When sis said I should meet Kim Brundage, I browsed her website and thought, "Oh, a beautiful woman taking beautiful images of other women, got it." We exchanged some emails on the topic of e-newsletters, which was the project Kim was considering at the time. Even when the working relationship is project-based, such as e-newsletter campaign, meeting the client to learn about the business is an absolute must. So we set a coffee date. In the West End. At a Starbuck's. At 8 AM.
I spent 11 years in traditional and formal business environment till 2010. I wore the corporate uniform - full on business suits, dresses, hosiery and sensible business shoes. I had my signature Starbuck's formula. I played the office politics, climbed the ladder and strategized how I would succeed. I did well but I did not feel well. The field I was becoming an expert in on a national level, did not give me joy.
One day I made the transition. This side of the fence, the crazy, unpredictable and unstable life of an entrepreneur, is where I feel I belong. I've built and helped others build brands and businesses where my contribution was meaningful. I can't wait to do bigger and better things and know that I can.
But every so often, I still catch myself thinking, "Are you CRAZY? What are you doing? Get a JOB!"
I held onto all my corporate wardrobe until recently in case I ever needed to get a job-job again.
So the internal struggle is real.
I write about that because that internal struggle explains why driving on 64W at 7:30 AM, getting a spot at a Starbuck's in the middle of the West End business annex, surrounded by business people waiting for a beautiful photographer that takes beautiful head shots of business women made me uneasy.
I looked around and suddenly thought, "Why didn't I get up 15 minutes earlier to put face cream on my blotchy face? Am I wearing too casual of an outfit on purpose?"
Then in the next breath, I would tell myself, "EFF THAT, that's not important."
You know, the struggle.
It is real.
6/3/16 I drove on 64 at 8 AM and am sitting at the busiest Starbuck's with a drive through.
Six baristas behind the bar. Tinder dates and meetings on the floor. This is a whole different Richmond!
Then along came Kim. An hour passed in a blink.
I can't write about who Kim is, what she does, and where she is going in a meaningful way in this post. It's not time for that yet. But this is the important part for now. At the end of the hour, I found myself telling Kim:
"Your mission is bigger and deeper than the images you create. Please tell your story. It's important."
I advised her against the e-newsletter, recommended people that I thought would make a bigger impact on Kim's business, and promised to stay in touch until it was right time for us to work together. Some of my talented colleagues really live and breathe in the space of Kim's target audience and I thought it would be important to seek their opinions first. I turned down paying work because it wasn't the right thing to do at that point for Kim's mission, which by the end of the hour, I was wholly invested in.
We parted ways after this selfie. I wrote that seemingly innocent caption in a way to remind myself of the insecurities, judgement and uncomfortableness I felt in going in to the meeting, and how I came out of it a little humbled, relieved and inspired by what was beyond. Beyond what my eyes could see, my brain would judge and the beautiful photos.
6/3/16 An hour of inspiration and just plain good old #girlboss connecting time with Kim Brundage this morning!
I still won't take a photo with her with my blotchy bare face, but she is very convincing when she tells me I'm beautiful as I am. Maybe full face selfie next time. 😎 #beautynconfidence #movedoconnect
A month later, we reconnected because Kim's new photo studio is nearing completion. And without getting into details, this time I know how Kim and I should work together, with a healthy dose of confidence and conviction.
Yesterday was our second work meeting finalizing details of her Grand Opening event next week. Kim's best friend Michelle who is a professional chef for the American Embassy in Moscow (I know, what?!), will lift some heavy weights for the Grand Opening and participated in our meeting.
You know the best friend who knows you so well that you can skip whole sentences and still communicate? They are that. It was soon as important for me to get Michelle's buy-in as much as Kim's buy-in and our meeting moved fast and furious with this dynamic duo. Michelle even captured this image of Kim and me at one point, and said, "You know, for social media." She may be my spirit animal.
I pulled up this photo several times yesterday to post, but just could not write the caption to explain why this was so important to me. It's not just about a new client. It's not just about Kim's business. It's not just about Grand Opening. It wasn't even that we all said to each other at the end, we really liked working together.
What is it??? Sis told me to sit with it for a while until it became clear. Maybe it's not supposed to be an INSTAgram post. She was right.
This photo is important to me because when I look at it, it shows confidence. It shows Kim's confidence in trusting me, it shows my confidence in guiding the way and Michelle's confidence that her BFF has good help and is making right moves. It reminds me of the meeting where we were sure of the decisions we were making and felt we would succeed. I see two confident businesses women and feel the presence of another who's holding the camera. And it is beautiful. There is so much beauty in this moment captured - moment of camaraderie, energy, collaboration and support. Moment of confidence. There is so much beauty in confidence.
Remembering that uncomfortable morning at Starbuck's before Kim walked in, this photo is a reminder that those moments of insecurities stemming from deeply rooted fear would come and go.
It is part of an entrepreneurial life and human nature. But if you let the moment pass and stay true to your course, you would find longer stretches of time where you are clear about your purpose and feel sure of your path. This photo is a snapshot of that truth.
When I finally put all the emotions and thoughts into words that let me articulate why this photo was so important to me, and just then spot Kim's hashtag #beautynconfidence on our photo from 6/3, I feel kind of speechless. It's that goosebump-inducing, woo-woo and holy-shit kind of feeling that I get when I know I'm in the right place. I can hardly wait to see what's around the corner.