OK so maybe it’s a Three Part Story….
My story is a bit longer than I thought…
I’ve said this before, and I will say it again – no one succeeds alone. There are life circumstances, good and bad, that shape who we become. There are many people that cross our paths, good and bad, that also shape who we become. Sometimes those circumstances and people in the moment feel like the worst things to ever happen to us, but if we move forward with the reminder (as painful as it may sometimes be) that “everything happens for a reason” – once we get to the other side of that dark tunnel, out into the light, we can look back and understand the path that lead us there.
In my 31 years I have only worked for one large company. I always worked for small business. My first job was at my Aunt & Uncle’s restaurant; my second was for American Eagle Outfitters (the one large company); my third was for another small restaurant; fourth was for a private lesson music school; fifth, sixth and seventh were all about the same time. Two of those were photographers and one was a marketing company. I learned a lot of very powerful lessons from all of these jobs. I watched all of these small businesses make huge mistakes, and have huge triumphs. I watched them hurt their business, and grow their business. I think the thing I paid the most attention to, was how they treated their employee’s and independent contractors. All of these things helped shape how I run my business today. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do….
I had some personal things happen in my life as well during my college years that made me make emotional decisions. I attempted my first business partnership because I didn’t want to start a business alone. I didn’t think I could be a self-starter. I thought I needed someone else to give me direction… I thought I needed a boss in a way, or someone to hold me accountable. I was an art major after all, not a business major. I didn’t know what I would do alone. I quickly learned that that business partnership was not a good one. It was early on in the partnership that I realized it would not be a healthy fit, so I got out of it.
I also got my heart broken by someone I worked with at the time. So as I was finishing my last year of college, I was dying to get away from that job – away from the constant reminder of my broken heart. I felt if I stayed, I would never heal. I started looking for jobs and I got a job with a photographer, and a marketing company at the same time, both promised with a start date the first Monday after graduation.
Eventually, the marketing job turned into a traveling marketing job and the photography side of it diminished. I was all of the sudden in a strictly sales position and unable to find time to do any photography. I slowly backed out of the other photography jobs I had picked up along side the marketing job as it became full time. Once I realized I was deviating from my dreams, I left the marketing job and went back to the photographers I had slowly stopped working with. They both took me back and I was back at two photography jobs and trying to build my own portfolio. One of the photographers I worked for became an incredible mentor. She understood that I needed to build my portfolio and she helped me every chance she got. The other was the polar opposite. She restricted me from working with others in the same field, and made me sign a contract stating that I would not compete in her field. This felt very ugly from the start, but I was naïve. I thought I needed to pay my dues and this was how I needed to pay them.
Flash forward 2-3 years and countless frustrations later and I somehow found myself in another partnership with the same Photographer who pigeon holed me to begin with. I remember getting into the partnership thinking, “this isn’t what I want.” But I did it anyway. The devil on one shoulder telling me I had no other choice unless I wanted to start from ground zero shouted louder than the angel on the other side telling me I could do it alone. So I signed on.
About a year later I found myself so unhappy I couldn’t keep a positive thought in my head about my partner or the business we were starting. I even tried to give up shit talking and complaining for Lent that year. I was so miserable that forcing the ugly negative thoughts out of my head felt like the impossible task of climbing mount Everest without training. I dreaded going to the office. I felt like my opinions didn’t matter, and I had only ever been needed as a pawn in a vicious game of good cop bad cop that was being played. At the same time I felt stuck. I was in a business partnership with someone who I knew would make it hell if I tried to get out. I was with a partner that strong-armed me at every turn and if I simply didn’t want to work with this person any more I knew it would be an ugly fight – one I was terrified to take on. I really felt stuck.
Then one day the final straw that broke the camels back was forced in place. It was a fight that went on for three days. It was “Get out.” “Good. I’m done.” “Great!” and a door slam. Then it was, “Everyone leaves me. Please don’t leave me… I need you. Get back here.” Just like any super nasty co-dependent relationship. When I refused to return things got really ugly. Clients were stripped from me, and I was left with nothing. No portfolio, no clients, no money.
There was a point that I stood in the middle of my kitchen after another fight on the phone where I thought, “this is what business rock bottom looks like. I have nothing. Literally nothing. How the hell am I going to do this?”
Eventually, through very difficult discussions an agreement was made where I was granted a handful of clients that would float me through the end of 2014. That was my deadline. I had 8 months to get my business going and enough weddings to pay my bills… I had no money for marketing, just enough to get me by and hope that a website revamp, Facebook boost, and referrals would get me started in 2015.
I called my Mom and told her. I said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I have until January. Mom… I might have to get a REAL job.”
To which she replied, “Don’t you dare. You can do this Brianna.”
“I don’t know. But you can. I know you can.”
I was angry at this statement at the time. I was frustrated, I was terrified, I felt like a bird with two broken wings and had no idea how I was going to mend and get back in the air…. I needed her to tell me HOW I was going to do this. But she had literally no answers other than, “I just know you can.”
I promise to finish this blog next week! For now check out Sam & Becky’s beautiful wedding in San Diego:
For more information on Orange County Wedding Photography or Destination Wedding Photography, please visit http://www.BriannaCaster.com