Learnings from a champion of the rainbow community:
- Build upon your skills – a unique spin on existing knowledge you’re passionate about can separate you in a crowded market.
- Find ways to focus more on customers – the more time spent on admin; the less time you can dedicate to aspects of the business you love.
- Delegation can help lift the load – letting go of some business processes can be tough, but it’ll help you grow more efficiently.
Growing up in Thailand with aid worker parents, Carissa Corlett’s interest in photography was ignited from an early age by her father, a professional photographer.
But it was only after finishing a psychology degree back in New Zealand that Carissa felt ready to bring Pansy Studio to life — a queer-friendly photography studio based in Wellington.
“My business provides a safe space for people to explore who they are and choose what part of their identity they show,” she says.
“It's always a battle to create the perfect balance in my images. I want to create beautiful images that people want to look at, but also feel challenged by.”
The challenge comes from how Carissa represents her subjects: people in the rainbow community she’s also proudly a member of.
"I feel a burden to create imagery that portrays the real experience of being a minority — of being someone who's had the system against them for a long time." — Carissa Corlett
"I don't spend a tonne of time going around the software to find the things I'm looking for because they're right there." — Carissa Corlett
Focusing on the important things
Carissa loves where Pansy Studio is currently at, but she readily acknowledges how much hard work it’s taken to get there.
“I'm trying to detox the admin side of my business and just focus on people because that's the most important thing to me,” she says.
“I want my career to give me space to have meaningful conversations with people and to create imagery that isn't rushed.
“A lot of the systems in place in my business, in terms of logistics and admin, really feed into that.”
Searching for the right systems felt like finding a needle in a haystack for Carissa. It was only after trial and error that she found accounting software that fit the bill. And she couldn’t be happier now that she has MYOB backing her up.
“The comprehensive and varied reports are a great addition for business planning and workflow. I can see where I'm losing my money and where I'm making my money.
“I can also download a bunch of reports for my accountant and send them over to her. I don't need to give her access to my accounts, so they stay private.”
Sharper invoicing reinforces business credibility
Before using MYOB, Carissa struggled to find software that created invoices that complemented her business.
“They needed to look really clean cut and professional, but they also had to be simple,” she says. “Clients can be a little clueless when it comes to invoices, and I don’t want to always be emailing back and forth.
“I'd used three other invoicing software products and I was so over it. But I loved MYOB's invoicing process. It just felt a lot more natural.” — Carissa Corlett
Positive client relationships are the lifeblood of Pansy Studio, so Carissa was soon thrilled to see the real-world benefits of smoother invoicing.
“Payment was so quick. You could really see the time between someone getting the invoice and paying it was shortened.
“Getting paid on time is a nice feeling.”
The benefits of complete financial visibility
As someone far more interested in depth of field than finances, Carissa also values how MYOB’s bank feeds handles her numbers.
“The software displays information about your finances and imports all your bank feeds for you automatically. I don't have to go into my bank account and look at everything – I can see the sales I've made, the expenses I have, and how they compare.
“And it automatically reconciles everything, which I was having to do manually in other software. Not having to do that saves me hours on hours every week.”
Clear bank feeds also help Carissa stay on top of bigger purchases.
"Photography gear and rent in Wellington are expensive, so you have to work out your priorities. It's really helpful having systems for that." — Carissa Corlett
Business learnings: Figure out what you want and run with it
After launching a business so close to her heart, Carissa has plenty of advice she’d love to share with other business owners – especially when it comes to leaning on others.
“Delegation was hard for me to learn. But it’s a great thing – just letting the right people do the right things can lift a huge burden.”
And for aspiring business owners unsure whether to pursue their passions, Carissa offers a few words of encouragement.
“Risk pays off if you’re committed and actually want it. The hardest thing is knowing what you want, so once you know what you want, you're off.
“Don't overthink it, just do it. You can only plan so much.”