Gaeun was one of my earliest friends in the small business community, we found each other through our involvement in A South London Makers Market. She makes the most stunning sculptural candles alongside studying dentistry at uni and has seen huge success, recently partaking in a pop up shop inside Selfridges! She has also been featured by Vogue, Stylist and Independent. One of the things that I've always admired about Gaeun is her product photography, if you scroll through her Instagram you will see why. This is why I reached out to her about an interview for my small business tips series. Good photography is something that can increase trust in your brand and impact sales significantly. I spoke to Gaeun about her tips, the importance of good product photography, Instagram reels and her brand journey so far. Enjoy the interview and feel free to comment your thoughts! Gaeun's socials are linked at the end.
Hey Gaeun, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Could you briefly introduce yourself and Pastel Palette, and summarise your journey so far?
Hello everyone! I am Gaeun and I am the founder of Pastel Palette, an aesthetic sculptural candle brand. I make a wide range of beautiful candles that smell amazing but also look aesthetic enough to be used as cute room décor :)
I started Pastel Palette last year September as a hobby rather than a business. The long break from uni due to COVID initiated this. It was something I've always wanted to do since I was young and I thought this would be the perfect time to do it (as I won't have to time to start anything new after I graduate).
You’re currently running Pastel Palette alongside your third year of uni, how have you found juggling them both? And do you have any tips for people wanting to do the same?
To be very honest with you, I still struggle to juggle both perfectly. When I get overloaded with uni work, I physically do not have the time with Pastel Palette and vice versa. I am eager to do well on both sides, which makes it even harder! But I am very grateful to even be in this kind of 'struggling to juggle' state. And also, whenever things get out of hand with Pastel Palette's orders, my parents are more than happy to help me with pouring and packaging orders.
For those wanting to juggle both uni and a small business, my biggest advice is to get used to making lots of To-Do lists. I have two separate to-do lists, one for Pastel Palette and one for uni. This helps me to visually see all the tasks I have to do, keep on track with any deadlines and prioritise tasks.
Something that I think you do particularly well is product photography, you always have the most beautiful photos. Do you think having good quality, professional-looking photos is important for small businesses?
Aw thank you! I'm so glad you think that about my photos. I would say yes, a good quality photo shot with natural lighting and props to compliment the product is much better at drawing the attention of people!
Do you have any recommended photography equipment or editing apps?
I use my phone camera to take photos, Galaxy s20+. I use portrait mode instead of normal photo mode. If I need to take a photo with my hands in, I use a tripod from Manfrotto with a phone tripod adapter/mount.
To edit my photos, I use Lightroom - a free mobile app.
What would be your general advice for getting the best photos? e.g. use of props, lighting etc.
I’m not an expert at all but I would say that natural lighting is more important than props. Props are more like add-ons but natural lighting is just something you
need to take good quality photos. Even if you have the loveliest set up with lots of cute props, if the lighting is bad, then even an editing app can’t help. And that's why I go crazy when it's sunny! I feel like that’s something all small business owners can agree on? If it’s sunny, we HAVE to take photos.
When it comes to props, I also add lots of props when taking photos; such as a glass candle plate, vintage book page, bunny décor, tealight carousel. They help to make my photos look more aesthetic.
Something else I love about your brand is your reels, they are all so unique and
aesthetic. What would be your advice for coming up with interesting content ideas?
I watch lots of reels, and when I find any interesting content, I save it to my reels ideas collection. From the collection, I think about how I could adapt these ideas to my brand and my products. Also, I save lots of trendy reels music or any audio that I can use when I make my reels. Play around with it, be as creative as you like!
What would you say has been the value of reels for your brand in particular? Would you recommend making use of them while Instagram is trying to push the feature?
Yeah, 100%.It’s an interesting way to showcase your products and it could reach a wider audience if the Instagram algorithm is nice to you haha. One of my reels reached 70k views and I think it helped me gain new followers too!
What have you found to be the biggest benefit of running Pastel Palette? And the
The biggest benefits for me have been that I am more organised, have better time management skills, better communication and I can think more flexibly. It's also helped me develop my creativity, given me new experiences which pushes me to step out of my comfort zone and allows me to meet lots of different people.
The biggest challenges are that it can be stressful sometimes! Juggling a small business with uni is difficult. My mind is constantly thinking about my business and I have less time for myself.
And finally, do you have any long-term plans/dreams for Pastel Palette? Where
would you love to see it go in future?
I would love to participate in real-life markets and get the opportunity to meet all my followers in person:)
I hope you enjoyed the interview and found Gaeun's tips useful, let us know if you try any of them. I can't wait to see where Gaeun takes Pastel Palette next, If you want to follow along with her journey I will link her socials and website below: