I am thrilled to resume my interviews featuring inspirational women that I have worked with in my new Autumn series.
Let me introduce you to the fabulous Lily Ackerman, Founder of Ackerman Studios. Ackerman Studios is a London-based art consultancy that offers full services including strategic planning and conception, art curation and procurement, and advisory. Lily is a great advocate of both emerging and established artists and is continually looking to discover the most exciting new talent, as well as nurturing relationships with established figures with whom she already enjoys long-standing associations.
Earlier this year, the brand photoshoot took place in vibrant Shoreditch on a very cold day. I loved working with Lily as she would share her clear vision about the photoshoot and trusted me to come up with the concept and photography process.
What career did you have before you set up your own business, and what made you start? How did your previous career influence the work you are doing in your business now?
Before I founded Ackerman Studios, I worked in marketing and events across varying sectors. I have always been focussed on design and its impact and had a keen interest in the arts from childhood.
The catalyst for me was a significant change in my family life, I realized that life is about action and I felt bold enough to take the leap and go out on my own.
My previous career gives me a unique take on the art world, I really value it and it sets me apart. Some industries, art especially, can be very insular, sort of talking to itself. As an outsider coming into the industry, I am interested in how to communicate with those who are not coming from an arts background. For me accessibility and quality of communication are essential.
What was your main source of motivation when you started your own business?
A desire to build a life I enjoy, where I am problem solving and feel in charge of my own destiny. For me this is being surrounded by creative people, creating opportunities that benefit all parties and getting artists into unique spaces, but most of all to be a part of their journey.
How long did it take you to go from just having an idea to actually starting your business?
It was quick, a few months, I saw an opportunity and I took it. There was a moment which presented itself to me and I knew that it was too good to pass up. The fact that this opportunity was there gave me the push I needed as it was time sensitive.
What did you find hardest? How did they navigate the things they found especially hard — and do they still find these things hard?
I found being a solo founder hard to navigate. For a long time I felt like I didn’t fit the mold of what a founder should be and it was difficult to know who to trust. The art industry is cut throat and I made some early mistakes in who I looked to for advice. I am much more boundaried now and have found a core group of people I look to for advice.
If you could go back and do it all again, would you do anything differently?
Yes and no, I love where I am now and so changing the journey would be tricky. I do also think you need the experience in order to back yourself. There are a few scenarios that I would like to have handled differently at the time, but I have learnt so much from them. I am very future focussed.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
There is power in knowing when to walk away. Walking away from something can sometimes be the most powerful thing you can do. I was involved in a large scale, high profile project alongside another art consultancy. The situation was untenable and it became highly toxic.
Inspite of it being the largest opportunity in my career at that time, I decided to step back from it. Ultimately it was the most powerful thing I could have done, nothing is worth your mental health.
How was your experience with the personal brand photoshoot?
I loved it, I am not usually confident in front of the camera but felt ready to bring myself to the fore and Petra made me feel so relaxed. It signaled a real moment of change and I felt relaxed and happy.
I really love having a selection of images, they all signify different sides of myself and the business. The process of thinking about how I was presenting myself was useful too, it made me reevaluate how I position myself.
How have your clients/ potential clients responded to your new branding photos?
I have had so many positive comments, many many more than I expected. I really can’t believe that it took me so long to do it. Especially knowing the impact of imagery! People really connect with them and I feel much more confident sharing them and with how I have presented myself.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom for other women who have just set up their own business or are thinking about it? What’s been most useful to you along the way (eg, a mentor, community, particular tool or mindset)?
I would say these five things:
- Set yourself up professionally from the start – the first thing I did, alongside getting incorporated as a company was hire an accountant.
- A learning mindset – if you treat everything as a learning experience you’ll be much more open to exploring things and less likely to see things as ‘failure’ or ‘success’
- Be discerning – not everyone is your friend, be discerning about what you say and to who.
- It takes time – on all fronts, to build confidence, to find the people you want to surround yourself with and, to find the clients that are the right fit
- Keep backing yourself and lean towards action – lots of anxiety is created in the mind through inaction and overthinking, once you are there doing it it’s often much much more enjoyable.
Who would be your 5 ideal dinner party guests?
I’d like the opportunity to sit around the table with my dad and grandparents one last time. I would share this meal with my sister and husband.
- My father, Roy who passed away
- My husband Josh, who only got to meet him briefly
- My sister, Berty
- My grandparents, Jill and Brian
If you were going to write a book, what would it be about?
Living a creative life
Insta link @ackermanstudios
Are you ready to take your business to the next level with a personal brand photoshoot?
If so, I’m here to help! Together, we can capture the essence of your brand and create images that resonate with your ideal clients. No matter where you are on your journey, I want to celebrate your successes and support you in achieving your goals. Whether you’re looking to increase your visibility, build your brand, or simply showcase your authentic self, I’m here to help.
Let’s chat about your vision and explore how we can create a personalized photoshoot experience that meets your unique needs. Click here to schedule a no-obligation consultation at a time that works for you. I can’t wait to hear from you!