2018 was intense. My business’ Ivory House Photography and Brand Launch, experienced success beyond my wildest dream. I solidified for myself who I wanted to be in this community, what I wanted to offer and how I wanted to show up. This was also a year of excruciating loss. I spent the majority of 2018 recovering from the news that the lease at my Walnut St. studio space was not being renewed, for no particular reason that could be explained to me. Many of the decisions I’ve made this year, so many of the things I’ve initiated, work through and built up were done during a time when I wasn’t sure if my business would survive.
I realize now that this doubt was ridiculous. But you see, I had convinced myself that my space, the physical space where I took my portraits, was the magic. That the light from those windows and the address on the door was the reason people showed up to work with me. When that was taken away, I thought it was all over. I’m not kidding about this. I had doomsday written all over my scary spiraling thoughts. And I couldn’t tell anyone. Because who can say this sort of ludicrous, self sabotaging fear out loud?
So I did what I do when I’m presented with a challenging situation. I solve the problem, without hesitation, to the very best of my ability.
Solving this problem took the majority of 2018. In fact, it wasn’t until this past month that I have felt truly at peace with the upheaval of this year. Like so many of us, I am often the last to acknowledge my own progress. I am so myopically focused on the long game that I fail to see the successes that build up to the big goal. But as I wrote this list, I had to admit to myself. This year was a win. Not a small win. Not a jump start. This year was a slam dunk, hole-in-one kind of year, in spite of and because of all the upheaval. I am SO proud to share with you what I think are my greatest successes of 2018.
WE LAUNCHED BRAND LAUNCH
Together Emily Steele and I launched Brand Launch, our business baby. The concept we had been scheming and conceiving for months. Our goal was simple: combine our enthusiasm for Des Moines and grass roots social media marketing to make the greatest impact possible. And we’re doing just that. So many of my wins this year were because of this amazing partnership we’ve built and this business we are nurturing together.
BRAND LAUNCH HELD OUR FIRST SOLD OUT WORKSHOP
Emily and I held our first (of many) sold out Personal Branding and Business Building Workshop. We believe in this curriculum so much, and it was such an honor to be a small part of the participant’s discovery process. Spending time on your business, rather than in your business is crucial and we look forward to providing more opportunities for clarity and discovery in 2019.
Want to join us for our next weekend Brand Building Workshop Jan 24th and 25th? Sign up here.
I PHOTOGRAPHED 36 $100 HEADSHOTS IN ONE WEEK (and lived to tell about it)
I started $100 headshots my first year in business, when I was struggling with revenue and wanted to get more people in the door. That first year, I had 9 people sign up for $100 headshots. Those 9 people were mostly from my FemCity family and are still some of my closest business confidants. My 2018 $100 headshots sold out and then some, almost without any effort on my part. And I can’t tell you how good that felt. Not only that, but myself and my team managed to provide an excellent experience to all 36 of those clients. WHAT A HUGE WIN! $100 Headshots will be coming back in February 21-24. Mark your calendars ladies and gentlemen.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS PORTRAITS
I am a firm believer that an accurate photo of you looking and feeling your absolute best, lays the foundation for so much future success. I wanted to be able to give that feeling and foundation to women who might not otherwise have it. I spearheaded an initiative and collaboration with Dress for Success Des Moines, along with many talented hair and make up artists, to create an opportunity for the members of the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group to get their very own professional headshots. Watch the video here. Fair warning. Tears are in your future.
I CLOSED ON THE NEW IVORY HOUSE
This success was the hard one, the one that I wanted so desperately to be excited about but experienced so much dread and panic around. I bought this beautiful house with great bones with an interior that was firmly stuck in the 70’s and set about to remodel the whole thing and have it client ready by August 1st. Anyone who has gone through a renovation knows the stress of this adventure. Add on top of that all of this money I was spending had to equate to revenue generation on the other end of this endeavor, and you can see how my blood pressure was at an all-time high. I’ll do a complete post on my house sometime in the coming months, but suffice to say, this tough call has become such a treasured space in my life. It is my business and my sanctuary. I have somehow figured out how to have both in the same place, and it feels SO GOOD.
