When did you know starting a business was right for you? Tell us about your business?
I have known I wanted to be an artist since I was about 8 years old. The photography bug bit me really hard when I was 13, and volunteered to be the photographer for my yearbook. Once I realized how much I enjoyed photography, and got a little validation from some adults I knew what I wanted to be. When I was younger I wanted to work for a fashion magazine or for National Geographic. Once I realized that those goals, while impressive, were unlikely (almost no one gets a staff position at a magazine doing photography), I decided that I would just work for myself. That was probably around the time I was 17 or 18, so about 11 to 12 years ago! Four months ago I finally quit my day job, and my dream feels much more real! I don't really specialize in anything, as I love photographing everything from families to weddings but if I had to choose, I would probably specialize in weddings and lifestyle newborn sessions.
What is the most disheartening thing you have encountered in your career as a Milspo?
Sometimes it really feels as if the military doesn't care about you and your spouse's life. Which I understand, they have a job to do and a country to protect but these men and women also have families. Sometimes the choices that have to be made can really make life hard.
What career challenges have you faced because you are a woman?
What advice would you give a woman, in particular a military spouse, interested in starting her own business?
Do it! Being your own boss is the greatest. It's empowering to take charge and do something for yourself. Especially as a military spouse, all the time without your significant other around gives you the free time to really focus on learning and making strides in getting to a place where you can [start your own business]. I think it's good for your spouse too. They know you aren't just sitting around being miserable because they are gone.
What is the most challenging thing about being a Milspo and a business owner? What is the most rewarding thing?
The most challenging thing is probably relocating. Every time we move, in some ways, I have to start my business over again. I have to build up a new client base and network all over again. It can start to feel like a lot of extra work. I think that the most rewarding thing is I'm exposed to a lot of families with stories I may not have come to know, and things like photographing homecomings is something I may not have ever really considered otherwise.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?
Amazing, to know that I am able to provide a person/family/couple with something they will treasure and put in their home, but also it is a piece of me, and a piece of art. It's very validating.
What is one obstacle you have faced as a business, or on a personal level, as a Milspo that you would have never expected?
What is one business goal you hope to accomplish by the end of 2014?
One goal is definitely to take my networking and marketing up a level. We are actually PCS'ing to Connecticut so I definitely want to get ahead of the game and start networking before I get there, to make the transition a little bit easier.
How has being a Milspo helped you grow on personal level?
As much as I hate when my husband is gone, it's been a really good thing for me. The first time he deployed, almost all of our friends got orders to other states and moved away at about the same time so I was in a city that I hadn't been in a year, and really didn't know anyone. I'm a very shy person, but I had to come out of my shell because there wasn't anyone there who was going to help me but myself.
As a Milspo, or business owner, I know one thing for certain, it is . . .
What strengths do you possess, that you did not know you had, until you became an entrepreneur?
I'm a lot more patient and perseverant than I knew I was. Owning your own business can take a lot of time and hardwork before you get anywhere, but after 10+ years I still haven't given up trying to get to where I want to be.
My biggest fear is . . .
My biggest fear is never truly getting my business to the level I want it to be.
My greatest accomplishment is . . .
My greatest accomplishment, in some ways is just following my dream. So many people don't do it at all, and I have taken the leap which is huge in itself. However, I feel more accomplished after EVERY session I do. I know that those photographs are someone's legacy that they will pass on to generations to come.
When I grow up I want to be . . .
When I grow up I want to be me, the same person I am today just a little bit wiser. Still chasing dreams and living life to the fullest.
In 2050 I hope women are/can/have . . .
What is your legacy?
My legacy - preserving other people's legacy, is kind of my own. I hope that I will be remembered as someone who loved, loved life, and loved capturing memories.