Tell us about yourself! We’d love to hear about your family, hobbies, and favorite food- tell us about your favorite things!
I am married to a loving and patient man and I have a beautiful 10-year-old son I adopted a few years ago now. He is autistic with some other flavors thrown on top for extra spicy fun 😅 . If I collect any more animals my husband has threatened to leave me but mostly I spend my free time reading books that have completely unrealistic sex scenes.
What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Aside from all of the normal things like feeling empowered and helping others feel empowered; my favorite thing ever is returning clients. I LOVE watching their growth. Building trust and going on their journey with them as they heal from past traumas and explore their sexuality. Sometimes they even bring their partner/partners in and it is the best feeling in the world watching a candle turn into a bonfire of glowing confidence. For some, it is literally a whole personality change and I am so proud to be able to provide a supportive space for them.
What is the name of your company?
The Meraki Allure
Talk to us about your life pre-photography (if applicable). Did you have a day job? Do you still have that day job? If not, when did you quit? If you did have a day job prior to becoming a full time photographer, what did you learn from your day job? Are there any lessons you learned that carried over into your photography business? Tell us the story that got you to where you are today!
Oh lord. *Trigger warning for sexual abuse* Back in the day I worked as a home health provider. I worked almost exclusively with special needs children which gave me the ability to help my beautiful son when we first met when he was 3. I was in college for a double major in psychology and nursing. I wanted to open an orphanage and provide total care so they could thrive with extra space for them to stay after 18 if they chose. 1.5 years before graduating with both degrees I had to drop out of college for the final time due to health concerns.
I tried 3 times to go back but the doctors told me the stress of it could kill me so I had to walk away. Before all of this, I had gotten into an abusive relationship. I was destroyed physically and mentally. Once I left, it took me over a year to be able to run again. I was an all-star athlete previously so I’m not even sure you can imagine the trauma from that to crawling to the bathroom because my legs wouldn’t work. With head trauma, I didn’t even know I had to go to the bathroom at times until it was too late. So many hospital visits and stays. 8 years later and I have learned how to handle the chronic issues that came from it. After that relationship, I was in a horrible space with no help. I was raped by a stranger and ended up staying with someone else for a few weeks that abused me even worse because I was scared to be in my home -the ex threatened to kill me. I had no choice for money and turned to sex work. I lost my sense of self completely. I used to wear men’s clothes because I thought maybe if I didn’t feel beautiful then they wouldn’t hurt me. It didn’t matter. I was stalked and hurt in more ways than you can imagine.
Including miscarriages and doctors getting me addicted to prescriptions as well. I got away from all of that. Quit all the prescriptions cold turkey with my husband’s help and he saved me. He supported me and I never looked back. He was actually the one who bought me the camera I use today. He saw something in me and showed me that even though I got sidetracked, I am still beautiful; I am creative and smart and still have so much potential in life. Because I have been through so much, I am able to meet those clients who are coming to me with their own trauma in a supportive space. Not everyone needs it but I enjoy being able to be there for those that do. It helps to have someone to just listen sometimes and not look at them like they are less than others, they are MORE than enough.
Can you tell us more about your photography business prior to joining Mastermind, what you did when you started, previous genres shot, clients per month/year, last calendar year revenue, IPS involvement, and average sale?
Girl I had no idea wtf I was doing. I was charging PENNIES! I think I made 5k gross. I only shot as much as I could get people to let me. It wasnt even once or twice a month sometimes. I joined MM last year and grossed over 60k and I had to take 3 months off for Covid complications! This year I am determined to break that 100k mark. IPS makes such a difference and the pricing guide is GOLD. It only works if you put the work in and I’m determined to go far. It’s only up from here! My average sale now falls between 3 and 5k. I have already sold an over 13k package this year
Can you share some details about your work after joining Mastermind, including the first thing implemented, the current genre being shot, clients per month/year, YTD and monthly revenue, IPS involvement, average sale, and most purchased items by clients (digital, albums, or wall art)?
The pricing guide was the first step. I had instant success going from what would of been a $300 sale to a 5k sale! It was insane!I shoot boudoir/erotica themes exclusively.YTD I think I am sitting at 6k right now but I have started over 20k in payment plans! Monthly is all over the place. 99% of clients start a payment plan. I usually sit between 5 and 10k a month. I shoot 4 to 7 clients a month between 2 states. I do Zoom IPSMost clients choose the luxury packages with diamond blocks, companion albums and wall art being favs. My business and family are THRIVING. I will be buying a house this year because of it!
Do you have support staff? If so, tell us about them! For example- how many photographers, HMUAs, assistants, managers, etc. do you employ?
It is just me. I even got trained last year to be my own hair and makeup artist! I would love to hire a marketing person this year though!
How much revenue total has your studio brought in since joining Mastermind?
70k+ with roughly 50k in payment plans currently.
What is your advice to photographers just starting out? What is your advice to photographers who are full-time and struggling? Remember your own journey – what were your biggest struggles and what you wish someone had told you? 🙂
You are only in competition with yourselfIt is okay to take time off and set boudariesAUTOMATIONS ARE EVERYTHINGGreat customer service does not mean you are their slave you have to be prepared to lose if you want to win. The winners have lost hundreds of times before finding their winning idea. The difference is the winners didn’t quit. Even with you are booked out, you have to push harder to keep it that way. Don’t get compliant. Success if an everyday goal in every area of your life. Success can also be resting for a day though. Take care of yourself or you can’t take care of others. Balance. Don’t forget friends and family. Friends can pay full price too. Surprise them with a treat after, don’t give it away up front. It doesn’t just happen for you. YOU have to put in the work in ALL areas to succeed. There is no true shortcut. There is just guidance and work to do. You can be yourself with your clients and audience. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else to be successful. Growth happens in uncomfortable spaces. If you aren’t having panic attacks you aren’t doing enough.
What areas do you still want to grow in? Do you have any big goals that you are still looking to accomplish?
I want to be a millionaire. I want to start an empire and hire employees. I want to build a studio from the ground up. I am RENTING places now and am still successful. I need to do better at marketing organically and get my SEO going.
What is your biggest accomplishment – work and non-work related? Since your studio became successful, what is the coolest thing you’ve been able to do?
I’ve been able to be the main breadwinner for my house and my husband has been able to breathe easier without all the weight being on him. I was able to buy my husband and me both new cars (new to us) in cash this year. I made a savings account with actual savings in it. Holidays and birthdays are amazing now and I was able to take them on vacations!
Please list any awards won and/or distinctions you would like noted in the article.
I have been so slack on entering things since being so busy with learning. This year I have a goal for 10 legit publications and I will be entering international photo contests. I have so many model-release images ready to go!