This was the year I landed on what I could really give to people. This was the year of being Unapologetically Extra. I finally understood my true passion of photographing the individual, glorifying the INDIVIDUAL. Making sure you know that you are ENOUGH. You are WHOLE. You are SPECIAL. Just as you are. Standing there, in front of my lens. I took that realization and ran with it. If I am “about” anything, it is encouraging people to be their truest, most authentic, most unapologetic self. Because I believe when you lean into that person, when you have confidence that people will love you because of your strengths, weaknesses and eccentricities, that there is nothing you can’t accomplish.
Want to be Extra with me? Get on the mailing list for these 15 minute mini-sessions held once a month at different locations around Des Moines.
BRAND LAUNCH INTRODUCED THE HUMMINGBIRDS TO THE DSM MARKET
This is perhaps the biggest idea Emily and I introduced in 2018. The Hummingbirds are a group of Des Moines champions, willing to use there personal social media marketplace to uplift and promote brands the believe in. We have created a forum for those community champions to congregate and a systems for businesses to apply to work with our Hummingbirds to get the word out about their businesses. AND ITS WORKING. Guys, this unique idea is inspired by DSM and thriving and we are working so hard to grow this concept, make it more sustainable and bring our style of community love to cities all over the USA. Be on the look out for all kinds of updates on their project throughout the year and read more about the origination of this project and how to get involved HERE.
I DELIVERED THE KEYNOTE FOR THE ANNUAL DRESS FOR SUCCESS LUNCHEON
This was my greatest achievement and challenge of 2018. The biggest reason being, it was the thing that scared me the most. My collaboration with Dress for Success has led to so many amazing opportunities and this was the cherry on top of a truly inspiring creative collaboration. It was the proof that all the good done in the world comes back in the most unexpected ways. It was a true honor to stand on that stage, deliver a message I’d taken months (not joking) to write, and receive a standing ovation. It was just one of the many ways this community has encouraged my growth and rewarded my risks. I will always look back on that moment as a true triumph and a spring board to so many other opportunities that I have yet to discover.
I RECEIVED THE FIRST EVER LEAP PIPELINE AWARD
WOW! This was pretty cool. I’ve been going to the Downtown Chamber LEAP series for a few years now, this year serving as their official photographer. I’ve loved showing up in that room filled with positive vibes and excellent, driven speakers.
In the words of the Chamber:
The Pipeline Award recognizes an Emerging Professional who has (or is currently) attended the LEAP Series and demonstrates a clear momentum to initiate change. Nominee disrupts the status-quo, leads by example, and excites others with definitive potential for continued success. In the form below, please offer examples of how the nominee has applied the education offered through the LEAP Series to promote the advancement of women and other underrepresented groups
I can’t think of a better way to be described and I look forward to building on this momentum in 2018.
SAFE AT HOME - SHARE THEIR STORY CAMPAIGN
Brand Launch has brought so many beautiful opportunities into our lives, but one of our greatest joys is using our talents to mobilize our community and bring awareness to organizations like Safe at Home, a domestic violence assistance program aimed at concealing the addresses of abuse survivors from public records. This project was heart-wrenching, to say the least. The Brand Launch concept centered on SHARING THEIR STORY and to do this, we reached out to our networks to see if any women we knew had stories they were willing to share. The response was huge. My task was to interview these women and put together stories we could share for the greater good. I talked with 12 women, most of whom I had already known in some capacity, about their experience with domestic abuse. I created letter and then Emily and I gather communities leaders to share their stories and end the silence around domestic violence. SEE THEIR STORIES HERE.
This project was beautiful, powerful and impactful and showed the true strength of our community. We look forward to many more projects like this in the future.
IVORY HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHED OVER 40 FAMILIES THIS FALL (Watch the video for proof!)
My passion is photographing individuals, but I love seeing those individuals with their families. Now that I’ve gone through three seasons, I’ve built up a flow and I love this touch point when I get to see the kids getting bigger and the laughs getting easier. Family photos are traditionally very stressful and I pride myself on my familes finishing their session with a sigh an releif and a desire to do it all again next year.
WE SIGNED A LEASE ON A NEW SPACE FOR BRAND LAUNCH
2019 will be a year of immense growth and Emily and I can’t be more excited to see where this new space, and our big ideas will take us. Look forward to seeing many, many more opportunities coming your way and we reinvent what it looks like to show up whole-heartedly for your community.