In this week’s episode, we speak with Cameron Walker. Cameron explains how to overcome the hurdle of asking other business owners for that scary four-letter word – HELP. Cameron shares her experiences of owning two separate motion graphic design companies and what she has learned along the way.
Lots of great tips, tactics, strategies & inspiration on this episode – don’t miss it!
Visit Cameron’s website: https://www.heyyostudios.com
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Okay, welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Cameron Walker. Cameron is the boss lady of Hey yo studio, an animation and illustration collective with one mission in mind to help good people do good in the world. Cameron is a North Carolina native, former semi pro soccer player and professional goofball. She loves all dogs will work for chocolate chip cookies and dreams of the day that the Coronavirus is no more. Oh man, don’t we all? Well, Cameron, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have you on today.
Cameron Walker 0:50
Awesome. Thanks for having me, Katie.
Katie Brinkley 0:52
So Cameron, let’s let’s start back at the beginning. Tell us where you grew up. What was your life like growing up? And how did that impact your eventual career and professional journey?
Cameron Walker 1:00
Oh, man Okay, this I’ll try to keep this short. I’m I’m originally from North Carolina. I mean, I was pretty lucky in terms of a very supportive parents. They always encouraged encouraged my sister and I to really tackle anything that interests us. And we’re always super supportive in any anything we wanted to try. So lots of sports camps and art camps, really anything that kept us moving and active. I think my parents were on full supportive that, like, we weren’t allowed to have video games, because that was just you know, sedentary inside. But if I wanted to skateboard or soccer ball, they’re all all about that. Um, yeah, my family’s really close. And like I said, supportive. So I had definitely think that’s been a huge influence. And I guess confidence where I get my confidence for being able to run my own business comes from that love and support definitely having having those people cheering for you. You know, my mom was like my first client, which is so silly. But, you know, she, she hired me to make some Christmas cards for her. And again, it just knowing that you’ve got that love and support is is huge. But yeah, then I went to school in New England, at Williams College, go eafs Little d3, liberal arts college, I made some great friends there. Again, took a lot of art classes or as an art history major. So definitely a theme. They’re always playing sports and making art. But yeah, after I graduated from Williams, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I drove out west and lived with my aunt uncle in Castle Rock, Colorado for a summer. My sister came with me it was one of the best, most memorable trips. And I went on an outward bound trip. And I just fell in love with Colorado and I never left. I went to art school at the Art Institute, Colorado, which is unfortunately no more. But yeah, that’s how I got my first job at Clear Channel. And yeah, well, apparently we work together.
Katie Brinkley 3:15
Not just more well, that, you know, same time, and like you said, probably wrote an elevator elevator together at some point.
Cameron Walker 3:23
Yeah, I know. Um, yeah, I don’t know, I guess from there. So I my my art background at the Art Institute was in web design and graphic design. And after I left Clear Channel in 2011, I was a freelance web designer for about two years before I met my business partner, Austin. He was the videographer actually channel as well. He probably shot some stuff for him. And we started an animation company called studio hippo in 2013. And that went through 2019 and stuff. So just last year, we decided it was time for us to go on new adventures and go go our different ways. And that’s when I started Hey, yo, studio. So doing the same animation illustration work we’re doing in studio hippo, just on a more flexible scale. So I can build up a team if I need if the project and scope and budget if that’s what is needed, or I can handle projects on my own. So that brings us full circle. Hopefully, that didn’t take too
Katie Brinkley 4:32
long. Well, that’s great. And I know I’m a little side note is that you played semi pro soccer. I’m a soccer fan too. I play. I play indoor soccer. But you know, I’d love to, you know, how did you play semi pro soccer and was that here in Denver?
Cameron Walker 4:46
Yeah. So I played four years of soccer. Well, I played soccer all growing up. I was on an ODP team in North Carolina. Then I played in college at Williams for four years. There I went to a final for my junior year, which was really cool. And then yeah, after I graduated, Williams I came up to Colorado, I actually randomly ran into a friend of a friend who had played soccer at Colby, which was another d3 school. And she, she introduced me to the Semi Pro Team. And we went and tried out together and it was, it was nice to have a friend going into that situation. But yeah, I played for the Mile High and Mustangs. And that was out of Arvada. And I think I played for two years. It was just one of those like, dreams. I always, always had to continue the soccer journey. Oh, yeah. It was fun. We got to travel around. We had a little stipend and I got to pretend like I didn’t have to find a real job.
Katie Brinkley 5:51
Great, you know, distraction and way to stay fit and you know, have a great learning experience. And we meet new people. Like I said, I mean, I still play indoor soccer here in Colorado, and I’m not a huge fan of running. But you know, if I’m running after a soccer ball, it definitely makes running a lot more fun.
Cameron Walker 6:11
Oh, yeah. I love fitness that’s hidden inside of games. Yeah. 100%.
Katie Brinkley 6:19
Yeah, if someone is listening right now, who is an aspiring or business owner? What is the single biggest piece of advice that you would want to give him or her as their journey starts?
