Boss Lady Series - Meet Liz!
“A woman with a vision empowers an empire of women to do more, see more and be more.”
In this week’s blog post series, I would like to do something a little different. I am extremely fortunate to be living out my dream and passion, empowering women to love their bodies and becoming the healthiest version of themselves possible. However, without my support system of inspirational and empowering women, I would not be where I am today.
I used to envy women who seemed to have it all together. Instead of feeling motivated, I would become jealous and wonder why I couldn’t be some amazing entrepreneur or business owner. What made me so different? One day it dawned on me – I was going about this in the completely wrong way. The women in my life who were successful didn’t achieve their dreams on their own. They likely had individuals who encouraged them and pushed them to pursue their passion.
“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women.”
So rather than hold a grudge, I began to view these women as mentors whom I could learn and grow from. Today, I am blessed to be surrounded by many women how have pursued their dreams and started their own, successful businesses.
This brings me to my first featured Boss Lady of the week, Liz Condo. I met Liz when we worked at a local, North Carolina food market together. I instantly knew Liz was an incredible person. I loved working with her, because she always brought a calming, yet hard-working presence to the job. In fact, she was one of the first people I had the pleasure of working with. Her ability to teach and make you feel at ease was noticeable.
Not only was Liz an incredible mentor and excellent at her job, she was and is also an amazingly talented photographer. You could find her photographing local food items, staff members, as well as our local farmers and producers. Her artistic viewpoint added so much to the company, not to mention made the website look great! Not only that, she also traveled to the remote jungles of Guyana where she documented the work of conservation scientists. Talk about incredible!
“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”
Today, Liz is an accomplished and successful photographer. She is the Founder and Owner of both Liz Condo Photography and Heirloom Collective, her wedding business. If you ever have the opportunity to hire her as your photographer, consider yourself lucky! Liz is truly gifted and I am grateful to know and be inspired by her. So without further ado, meet Liz!
You are the owner of both Liz Condo Photography and Heirloom Collective. What made you take the leap towards owning your own small business?
I worked as a newspaper photographer for 7 years after graduating from college. I had so many incredible experiences and absolutely loved it. However, in that time period, the industry changed dramatically. Newspaper jobs became scarce. People I admired were getting laid off left and right. Papers I had always dreamed of working at became shadows of their former selves. It was disheartening. I realized I needed to take control of my own future if I was going to have a future as a photographer, and that meant starting my own business.
You are very successful today, but starting a business doesn’t come without challenges! What were the biggest initial barriers to starting your business and how did you overcome them?
There is so much competition in the world of freelance photography. Traditional publications can have their pick of talented photographers. It can be difficult to get noticed. Creating personal relationships with people I want to work with has made a big difference. When they know they can count on you and like your work, they will come back to you and refer you to other clients.
What is the mission of your business and what makes you passionate about fulfilling it?
I strive to tell stories about everyday life. Whether the photos I take end up in a national magazine or on the wall of someone’s home, I feel equally passionate about capturing real moments between people. It reminds us all that this life is full of magic and that every day is full of beauty. This life can be so hard, with so many trials and challenges. I hope to bring some joy to my clients see by helping them remember the beauty in their own lives.
It would be nice to say we are perfect business owners without faults; however, that is usually not the case. What was the biggest mistake you made as an entrepreneur?
Saying yes to the wrong kind of work. It’s important to take work that will move you forward as a person and a business. It can be difficult to say no to a good paying gig. But if it doesn’t benefit you in the long run, you are squandering valuable time and energy for short-term gains.
What has been your most successful moment in owning your own business?
There isn’t a single moment that stands out. Overall I feel successful when I get a job I really wanted or create work I’m really proud of.
Your drive, work ethic and love for what you do has really inspired me in pursuing my own business. How do you strive to empower other females to pursue their dreams?
I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by a community of talented and supportive female photographers. I have relied on them for advice more times than I can count. And luckily I have been able to pay that back to other photographers just starting out. I have given advice when asked, pointed them to resources that have helped me, and let them know that it can be a tough road, but so rewarding.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when starting your business?
I wish I had taken more risks earlier on. I felt like I needed to have everything in perfect order before I could reach out to clients I wanted to work with. I was afraid to take things on until I felt completely ready, so there would be less risk of failing. But things are never going to be perfect, you’re never going to be completely ready. The best way to grow as a person and a creative is to push yourself, to be uncomfortable. And sometimes to fail.
What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) to run a successful business?
Financial stability is a big one. You are not guaranteed a paycheck as a freelancer. You have to hustle all the time to get work. I recently had a baby, and being self-employed means there is no paid maternity leave, no paid vacation, no company health insurance. It’s a big financial risk.
What would you say to a female thinking of starting her own business but has reservations and too many fears about actually taking the leap?
If you are able to work on your business part-time, while working for a steady paycheck, that can be a good way to ease yourself into taking the full-time leap. Then you can build up experience and a client base, and evaluate whether it’s feasible in the long-term. It can be a scary transition for sure, and only you can decide if it’s worth the risk. But for many of us who can’t imagine doing anything besides the work we love, we’d rather fail trying to make it work than never trying and being safe.
One thing I have found is that it is nearly impossible to pursue your passion without a strong support system. Who is a female hero of yours and why?
My Mom, Jayne. She is the best mom anyone could ask for – endlessly kind, loving, and supportive. She always encourages me to go after my dreams. She believed I could do anything I set my mind to, and so I did too. She also modeled bravery and optimism in her own work life. She launched a number of small businesses, worked in a variety of industries and embodied the spirit of entrepreneurship. And she did all of this as a single mom. She never stopped dreaming or reaching for new goals. She inspires me every day.
Liz began her career as a photojournalist, capturing award-winning images that reached tens of thousands of people every day. Her passion for the environment eventually took her into the remote jungles of Guyana where she documented the work of conservation scientists. This allowed her to see firsthand the power images have to impact lives and effect change. Today, her work captures people and moments as they are, without interference. Liz has discovered that the most meaningful images tell a story.
You can find Liz’s amazing portfolio of work at www.lizcondo.com as well as her wedding business at www.HeirloomCollective.com. You can follow her personal work on Instagram here as well as her wedding work here.