It has happened.
I am a full time photographer!
Those words still don’t feel real.
Honestly the past year has felt like a total blur, but I’m here and it’s official..
I AM FREAKING FULL TIME!
Yesterday marked the last day of a 10 year chapter of my life,
I walked away from a career that once was my wildest dream and still is to many in the industry.
I spent 10 years working for the most prestigious salon in the world and I can honestly say I don’t regret a second of it.
Along the way I learned so many incredible lessons, many of which have laid down the foundation that brought me to this very blog post.
Today won’t be part of my typical “How to build a successful Photography business” curriculum, but instead an homage to a decade of working really hard and what I’ve learned doing so.
In the beginning.
With any dream comes a beginning, most of which are turbulent.
20 year old me would be laughing because turbulent is an understatement to the beginning of this story.
10 years ago I received a phone call that would change my life, I got the interview! Not just any interview, THE interview- the interview every eager young stylist hopes for but many don’t get the opportunity to attend.
At the time I was living in Tampa and had to be in Atlanta by the following week, not a big deal right? Except at the time I got that call I was literally living in the back seat of my car, parked in my college parking lot, and surviving solely off of peanut butter and jelly because I couldn’t afford anything else. I remember rationing out the bread for the week because I could only afford a single loaf.
So I get this call and if I plan on changing anything about my current situation I knew I had to get to this interview.
Next thing I knew I was pawning any little thing I owned just to make $100 for the round trip, lucky for me my best friend decide to give me some extra cash and told me she would get us a hotel when we got there.
*Fun fact for all you local folks, the hotel was off boulevard; pre-beltline, pre-ponce city, pre-generification, boulevard. To this day it always makes me laugh when I see how much those houses cost there now. Because the evening of our stay we had a homeless transgendered prostitute banging on our door the entire night asking for money and I can tell you confidently, that wasn’t the scariest part.
When I arrived to Atlanta I had nothing to wear. I didn’t have much of a wardrobe at this point and definitely nothing I could show up to an interview in. So I spent the second half of my gas money and bought something at the mall, tucked in the tags, and prayed I didn’t spill anything or else I knew I couldn’t return it and ultimately wouldn’t be able to afford the trip home.
I got the job!
Thankfully for me the plan panned out. I made it back to Tampa sold everything I owned, car included and hitched a ride back to Atlanta.
When I say I sold everything I owned, I mean it. I moved here with 2 grocery bags full of clothes, a handful of beloved books, just under $1000 cash in my pocket, and about $20k in debt.
The next year I spent riding the extremely inefficient Marta system to and from work, sometimes a 4 hour commute for what would be 13 miles in a vehicle. Standing morning and night in extreme weather while I waited for the bus and would typically put in anywhere between 50 & 60 hours a week.
Shit was hard.
But that brings me to lesson number #1– Don’t give up.
I remember the night I moved to Atlanta my Dad looked at me and said, “This is when you learn what you’re made of.”
And I fucking did.
I learned that no matter what is thrown at me, there are zero obstacles that can keep me from what I want.
I learned that nothing worth having is ever easy.
I learned that dreams are worth the plunge, even if that plunge hurts like hell.
Fast Forward 10 Years
Over the next 10 years I learned invaluable lessons, far more than I’d ever imagine a hairstylist would.
I was taught the value of exceptional customer service, the art of sales, the skill of conversing with people from every walk of life imaginable, and how to develop your own unique identity despite being exposed to so many different ones.
I held peoples hands and prayed for them after they told me they were dying from cancer, I cried with people who experienced great loss, I felt incredible joy when someone announced a new baby or an engagement, I heard peoples deepest secrets and I felt their vulnerability when they opened up to share a part of themselves with me.
I lived the highest highs and the lowest lows at this place, and honestly I wouldn’t change a single minute of it.
I had an exceptional leader who taught me to treat everyone from the house keeper to the CEO with love and respect. She also taught me about second chances and how my perception of someone may not always be what I think. She is one of the hardest workers I know, but does it every single day with a smile on her face despite any hardships she may be dealing with on her own. A true OG.
I learned that many people are dealing with something invisible to us and that kindness goes a long way. I no longer cower in the face of uncomfortable situations or emotions that may be difficult to deal with because you never know who could be contemplating taking their own life behind a bathroom door.
I also sat back for years and watched the effects of hateful words and how even grownups can be bullies, sometimes the high school mean girl can manifest their way into your break room and completely pull one over on most of the entire higher up staff. In an odd way these are the people I feel sorriest for.
But mostly I learned how good people are.
I met some of my best friends through this experience, I mourned the loss of one of the kindest people I’ve ever known, I had some of the most sincere and genuine talks with people who I found in my chair, and heck I even got a pretty o-kay husband out of it too.
What’s most interesting about my experience is that looking back I don’t think about the haircuts.
It’s never been about the haircuts.
I cant tell you a single time when the haircut meant more to me than the person, and for me that just proves how incredibly successful my time there was.
The next chapter.
Like everything, we are constantly evolving.
My next chapter is currently on it’s first page and trust me a shaky handed author is nervously holding the pen.
At the end of the day I just hope I’m brave enough to never stop writing new chapters.
And hopefully, when I get to that very last sentence in the big book of life..
this all pans out to be one hell of a novel I’m proud to have written.
I love you all so much and the support I’ve recieved is remarkable. Thank you so so much for following me through this crazy journey.
How about some virtual cheers for new beginnings and even happier horizons!
And hell why not a shameless plug too:
HIRE ME FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS SO MY KIDS CAN KEEP REFUSING TO EAT THEIR DINNER!