The Business of Business is a look at an emerging intrepid group of women. How do these women continue to progress through difficult obstacles and oppressive nature which we sometimes often face?
As the battle for female representation continues, we [Forgotten Magic] have approached women in divergent industries from around the world. These women are creating a space for themselves in their respective industries to strive, grow & glow.
Amy Shackelford is a testament to hard-work and courage. Trying to make it work and provide for her family is the memo. On top of her 9-5 Amy created a side-hustle and business called 1000Words Photography and Graphic Design in Lexington, Kentucky USA. She started 1000Words with the objective to find a passion to pour herself into.
We sat down with Amy to chat about the courage and get to know what motivated her into taking this step.
What is your definition of courage?
Did you need courage to undertake the decision to go into this line of work? And if yes, is courage an important ingredient is taking such a step? Courage: To stand up and push through even when the future you saw veered down another path. Finding the joy in the midst of suffering. It always takes courage to step into a new vision. This strength is what it takes to make you succeed. It allows you to hold firm in tough times.
What do you think the phrase ‘The Business of Business’ means?
Business of business is the perfect name that showcases the areas of a business that aren’t on a spread sheet. They can’t be measured; they must be exploited and praised.
What is your perception or definition of fame?
What is your perception or definition of success?
It’s not always financial results that determine fame. If you are doing well in your business, this (in my opinion) is a bonus. But fame and success are measured in a whole different scale. Do you show off your finish product? Do you think about it before you fall asleep? Are you always trying to improve? Does it make people smile to see your work? Would you be proud to see one of your children perusing the same skill? All of these thinks are much more valuable than money! They make you keep going through all the ups and downs!!!
Does your industry accommodate women? And particularly, women like yourself?
Not geared solely to women, but my photography does focus around families. Family sessions, weddings, sports etc… Although women are not the focus, 99%, or higher, of all of my business has been initiated by a woman. Their needs, their schedule, their family budget, their kids.
What motivated you to go into this industry?
I started this business to find a new area that I enjoyed after I had an AVM (Arterial Venous Malformation). In the early 90s, this unknown birth defect exploded in the back of my skull, leaving me passed out and as good as dead. Back then, this condition was VERY rare and only 1/200,000 were ever born with it. I was in a coma for 9 days, had a 12 hour brain surgery, and through the grace of God, survived through the low odds. After lots of therapy and re-learning what my body could and couldn’t do, my doctor told me that I would have to adapt to my “new normal.” These stroke symptoms on my right side, external and internal were devastating. I could no longer pursue music as a career, I lost both of my music scholarships, and had find a new joy for my life. I took wedding pictures for a friend, on the fly, and loved it. I started working at a professional studio, then for an independent professional to broaden my grip on the art. I began working for myself and love every minute!
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I always worked my sessions around my own busy life schedule. Five kids and all of their activities doesn’t allow much extra time. But my God, my husband, and my love for the art gave me the support to keep going.
What is your biggest struggle in the industry?
Photography is an art that many people take for granted. In the era of digital technology and a camera in every hand, everyone thinks that they can be a decent photographer. Sometimes the advanced features on a camera can make up the difference in the end result; but it often can be a tricky situation that demands the knowledge of lighting, posing, and scenery choices.
What is social media/technology’s role in your business?
Social media allows me to have a website, electronically view proofs, promote my business for free, and make comparisons. There will always be those who have something negative to say on any social media platform but always remember it’s about you and your client. As long as they like it, you’re golden.
Are there many collaborations or events that occur in your industry to unite women?
Not that I am aware of.
What are 3 big lessons that working to make ends meet has taught you?
3 lessons I’ve learned…
• This business is feast and famine so budget and stick to it
• Keep your priorities in order Don’t work so much that you miss the moments that are important. On the death bed, I don’t know of anyone that said, “Man, I wish I had made one more deal.”
• Live in the moment. When your working- be there, when you the mom- be there, when your the wife- be there. You can juggle as much as you have to to live, just remember to LIVE!
What advice can you give to young women looking to go into your industry or business in general?
If you want to get started in photography, start at a studio like Olan Mills or Walmart. Most of these place have the camera pre-set to take care of their needs. This allows you to learn the posing, how to quickly engage a toddler to capture the shot, and how to deal with the public. After mastering these skills change to a private studio so that you can learn about camera setting, Photoshop, and file maintenance. This will give you the best of both sides of the spectrum; knowledge that you will use regularly.
What are your greatest achievements?
After all is said and done, I love the Finishing Services in photography more than anything. To take a picture and tweak it to a masterpiece, to refinish someone’s photo and save the memory that would have been lost forever, to create entirely new pieces for several photos put together; this is the best part of my business, the graphic design.
Words you live by?
Just keep breathing. It’s all going to be okay sooner or later.
Where to from here?
How can we reach you or your business?
Photography helped me through a part of my life when I was young a needed a great fulfillment. I had just lost music and needed to fill a void. It taught me about the “behind the scenes” work that needs to be done as well as the fun stuff. Both are needed to stay financially profitable. I’m getting older and the effects of my earlier surgery affect me a lot more than when I was young. Since my vision and balance portions of my brain were the parts that were cut into to save my life, I have moved onto other areas of passion to add to my repertoire. I still do photography for family and friends but I am currently studying on-line business management and plan on opening a restaurant.