I spent a majority of my life making choices based on what I thought other people expected me to do. I allowed the opinions of others to hold me back much longer than I like to admit.
It wasn't until I was in my early 30's that I finally stepped away from that mindset and started asking myself what I really wanted my life to look like (like Ryan Gosling yelling "what do you want' in the Notebook). I started allowing myself to dream bigger than what felt comfortable, and took the leap into entrepreneurship that would change my life forever!
I thought long and hard about what I wanted to share with you in this ABOUT ME section. I always feel awkward talking about myself and never really know what to say.
I could tell you all about how much I love helping other women build a business...but that should be pretty obvious by now. SO, I thought I would go a little deeper and share the REAL story of how I ended up where I am today....
2010 was a BIG year for me! Not only did my husband and I get married on a beach in Key West that summer, but by the end of the year I had a brand new hobby that would be a game changer....I just didn't know it yet!
For years I had watched my soon-to-be-hubby spend his free time (pre-kids obviously) enjoying a variety of hobbies he loved - hunting, fishing, sports, etc. I realized that aside from my teaching job, I didn't have anything that really excited me. I had mentioned my lack of hobbies a few times, so that year for Christmas, my new husband presented me with a shiny new DSLR camera saying "you always loved taking pictures and I think that should be your hobby". Little did he know what he had done! I would spend the next few days reading everything I could about my new camera and testing it out on anything and anyone that would let me. A FIRE had been ignited inside me!
It was March of 2011 - my best friend and I were painting her living room while her new baby slept in the other room. She had recently received her latest family photos back from her photographer and we were talking about how nice they would look over her fireplace. Then she said something that would change both our lives forever - "we could do that!"
That day as we covered her walls in paint, we crafted a business plan for what would become Paisley Layne Photography.
Our first official clients were newborn twins...those photos no longer exist on the internet because they were THAT cringe-worthy. We knew nothing about running a business, but we figured between the two of us we could figure it out. AND, we were determined that this was the way out of teaching and into a life of living on our own time and terms.
ONE major life event took place in 2012 that changed the game - our first daughter, Brinley, was born. I always said that I wasn't one of those women that wanted to be a stay-at-home mom...but like most things we say before having kids, I quickly changed my tune. My best friend, and business partner, had already made the decision to leave teaching to be home with her kids....and now, looking at my baby girl's face, I felt the desire to do the same.
The problem was that I couldn't just walk away from my steady paycheck without something to replace it. So I made the decision to go all-in on the photography business. I had this feeling in my gut that it was my golden ticket to the life I had been dreaming out.
2012 was also the year that my BFF/business partner and I decided that we had very different visions for the business and that it was best for us to each create our own brands. She went on to build a flourishing newborn photography brand, while I kept the Paisley Layne title and started focusing on couples, high school seniors and boudoir. (it was a 100% amicable split and we remain besties)
You have probable heard the saying "you don't know what you don't know" - well I learned that lesson the hard way over the next few years of running a business. When I made the decision in 2012 to make my business a success, I never realized what that would require. For 3 years I spent my days teaching and my nights & weekends trying my best to balance being a new mom and building a business. There were LOTS and LOTS of tears, a few breakdowns and many late nights. But I was on a mission and nothing was going to stop me.
I attended conferences, read blog posts, bought courses and even created a local FB group to help me answer questions I didn't even know I was needing answers to most of the time. Words like 'lead magnet", sales funnel", "analytics" and "seo" were a common part of my daily vocabulary now....and i LOVED it! Learning the business side of running a business felt like piecing together one giant puzzle. I got a thrill from seeing something I was doing work and felt challenged to keep going when something didn't.
I had found my new passion in learning the ins and outs of building a business.
I sat at my desk starring at the contract in front of me, but I couldn't bring myself to sign it. I knew in my heart it was time to take the leap. My oldest daughter was about the start Kindergarten, and our youngest, Sadie, had just turned one. I knew it was my last chance to live the life I had envisioned for so long. A life that gave me freedom to create my own schedule. I turned in my resignation and ended a 14 year career in education.
Nothing has ever felt as freeing as that moment did!
I was excited but also terrified. I knew that if I wanted to continue working for myself, I was going to have to put in the work and make it happen. I hit the ground running once the school year ended and in my first 6 months as full time business owner I matched my teaching salary.
In the years that followed I would exceed that income year after year....proving to myself (and my husband) that I had made the right choice. But even more exciting than the money, was the freedom that came from being my own boss, creating my own rules and setting my own schedule.
As soon as I left my teaching job, people started to take notice. Everyone wanted to know my "secret". How did I make it happen? What was I doing to grow my business? I started mentoring other business owners 1-on-1 and in small group workshops, and it felt really good to be back in a 'teaching' role. But I wanted to do more. I tried creating a blog, but quickly realized that writing out my thoughts didn't come naturally. At the time I was consuming podcasts like crazy and had to idea to start my own.
I had zero clue how to begin, so I just started recording episodes on my phone with a pair of iphone headphones. The rest of it I figured out as I went using Google and a few helpful Facebook group searches.
The Girl Means Business podcast was born!
I wasn't sure what I wanted to podcast to be exactly or if anyone would listen. But I felt pulled to keep recording and keep putting it out there. If you record it...they will come!
Today, as I sit at my computer typing this....I pinch myself at just how far I have come. Not only did I allow myself to dream big, but a lot of those dreams have become reality. Anytime that I find myself feeling discouraged or questioning my ability to push forward, I look back at where I was at the start of my journey. I imagine going back to that version of me and describing my life to her. She would be shocked and amazed at the things I have accomplished.
So while I still have lots of BIG, CRAZY dreams I want to accomplish, I never want to forget just how far I have come!
If you are reading this, I want to say THANK YOU - for being here, for supporting me and for being the kind of person who chases big dreams. Let's create amazing things together!
- I met my husband on MySpace (the OG of online dating) and we were married on the beach in Key West
- I am an Enneagram 7 which means I love to have fun and be spontaneous, and I hate feeling trapped or stuck in one place for too long
- My favorite mood-boosting activity is going for a long drive with the radio blaring some 90's Pop Hits
- We live in a small town on a few acres of land and it's the perfect, slow life that we love
- I constantly have a stack of books on my bed side table that I plan to read someday. It's a mix of business books + cheesy romance novels
- I have major Wanderlust and New Zealand is at the top of my travel bucket list
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