Friday, August 28, 2015

Finding My People

When I first jumped into the wedding industry over four years ago, I didn’t know a single vendor.  I mean….I knew the ones I had talked to when I was planning my own wedding.  But I didn’t have any sort of relationship with anyone.  I didn’t have a vendor friend that I felt I could reach out to.  No one to bounce ideas off of, gripe to, or really relate to.  No one to celebrate with or to motivate me to go harder.  Everyone around me seemed to have these people… vendor friends that were always accompanying them to industry parties or grabbing coffee with them or collaborating together on projects.  As much as I knew the wedding industry was where I was happy, I felt very alone for the first three years I was in business.
Don’t get me wrong, Wes and my non-wedding friends have always been so supportive.  But I’m not sure they always get it.  Wes knows that I’m often up late, hammering away at the blog or working out timelines.  He brings me more wine and makes sure I eat dinner (he knows my love & food).  But he doesn’t really know how much sweat and tears go into what I’m doing.  My friends know that I’m usually busy on Saturdays and too wiped from a wedding on Sundays to go out and brunch with them.  But sometimes I feel like they think I’m just using work as an excuse when I say I can't hang out.  And while they all love celebrating with me when a new shoot gets published or something, few of them know how exciting being featured on Artfully Wed or Ruffled really is.
I knew that I didn’t need a vendor friend to succeed in business.  I was doing just fine on my own.  But I wanted a vendor friend.  Desperately.  I was really craving someone I could chat with about my crazy ideas, someone that could push me as much as I could push them.  I felt stagnant, like I wasn’t growing at all.  So I sort of settled into the mindset of “Well, I doubt JDE will get much bigger than it is right now.  It’ll be fine as just a part time thing.”  It was awful.  I knew that wasn’t what I wanted.  I wanted to be my own boss, to be in charge of my hours and my workload completely.  I wanted to build my company in a more intentional way and to grow.

And then, in June 2014, it happened.  I was coordinating a wedding for one of my very favorite couples in the world.  I sat down to scarf down my vendor meal and sat with Sami of Sami Proctor Photography & Design, and her second shooter, Liz Henson of Elizabeth Henson Photos.  We all started chatting and Liz and I realized we knew a lot of the same girls from field hockey {In case you’re not aware, Virginia Beach is the biggest small town you’ll ever find….everyone knows everyone}.  Anyways, Liz and I chatted a whole bunch and I just adored her energy and drive.  She had ideas and she was willing to chat with me about them!  That was such a huge deal to someone that felt like no one ever credited her as being a player in the game.
Fast forward to August and I was helping Liz with her promo video.  Through that project I got to work with so many new vendors I hadn’t met yet.  It was awesome.  Liz and I became fast friends {I now call her my #vendorsoulmate and I couldn’t mean that more}.  We decided to try our hands at putting together a styled shoot and it turned out to be a huge success for us and a major turning point in both our businesses.  I learned that I absolutely LOVED the process of planning a shoot and putting it all together.  And Liz found that she had a serious talent for teaching and mentoring other photographers.
From there, things just sort of snowballed.  I met more vendors, some of which I consider to be my closest friends.  Liz pushed me to network more {still a work in progress, but I'm doing so much better}.  And I’ve spent the first 8 months of 2015 being a lot more intentional with my business decisions.  Every move I’m making is in the direction to become my own boss full time.  I’m working and growing and it feels great.
I’ve also got people now.  I’ve got people I call to celebrate with, to bounce ideas off of.  I’ve got people I call to cry with and to ask for help.  I’ve even got people that call little ol’ me to do all those same things.  These people always have my back and it’s the best feeling in the world.  They make me a better business owner and person, they support me, and I love them with my whole heart.

So to all my “people”, I adore you.  I needed you and you showed up.  You support me and motivate me.  And you continue to do so every day. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being my cheerleaders, my reality-checkers, and my friends.  You mean the world to me.  <3

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