GIRL BOSS // AUDREY of LE SECRET D'AUDREY

Name: Audrey Neracoulis

Age:34

Location: Paris, France

Current Title / Company:Le Secret d’Audrey

What was your first job out of university and how did you land that position? Communication department for Boeing

What inspired you to create your business? The need to interact with clients. I realised Paris was an iconic city and people would love to have pictures of themselves in it and not the selfie cheesy kind of photo.

Take us through a day in the life of your business? 
I spend 80% of my working time on the computer, first I answer emails as soon as I wake up during breakfast and I will answer emails through the day as they show up in my inbox. I don’t have the business hour type model where I only answer emails between certain hours.  I have no boundaries when it comes to work.  I edit my photos in the morning and get in touch with the different vendors for the future shoots to speak about timelines, location but also with magazine & blogs.

I photograph during the best light of the day which is before sunset so most of the time for the end of the afternoon so I will prepare my equipment, meet with my assistant and go out in Paris to meet with my clients for their shoot.

Then I do more emails at night. I am pretty much glued to my emails as I feel clients appreciate quick replies.

Has anything surprised you about the journey to creating your business? 
I am surprised how it doesn’t feel like work but like a lifestyle. Because I work all the time it is part of my life and everything I do is connected to my work. Even when I travel for holidays I make it an excuse to expand my business to meet vendors or do shoots. When you are an employee you stare at the clock all day but as an entrepreneur you are the worst boss to yourself. My life is my work. And it feels easy actually.

Obviously, your business has grown! So, let's talk money. Tell us about the intimidating process of finding funding for your business. Any advice for women who need to find funding for their own startups? 
I started shooting digital which helps. The equipment is expensive but you can easily resell it so I gave myself 15 000 Euros & one year to see where it would lead me and thankfully it bloomed right away.  Now that I shoot film there are huge costs that I couldn’t have face when I started, so I think I did a good move going in slowly in film.

Your business has developed quite a following. Can you tell us a little bit about marketing your business? How did you spread the word? 
To expand my following I try to be consistent blogging and sharing. I can tell a huge difference when I share often. Also, having my work published with proper credit helps a lot.

I am not in a market where all the big names are (planners, stylist,..) so I had to do most of it myself which doesn't help with growing your following but I found it more rewarding. My work is fully mine.

What do you think is the key to the success of your business? 
The key is timing first I must admit. I started when the market was way different. I created a niche so it helped a lot. Now many are jumping in, sometime copying, but I developed a signature style over the years and I don’t need to really compete with all the newbie looking for their own voice.

I love sensual and timeless portraits which at first many where discouraging me to share but I did it anyway and it attracted the perfect clients for me.

Best advice you ever received? 
To value my work. A photographer from Denver, Julie Harris, gave me some tips from her years experience and I felt I would never reached this level of price and that it was even crazy to ask so much. Then I saw the work it takes and the costs behind running a business and I am glad I follow her advice. At first you feel you will make a killing by being cheaper but quickly realise making  a living on a long term means being smart about your costs and prices. So you shouldn’t be worried about newbie cutting the prices, they will also soon realise their mistake and fit the market.

I wish I knew how to …..connect with vendors. I am too much of a lone wolf ;) I am too much of a control freak so I have a hard time working with huge team.

What is your coffee order? Hot chocolate, anything chocolate actually.

TV show do you wish was still on the air? Sex and the City of course.

Next travel destination? Italy.

What advice would you give your 23 year old self? “You are doing good. No stress. It will all make sense”