Cameron Walker 6:28
I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help. Like, being a, like a solopreneur. It’s, there’s so many different, because, I mean, at least for me, when I got into animation, web design, graphic design, that’s what you’re really good at. There’s so many other parts to running a business. Like I had no idea about financials, like payroll like, what do I set my company up as an LLC, or S Corp. So like, I just reached out to any and all friends. My dad is a lawyer, which is super helpful. So I asked him legal questions about setting up contracts. I have friends that are accountants and CPAs, asking them their advice. And then even your marketing positioning, those types of things like, how do you sell what’s the best way to contact new clients reach it. So just reaching out to people like, like Ryan and Phil, or, you know, other businesses that are already established and successful? And what did you guys do? Um, and then the other really, I think, good piece of advice that we got a long time ago at hippo was treat people to a coffee or a lunch, everybody needs to eat or drink, and just showing drink coffee, or drink. Let’s be honest. I have a bottle of wine on my desk at all times these these days. Um, but yeah, just showing that a little extra effort and treating somebody is telling them that their time is important and that you appreciate them giving you that advice in exchange for food in exchange for food or beverage. I know when people do that for me. I’m like, yeah, oh, I’ll help you with anything. You bought me a coffee? Absolutely. Yeah, so that’s, that’s what I would advise.
Katie Brinkley 8:21
Yeah, it’s always great. Making those connections, whether it be through social media like LinkedIn, or, you know, just different networking events that that was what was a term that I would try and stay away from. Before I started my entrepreneur journey was working that I don’t like the way that sounds but being an entrepreneur now it’s it’s everything because you never know, one how someone else could could help you with a question and you know how you can help someone else? And I do feel like business owners. It’s always kind of trying to help one another out. As we figure figure this out, together.
Cameron Walker 8:59
Absolutely. Yeah. I always I hate I hate the sales and networking too. They do. They sound like dirty words. So I always try to re phrase it for myself, at least in terms of making friends I want. I want to make friends. So I’m not trying to sell you on anything. I just want to be there for you. If you need help. I know that you’re there for me if I need help. Absolutely. Even if it’s just yeah, you just need to vent about something or don’t have a shoulder to cry on. You’ve had a difficult client. Like I want people to know that I’m, I’m there for them. That doesn’t have to involve money at all. I want people to know that I’m here as a friend. Absolutely.
Katie Brinkley 9:41
Yeah. If you could go back and do anything differently. Because you know, we always think about things like like that after we’ve already done them all. Only I would have known that I would have never done that. What What is one thing that you would go back and do differently in your journey. If anything, what would you change? No.
Cameron Walker 9:59
I like to I’d like to say no regrets. You know, like all of those all those maybe missteps or things that we could have done differently I’d learned from them. So. And that’s such a huge part, you know, like saying yes to a client that you just saw all the red flags, but you got tempted by the money, it’s never worth it, it’s never worth any amount of money to deal with just difficult people. So I don’t know if there’s any like one thing I would pinpoint. Definitely, like, always, from the beginning, we wanted, like, I don’t ever want to take a loan or money be indebted to someone else. So keeping overhead super low, there’s probably a lot of things like, I wouldn’t have invested or bought big fancy computers or office space, because you don’t really need any of those things. So staying low and lean and really like building that reservoir of cash is such a better way to kind of start slow and build up to those those decisions. But I can’t really pinpoint anyone, any one thing, we definitely made a lot of mistakes, but they were all worth it. And what
Katie Brinkley 11:10
do you say? What do you think some of the biggest mistakes business owners do make when they’re trying to grow and sustain a successful business?
Cameron Walker 11:16
Um, I mean, it’s so different for every industry, but I would say like, yeah, jumping into, like hiring a lot of employees or just putting too many expenses on that on your table. Before you have the recurring income coming in, I think that’s probably you know, in taking loans or taking unnecessary money from from investors. Now you have another voice in the room is definitely gonna, if you can, I would just always say don’t take that investment money, if you can do it without it. So
Katie Brinkley 11:55
well. That’s great advice. I definitely think if you can try and build up that reservoir and create your business with with just your vision in there. It’s it’s great advice. Let’s talk a little bit about your your new business. Hey, as studios, what what is your model look like for finding and engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers these days?
Cameron Walker 12:19
Gosh, that’s like a constant battle for me. Like what the best method is, I always rely on I mean, the best way for me is through personal connections. If I’ve met a person face to face, then that almost assuredly and just staying top of mind with emails or checking in with a phone call is really the best way I’ve found cold emails, cold calling, you’re a blank face in a crowd of other people. And I’ve done that before and and have had some success, but I’m definitely reaching out to past or current clients, asking for them to refer me always that personal connection is. Yeah, it’s just the best way that you’ve already established trust. I know there’s like a pyramid of different levels of engagement. But like, yeah, once you it’s like, asking a friend for for all right, you’re gonna go without referral because you trust your friend. So
Katie Brinkley 13:28
absolutely. referral is definitely the the greatest form of flattery for a business owner.
