At a conference I attended earlier this year, I learned a term and a concept that greatly impacted how I think about our membership culture here at the House. "Badassador" - as in, bad ass ambassador - is a term reserved for those members that are your biggest cheerleaders, the ones that bring others in and tour them around on their own, that tell everyone they know about the space and their co-members, that genuinely feel that we are helping them without realizing how much they are helping us: the ones that are the real reason you have a community (because as house managers, we do know that it's not about us). We are so lucky to have quite a few badassadors, and Libby of Libby Vision is one of them.
Beyond what she does for us, though, is the fact that she's a rock star in her field of food photography, both as a talent and as a driver in building relationships that matter. Whatever that secret sauce is, Libby's got it, and we know how lucky we are to have her with us. We recently grabbed a moment of her time to chat about how she started her business, the good and bad bits, and her tips for others looking to make the leap.
What are you drinking?
A water and a cold brew coffee that I'm obsessed with - a mixture made with almond milk, for all day coffee drinking (til 9pm).
Current mood in less than 3 words:
How did you discover that food photography was what you wanted to do?
I had to take an art class in order to graduate high school, and took photography since it's basically art for people who can't draw. When I left photojournalism at the Palm Beach Post, I always loved hanging out with chefs - obsession, creativity, and drive. It was all about aligned interests, talents and growth potential, as well as the industry and where I could fit in.
How'd you take the leap from passion to full time job?
My passion has always been my full time job; I majored in photojournalism in college. I can never remember a time in my life where I wasn't obsessed with taking pictures. If we're going to make it (as entrepreneurs or females) we're going to need to have a complete obsession with our passion.
What's your favorite part about your industry/your job?
The creativity. No one likes the business side of running the business. When you create special photos with a client, with both visions working together. When you get hired for your vision and your style is sought after, not just because you have a very expensive camera. When the client trusts that you are photographing the mood, moment and style - that's the best part of the job. My goal is to be hired more and more for those type of jobs, and less and less to just shoot what it looks like.
How has Social House helped you with the way you do business?
I found my old business plan from when I first started, which contained a timeline of goals, and I had listed surrounding myself with a network of small business owners in the first six months. Social House provides that. There is a wealth of smart business owners who can help me meet my goals. No matter what problem you may have, anyone at Social House can solve that problem. It doesn't matter that we are in different industries; we are all going through the same things. That's one of the most valuable things - it's an incredible resource and knowledge, all going down a very similar path together. It's support and desire to help each other, which is very rare to see and amazing to be a part of that experience. I cherish having people in my life that I can talk to and be around that provide collaboration, inspiration, and the ability to problem-solve.
Any productivity tips or secrets?
No. I've got nothing, if you have any then give them to me.
Any tips for other creatives looking to start their own business?
I never thought I would be starting my own business. I like having someone tell me where to go, what to be and do. It was a brutal awakening; I was terrified, but I think terror can be a great thing. The times I'm most afraid is when the greatest growth occurs. I quit my job and Libby Vision was born, I just figured it out. Determination to succeed when you have no other option, and you just have to have an insane amount of hustle to do whatever it takes to be successful. From every mistake I made I had to learn not to make that same mistake again, so I've made so many mistakes but learned every step along the way. Surround yourself with creative and positive people who have that same amount of drive and desire to make it as you do. You have to nurture yourself with people who want to succeed. Social House has been just that for me.
Your ah-ha moment:
I may still be waiting for mine. They might come in stages. Waiting for this moment where "I've made it" but I'm not sure if I'll ever have that moment. Our field is so challenging.
Most challenging part of owning your own business:
Relating my vision, and understanding that not every client is going to be my client. I'm finally producing work that I love, but that doesn't mean that it translates to every client with my price point, and I have to able to let them go. Getting rejections because I'm not the right vision or price point is hard.
Most rewarding part of owning your own biz:
The most rewarding is working with the most amazing clients - the ability to collaborate with such talented chefs and carrying their work. Being able to pick and choose, like Tim Lipman and Clay Conley, at some of my favorite places around town. We love to travel so I love being able to take a lot of vacations.
Most rewarding part of your week:
Creating photos. I try to do photos for me, too, just shooting at home while I test a recipe and my dog sits and watches over my shoulder, which is my favorite way to spend the day.
What's something that has happened while owning your own business that you never could have planned for or expected?
When I was shooting a lot of food for the Palm Beach Post, we would eat a lot of the leftovers. I could have never anticipated being on an 8-hour shoot running on espresso all day, coming home ready for bed without eating. I never guessed I would be in a kitchen, working around chefs and not eat all day - it's amazing how you're so focused you're not even hungry after being around food all day.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
Those who know me, know exactly how intense I really am. I'm not sure if that's good or not. I'm a terrible liar.
Your dream job:
I have it. I've had my dream job since I turned 20.