Photo Native Interview
I first met this beauty when I started my business (GASP! That was eight years ago!). At the time, Jessie was also a momtographer. However, in the last two years or so, she has pivoted and focused her efforts on Photo Native- a conference for any and everyone in the photo industry. Fun fact: Photo Native first started in Utah but has recently started to grow nationally! I am SO excited for her!! It’s been so fun getting to see Jessi thrive in something new and create a community for photographers that’s uplifting. We need more of that in this world.
This gal is AWESOME. Get to know her via our interview below!!
PS- Click here to grab your free copy of my Family Sessions: What to Wear guide!
Where did you grow up?
Did you go to school for what you do now?
I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Communications with an emphasis on print journalism. I had dreams of being a front-page featured journalist in a big city, but life doesn’t always go the way we plan. While at BYU, I worked as a photographer for the daily newspaper and when I realized I could make a career out of photography and be my own boss, it seemed like a no-brainer. After baby number four and my older kids had started school, I felt stretched thin and like I wasn’t seeing my kids at all. I was out giving other people the best of me, and dumping the leftovers on the ones I loved most. The majority of my photography was happening in the evenings and weekends and I was missing bedtime, dance performances, soccer games. Because I was my own boss, I decided I could create a business that actually worked for me and my family, instead of against us. I had already had a year of running Photo Native, a photography conference for creatives wanting to up-level their business, under my belt so I decided to go full-in.
Did you have any jobs before becoming a mom/entrepreneur?
I have had a job pretty consistently since I was 12. From filing papers at and cleaning my dad’s office, making telemarketer calls, answering phones as a receptionist, working as a photographer for a daily newspaper, and managing the circulation for a large local magazine, I’ve had a lot of job experience.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up every morning at 5 am and devote the first hour of my day to reading my scriptures, expressing gratitude, reviewing my goals, and getting a jump start on my daily to-do list. At 6, I go to Karve (a barre workout studio) and attend an hour-long class. When I get home, my kids have started to wake and I assist them with breakfast, getting ready for school, and making lunches. My kids have their “first things first” list of things they need to accomplish each day, so their mornings are pretty self-directed.
Once my oldest two (and sometimes three depending on if it’s a preschool day or not) are off to school, I start to tackle the household work, grocery shopping, etc. On Tuesdays, I have a sitter that comes from 9-4 while I work. My youngest naps from 1-3 and depending on where my preschooler is, I attempt to work during naptime. My oldest two come home from school about 3:45 and from there it’s off to piano or Taekwondo depending on the day. Family time starts at 5:30, friends go home and we get ready for dinner. We eat together as a family at 6 and then clean the kitchen. We start getting ready for bed around 7 and the kids go to bed at 7:30.
If it’s a Thursday, my husband and I go on a date from 6:30-9:30. If it’s not, we’ll usually binge a couple episodes or watch a movie before bed.
What is the most satisfying thing about your job + being a mom?
The most satisfying thing about my job is that it allows me to be the kind of mom I want to be. I’m in control of my schedule, my schedule isn’t in control of me. Above anything else, I LOVE being a mom. I love my kids. And I want to be and example to them of chasing and achieving my dreams but I also want to be present.
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what do you think you would do?
I’m a big believer in times and seasons, I have a lot of dreams and a lot of things I’d love to do but I know it isn’t realistic to do it all at once. I’ve always loved health and skincare, and have considered becoming an esthetician I have also always wanted to do interior design. I don’t think it’s ever too late to do anything, but I don’t want to do everything at once.
What is your favorite “mom” moment?
My favorite mom moments are the moments my kids turn to me, the moments they need me. I love to feel their soft hands on my cheeks, hear their laughs bubble up, and see their eyes sparkle.
How did you develop your niche?
When Photo Native was first conceived, it was out of a need in our industry for a learning experience where everyone belonged. A need to create a safe space of individuality while providing incredible learning opportunities in creativity and business.
How long have you been doing this?
I am currently in my fifth year of business.
Who is your favorite person keep up with related to your field?
So she’s sort of related to my field in that she runs the Alt Summit conference, but I am currently fangirling hard over Gabriella Blair of Design Mom.
What is a challenge you have faced in your experience as mom + entrepreneur?
So much of my work can be done on my phone, which I love but also really hate. It makes it hard to draw a hard line between work time and other time because it’s just always there and so convenient. I don’t want my kids to remember me as the mom that was always on her phone and I don’t want them to think I’m ignoring them. I also want to set a good example in limiting screen time but when I can “just really quick” check my email/respond to an Instagram comment/post a story, etc. I struggle.
What is the best “mom” advice you have ever received?
The book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child changed. my. life. After seeing me clearly burnt out with my oldest, a fellow mom brought over a plate of brownies and her copy of the book to borrow. We immediately implemented the book and all of our kids are incredible sleepers and truly happy kids.
What’s your best “mom hack”?
When I take my kids grocery shopping, we hit the produce section first. My kids inevitably ask for various foods and I always say yes. Then, when we pass through the rest of the store and they ask for processed artificial foods, I tell them “oh but we already got you the kiwi and the banana, remember!” and almost always they’re like “oh, yeah, okay.”
If you had the chance to sit down over coffee with a new mom, what would you tell her?
I’d let her spill and vent and cry and laugh and have an adult conversation because, when you’re a new mom in the trenches of it all, you just want to feel heard and have a conversation with another adult. And I’d gently remind her that it’s not only okay to take care of herself, but making sure her needs are met is how she’s going to meet the needs of her child.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about yourself?
I can do hard things.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
It’s okay to make mistakes, and sometimes success doesn’t look like dollars in the bank.
How have you + your family been impacted by your job?
My job allows my family more freedoms, it helps me lead my kids by example, but it also makes scheduling and being present difficult.