I absolutely love meeting new people, even at the grocery store. It may start with a kind comment in the checkout line and that person could turn out to be a great friend in the future. Get out and be friendly to everyone you may encounter.

 

Bri Luginbill, entrepreneur and positive body image activist, is the co-founder of Better Body Image Conference, Grand Rapids Michigan’s first inaugural Better Body Image Conference. Our whole premise is to educate and prevent low self-esteem and body issues into becoming as extreme as eating disorders as well as depression/anxiety based on low self-worth.

Her goal in founding Better Body Image Conference is to provide tools and local resources within our community to truly instill support and change within positive body image. She and her co-founder, Connie Flachs, held a conference on March 11, 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Based off their post-conference survey, 91% of attendees felt they left with resources and tools and 91% would attend in 2019.

Prior to founding this company, she started her activism in the body positive community with her photography campaign Go Boldly, Love Your Body which was featured on Verily Magazine and GirlTalkHQ and Fox 17 News. This campaign was a reaction to a Grand Rapids’ plastic surgery billboard campaign that played off of women’s insecurities.

Bri also co-owns a photographer company called The People Picture Company which allowed her to experiment with her activism in the community while also photographing weddings and other consumer photography.

Bri lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves to volunteer helping youth, such as Girls Inc and in an Entrepreneur Junior Achievement Class at The Potter’s House High School. In her free time, you can find her spending time with her son, husband and pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Where did the idea for Better Body Image Conference come from?

The idea for the Better Body Conference came from myself and co-founder Connie meeting at a coffee shop both with a passion for changing the culture about how we view our own bodies. The way we talk about our bodies impacts our mental and physical perception of ourselves. We then threw around ideas of creating a conference to help educate ourselves and others on better body image talk while also connecting one another with local organizations that promote this type of speech and lifestyle.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I don’t just own Better Body Image Conference. I also own another company called The People Picture Co. and I am currently working on launching my own personal speaking and community classes focused around positive body image speech and activism. There are lots of different things that happen each day. I try to stay productive by waking up around the same time each morning, 7am, and making sure to have some self-care time for the first hour I’m awake. Then, onto emails and social media. After that I may be meeting clients or other entreprenuers as well. I also try to have some sort of business development or maintenance daily.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring my ideas to life through bouncing ideas off of other fellow entrepreneurs first. What better than to see if you idea can come to life than asking a fellow colleague? If it seems like a feasible idea after talking to several others, I try to input an action plan and develop a system. I’m lucky that in most of our Grand Rapids community there is funding for creative entrepreneurs as well as a huge collaborative community of small and big businesses.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that excites me in the positive body image realm is the community aspect. There are so many different people taking a stand about this issue and they all support one another. Community over competition is seen in this industry just as in other creative entrepreneurial ones as well.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Following through. If I say I am going to do something, I mean it. My yes means yes. I’ve learned my lesson here too! I took on too much before and I stood by my word, but it made me realize to try not to say yes to everything. Even if it’s hard because everything sounds so fun!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to have more self-compassion. I was extremely critical of myself to a self-deprecating degree. I just turned 30 this year and it’s only now that I’m finally valuing myself for where I am and where I’ve come. I wish I could have told myself in my early 20’s embrace myself more. I would have also told myself that failure can be good and learning from mistakes can be the best lessons, so pick yourself up and keep going!

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There is no work life balance. For my generation it seems to be more of a lifestyle. We chose how, why and whom we work with more freely now and it almost becomes a part of our identity. Instead of a balance think of work and life as a flow. Sometimes the work flows more. Other times the work flows less and your life happens as it happens and you learn how to have enough personal and family time while working the right amount for you.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Meet new people, all the time. It doesn’t have to be a networking event or a new work acquaintance. I absolutely love meeting new people, even at the grocery store. It may start with a kind comment in the checkout line and that person could turn out to be a great friend in the future. Get out and be friendly to everyone you may encounter.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One strategy that has helped me grow my business has been becoming a sponsor to non-profit organizations. Within my sponsorship, I provide services for a tax-deductible donation. Through this I built trust and faith in those communities and some of their clients decide to become my clients in this way. Others love to support people who like to support community services that they enjoy.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

This one is specific to my photography company. When I was first starting out, we had a great archiving system, but we missed one crucial detail. I photographed with a similar camera to my second photographer. I would put all the images into one folder. Well, we had some of the same file names on the images since we had the same type of camera. Guess what happened. The files overwrote on each other and we didn’t realize it. This ended in losing some of the couples family photos at the altar. I felt horrible! I had to call the couple and explain what happened. I gave them a huge discount and a free photo album. I learned after the fact the mom-of-the-bride hated family photos and she was happy that there was no evidence of them. However, this was still a big failure. So what did we do to make sure this never happened again? Each memory card that was backed up from a wedding had it’s own separate folder. Also, I cannot take full credit for this system. My business partner, Adam Bird, and I devised this together.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An Artifical Intelligence email service that can detect the way you respond to emails and will have a draft written up for you already in your inbox awaiting your review. This may feel a little “Black Mirror”, I know, but AI has come very far and I feel like it’s not far away from doing something like this. It could easily analyze your emails, website and social media to figure out your tone and normal response depending on the type of email you receive.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

$100 on my new personal website for my positive body image speaking and classes. I have done a lot in this area, but I did not have an online portfolio to showcase it. A website is a perfect and inexpensive way to do this.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I love trello for project management. Since I’m a visual person it’s a great way to make lists, but also be able to see them in a more abstract way.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Killing it” by Sheryl O’Loughlin. It goes through the ups and downs an entrepreneur can have, but also explains her journey through several different companies. I was actually recommended this book by a good friend and fellow entrepreneur, Veronica Kirin.

What is your favorite quote?

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings

Key Learnings

  • Meet new people, all the time. It doesn’t have to be a networking event. Being friendly to anyone you run into in life can go a long way.
  • There is no work-life balance. There is life-work flow. Work for entrepreneurs comes in waves and you have to learn how to take time for personal life through the slow and the busy.
  • Getting up at the same time each morning and having 1 hour for self-care is a great way to start each work day.
  • Follow through. If you say you are going to do something whether for a client or fellow entrepreneur, do it. Make your yes mean yes.
  • Read “Killing it” by Sheryl O’Loughlin. It’ll help you learn how to deal with the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur.

Connect:

Better Body Image Conference on Instagram: @betterbodyimageconference
Brianne Luginbill on Instagram: @briluginbill
Better Body Image Conference on Facebook: www.facebook.com/betterbodyimageconference