It's a bit difficult for me to talk about my journey, I am just starting a new chapter in my life and unfortunately, the book is only on its first couple. However, I would love to talk a little about who I am and where I came from. I am an indigenous, black, and white 24-year-old woman who was birthed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After my father passed away when I was young, we moved to Colorado where I was raised by a single mother who started her own business within private housing care for the elderly. You can say she was the strongest woman to inspire my entire life. Growing up outside of the reservation and away from most of my outside family members definitely caused some major identity crises growing up. However, I like to think that my life's work thus far is figuring out what my personal identity is and what it means for myself and others to have one. I gravitate towards photographing other people's identities through backgrounds and cultural references. I am a portrait and architectural art photographer based in Denver, CO.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
That‘s an interesting question because for a while I thought being a business owner was going to be full of hardships and challenges and I wasn't sure I would have the emotional stamina to deal with the stress. Till one day I realized that if that were true then the hardships that I faced growing up would have overpowered me, but I feel as though some of those hardships only prepared me to be a BOSS. And later on, I came to a chapter in my life where I knew enough information about my trade and I wanted to bring authenticity, beauty, and emotion to what it means to be a human. Showcasing social structures and emotional aspects of how people take up space and exist around us. Often within photography, there is a lot of room for editing and manipulation and my goal is to photograph people and spaces how they exist. That's a scary factor for most, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being who you are; because there's so much beauty within that.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Since before I can remember, I have faced a lot of personal battles with my identity and what it means to have an identity. So during my education within photography, I was working around that. What do I want to photograph and what will the purpose be? What will people identify my work as? And in figuring that out, I began photographing people within their workplace (visual content creation and branding photography) and I’ve begun to see and photograph so many incredible people who are passionate about their jobs. And I started to appreciate how messy their workspace could be because that's the way their mind works, it's organized to them and that's beautiful. It was honest; these are people showing up how they are every day. I wanted other people to see that. It's been incredibly helpful to reflect on these people being photographed authentically that I’ve been inspired to figure out my identity within my craft and that was a plus for me.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me was being confident enough. There are so many aspects of a business that it was hard for me to remind myself that I knew what I was doing and or I am deserving of being paid the amount I wanted. It was hard to remember that my work is great, not just good. I only began to overcome that feeling when I stopped listening to my internal voice and heard the people around me. After a certain point, you just have to believe them. This confidence shift then helped solve my financial struggles, people will believe you are good if you do.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I enjoy a lot of self- help books, I am still young and honestly, I need all the help I can get. That being said, one of my current reads is “Everything is F*cked - A book about hope” written by Mark Manson.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I don't recall having any contentions with family members or friends. I do have a very supportive partner in that retrospect as well, but if I am being honest, I don't even think I asked for anyone's opinion on whether or not I should do it, besides my partners. I knew it was my passion to be a photographer and to photograph people so there was no doubt on whether or not I should do it, but is this an okay time.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Passion. If I wasn't passionate about being a photographer and trying to perfect my craft and purpose for photographing, then there's no way I’d get the work done. Passion is the only thing that truly drives me every day. Passion is the only influential factor in my business being successful.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I knew that I was worth what I wanted to be paid. Having to lower your pricing to meet other people's abilities to gain a clientele and stability, tremendously hurt my ego and honestly pushed back deadlines due to lack of motivation. I forgot to consider that the prices you set for yourself are within a market of people and out of the 331 million people in the US alone, they’re definitely out there.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
The advice I can give is to set your intention. What's the objective you’re making when creating your business? Having an intention and clear purpose of what your business represents and stands for is going to show up with how you present yourself to other people. But also, if anyone is even thinking of having a business and already thinking about the logistics or even feeling excited about it. Then that alone will tell you, you should do it. Don't fear failure. I fail more often than not, but without those failures than I wouldn't have anything to be excited about when I succeed.