hey you! I'm so glad you're hanging out with me in my little online home. I wish I could sit down with you in my kitchen with a hot cup of coffee and get to know you, but for now this will have to do!
I bet you're wondering who is this girl? And how can she help me in my business?
Ready for the simple answer?
I am just like you.
I'M a ceo + owner of a brick and mortar business and a successful wedding photography business
I'm just a normal midwestern girl who did all the things a "good girl" should do. I graduated from high school, went to University and earned a Bachelors degree in Nursing and even spent almost 8 years serving my country as a Navy Nurse. I liked my job. I liked connecting with patients and maybe making a little difference in their day. I loved being present when life entered this world as a Labor and Delivery nurse and felt the privilege of being there when it left.
I eventually became a nurse leader and entered the corporate side of health care. I ran departments, managed people and went to a lot of meetings. A LOT of meetings.
But, in my heart it wasn't what I really wanted. I guess I never really felt like I had found what I truly wanted to do with my life, so I started searching...
MY FIRST CAREER? NURSING
In 2011 I had found a creative outlet in photography and decided that maybe, just maybe I could do something different than nursing, something more creative. I had been doing some free photography for some friends on the side and people started saying ,"you know you really should charge for this". Seriously? I didn't feel like I was that great, in fact, since I was self-taught, I felt like a fraud.
I started charging maybe $75 for a session and would give my "clients" all of their images. I taught myself how to use Photoshop and Lightroom in the evenings after work and I religously listened to podcasts about photography on my 40 minute commute to the hospital and dream about the possibility of becoming a full-time wedding photographer.
One day I got a text from a friend that her sister was getting married in a few weeks and at first they weren't going to have a photographer but at the last minute had changed her mind. She wanted to know if I would photograph the wedding and how much I would charge.
THEN I BECAME A PHOTOGRAPHER
...I hesitated. I had never taken photos for a wedding and the responsibility seemed daunting. I wanted to say yes but I was terrified. I decided that this was a great chance and that even if I had to play it safe and shoot on automatic the entire day I could do it. And I did.
The following year I was able to book 6 weddings from word of mouth and some advertising I did that directed people to my website. The next year I booked 16 weddings and the next 20.
My dream of becoming an almost full time photographer had come true and I eventually left the corporate world, moved to a new city and opened a studio (that's a whole other story!).
What happened next I never saw coming. I opened a store. Yea. A store. Crazy right? I noticed that a retail space in the building where my photography studio was located had been vacant and had a "for lease" sign in the window.
I let my imagination run wild about all of the awesome things I could do with that space in a beautiful historic building. The owner of the building also owned the photography studio space so I figured why not give him a call and just ask a few questions? So I did.
A few months later I opened my first brick and mortar storefront, graced. Keep in mind I basically had ZERO retail experience. I knew how to run a nursing department and about the business of healthcare but retail? I was in completely unknown territory.
I knew that I would have to hustle hard to ensure that my little store could be successful and I also learned some business lessons the hard way. I searched the internet for any information or anyone who could guide me through this new adventure.
There was a lot of information out there for photographers and entrepreneurs who were running online businesses but not much for brick and mortar small business owners. After two years of doing my best and gathering information from anywhere I could find it I decided it was time to expand. I opened my second brick and mortar location in a city about 30 miles away from the first.
Needless to say the second time around went much smoother and in just 28 days I threw together the store and had a grand opening with a line of people waiting outside the door that spanned 2 city blocks.
AND THEN I OPENED GRACED