“In a world with so many distractions, so much information, and a never-ending comparison cycle, I find it especially important to find time to be by yourself and alone with your thoughts.”
For the past two years I’ve been working on reinventing my photography and consequently my business. I concentrated on asking myself which direction I wanted to go as a photographer, what was the message I wanted to send? I asked myself a lot of questions, but the most important one was: why am I doing this? We are always seeking for advice from our families, friends, people we admire, and more frequently from the web. There is nothing wrong in seeking advice, but we rarely ask ourselves, we rarely follow our own guidance or intuition, this applies to any field of work. For me, it was the lack of courage and determination to remember the reason of why I became a photographer. Using my head instead of my heart was getting me nowhere, yes I was making more money than today, and had far more clients but I was not being completely honest towards the style a wanted to pursue. There are things that belong to the heart and if we don’t listen we are destined to frustration.
I recently met Maggie and I must say she is very sweet, intelligent, and passionate woman. She is the heart behind MaggieGentry where creative entrepreneurs can find a partner to help their dreams come true. I love that she will become your partner and challenge you to find your reason. We sure work better when we have encouragement and support, and someone that will understand our fears and doubts but will make us push through them in order to achieve our goals. Please read on to this interview and let Maggie share with you how she overcame her fears and found the reason to pursue a creative life.
My hope for you is that you will find the courage to follow your dreams and listen to your heart. Because we all have a treasure inside, we just have to go hunting more often.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hey there! I’m Maggie, and I started a business last year called MaggieGentry [www.maggiegentry.com] where I provide thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. Most of the work I do is through one-on-one engagements, and I also host Own Your Why workshops [www.maggieteaches.com]. When I’m not doing the work I love, you can find me reading, going to yoga, hanging with my husband & cat, and eating all the chips & queso.
Where did you grow up and how does that shape what you do today?
I grew up in Victoria, TX, a small town along the coast in between Houston and Corpus Christi. I don’t know how much I can contribute where I am today with the place of where I grew up, but I was always involved in creative activities: competitive dance, pottery classes, reading a lot, and I even competed in UIL Art History! So I’ve always had more of a creative nature. However, I’m also very analytical (I started out as a Math major before switching to Marketing!), so I love that through the work I do now, I’m able to utilize my business sense and share that knowledge with fellow creatives. Since I am no longer directly contributing to another art form, helping creative businesses prosper feels like some small way to still be involved in the creative communities.
Name something you love, and why?
Movement! Whether that’s through dance, yoga, walking, or even stretching, there is nothing that helps me restore my equilibrium like being able to move. We’re living more sedentary lives these days, and I’m guilty of spending HOURS at my desk trying to bust out as much work as possible. I’ve been better about it lately, but simply getting up to walk around for a few minutes helps me re-focus, and ultimately, produce better work. When I’m stressed, I go to yoga. There’s something incredibly powerful about the physicality of moving my body to get me out of my head.
What skills or talents do you think would make you even more successful?
The work I do is hard to visualize, and I often find myself hitting roadblocks when I want to explain something, but I know that it would be better represented graphically. If I were better equipped with graphic design skills, I think I would be able to share my knowledge with workbooks, checklists, and easy-to-download PDFs in a format that is easier to digest. In the same vein, we are so visually-focused these days, I’d love to know more about photography – even to capture slightly better images on my phone.
How did you find your passion?
Through a lot of soul searching and hitting rock bottom first! While I was working my previous full-time jobs, I was always doing some sort of marketing work on the side for one or two clients. It was work that I loved doing – helping small businesses grow their reach – but I never considered it could be a full-time job for me until I was stuck in a corner where I had to find a better solution for myself. I had a dear friend open my eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, and with her encouragement, I built up the courage to make the leap.
What is your ideology as a creative person?
In a world with so many distractions, so much information, and a never-ending comparison cycle, I find it especially important to find time to be by yourself and alone with your thoughts. It’s important to me to create before I consume. Also, I aim to dedicate sufficient time to get in touch with my intuition, my deepest desires, and to define my version of success. It can be easy to follow someone else path and lose sight of why you started in the first place, so for me, I need that time of reflection to keep that reminder at the forefront of my mind.
How do you overcome your fears?
Face them head on. I’m such a worrier, and so I always make up this elaborate story about how horrible it’s going to be, yet every single time I face a fear, I come out on the other side relieved, surprised, and grateful. I’m hoping one day it will get easier, but my goal is to take it one step at a time!
How do you help entrepreneurs find who they are in order to improve their business?
