– So, I’m here with Natalie Franke from Rising Tide Society. I’m so happy to be here today. Thank you for inviting us over.

– Oh my gosh, thank you for chatting.

– So I am so impressed with everything that you’ve done since you sort of popped up on Rising Tide Society and HoneyBook and sort of made a big splash in the industry. Can you sorta walk us through your journey and give us a little background?

– Absolutely, so I started as a wedding photographer. And I photographed weddings full-time for eight years on the East Coast and internationally, in New Zealand and Iceland, and all over. And as I grew that business, I found it to be incredibly lonely. And so, the more that I made money, and the more that my business prospered, the more I actually felt isolated from my competitors and my community. And I craved that, I needed that. I didn’t want to do business alone. And so, we started Rising Tide Society to essentially fight back against that super negative, super competitive atmosphere that we think sometimes can hinder people from finding support, finding resources, getting access to the best of what’s out there. And so, we launched three years ago. And about a year after launching, we joined the HoneyBook family. And we host meetings in over 400 cities around the world every month on different business topics. Everything from marketing to branding, but very elementary level, you know, sort of knowledge. More conversationally-based, discussion-based. And we worked to kind of give access to resources and community support to anyone in the creative economy. So event planners and processionals, through makers, artists, bloggers. And we bring all those minds together to just provide great education.

– That’s fantastic. And how did the, you know, when you say, “We started it”. So tell us a little more details on just, it just didn’t pop up, right?

– Right.

– How did that come about?

– A whole bottle of wine. I mean, it was at least a whole bottle of wine at a dinner conversation with myself, my husband, and our two really great friends, Krista and Davie. And all of us were in the creative industry in Annapolis, which is my hometown. And we truthfully just sat at the table. We said there has to be a solution to this, this feeling of not having that community, not having that connection. So we started hosting coffee-style meetups in my hometown, and then, friends on Instagram saw that, and they were like, we wanna do that, too. How do we have the exact same thing in Charlotte, North Carolina, or New York City, or you know, somewhere else. And so, we kind of decided we have to make this something more formal. We’ve gotta create a framework so that people can actually have these events and host these events. And the name, Rising Tide Society, came from the quote that’s most often attributed to JFK, but apparently, it’s been around much longer than even JFK, which is the thought that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. And that when you can raise the tide, it benefits all of us. And that’s how we see it. And it comes dawn to, yes, the fluffy and fun things, like getting together, having fun, and making friends, but it also comes down to making sure that people charge what they’re worth and uphold the standards of the industry. And when we can do that, and not, you know, fight each other from the bottom, but instead, actually raise that tide, it benefits all, right?

– Exactly.

– And that’s really how we see it.

– That’s fantastic. And so, how long ago is that? When did you guys get started?

– So we launched three years ago. Joined HoneyBook about two years ago.

– [Cho] How did that connection come about?

– So, it’s actually a funny story. We had gotten an email from the HoneyBook team a couple months after launching. Their members were chatting about these meetups. And, you know, they reached out and said, “Hey, we would just love to meet you. “And if you’re ever hosting an event on the West Coast, “let us know, and we’ll bring you out to host it”. A couple months later, we decided to launch San Francisco as a city in Rising Tide. And so, we came out, we came to the office, and we were having lunch with the CEO and the co, his wife, the coufounder, Naama, and a couple other people. And we just started finishing, I mean, it’s true, but finishing each other’s sentences around what we wanted for this industry and how we wanted it to grow and prosper in a way that allowed people to build their lives on passion and purpose. They felt freedom in what they did, they were in love with their craft, they were able to make an impact. And we realized that we had both been trying to tackle the same problems in different ways. We were building a community, and HoneyBook was using technology. And so, we decided to partner and then join forces and actually go full steam ahead. And it’s been a really, really awesome journey.

– That’s co, that’s co, that’s amazing. Congratulations.

– Thank you.

– So did you move your whole family from Annapolis out here?

– We did, so my husband and I moved about two years ago to San Francisco, and I’ve been working–

– Not a bad city.

– You know what, I’m not gonna complain about that.

– Although, Annapolis is beautiful.

– It is.

– I think it’s one of my favorite places on the East Coast, so, yeah.

– It’s a special place, too. I mean, we did, we moved out here to be closer to, like, the team and the resources and to work on projects together. And so, yeah, it’s been, again, it’s been, like, a wild journey.

– Really?

– Yeah.

– I know you guys grew so fast, right?

