The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
I have been an artist all my life. Luckily, the entrepreneur and businesswoman in me followed in close second. Growing up I was always drawing, painting, dancing, performing, or otherwise getting “messy”. My poor neighbors endured my constant visits engaging them in buying my artwork, signing their child up for my art or animal club, and purchasing tickets or contributing a baked good donation for my summer play production. And yes, I sold these “donated” baked goods back to them during the intermission of my plays.
After attending the film school at USC, I immediately landed my dream job photographing Nelson Mandela in Memphis Tennessee. It was total luck and when Nelson entered the room, I was so nervous I dropped my lens cap and it rolled across the room (in front of a row of publicity photographers and celebrities) and straight through Nelson’s legs. Luckily he had a sense of humor and it broke the barrier on what would be my favorite shoot then and forever. After this gig, my sense of urgency and lack of fear gave me the drive and devotion to start my own business (and two more) twenty years later.
I am currently the co-founder of Style Army, a fashion branding agency offering a team of experts in photography, promotion, public relations and website design and I recently returned to my documentary and photojournalism roots to create The Moms Project—a blog that publishes stories in words and pictures of highly successful women who are mothers, as well as, extraordinary individuals. I have owned my photography business Zoom Photography for over 15 years, although it is winding down so I can concentrate on my other two endeavors and life as the mom of a quite energetic and almost five-year-old daughter and fashionista.
What do your kids think about your job?
I laugh that it took my daughter Harley almost four years to get in front of my camera. She had no interest in being “mommy’s model.” Now, thankfully, the girl has fallen for fashion and with her 10 wardrobe changes a day she feels the photo-documentation here and there of her creations is worthwhile. I do notice her becoming more interested and fascinated by what I do lately, as she sees my passion and love for my work and the imagery I produce from my shoots. She has enlisted herself to be my assistant “when I am a little older, say 9 or 10.”
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
Every 4-6 months my poor supportive husband has to endure his wife hitting a wall. The endless energy that I typically have comes crumbling down. I am exhausted, overwhelmed and emotional. Trying to keep up with all the commitments is a constant struggle. My expectations of being superwoman are met with the painful realization that this is not necessarily the case and I need to ask for help.
I would also say that the iPhone has become a big fail for me. When my daughter or husband is talking to me and my mind is elsewhere or I am fiddling with my phone looking at emails or Instagram, I get a sick pit in my stomach. I never want her to feel like this is acceptable for a conversation between two people and that she is not valued or I am not totally present for her. I am really trying to be less instantly responsive with my work and if I have to lock my phone down in my office during “Harley-time” that’s exactly what I am going to do.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
I feel extremely lucky that I get to do what I love and feel so passionate about what I create daily. Both of my businesses surround me with incredibly inspiring, creative, and successful people. I learn so much being in this company and I feel my business life has really enhanced and benefited my personal life as well. With Style Army, I get to live out all my fashion dreams with my incredible business partner, dear friend, and amazing stylist Mary Gonsalves Kinney (mom of three!) and a dream team of experts that encourage me and push me to be my best. With The Moms Project, it’s a lot of the same fun and on a more personal level—I learn daily from the shares of my moms and I have built this incredible extended family-community for myself and my family. Not to mention—even though all entrepreneurs work like dogs—I do have the flexibility to make my own schedule and on the days when my daughter is sick or needs a fun mommy-day, I can usually make this happen.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
I am very honored to be a feature mom on Mamalode. Just as I believe my blog does for its readers, Mamalode’s stories help us all feel a little more normal about our daily lives and our juggle with work and motherhood. It is important that we all share our ideas, our resources, our successes and failures. As the old proverb says, it takes a village to raise a child. And in this day and age, we need all the support we can get. I never imagined myself to be a “mom’s club” type of gal, but with Mamalode and The Moms Project—you get all of this…and its actually a beautiful thing!