The sheer talent that I’ve seen from being on Instagram is reason alone to dig social media. It’s my favorite platform for so many reasons, not the least of which is – I get to learn about the talents and gifts of so many incredible women. Two of these women are Sarah Ehlinger and Bari Ackerman.

I met Sarah offline at a Desire Map book club that I hosted more than 2 years ago. We slowly got to know each other and became friends. She’s one of the most creative, wise and kind souls I’ve met in Los Angeles. In fact, I invited Sarah to be a mentor at my first ever Beyond Gathering (called Beyond Inspiration), last November.

Speaking of The Beyond Gatherings, that’s where I was lucky enough to meet the mega-creative Bari Ackerman. She was an attendee who I got to know over the course of the day and then afterward over vegan fare. She’s a humble, optimistic and incredibly grounded woman, who has grown a very successful business through her art and designs.

These ladies aren’t just uber creative either. Sarah and Bari collectively reach more than 30,000 people each day on their highly trafficked (and beautifully curated) Instagram feeds.

Individually these two are magic, but they recently joined forces to create Camp Instagram, a course for creatives on how to grow your following so that it leads to more newsletter subscribers, business opportunities, and sales.

In fact, these two lovely ladies have a special (time-sensitive) TGWK exclusive offer just for you, so keep reading to find out more!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Sarah and Bari of Camp Instagram!

I can’t wait to dig into this conversation you two (and share the amazing projects you’re up to). So let’s do this, shall we? Where are you each from and what do you do + create + love?
Sarah: I’m a midwest gal originally from Iowa, then Minneapolis and now living in Los Angeles. I sum up the word “slashie” as a designer/art director/illustrator/content creator
Bari: I’m also from the midwest, and now live in Scottsdale, AZ. I’m a licensed artist and surface designer.

Tell me, how did you decide to create Camp Instagram, and ultimately be your own bosses?
We started Camp Instagram after we spent lots of days and weeks learning all about how to grow our followings and really tap into it’s potential as a powerful marketing strategy for our businesses.

Many other designers and artists began to take notice that our follower counts were spiking and our feeds were becoming more cohesive as we spent time focusing on content creation and art direction. Our conversations with peers were always veering towards advice and tips for both growing engaged followers and creating compelling content for Instagram. Finally, we realized that people in our industry are really thirsty for this type of information, and Camp Instagram was born!

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I love that you listened to your community – and created something they needed – so smart! What’s important about Camp Instagram? Why do creatives need this?
We’ve seen SO many people struggling needlessly with Instagram and at the same time, we had it turn into not just a marketing strategy for our businesses, but also another form of creative expression. Working with people and getting them to turn the corner from something that is a massive frustration and roadblock for them to something that can be a joyful part of their business…that’s magic.

We’ve also seen how powerful Instagram is in terms of a free marketing platform. We’ve increased our sales, been approached by agents, landed licensing, freelance and commission work, and have had numerous interviews and features- all from Instagram. And we want that SAME THING for other creatives- it’s right there for everyone. Free for the taking.

So true, Instagram is definitely a great platform for creatives. You mentioned this idea of turning the corner from something frustrating – this is unavoidable, right? It’s certainly not always unicorns & rainbows being a business owner. How do you both stay motivated and inspired in your work and life?
Oh totally, it’s completely unavoidable. But it’s just about knowing what steps you need to take. For us, knowing how much we can help other creatives is by far our biggest motivator. We’ve seen how much of a difference having an engaged Instagram following has made for us, and we want the same thing for other creatives. Because let’s face it – it’s a TOUGH business, and anything we can do to give each other a leg up, helps us all out.

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Love that spirit (we’re in it together)! Of all the obstacles you’ve come up against since first conceiving of this course, what’s the biggest one you’ve overcome and what helped you get over that hurdle?
The biggest obstacle was the scope. Neither of us had ever put a course of this size together before, and we had SO many ideas that we wanted to convey. It started getting unwieldy very quickly. This caused us to push back launch several times. Ultimately, we had to learn how to edit what we wanted to include so that we could get it launched.

You definitely learn A LOT when you launch something new, that’s for sure. For me it’s always helped to find people I can look up to or be inspired by. Who do you ladies look up to in business? Who inspires you?
Anybody who is willing to conquer their fear and put themselves out there. We love the quote from Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

We’re so inspired by those other people “in the ring.”

Ditto! So you two are very soulful ladies I happen to know – and I’m curious, what does it mean to you, to live a life and have a business – with SOUL?
For us, being able to share all this valuable information with others who are stuck in the same muck we were not too long ago is filled with soul. Teaching an Instagram course was never part of the plan for either of us- we were simply compelled because we wanted to give others the benefit of all the hours and hours we spent researching, learning, testing, failing and getting back up again. We strongly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and by creating this content we’re hoping to be able to lift so many other creatives up.

Here’s a not-so-random question (as someone who’s in the midst of my birthday month right now), I’d love to know your dream way to spend a birthday?
With girlfriends, good food and wine.

Three of the best things in life I might add. Now, because I love exploring, I’d love to know the top 3 places you’d send me if I was visiting your ‘hood (Los Angeles & Scottsdale).

In Los Angeles:

  • Rose Bowl Flea market
  • El Matador Beach

In Scottsdale:

  • Junk in the Trunk Market
  • Hiking at Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

What are 5 things you can’t live without (like ever)?
Instagram?? Ha!
Art, creativity, curiosity, family and alone time.

What are you working on right now that feels like a celebration?
Sarah: I’m doing a lot more art direction and styling lately for some personal projects, and it feels super creative and invigorating!

Bari: Painting always feels like a celebration!

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If you knew then, what you know now, what would you tell your younger selves?
Stay calm and be persistent. The answers will reveal themselves to you when the time is right.

One final question: what do you ladies know for sure?
That life rarely gives us what we expect, but always gives us exactly what we need.

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. . . . . .

Want to learn more from these soulful creatives? Who wouldn’t. Sarah and Bari are the real deal. Gifted at their art, gracious with their wisdom and the kind of girls you want to sit down and break bread with. I couldn’t be more honored to share this Q&A with you today.

Want to find out more about these fine ladies? You’ll catch Sarah hanging out on Instagram (naturally) and Bari as well.

And if you want a seat in their brand new course, CAMP INSTAGRAM, head over to reserve your spot! You can get all the details here – use the code TGWK you get 10% off the price of the course (through April 27, 2016), courtesy of Sarah and Bari.

We’re so excited to be bringing you more fun Q&A’s with creative entrepreneurs and business owners like these two amazing women, who are truly make a difference and are committed to leading with heart. Expect more fun conversations to come!


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