Casey Ison (formerly Kio) is no stranger in the produce world. A series of high-profile positions made her a well-known commodity on the tradeshow circuit. Which is what made her decision to leave it all behind and launch a new photography studio focused on fresh produce all the more remarkable.
Ison will also become a contributing photographer (she prefers the term “freshtographer” so we’ll go with that) for Southeast Produce Weekly as well.
“Like everyone else, I was surprised when Casey told me she was leaving her sales position,” says SPW Publisher Chip Carter. “When she told me what she was doing, I was even more surprised — I had no idea. But then I saw her work — it was amazing.”
Ison launched Freshtography earlier this month after some deep soul-searching that made her rethink her goals and dreams. Photography and produce were both passions – Freshtography was the solution.
That didn’t mean it was an easy move to make.
“Handing in my resignation felt like I was divorcing my produce family, even though I didn’t know what my next move would be. It felt like a break-up, a heart-wrenching break-up,” Ison said in an emotional and raw initial Freshtography Blog post explaining why she left her produce career for entrepreneurial waters.
Ison spent more than 12 years in produce sales, working first for Seald Sweet in Vero Beach, FL and most recently at AMC North America in Glassboro, NJ. She has worked with the top grocery retailers in the U.S. to build multi-million dollar accounts, constantly growing both her sales and her talents. She achieved the prestigious 40 Under 40 award at just 29 years old and the Tip Murphy Scholarship award in 2014.
Photos Matter: We Buy With Our Eyes
But in late 2017, Ison decided it was time to hang up her sales hat and jump headfirst into a passion project: a fresh photography business with a focus on produce. She saw the need for appealing, alluring and beautiful fresh photography in the industry and wanted to help growers and shippers improve their visual impact.
Consumers buy with their eyes and Ison saw the need to “heighten our visual awareness to the fresh produce industry” through improved imagery and a stronger industry-wide presence on social media. She’s not just talking about brand awareness though.
“Brands are a great way to gain a consumer following,” Ison notes. “But we need to be promoting the beauty and healthy attributes of all of our fresh commodities, regardless of whether or not you have a consumer-recognized brand.”
Casey points out platforms like Instagram are the perfect first step for companies who do not currently have a social media campaign. With over 800 million monthly users catering to a visual impact, Instagram is where she feels the fresh produce industry can quickly make an impact.
“There are 54 million posts on Instagram with the #vegan, 38 million with #healthyfood and yet a measly 323,000 with #freshproduce,” Ison notes. “Imagine if we all started using #freshproduce on all of our social media posts. We would see a shift and movement in this industry on social media that would resonate with buyers, consumers and marketers alike.”
More Than Photography; Social Media Marketing As Well
Freshtography was created to help our industry drive consumption of fresh produce through visually appealing, visceral and emotionally driven fresh photography and marketing: Fresh photography for the fresh produce business; fresh product and packaging images to display on websites, sales sheets and social media platforms. Fresh ideas to drive more sales.
With her experience in high volume sales, Ison is passionate about driving the numbers and providing a true ROI on investment.
One Freshtography service is playfully called “Quick re-Fresh” in which the grower or shipper can send a sample to Freshtography of product or packaging and get back high-resolution, high-quality images in 48 hours or less.
Ison explains that Freshtography is not just a photography company though. She realized quickly that smaller companies that lack a marketing department are often struggling to perform in the social arena simply for a lack of time. They want to be present on social but it usually falls as the last priority given the highly perishable nature of the business.
“We’re keeping an inclusive calendar of events on the website, Freshtography.com, and are offering everything from starting up your social campaigns and running them for you to simply providing you with images and content that you can use in-house.”
Freshtography offers a free, downloadable “Get Fresh on Social” guide when you sign up on the website.
Ison admits her move is a scary proposition, “to say the least, leaving a career that was financially stable to venture into entrepreneurship. But this is the journey I was meant to be on and starting Freshtography is my very own fresh start.”