Apart from being a mom - a job I don’t take for granted - I’m a photographer and filmmaker who believes in the power of storytelling. I founded the film nonprofit Fotolanthropy to document and distribute true stories of strength and also started the FOTO brand to equip creative professionals with beautiful, functional photography products.
What inspired you to start your business?
I had a successful photography business but always felt this stirring in my heart to give back somehow. Sometimes in life, we feel “called” to our purpose and I literally received a phone call that led to mine. In 2011, a grieving mother called me to see if I could take portraits of her son who had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was the most challenging photo session of my life. I saw struggle and strength and it led me to start Fotolanthropy, a nonprofit that could serve families facing adversity through photography and film.
In 2012, a picture of quadruple amputee SSG Travis Mills stopped me in my tracks. I wanted to know more about his story and share it. This led me to produce my first feature film documentary (with no experience I might add!) and today Fotolanthropy is focused on using the film platform to share stories.
Also in 2012, the economy was still recovering and we wanted to ensure that we had consistent funds to produce films at Fotolanthropy. A photographer myself, I knew there was a need for stylish, high performance camera straps. We went to the drawing board and created the Fotostrap, a camera strap made of genuine leather that would also give back. Ten percent of every product purchase would be donated to Fotolanthropy, a commitment that is so important to me. I named our first Fotostrap the “James” in honor of the little life that impacted me so greatly.
What is something you would say to someone who is struggling in their first few years of business? Is there something you struggled with and learned from in those first few years?
Do not be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with people who believe in your mission. I remember my early startup days and how I felt like I had to do it all. The reality is - it’s just not possible to do it all and that mindset will lead to burn out (trust me!). When I found new team members who shared my passion and excelled in areas that were my weaknesses, we were able to make so much more of an impact.
What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?
One of my favorite hobbies is flipping homes with my husband. I actually received my degree in interior design and it’s a blast working on these projects with him.
I also care deeply about supporting women who desire to be moms, but have had a challenging journey. I have experienced both infertility and loss, and know how isolating this place can be. I’ve contributed to books, spoken about this topic and have used our Fotostrap blog as a platform to hopefully encourage others. ...I’ve even been dreaming about this as a future documentary film topic.