– We did, yes.

– That’s really great when it happens that way. It’s supposed to happen when it does that.

– Yeah, absolutely.

– What’s your favorite part about your journey so far?

– Ooh, I would say the people that I’ve gotten to meet. I mean, we’ve been introduced to some of the most extraordinary creatives in the world. I mean, people that are, you know, challenging the status quo, and thinking about things differently, and using their craft to give back, and. I mean, I’ve just met some really amazing people. And I know that, you know, 20 years from now, that will still be the thing that I take with me. And so, yeah, it really does come back to people.

– What sort of, what’s a Tider? Tell me what a Tider is.

– So, a Tider is the term we endearingly use to refer to a member of the community, someone that identifies as part of Rising Tide, or attends Tuesdays together, or is engaged in the online community. So it’s kind of like our, I don’t know, like our pet name in a relationship.

– [Cho] Pet name.

– Yeah.

– [Cho] So tell me what really makes up a good Tider.

– I mean, it boils down to this idea of community over competition. So someone who is a Tider is someone that believes in putting others first and serving their clients well, and, you know, upholding the standards of excellence and, you know, integrity in business. And it really comes down to that idea of community over competition, which is important to note, it doesn’t mean we don’t believe in competition. We do.

– [Cho] It’s healthy.

– We see it as healthy. We see it as something that can innovate and push you to be better and improve. Our stance is just always, though, that with that competition, knowing that you don’t have to step on others to get there, right?

– There’s enough for everyone.

– Absolutely, it’s that abundance mindset.

– I love you guys ’cause I’ve been doing this since 1997, and it’s a breath of fresh air when I discovered Rising Tide. Because I was sort of in that, no one wanted to share, everyone’s afraid of their competition. And I would teach the students, even though it was sort of negative, like you said, there’s enough business for everyone.

– There is.

– Like, there just is. Like, you know, have a better light about yourself. And don’t worry, it will come. And so, it’s just so nice that we’re finally here. So, when you talk about the type of person that a Tider is, can you now tell me sort of the range of creatives that are Tiders?

– Yes.

– From like, graphic artists, to event planners. Like, and everything in between. Like, can you name what they are? Just so we.

– Yeah, absolutely.

– I know it’s photographers, right?

– A lot of photographers. So we kind of span the full creative economy. So that means event professionals, photographers, or image makers and content creators. Graphic design, is oddly enough, our third highest, like, cohort. We’ve got a lot of designers. We also are seeing a rise in sort of these business strategy freelancers. And so, essentially, what we like to say, is it’s creative independent workers. So anybody who, whether they’re part-time or full-time, or even hobbyists, but wanting to take that next step, are welcome. But they’re doing something with their craft, their mind, their skillset to serve a client. And that’s kind of how we’ve structured. Or even in a lot of cases, create a product that serves a client.

– [Cho] I love on HoneyBook how you can just post any opportunity. Whether it’s paid or not paid, whether it’s local or far away. That really lends itself to the whole mission of Rising Tide.

– It does, and I loved working on that tool. That was one of the coolest projects I’ve gotten to do at HoneyBook. And it’s funny because it’s one of the products that I get to do that’s more HoneyBook focused than Rising Tide focused. And–

– [Cho] Well, technically it is, but it’s more Rising Tide’s mission.

– You got it. It’s a merge of the vision and the mission on the RTS side and the technical expertise on the HoneyBook side in a perfect sort of synergy. And it gets back to this idea that, you know, we want people to grow their business. At the end of the day, they’ve got to be able to pay their bills and support their family and make money. And so, the vision for that is, you know, sort of sharing those opportunities when either you’re booked, and you can’t take it, or you’re traveling to a new market, and you don’t know how to give proper referrals, let’s say. It just helps you to have access to this massive community at your fingertips.

– I think it’s amazing. I mean, when I first went on there, I thought, this can’t be right. Like, do I have to pay?

– Nope, it’s totally free.

– I really was. I was just taken back because it’s so giving. It’s such in that spirit of giving. And it’s so refreshing.

– Thank you.

– Because I think sometimes with Longevity, I sort of, I always have felt like, you know, you know they say, even, like, the birds are taken care of. You know what I mean? Like, so I sort of go it. I don’t go in first, for like, what are we gonna make? I go in for what, what’s the best situation, what’s the best outcome? Because, you know, money isn’t the most valuable thing.

– Without a doubt.

