Part One : I Know I'm Talented, But Why Am I Not Successful?

"I know I'm talented, but why am I not successful?"

coffee flatlay success blog

This is a statement I've run into time and time again. I've asked myself this, and I know other people have asked themselves this. People tell me I'm talented, and I know I'm talented. I know I am capable of doing a lot of different things. I'm not saying this in an arrogant way, it's just that I've worked tirelessly on my craft and skills to the point where I do feel good at them. And honestly, creative things and ideas have always come naturally for me. I know this isn't the case with everyone. So if I'm talented, gifted, or whatever you want to call it, I often found myself asking "why am I still struggling to be successful?!"

But then something shifted. I asked myself, What is success to me? To other people? I realized success means different things to different people, and I got so caught up in the comparison game that someone else's success story became my measure for success. When in fact, working 12-14 hour days, never seeing my family, hustling day and night for appearance and accolades and money wasn't my idea of success AT ALL. I've lived that life, and I don't want that life. So I started asking myself what success looked like. For me it means making enough money to live comfortably, but not lavishly. It means being done with work by 5:30pm so I can spend the evenings making a healthy dinner (and not a store bought pizza). It means having the flexibility to meet a friend for coffee on a Thursday morning. It means having a weekend free to play with my family and friends. It means doing great work that matters and doing work with clients that I am passionate about. It means working hard when I'm at work, and playing hard when I'm not. What does success look like for you? 

If we're always playing the comparison game, never defining our idea of success, I think we'll always be left also playing the "never enough" game. Never enough money, enough time, enough purpose, enough toys. The list is endless. And that road is a deep dark hole that I don't want to go down. 

So to recap the first part of this series, start by defining what success means to YOU. Not anyone else. One tip: get off of social media for a few days and really think about what success looks like in your life. Not just the amount of money you want to make, but what you want your day-to-day life to look like. By defining our individual ideas of success we can have a measurement, a goal, to reach for. And all of a sudden, it becomes enough.  

 

A 10 Year Recap

I've been a photographer and business owner for 10 years. It almost seems impossible to say 10 years because it has flown by. In those 10 years, my life and work have looked very different as I've navigated my way as a creative in a world where creativity is everywhere. Because I feel like I'm coming back to my roots so to speak, I thought a 10 year recap on my life as a business owner and photographer might be a good introductory blog post. I also know my life is not perfect, and I want other creatives to know that it's not always glamorous. But persistence and patience does pay off. 

10 years ago I was 22, just out of college and working for a real estate development company. I always knew I wanted to own a business some day, I just didn't know what that was. The company I was working for asked me to take photos of their houses and properties (because I was "artsy"). So I did, and I fell in love with it. I continued to work on my skills as a photographer, and I kind of became consumed with it. I mostly photographed weddings, families, and anything else I could get my hands on. Eventually I saved up enough money to quit my corporate job and start a real photography business with a real studio. 

About 5 or 6 years into shooting weddings, I got burned out. Not with photography, but with weddings. I was working 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week, and I was exhausted. With myself and with my work. I decided to switch gears a little bit, and the opportunity to open a women's retail store presented itself. Since I had been doing freelance photography with a boutique for the previous five years, I decided it would be a great fit with my skill set and a new challenge that I was craving. So I, along with a friend, opened Sunday Supply Co. in 2014. It was a dream. I loved every bit of it and felt like I was in my sweet spot. I was still working a lot, especially in the beginning, but I knew it would pay off. Unfortunately my family life was suffering. My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and my husband and I rarely saw each other. I hated the feeling of not being able to be there for the people that needed me the most because I was always working. I knew something had to give, and I was not about to let my family down. I decided to step away from Sunday Supply as an owner, and it was one of the hardest (and still is hard) moments in my career. I hated letting my business partner down, and I hated that I let myself down. Or so I thought at the time. 

The past 2-3 years have been a little all over the place creatively, but the one thing that has been consistent is photography. Instead of shooting weddings, I found that I really liked commercial photography, particularly food, interiors, fashion and lifestyle. As I quietly built my commercial portfolio, the opportunity to work for Magnolia came my way. I thought it would be a dream job! I accepted the job, moved my family 14 hours away, and soon realized the job was not the right fit for me or for my family. So I resigned, and we packed up and moved back to Colorado. There has been plenty of emotions the past couple months as you can imagine. Although I'm bummed it didn't work out, I'm glad we tried, because if we didn't take a risk we would have always wondered "what if". 

So now we're back in Fort Collins, the city we loved before and love even more now. It's our home. Our people are here. And our businesses are here. Since moving back, I've intentionally hit the reset button. I've spent time with my baby, spent time with my family and friends, and I've discovered that my dream job has always been right in front of me. Though I can wear many hats, I continue to find joy in being a photographer, stylist, and creative director. For the first time in a really long time, I've been able to create the type of business that feels like me. It feels real, and it feels nice. It's taken 10 years to get here, but I'm finding that by developing my own style and aesthetic, I'm getting the right clients for the right price. And that, to me, is worth the last 10 years of ups and downs, taking risks, failing, succeeding, and ultimately finding myself as a creative and as a business owner. I never want to think I've arrived, and I don't think we ever do, but I like to think that I'm settling into my sweet spot again. And that's a really nice feeling. 

So if you've made it this far in my story, thank you! (I probably wouldn't have read something this long). Nonetheless, I felt the push to share my story the last 10 years and also introduce this blog as a place where I can show a more in-depth look at my work, share some business tips I've learned along the way, and maybe throw in a little bit of my lifestyle now and then (i.e recipes, life, home, and fashion). I'm excited to have you join me! 
 

I never want to think I’ve arrived, and I don’t think we ever do, but I like to think that I’m settling into my sweet spot again. And that’s a really nice feeling.