I’m locked in my office. Well, not actually locked in, but enough so that my kids don’t see that I’m in there. The noise can be distracting, but I’m getting better at tuning it out. Then something happens. They all laugh! Not just Jenelle, or one of the boys. No, every single one, including my husband. It happened again. Something absolutely hilarious that I happened to miss because I’m stuck in here. Working to make this thing called photography work. Working to make a living. And while I know that it’s okay; they understand, the heap of guilt just got a little bit bigger. I just missed something, and I’ll never get that moment back, because I’m stuck here. Behind my desk. Hustling. Being a mompreneur.
It’s been 17 years to the day that I first set foot on Canadian soil. My parents, four siblings and I just flew from the Netherlands to start a new life on a dairy goat farm just outside of Norwich, Ontario. Life was good. Well, actually, not really. I was 11 years old, and had been the subject of bullying in Europe already. Innocently, I made the mistake of taking that self-image with me when I started attending school in Norwich, and my fellow students quickly took advantage of that.
I was a bubbly and energetic grade-6er, with a red tint to her gorgeous brunette curls and freckles splattered all over my face. Now I look back and think that I was just adorable, but at that time, not so much! Slowly, I lost my self-confidence to the point of severe depression. To the point where I wasn’t even able to graduate high school.
MY START IN PHOTOGRAPHY
My little point and shoot camera died at some point during the summer of 2015. I started looking at getting a “big camera” for some reason. After chatting with Bertus, we decided to go ahead and purchased my first DSLR; a Nikon D5300. I realize that to most of you, this means nothing. It is pretty much just a very small step up from a basic entry-level camera. Boy, I was so proud!
One of the first family get-togethers held after that, I took it with to practice. My sister-in-law came up to me and asked me if I was going to be a photographer now. I hadn’t even considered it, to be honest. And my first thought was NO!!! I think that anyone looking for a service deserves to get the best, and I wasn’t anywhere near ready to go there.
After being asked to do pictures for a few friends and family members, and seeing how it impacted them… it started to impact me. And I fell in love, all over again. This time with photography.
LEARNING SO MUCH
It was time to buckle down, and start hustling. At first I was happy with being a “beginner” but I think any entrepreneur starts to tire of that mentality soon. We all want to grow. And that desire to get better is what drives us. We start pushing to get out of that “beginner stage”, and it’s not always easy. There are so many ups and downs when you own your own business. The ups are what keep us going, while the downs are what keep us growing.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
When you own your own business, you have the luxury of setting your own business hours. And that can be amazing! It can also be very tough. Because, let’s be honest, when you want something bad enough, you lose track of time. And when you work from home, that can mean that things like laundry and cooking fall by the wayside. Now, when you work from home and you happen to have a few little munchkins (four in my case), that makes things extra difficult.
Being a mom means changing diapers, lunch at a reasonable time, stories, and any other distractions that they bring with them. Being a mompreneur means you have even less time during the day, which often translates to even later hours at night. Mama’s gotta hustle! But there comes a certain time in any business where you realize you have to start treating it as a business. With business hours. And limits on yourself. And that is the toughest part. Because your passion for your work is still so strong!
TREATING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS
When you receive an inquiry for a job that gets you really excited about, but it happens to come in later at night, you automatically want to reply right away. You want to give that potential client the best experience you probably can. But it’s so important to come to the realization that it can be better for both of you to set limits. Replying to emails during your official (or unofficial) business hours conveys that you are taking this seriously. Sticking to pricing shows that you know your worth. And this is not only good for you when it comes to stress levels. This is even better when it comes to how it impacts your relationships. When you have evenings available to spend with your hubby after the kids are in bed, he appreciates it.
My husband knows that it’s not always possible. Hy understands that I try hard and therefore appreciates the times where things work out and we get to have an adult conversation. And he forgives me for the times when I take on too much and it starts to wear on both of us.
Today I’m listening to THIS PODCAST from Cultivate your Life with Lara Casey, and you really should too! Learning about how to number your days makes you think twice about hustling
I want to be a mom and a wife first, but I understand that being a mompreneur means that this is a constant struggle. But it’s so worth it! I am working very hard at figuring out how to time block, so I devote the right amount of time to my business and to my family. I also have to set different goals for my business, starting with how I devote my Saturdays. I love weddings; they are my passion, and since most weddings fall on the last day of the week, this mompreneur has to count that as part of the sacrifice she has to make. But that means that the Saturdays when I don’t have weddings are mine. As of this year, I am no longer taking sessions on any summer Saturday. There are exceptions to this rule, feel free to contact me for details.
WHY BEING A MOMPRENEUR IS IMPORTANT
Having purpose. For 7 years I was “just” a mom. There is no such thing as “just” being a mom. Being a mom is all-consuming, life-giving, and one of the most humbling experiences that a woman can ever go through. When I found this passion of mine, I realized that it was the icing on the cake, but the cake was just a little harder to get right. The cake is still the most important thing though. When the cake falls flat, it doesn’t matter how amazing the icing is. So if you’re a mompreneur, remember that focusing on your family is good!
Now let’s get started on the business part of being a mompreneur. I get it, you want to succeed. I’ve been there. I’m still there. In my head, I know that being a successful family and wedding photographer reflects on my reputation. So I work hard. I hustle. And because of that, I’ve been feeling so much better about myself. I applaud women who work in addition to having a family. Working outside of the home is a different sacrifice, but it’s no more or less hard than being a working-at-home mom.
I’m excited to use the talents that God gave me and impacting my family and wedding clients with the DVI experience. But above all, I’m excited for all the opportunities that will open up because of the fact that we have this extra income. I know I have to work hard for it. I know that there are times when things are going to be difficult. But the thought of being able to go on another trip like our cross-country trip last summer keeps me motivated! (See HERE for some Instagram posts from our trip)
A GOOD DOSE OF REALITY
An incredible woman gave me some incredible insight last week; she mentioned that it always seems like I have everything together. I asked her about it today, and this is what she told me: “I’ve always admired your photography – it evokes such romance in the way you capture love so elegantly. I feel lucky to have worked with you and you’re always so polished, professional and seem to have it all together. Always smiling, proud mom and wife. You are definitely an inspiration.” This woman happens to be Angila Peters, an incredible supporter of mine and an amazing business coach! (Learn more about her HERE.)
It hit me; things are never the way they seem. But at the same time, they are never the way we see them ourselves. So it’s a good thing to find a support system in your community, like I’ve done. They help keep you motivated, while at the same time telling you that you’re imagining things when you’re being too hard on yourself. At the same time, it’s a great way to still feel connected to society, especially when things get a little lonely at home.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
This 3-year-long journey has been incredible. I’ve learned so much in my business. Aperture, the best lighting to achieve my sunny and colourful style, but most of all, I’ve learned that there are positives and negatives when it comes to being a mompreneur. I’ve learned that having to hustle to make things happen has made me learn faster, that limits are not just good for my business, but also for my family. And I actually have also learned that setting scary-big goals is the best way to grow! But that’s a whole other blog post for another day, because this lady is signing off and going to cook dinner. Have a wonderful week, y’all!