– Money’s just paper. And I think there’s so much more value in the world that is discounted that this sort of brings that about. Like, it’s priceless that you can actually go in and post an opportunity. I mean, those connections that people make could pivot their business and leverage amazing opportunities for them. And you guys just do it.

– Yeah, absolutely.

– That’s what I find amazing. But what I do know is that I think it’s underutilized. Do you think it’s underutilized?

– I do, I think it definitely could get even more use. We would love to see that, for sure. I think that we continue to see the creative ways that people are using it. So one of the interesting parts is, you know, first we really thought it would be sort of a referral tool. But then we saw people planning entire styled shoots on here. Or when they’re trying to navigate into new markets and raise their prices. Or expand their base of other professionals to work with. They started leveraging in that way. So, yeah, it’s been underutilized in some ways, but then also really creatively used in others. Yeah, absolutely.

– [Cho] And in ways you never expected.

– In ways we never expected.

– [Cho] So what are some of those ways?

– So we’ve seen people do things, like, in natural disasters, leverage it to support each other with events. So for example, we had a couple hurricanes hit Houston last year. And things like that, where they’ll start to use the community to say, hey, I can’t get here. Can somebody help fill in? Or if someone, let’s say, has a friend getting married, or, you know, and let’s say they don’t have the right budget. That professional, rather than lowering their rates, I can’t help this client. I’m gonna uphold my rates. But maybe there’s somebody new, who is just getting started, and can come in almost as an apprentice. And so, they’ve used that as well to create new opportunities for people. I mean, it’s been, yeah, it’s been interesting. I mean, a couple different ways, but, yeah.

– I mean, you know, we talked about where the industry used to be in regards to sort of everyone fearful of competition. But even then, it was such a networked and well-referred community of people that knew all the best people. So I think you really tapped into something that needed to have a light shined upon it. And I’m just so happy you guys are here to help and get that out there. Where do you see HoneyBook going? Like, where are you growing?

– So, in a really high level sense, I see a shift happening right now in the economy at large. And I think that that’s kind of where we’ve positioned ourselves. You know, people talk a lot about the gig economy. And they talk about things like Uber and Lyft and platforms that are giving people access to gigs. But what they don’t talk about is the fact that automation’s going to eliminate those jobs in a matter or years. Self driving cars will completely disrupt all of the gig economy. Robots will disrupt the gig economy. But the one thing that isn’t yet in the path of disruption are these creative jobs. These jobs where it’s human-to-human, using your craft, using your mind and your skills to better the world and to better others’ lives. And we see that is the creative economy. So I think the vision for HoneyBook is to continue to build out opportunities so that humans can step into roles that give them that freedom, that passion, and that are part of their purpose on a deeper level as the economy shifts. We really see it as new collar jobs. It’s sort of the future we believe will work.

– [Cho] New collar, not blue collar, right?

– Yeah, yeah, it’s a new, it’s an entirely new workforce. And so, I think our mission is to continue to provide those resources and to make it easier for people to do that, to pursue that, while also spending time with ones they love, having more time for the things they care about.

– That’s amazing. I love that about the creative economy. You know, it’s so mind blowing. I never really actually thought about those self driving cars that are coming.

– It’s gonna change everything.

– You’re totally right.

– It’s going to change everything. And I think we are seeing a shift, too, in education and how people. Love San Francisco. We are seeing a shift to an education and how people are pursuing or not pursuing it, or whether they’re using a degree at all in the workforce. And so, we see the value of educational opportunities like this to almost replace in a lot of ways, traditional education and courses because you can’t learn that, in a lot of cases, in a school. You have to get hands on, you have to be an apprentice or an intern or find a way to gain that access and that knowledge from somebody like you or somebody in the community. So more important in every way. And HoneyBook wants to be at the forefront of encouraging that.

– [Cho] That’s, I think HoneyBook is amazing for that opportunity, not just in, you know, in the wedding and event industry, but even across many other industries that are so well networked. I think they could really teach them a thing or two of a creative economy that is collaborative.

– Yes, absolutely.

– [Cho] Again, that’s where The Rising Tide, it raises everyone, right? Everyone’s doing well, and everyone’s doing what needs to be done for the economy.

– Yeah, absolutely.

– So what, when we talk about, you know, our students and event planners, where do you see our event planners coming in? So we’re sort of exploring, and I guess we’re dating, you know, trying to figure it out. Where do you, what would you suggest our students do to maybe become part of Rising Tide, or, obviously, we’re gonna be opening the door to HoneyBook to them, and sort of educating them on how the actual platform will best fit their business. But, you know, it’s sort of like, it’s like going to high school sometimes, right?

