February 14, 2015
Over the next few weeks, while our Kickstarter is running, we'll be featuring guest posts and interviews with a variety of women around a variety of topics related to Princess Awesome.
Eva has four kids. I (Rebecca) have two. I'm a full-time teacher. Eva does website management on top of being home with two of her kids during the day. Starting Princess Awesome has involved a lot of creative time management and more screen time for my kids than I'd like to admit. Please meet, Kelly. She's my cousin and right around when Eva and I officially incorporated Princess Awesome, she started her own photography business. We asked her to tell us about her experience with starting a new business, being a mom, and all that both of those entail for her. Thank you, Kelly. And, if you live in the New Hampshire/Boston area, check out her company: www.wrjphotographyllc.com
“Are you a hobbyist or business owner?”
The title of this blog post came across my Instagram feed this morning courtesy of The Snap Society, but in all honesty, it has been a question I’ve been ruminating over for a few months now.
When I received my very first DSLR camera from my husband as a gift, I never imagined that he would have provided me with more than just a physical gift. He gave me far more than a mechanical device that has the capability to record better pictures than I had ever taken before. He gave me a vehicle through which to explore the world via a smaller frame for a grander purpose. He gave me the ability to freeze special moments in time from a child’s first steps, to a surprise birthday trip to Disney World (I’m not sure who experienced more magic that day-- me or the child receiving the gift!), to when a man first sees his soon-to-be wife gliding down the aisle toward him. But, perhaps most important, he gave me the opportunity and the confidence to start my own company.
I don’t have a business degree, and, in fact, I have never taken a single business class. To say that this whole process has been overwhelming does not even come close to articulating how I have felt since last April when I officially registered WRJ Photography, LLC with the state of New Hampshire. I instead turned to my roots for guidance. No. I do not have an elder in my family who is a business owner. I was an English Education major in college, so how was I going to figure out the world of limited liability companies? I read...and read...and read...and read some more. In all honesty, I have not stopped reading about business practices, protections, marketing techniques, etc. since before I registered my company. Does this mean that I have this business ‘thing’ (I know, I know. All my fellow English Education majors are cringing right now!) down? Absolutely….not! I’m not fit to teach anyone about what it takes to run a business, but what I am qualified to discuss with all of you is what this experience has meant to and taught me as a mother.
A little detail that I left out earlier in this post is the fact that the camera was not the only impetus for the conception of this company. Another very important (well, most important!) driving force for the creation of WRJ Photography is the young man whose initials will forever be synonymous with the company-- my son. You see, it was the pictures of him that I posted on Facebook that ultimately garnered attention my way as a newbie photographer. Yes, my passion for this art has long been inside of me, but it was my son who helped draw it out. It was my son who served as my very first subject as a professional photographer. It was my son who helped me realize how important it is to help other families capture their special memories.
Now, before you assume that this post will look at the world of business through a mother’s rose-colored glasses, let me stop you right there. Being a mom and running my own business has presented many challenges. In fact, it is the reason that the quote I reference in the title above has been causing me much personal turmoil. I am so very lucky to be able to be home with my son when I am not at a photoshoot or teaching a class at our local college. But, this means that caring for him must take precedence over caring for my company. While the mother in me is absolutely okay with this, the business owner is not. In order to expand my clientele, amass more attention, and become published, I have to take the time to research, post, and write. Some of you may be thinking, “Why don’t you just work when your son sleeps?” And, you are right! I should focus my efforts during those times, but I also have photo editing to do, lesson plans to write, a house to care for, a husband to spend time with, and, occasionally, sleep to get! :-) To top it all off, my son is not the greatest sleeper. He’s not the type to settle down for a three-hour nap or sleep for twelve hours a night. So how do I balance all of this while caring for my son? That’s right. I can’t! When I need to get work done, I have to bring my son to his great-grandparents’ house to be watched. I know. I’m really lucky that I have family in the area willing to help, but that does not take away how I feel when I am not spending that time with him. I am torn. I know that I am passionate about my company and in order for it to grow, I have to spend time working toward that growth. But I’m also passionate about spending time with my son while he is still young and not in school or off doing his own thing (there’s that pesky word again!).
Which brings us back to the initial question I’ve been asking myself. Am I a hobbyist or business owner? While I’d love to say that I’m absolutely the latter, I cannot, for certain, peg myself as a true business owner yet. Unless, perhaps, I change the definition of what I think it means. Does a business owner have to spend every waking hour working for and thinking about his or her company? Some would probably answer, “Yes! Absolutely!” I, however, am choosing to challenge that position. I’m not just a photographer. And, at the same time, I’m not just a mother. I guess I’m what some would call a ‘momographer’ (okay, I know it sounds a little too close to a profession all of us women will encounter at some point in our lives if we haven’t already, but just go with me here!). And you know what? I’m totally okay with that. More importantly, that is something for which I can say with one hundred percent certitude that I am NOT a hobbyist.
I would like to thank Princess Awesome for, well, being AWESOME and for allowing me the opportunity to share my story! Best of luck to all of the business-owning moms out there-- you rock!