5 steps to collaborate successfully

Okay, okay. I know what you're thinking. Ashley, styled shoots are the backbone of amer-uh, the entrepreneurial. Don't tell me they're a bad idea. But, hear me out.

I've been in this industry for some time now, ever growing, ever changing, and you guessed it -- ever collaborating. Most of these collaborations have been amazing, but some, well...they've been learning experiences. Thus, I feel like there needs to be a disclaimer out there so people don't make the same mistakes I made about twenty times too many. They say you learn each time you've been "burned" or wronged, whatever you want to call it. But for me? Oh no. My stubborn thick head kept humming the word yes over and over again.

It honestly took me ages to figure out why collaborations weren't going my way. And once I adapted the below, it's saved me a ton of headaches since. Let me spare you the frustration and disappointment of a collaboration gone wrong by sharing my tragedies and triumphs in these 5 easy steps that will leave you less likely to throw in your creative towel and more likely to feeling confident when saying yes to collaborations aka styled shoots.

successful styled shoot contract


1. Tell them what you need.
The first time I signed up a styled shoot, I had ASSumed that all the experts around me knew what I needed. Whether you're a photographer, florist, or like myself, a makeup/hair artist. You need to be clear with your collaborators on what you all need to feel like everyone walked away serving their clients/business.

2. If it isn't your style, don't say yes.
You'd think this would be a given. It isn't. You'll find yourself looking for anyone who will snap some images or dust on some makeup that's willing so you'll have something, anything, to post. But if it's not going to serve your portfolio or your social media feeds, than don't say yes.

3. Share your ideas.
You're being asked to collaborate because someone liked what you can do and trusts your vibe. They've given you an idea, but don't be afraid to tweak, share your ideas for changes, or talk about what can be realistically accomplished, they're coming to you because you're an expert in your craft. They're trusting you as a pro, so be it and them 'em what you can offer.

4. Share ALL the vendors.
If the person who has coordinated the shoot didn't collect the social handles for the vendors collaborating. Take it upon yourself to do it. I've been so disappointed watching a large project I collaborated on get posted with credits going out to only a few of the larger vendors and forgetting us little guys. I've been guilty of the same. Don't be afraid to kindly reach out and let them know they forgot to tag you. You collaborated with these people because you felt you could cross your clientele!

5. If you're unhappy, say it.
You can be respectful and share your opinions. If a project you collaborated on, and followed the above 4 steps, turns out to be crap. Tell them. Am I saying send them an email saying, "Hey, this is garbage, here's an invoice". Absolutely not, conduct yourself professionally. There's no need for hurtful words or pitchforks. But if you worked hard and when you get the gallery back, you see it was edited all very dark so your work doesn't show through, or your floral arrangement was pictured from so far away no one can tell if those are roses or, uh, lillies, or um...who really knows. Or the makeup/hair artist used blue eye shadow and the vibe you were hoping for was natural so you had to spend 80 forevers editing out frosted blue shadow. Don't trash the idea, but let someone know when they've fallen short of their expectations. Most people would rather hear it from you, than hear it through the grapevine about them knowing it was you who said it.

That's it. It took me years to understand that standing up, saying no, and being firm in what is expected wasn't "rude" (thanks southern hospitality mind set) but actually a form of good professional communication. You should never walk away from a Styled Shoot with any vendors feeling like they've missed out or wasted their time. I've done it before, but you can certainly prevent it.

 If you're ready to go the extra mile, I even have a Styled Shoot contract that I've made available for download in my Etsy shop, use the code "BLOG10" for 10% off. 

What's really going on

I’ve struggled to make this post for over two weeks. I’ve wept at the feet of every person who would listen. I’ve put on a strong face when I was anything but that. I’ve strapped my shoes on, and tussled my hair stating, “just keep rolling”. It always gets easier. But the hallow pit that I feel is still very much there, under all the laughter and all the false determination. I am tired of fighting, I feel confused, and I am beyond exhausted. Just keep rolling, no longer works for me. If my emotional journey was that of an explorer, you’d find me laid by the river I need to cross, so lost that I can’t find home again. Surrounded by hills of loneliness and a current to strong that if I dipped my toe in instead of ask for help crossing, I’d be washed away entirely. Battered and beaten by the miles I’ve walked in all the wrong directions.

The weight of the darkness I feel is heavy, it crushes me most of the time. I’ve carried it around for years and years saying, one day it will be like a pebble in my pocket. I’ll forget about it but on occasion, when I stick my hand in my pocket, I’ll be reminded it’s there. But my darkness didn’t become light like a pebble, it’s buried me like a boulder. Maybe if I had acknowledged my struggles before now, the tiny pebbles all the “bad stuff” was supposed to become, would be that. Instead, I kept rolling on by myself. Collecting heavier burdens as sped towards my current exhaustion.

I’ve always dealt with mental illness for as long as I can remember. Being very anxious at 6 years old with very confused and frustrated parents made me feel helpless, alone, and broken. My brain doesn’t see what normal people see. My head is a scary place to be, and with all my friends/family back home, I could easily check out when I needed to hide from the monsters. I’d go get drinks, invite someone over, or find a new project to pour myself into. But I’m here now, 2 hours away from most people I know, feeling isolated and helpless. There’s no distractions here, just a silent empty house filled with ghosts and memories. There’s nothing I can’t touch in this house that doesn’t turn monsters themselves.

I’m in the deepest of dark places, with no choice but to confront all the ugliest parts of myself for the first time. Which may be a blessing in disguise (even though it feels horrible right now). Mental health is 100% something every single person is struggling with. Mental illness can happen to anyone and probably affects some of the happiest people you know. The first step to beating the monsters is acknowledging them. It’s reaching out to those who will sit on the phone with you for 3 hours without expecting anything and saying what you honestly feel. It’s pushing for medical treatment even if you don’t have health insurance or a lot of extra money. It’s being honest with therapists who can teach you to fight smarter, not harder so you can make on your own. I guess the only real solution to any pain, any heartbreak, any monster’s found hiding in the dark is to call for help -- find someone with a flashlight and a plan, and just keep rolling on together until you're not lost.

Life Lately: Joyful as it MAY

Hello Beauties! We're already in May, and this year has flown by and some amazing doors have been opening for me in my new city. 


- 7 Weddings
- 4 Bridal Trial Runs
- 2 Commercial Headshot Shoots
- 3 Meetups with local Boss Babes
- 4 Eyelash Extension Applications


- 1 Girls Trip to Texas.
- 1 Bachorlette Weekend
- 1 Concert (WonderYears)
- 1 Wine Walk at Waverly Place
- Lots of pool days
- A clean house (finally)


- Style shoot with Marie Killen
- Tons of Trial Runs + Wedding
- Roots Collective Styled Shoot
- Microblade Training
- Zoo Day Trip
- Continue to strive for work/life balance

What do you guys have going on?! How was your May? What goals do you have for June?

Wedding Day Hair + Makeup Recommendations

Hello Gorgeous! We're so sad we're not available to service your big day! We never like to leave our brides with the "what now's"  so we've scooped out some the best on location hair and makeup providers that will suite your every need. These teams were hand plucked personally, and I'll be happy to stand behind my recommendation of them. Check them out below!


Raleigh/Triangle Area

Lula Hair + Makeup
The Makeup Culture
Makeup for Your Day
RAE Makeup Artistry
Wedding Hair by Liz
Radiant Hair + Makeup

Charlotte/Triad Area

Face Forward Triad
Carla White Beauty
Hair and Makeup by Rebekah

 We hope this list helps guide you on your journey to booking your perfect Beauty Artist for your big day. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out. We're always here to help.