9 Years Strong

9 Years Strong

March 24, 2017

headshots, head shots, headshot, head shot, jacksonville headshots, jacksonville head shots, jacksonville headshot photographer, jacksonville head shot photographer, st augustine headshot photographer, st. augustine head shot photographer, st. augustine headshots, st. augustine head shots, st. augustine headshot, st. augustine head shots, jen shannon, jen shannon portrait, jen shannon head shots, gunilla craven, oakstreet realty, beauty, glamour, hair, makeup, realtors, realty, lawyers, professionals, professional, jill stonier, jill stonier professional makeup artist, hydrafacial, spray tanning, lash extensions, eyelash extensions,Today marks my 9 year anniversary of being in business. I know I reminisce of that night every year, but I’m going to do it again anyway. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was working for Aetna at the time and Colby and I had just bought our first home. While he was working on replacing some baseboards, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop. I had been contemplating starting a graphic design and photography business for awhile and I thought, “Why not now?” So I did it. Right there on the couch that one cold night on March 24, 2008. I remember going on the IRS website to get a tax ID number and getting stuck on the name. I had no idea what to name my company. Colby gave me the idea of something with Starlight because I loved stars, so Starlight Art & Design was born. I was so proud. I hadn’t even built anything yet… just acquired a tax ID number. I remember everyone having their doubts that I would “stick to it.” Even Colby thought it was just a whim of something fun I was trying.

I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I jump head first into things that sound like a great idea, but then I realize after I’m all in that I don’t have the time, knowledge, or patience for it. This was different though. I don’t know why, but it was.

It wasn’t an easy road. I built my first website (oh I just roll my eyes at what I thought was a super cool design) and posted my pictures for sale. I remember my first picture that I was SOOOOO proud of what a fish head that someone had left on the beach… Yeah…  No surprise no one bought anything, right? lol! I did start landing my first design jobs though. I remember my first one was SUCH a pain in the butt. They wanted something, I gave them to an exact “t” what they wanted and then they changed what they wanted and hadn’t paid me, so I couldn’t stand up for myself and require more. At the end of the project, I earned just $50 for what should have costed $450 to do. That left a bad taste in my mouth. I loved design, but I hated the grey area regarding revisions and changes to the concept, so I decided to focus on photography.

My first paid photography gig was at PetSmart and I photographed 55 pets in one weekend. The session and an 8×10 print were $10. I don’t know how I thought I could possibly run a sustainable business off of that. I felt so accomplished though and I donated $2 from each sale to PetSmart Charities. So really… I paid out of pocket for that event. I was so smart… lol! Here’s the poster I made for it!

I won’t go into all of the changes in my journey through the years, but I will say that I’m extremely proud of myself, my accomplishments, and my business. I remember people thinking my business would fizzle out once I started having kids. I guess time is the only thing that can prove those people wrong, but here I am, 6 years after getting pregnant, 5 years after my first child, 3 children later, with a studio outside of my home that I absolutely adore and am still going strong.

It seems like my generation is full of people saying to chase after and fulfill your dreams. Was this my dream when I was a kid or a teenager? No. I had NO idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Even when I graduated high school, I didn’t have a clear path. I thought I was going to go into management at Publix. I’m glad that never happened. Don’t get me wrong. Publix is a great place to work, but the lifestyle of a Publix manager is very difficult. It’s long hours, closing at night, etc.

At the end of all of this, looking back, I see God’s hand in all of this. I gave my life to Him the summer before I started 9th grade and I’ve walked with Him ever since. Has it been easy? No. Have I doubted things at times? Yes. I’m human. It just goes to show that when you’re walking with Him and you believe in His will for your life, that He will guide you to what you are supposed to be doing in life. Will I always be a photographer? I don’t know. I hope to be until I eventually retire. I love my work. I love running a business, though it is frustrating and exhausting at times. Everyone says you should begin with the end in mind. I definitely didn’t do that, but I can tell you that I don’t have an end in mind. I have ambitions, directions, and ideas for what I was to accomplish and do but at the end of the day, I want whatever His will to be, because, clearly, if I had gone with what I had planned for me, I’d be a bakery manager working 60+ hour weeks, closing at least one night a week, managing people who may or may not want to be working there, and could be transferred at any given time. That is ok, but that is NOT what I want for my life, looking at what I have now anyway.

So with that said, I toast to 9 years in this wonderful career and cheers to many more!

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