Cameron Walker 13:35
Totally. Yeah, cuz I mean, if a person knows and likes you, and and, I mean, I find like, it’s really less about how super talented you are, you need to be good at what you do. But really, you just need to be a kind person that people know you’re going to follow through on what you say and that you are kind and helpful, and you’re going to get the job done. And so if I can meet people in person, like, oh, yeah, Cameron. I totally want to work with her because she seems nice. And she’s not going to screw me over. Like, that’s,
Katie Brinkley 14:10
yeah, no, I know that. If people think that people know that you’re going to care about there isn’t as much, you know, as as they do. It’s, it’s going to speak worlds because you know that, as another small business owner, you know, how much time and effort it’s coming that’s taken for you to get to where you are. What do you like about living in
Cameron Walker 14:30
Colorado to convey that? Oh, sorry, but no, no. Okay,
Katie Brinkley 14:33
so I was gonna switch gears here and start talking a little bit about our great State of Colorado. What do you like best about living and working here?
Cameron Walker 14:40
Oh, man, so many great things. I mean, obviously the outdoors and nature, it’s an unparallel there’s so many great places to travel and so many outdoor activities to participate in. But I really love the community here, especially the motion design, just design community in general. I was a complete newbie, I knew nothing about video production or animation. And when I started in 2013, and nobody treated me differently, I never felt like an outsider. Everyone is so open to sharing how they make things or how they get got business. A number of fellow motion designers have, you know, passed on work that they were too busy for. So it’s a very collaborative and friendly group of people. I just am so so grateful for So Colorado rules.
Katie Brinkley 15:36
What do you like to do away from the office? What what’s a fun day look like for you?
Cameron Walker 15:39
Oh, man, so long ago, Sundays.
Katie Brinkley 15:43
I know, I feel like it’s been we’ve all been stuck inside our houses here for four months, but it’s only been we
Cameron Walker 15:49
know. I mean, we still we still do a lot of the things that we find fun, which I mean, is really, it’s really simple. It’s just being outside with my wife and dog. You know, just those Quiet quiet times walking on a trail or? Yeah, just do the neighborhood. Yeah, lots of lots of running and biking, hiking, really, and playing any kind of sport outside reading. I’m pretty, pretty easy to entertain craft projects. I’ve just been I’ve been sewing some masks.
Katie Brinkley 16:27
That’s great. I know that there’s a you can so it’s definitely a great time to put those skills to use and help out our our health care workers right now. It’s a crazy time for sure. Yeah, one passion that so many business owners and entrepreneurs have is to build a business around their lifestyle, not the other way around. How has that played out in your story and approach to running your business?
Cameron Walker 16:51
Oh, yeah. One 100%? I am in full support of that philosophy. Um, yeah, I think how I, how I schedule out projects, and just the boundaries that you create with your clients, you know, I’m not open 24/7. I have strict rules around, you know, and bringing, bringing work home.
Katie Brinkley 17:14
One thing that I found many entrepreneurs have a hard time with is establishing those boundaries. How do you go about establishing them? And what’s what can you advise some people that may or might not be doing that right now with their own business model?
Cameron Walker 17:29
Yeah, it’s really hard at the beginning, I know, when I first started, you know, there’s just, you’re new, nobody knows that you exist. And so you feel like you have to just like, constantly be doing everything. But for me, like burnout is a real thing. And I knew I knew just pretty early on, like, if I don’t have exercise, if I don’t have outdoor time, I’m going to hate what I love to do, which is animated and design. And so and I know that always just taking a break and stepping away. So that’s when the good ideas come. So I just have to like trick myself basically and say, you know, it’s five o’clock. Yes, there’s a bunch of stuff that I could do. But I’m not as mentally fresh or I’m engaged as I could be, I’m going to go for a walk, I’m going to just listen to the birds and enjoy the time with my family. And it’s always amazing when you come back from that walk, like a problem has been solved. Or I’m not as angry about, you know, some client feedback or whatever. So I know that the benefits for taking breaks far outweigh, like just doing all the work. And so I just always have to it’s a constant reminder to myself, but always that downtime is worth it in the end.
Katie Brinkley 18:54
Now before we finish up, is there. Is there anything I didn’t ask you about today in today’s discussion about what you think is important to share to other business owners?
Cameron Walker 19:02
Oh, no, I mean, your questions were fantastic.
Katie Brinkley 19:07
Great. Well, this is this has been a great conversation. Where can we find out more about you and your business online?
Cameron Walker 19:14
Yeah, um, I have a website. Hey, yo, studio.com I’ll still also on Instagram. Hopefully I’ll have a specific handle to studio at a yoga studio here soon. But for right now I’m under cam Walker design on Instagram. So yeah, posting stuff constantly trying to learn more cinema 4d I love I love trying new things and just constantly pushing my own capabilities because I think that’s where we learn and grow and can offer more to our clients. So and also I if anyone needs help right now I want to make make it known that I’m available. well to help in any capacity, I’ll work like I said for chocolate chip cookies or toilet paper. So
Katie Brinkley 20:08
awesome. Well, thank you again so much for coming on the show today.
Cameron Walker 20:11
Yeah. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Katie Brinkley 20:14
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.