So many of us get caught up in the day-to-day activities of running a business that we often lose sight of that spark that ignited us to get started in the first place. My goal with the work I do is to help my clients find that spark – I call it Your Why – and use that as a guiding force to help you make all other business and marketing decisions. It’s important to remember that people buy from people, so we have to find ways to show the person behind the brand. An effective marketing strategy not only shares your belief system with your audience, it also ensures that you are presenting a cohesive story through all touch points with your customers. I work with creative entrepreneurs to help them find ways to genuinely connect with their audience, and develop a marketing strategy that is intentional, authentic and unique to them.
Who inspires you today?
So many ladies!!! Here’s my shortlist of other female creative entrepreneurs who are killing it:
Misty Bradley [http://wearetherevelers.com/]: Misty co-hosts the we are the REVELERS podcast with her husband Randy, is a phenomenal photographer, and recently launched her coaching services [http://wearetherevelers.com/coaching/] to the world. Her compassionate nature encourages you to dig deep to find your passions and how to live a creative, fulfilling life, even when life throws you curveballs.
Jenny Karlsson [http://www.financialsforcreatives.com/]: Jenny is a pet photographer turned financial coach for creatives, and she is brilliant! Her work focuses on helping creatives become financially literate and work towards charging what they’re worth. Her newsletters are always full of helpful information, too!
Liz White [http://www.lineamae.com/]: Liz is my biz bestie. We connected last year after being Insta friends, and we’ve been able to visit each other in our different cities, and even work together! (She did all the branding & website for Own Your Why [www.maggieteaches.com].) She keeps me motivated on the daily, and she always has helpful tips in her Insta stories. She’s launching a new service – Sales Page in a Day [http://salespageinaday.com/], which may actually be complete by the time this article is published!
Devan Danielle [http://www.devandanielle.com/]: Devan and I connected over our similar beliefs that a brand is much more than your logo. Your brand includes your voice, your vision, and how you interact with your customers on every level. Her free branding mini classes are genius, and her weekly Brand Love Letters are always chock full of helpful insights and loads of inspiration.
Amy Kuretsky [https://www.amykuretsky.com/]: Amy is an accupuncturist and health coach who always shares LOADS of helpful information. Her Health Fuels Hustle podcast [https://www.amykuretsky.com/health-fuels-hustle] has become a favorite of mine, and it’s easy to listen to since they’re typically 15-20 minutes.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Since I have finally found work I love, I want to keep doing this for as long as possible. I want to help as many creatives as I can, and I’m open to exploring different formats in which I can do that. I like to keep this type of long-term goal fluid because even in this first year of business, things have shifted in ways that I could have never predicted, but I welcome them with open arms. Ultimately, I would love to be at a place where I have enough purchasing power that I can support all of my wonderful clients and other small businesses by buying their handmade, small batch products. I value the work they do, the time they put into it, and I truly know the value of shopping small. So success for me will be when I can afford to add a line item in my personal budget to always shop small, not only for gifts, but for myself with clothes, home goods, etc. And it also sounds super dreamy to be able to afford a regular massage.
How is it owning a business as a woman?
I attribute a lot of this to being in Austin, but it has honestly been incredible. The community of female small business owners here is extremely supportive and collaborative. I am so grateful to be here, and have the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded, driven women.
What business advice have you happily ignored?
That in order to grow I have to work with larger clients because they have bigger budgets; however, I wholeheartedly disagree. I started my business with the intent to help creative entrepreneurs, focusing on those who are also sole proprietors, and I plan to keep it that way. I think that until you are in this industry, it’s hard to comprehend just how many of us there are. I want to be an advocate for creative entrepreneurs, helping them launch & grow their businesses, and I can see myself spending a lifetime doing just that.
What is the best piece of advice you will give to someone who wants to start their own business?
I always give the same piece of advice to others that I was given and still live by today, “Do as much as you can, with as little as you can, for as long as you can.” My dad always said this to us growing up, and it has shaped my own business philosophy. It encourages smart growth, and asks you not to be distracted by your wants, and focus on your needs. When you are first starting out, you can feel like you need to purchase the fanciest invoicing system to make you “feel legit”. Or maybe you buy the largest plan for the email marketing software as a way to manifest your subscriber growth. But those monthly fees can add up quick! Start with what works, lay a solid foundation, build your expertise, learn through doing what you really need, and then you’ll have better tools to make a smart investment.
What does being “free” mean to you?
To me, being free means creating space to explore and expand. We all have the choice to create that space for ourselves, however that may look to each of us. It feels trendy right now to boast about your hustle, how hard you’re working, how busy you are, but I don’t believe that you have to be a slave to your schedule. You have the choice to create your boundaries to ensure you have the time, space, and mental capacity to do the things that make you feel free.