– Yes.

– You know, you don’t know anybody. So Rising Tide is perfect for that. So tell us about, sort of some the events that are happening or some opportunities for our students to start to get to know your community.

– Absolutely, so I would love to see all of your students at a Rising Tide event. I mean, I think there are so many ways for them to get involved. The first would be to figure out where their local Tuesdays Together RTS meetup is happening. We have over 400 of them, as I mentioned, and they’re just filled with some of the best human beings on the planet. They’re gonna have the chance to go and to network and to introduce themselves to people that maybe aren’t even in the traditional sphere of their local market. And what’s exciting about that is connecting with bloggers, connecting with influencers, connecting with sort of these verticals on the periphery of the event space, who maybe traditionally don’t show up to a wedding networking event but are at Rising tide. Could be an amazing avenue for their business, for to support learning new skills. So that’s one thing, would be attending the events themselves. The other thing I would say for those who are maybe looking to become thought leaders in this space, and wanting to continue to advance their place in the industry, would be to step up, and either lead a panel discussion on one of our topics of the month at their local Tuesdays Together. And all they have to do is reach out to the leader, and say, hey, you’re doing branding this month, you’re doing social media this month. That’s something that I know a lot about. I would love to be at the front talking and sharing my knowledge. That’s another way to get involved. You know, one thing that could be really interesting, and I’m excited to talk to you more about, it we host every year a philanthropy month. And we do an entire month of giving back. And a lot of the chapters plan events. They plan actual events that–

– What month is it?

– November.

– Okay, perfect.

– Every year in November. So it’s giving thanks and giving back. So I would love to see about planners there to getting involved. And we’re always having conversations in the space of education and knowledge, and latest best practices. And, you know, even being a member of those local groups, and helping to foster those conversations around how wedding professionals in the community can be better equipped to serve clients, to support other event planners and wedding planners. Or on the social side of things, with corporate events. We’ve got a lot of people that work on the corporate side of things, too. So being able to bridge those gaps, become thought leaders through Rising Tide, and get connected to the community would be huge. Absolutely huge.

– So every Tuesday.

– Second Tuesday of every month.

– Oh, second Tuesday.

– Yeah.

– So what happens on the second Tuesday? So everywhere in 400 markets, there are get togethers. And is there anything broadcast as well that day?

– So we don’t do anything nationally broadcast that day or internationally broadcast that day. We do have chapters in Europe as well and in a couple other countries. But it’s local, grassroots, like, led by volunteers meetups. And they’re all different. I mean, the ones in bigger cities can be massive. And we’ve actually had big events, we’ve had big speakers come out for some of those. In smaller towns, they’re a little more intimate. But they all kind of take of the shape of the local market.

– [Cho] And how would someone like me find the schedule of events?

– Yes, so you to HoneyBook.com/RisingTide. And you can go to Find Your Local Meetup. It’s on the menu bar.

– Find Your Local Meetup.

– Yeah, and you can search our big map and find one near you and get involved.

– And then, each local meetup has a leader.

– Yes, minimally one leader. Some have multiple for big chapters.

– So if our students were to follow those steps, when they go to fill out the form, it’ll go to those leaders.

– They will get connected, yes.

– Okay, okay. Interesting, you might wanna make them do that.

– That would be great, we would love that. We would love that.

– You might wanna make it a required assignment.

– That would be awesome.

– No, I think for networking, we have a whole section on associations and networking and really, ’cause it’s the life part of your business.

– It is.

– People.

– The best referrals, the best assist you’re going to get are oftentimes from other people in the industry. Yep.

– Totally. I think we might have to make them get out there.

– I love it.

– ‘Cause you know there’s some people that, even myself, I’m not huge about crowds of people, which is why everyone finds it so funny I’m in this industry. And I tell them, I got into the industry because I was training and hiring event planners for me, ’cause. Anyway, that’s just our backstories. Everyone thinks I’m an event planner. And I do plan events, but I’ve never charged anybody to do it. I’d rather hire the event planner. I’d rather pay.

– Yeah, no, that’s awesome.

– Does that make sense? I’m always like, no, I pay event planners. I don’t make people pay me. But if you want me to help on your event, I’d be happy to help you. Yeah, I like that idea. I think that’s a great way to get them physically at your locations. Before the physical part, is there another thing they can do online to sort of warmed up to it? ‘Cause, you know.

