businesses with values and with purpose. Businesses that exist and are fueled by much bigger things than the products and services that they offer.
Takeaway / Application: What is the greater purpose of your business? What is “the why” of its existence? What are your values and how will you infuse those into your brand and live them out in the way you do business?
Experiencing the Magnolia brand at the Silos in person was such a treat. A true delight. My only complaint is that it isn’t closer to Charlotte so our family could enjoy it regularly. I’m already grieving the fact that I can’t take the kids there regularly this summer to kick the ball around the lawn. If you ever find yourself close to Waco, I would highly recommend you get yourself there to experience the Silos for yourself.
I thought I’d end with a few tips of my own if you can make a trip there!
+ There is free parking!
+ Bring yourself some sunscreen if you plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit.
+ Plan to hang out on the lawn for a bit! Get yourself some lunch from the delicious food trucks (the truffle fries from were amazing), grab a black and white striped bean bag chair and take in the sights.
+ Get there early…especially if you want to visit the bakery (which I highly recommend….the cupcakes looked amazing and the chocolate chip cookies were delicious). We arrived about 20 minutes before the shop opened. Within an hour or so, the line was wrapped around the side of the building for a chance to get into the bakery!
+ Pre-decide a budget for your shopping, as if you are anything like me, you will be so tempted to buy it all and take advantage of their Fedex service to ship items home.
+ Jump on the free trolley to take you around downtown Waco. There isn’t a terrible amount to see, but I happen to love exploring the random nooks and alleys of small towns. If you didn’t get your fill of shopping/browsing at Magnolia, you might consider going to Spice Village downtown…it’s a huge space sectioned by booths selling jewelry, clothing, home goods, antiques, etc. It was fun to walk around.
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Oh gosh, where do I start?! Aubrey and Kyle’s wedding day at Biltmore Estate…at the risk of sounding cliche…was nothing short of a dream to photograph. I really mean that. It was the loveliest of days with the loveliest of people and in a word, was just plain special. I’d love to share a few of my favorite moments/things about the day. :)
+ Aubrey and Kyle are the best. Really great people….salt of the earth type people. Unassuming, gracious and carefree. Not to mention, beautiful. Between her dress and hair and his suit, they were a stunning pair.
+ We’ve shot many weddings at Biltmore, but never have had the opportunity to make photographs inside Biltmore House. I was basically floating around like a kid in a candy shop, but was pretty nervous, too! :) We photographed Aubrey and Kyle’s first look in the Winter Garden (pure beauty!), made some portraits in front of the historical tapestries and in the Louis XV suite (Aubrey’s grandfather was born in that room, which was very special to her), and got to photograph the bridal party in the library and in the Banquet Hall (in which I climbed scaffolding to get that shot!).
+ Prior to the ceremony Aubrey put on the veil that has been passed down through the generations of the women in her family. As if that wasn’t neat enough, the veil was actually worn by Jackie Kennedy on her wedding day to JFK. What?!
+ The ceremony took place out in a meadow with the house as the backdrop. And there was eucalyptus everywhere…so I was basically in ceremony heaven.
+ We were asked to recreate a few historical photographs of the family from various wedding days, which was really a lot of fun. See below to view the recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt’s 1924 bridal portrait on the stairs and of JFK and Jackie together!
+ Y’all, this vendor team was tops. Per usual, Tara Jordan blew us away with every gorgeous detail from the ceremony and reception. And working alongside Matt Davis and team from Lifestage Films is always easy and fun…this day was no exception. Speaking of, y’all MUST check out the beautiful film from the day. Go here to see it! For the full listing of vendors, see below!
Thank you, Aubrey and Kyle. We so enjoyed getting to know y’all and are so grateful that you entrusted us to photograph the first day of your marriage. :) It was a joy to witness and we had the most fun documenting it. xoxo.
Planner – Weddings With Tara
Makeup – Megan Drye
Hair – Lola Salon
Recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt’s 1924 bridal portrait.
Recreation of JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s wedding day portrait from 1953.
As much as I might love to be, I’m not a huge reader. So choosing anymore than these seven books to complete in 2017 is just unrealistic. With that said, I’m really excited to dig into each of these this year.