– Yes.

– [Cho] Just showing up might be a little intimidating.

– And everybody’s different, too. Everybody’s life is different, different state. Some people can’t even physically go to events. They’ve got new kids, or, you know, whatever it is. So yes, you can also get involved online. If you go to HoneyBook.com/RisingTide, there’s a big Join button. Click that. Just fill in your information, and you’ll get added to our bi-monthly newsletter list. And it’s just chock-full of value. It’s really great. It’s like a, I don’t know, like a encyclopedia of all things happening in the industry, around that topic. And it’s a great place to get started.

– [Cho] I think we’re gonna really push that. I think it would be a great way. ‘Cause there’s a lot of people who hold themselves back.

– Yeah, absolutely.

– [Cho] The fear of failure, the fear of judgment, the fear of not knowing. And so, I think for us, one of the things I see all the time is you know, no one can stop you but you. And I think a lot of times, even myself, and I’m speaking for myself, ’cause for me, to go to an event where I don’t know anybody, it’s a little nerveracking.

– It is, it’s intimidating.

– [Cho] But I think that’s the, like, you feel the fear, and you do it anyway. And I think for me, that was always my hangup. And I forced myself to, like, take that deep breath, and just open the door and walk in, right? And then smile, and then, you’re off and running. But if you just, if you don’t make yourself take that first step, you can sit still and never go anywhere. Or continually dream about your passion and never actually pursue it. So I think for me, that’s, like, the biggest lesson I try to have my students really overcome, is that mindset.

– Absolutely, and everyone else there is nervous. That’s the thing I tell–

– [Cho] Yeah.

– Whenever somebody says, well, what do we do? I’m an introvert, or I’m shy, I get anxious, I have anxiety around social events. I say to those people, like, I promise you, everyone else in that room is terrified. I mean, they’re terrified. And they’re wondering, what are they gonna think of me? Am I gonna fit in here. Do I belong here? And the truth is, you’ll never know until you show up, and you just put out your hand, and say, hi. I’m Natalie, it’s nice to meet you. And from that moment on, I think you’ll start to be able to see how to foster those relationships in that environment. And I can say, too, the Rising Tide community is one of the most friendly. So if you’re going to start anywhere, just come to us. We’re very, very kind, and, you know, everyone’s pumped up.

– Maybe I’ll have to step out, myself, in my own local market, and check it out, too.

– I would love for you to do that.

– I would love to do that. And it’s, so second Tuesdays.

– Second Tuesday of the month.

– In person. And then, other events, too, right? There’s other events. I think it’s a great place to start have people get to know the community and make themselves known as well.

– Yes, absolutely.

– What else can you tell me? What have I not asking you that I should be, that we should all know?

– Oh my gosh. I don’t know. I mean, we do a lot of things. I mean, we do a lot of things. We obviously have, as you mentioned, the opportunity side, the sharing a business, we host our meetups, we have monthly guides that we send out with tons of information on a business topic. We have our blog. We really love doing events for charity. We’re also working on a really cool initiative. This year, it’s inaugural year of 20 on the Rise. This is a HoneyBook, Rising Tide partnership with other brands as well. Gusto and Peerspace. We’re looking to elevate the voices of the creative economy. You know, there are so many members of this community and members of our industry that get overlooked. Because they don’t have 10,000 Instagram followers, they’re not the influencer of the moment. They are overlooked, or their contributions are overlooked. And so, one of the things we stand for in our community is ensuring that we create an inclusive space where everyone can be seen and heard. And 20 on the Rise is one our ways of doing that, and kind of stepping forward to raise those voices. And it’ll be coming out very, very soon.

– So is that a platform? Is that?

– So, it’s a list, it’s a list of the top 20 people across five categories. One of them is event professionals. And then others that would probably also be very relevant. And it’s the rising voices, the rising stars. And we plan to do it every single year and kind of just continue to nominate, too. So I would love to see some of your students in next year’s lineup on the list. That would be amazing. But it’s a huge piece of our heart, and it aligns with our mission and our vision.

– Those are some amazing opportunities. I really can’t wait to share them with our students. And I’m excited for them to really get to know HoneyBook and Rising Tide and the open arms that I feel like they’re going to receive when they get there. So thank you so much for joining us today. And I look forward to doing more with Rising Tide. You will see me on a second Tuesday.

– Yay.

– I’m gonna make sure I get there.

– Awesome, thank you so much, it was so great to meet you.