1. Present Over Perfect – Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
I had been hearing about this book from various friends over the past few months, so I was definitely excited when I received it as a gift. I’m nearly through with it and y’all…so good. At the risk of sounding really cheesy, it has been exactly what this my mind, heart and soul has needed. It’s like it was written just for me and I’m beyond grateful for it.
2. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller
I also received this book from a friend probably 3 years ago and haven’t gotten to it yet. Again, I’ve heard great things.
3. Seven-Mile Miracle – Journey Into the Presence of God Through the Last Words of Jesus by Steven Furtick
Our Pastor’s most recent book. Can’t wait to dig in.
4. Poke the Box – When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time? by Seth Godin
Geoff read this at the beginning of the year and really liked it. So there’s that. But mostly, it’s a Seth Godin book. Which means that it’s sure to be a good read.
5. Enchantment – The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki
To be honest, I was actually looking to by the book Giftology by John Ruhlin. After I found it to be out of stock, I somehow happened upon this book. Time will tell. :)
6. The $6000 Egg – The 10 New Golden Rules of Customer Service by Deb and Todd Duncan
I was sold on this book after listening to Todd Duncan’s customer service episode on the Entreleadership podcast. Looks like it will be an easy read.
7. People Over Profit – Break the System. Live With Purpose. Be More Successful. by Dale Partridge
I just started following along with Dale Patridge (including his podcast StartUp Camp) in the past couple of months. I’m really looking forward to getting into this one.
Bonus Book! There’s no way I can go the year without reading…
8. Cultivate – A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey
Lara’s book doesn’t come out until June, but it is available for pre-order right now. Go to her blog to see watch the most beautiful preview video with the most beautiful words.
What books are you planning to read this year that you are looking forward to? Are there any books that you would insist I add to this list? Please let me know in a comment!
Nadia and Eric were married this past Saturday at Foundation for the Carolinas in Uptown Charlotte. We were SO delighted to a part to photograph it. :) A few of my favorite things from the day:
+ Nadia got ready at the gorgeous bridal suite inside of Hayden Olivia Bridal. It was my first time photographing there…what a great space for a bridal party to prepare for the day. Direct link to the suite is right HERE.
+ Nadia’s hair and dress were on point! Her dress was beyond beautiful and fit her like a glove. And Eric had his own fashion flair going on underneath his tux jacket…it was lined with photographs of his proposal to Nadia. I haven’t seen anything like it and it was incredible!
+ Nadia’s “something old” was Eric’s grandmother’s ring (pictured below). So special.
+ The look on Eric’s face as Nadia walked down the aisle to him and the tears that her mom had to brush away from her face as she watched them. Precious.
Congratulations, Nadia and Eric! We wish y’all every happiness. xoxo.
Dress – Purchased at New York Bride and Groom
Planner – Sonya of It’s a Bridal Thing Too
Caterer – Best Impressions
Florals – The Place for Flowers
Video – Two Cents Photo + Film
Ceremony Musicians – Queen City Ensemble
Photobooth – Shutterbooth Charlotte
Officiant – Dr. James Howell
Y’all, I am SO excited for today. Today is the day that I get to finally share my first eBook with all of you! Yes, it’s March, but in my opinion, there is still plenty of time to leverage what’s left of these slower months before wedding season is in full swing.
Of course, the options for what we can do to encourage business growth are almost innumerable, but I’ve narrowed them down to five. These five have been intentionally selected, as I’ve found them to be some of the most fruitful things I have done to grow my business….and they are easy to do.
I wrote this eBook specifically with the wedding professional business owner in mind. If that is you, this is for you! To access your free download of the book, go HERE!
I truly hope you will find this guide helpful and that it will be useful to you as you leverage the off-season to grow your business. Best to you, friend!
“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” – Andy Stanley
All things that made up our dreary day January family shoot with my dear, dear friend Alicia White. It was simple. It was easy. It was fun. These are the moments I wanted captured. These are the moments I want to remember forever.
Alicia – how could I ever thank you enough for this treasure? I love you and am so grateful for your talent and your heart. Thank you for loving us so well.