We made it through the polar vortex and it’s finally starting to warm up! I’ll admit I really haven’t left my home/office much this week at all, perks of being self employed! This last month, I’ve been working hard on putting together new Colorful Creatives interviews, design blogs, and behind the scenes on my interior design projects. 2019 is going to be a great year!
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Rachel over the last couple years and watched her develop as a photographer. She has a fantastic eye and is really able to capture the perfect moments, creating lasting memories for families to cherish. She just re branded her business from Little Dumpling Photography to Rachel Serb Photography and the new look is stunning! I’m particularly excited to share Rachel’s interview as her path to entrepreneurship wasn’t always planned. Her strength as a mom helped her overcome challenges with her family’s health, and out of necessity for flexible work hours, she found her creative passion. Sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned, but you always find yourself right where you need to be. This girl boss is killing it and is an inspiration for us all. I hope you enjoy getting to know Rachel Serb and be sure to follow her on social media!
1. How did you get started as a photographer? Do you have an educational background in photography?
I definitely do not have a background in photography. I never really knew I wanted to be a photographer full time until I started making strides to launch my business full time. I grew up pretty much always wanting to be a teacher. I hold a masters degree in education and I have several years’ teaching experience. After I took maternity leave with my son, I never went back into the classroom. My little one was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and I needed to stay home with him for quite some time- he was unable to go to daycare. I needed a job that offered more flexibility. I always dabbled in photography. Every teacher has a “side hustle” and photography was definitely mine. I decided to launch my business full time so I could earn an income but have more flexibility around my son’s condition. I have now been running a successful business since 2016. I have recently re branded and my son is doing quite well with the help of neupogen injections. We have another little boy on the way.
2. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Not at all! It just kind of fell into my lap. I totally love it though. I love being my own boss.
3. When did you know it was the right time to go full time on your business?
It slowly progressed into full time work. I definitely work full time hours now. However, I didn’t at the beginning. I had to work really hard building up a client base at first. Now, most of my clients are return clients. I am always happy to meet new families, too.
4. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome with owning your own business?
My biggest struggle has been finding a way to balance my son’s health issues and growing my business. Growing a business is difficult and very time-consuming. After making the decision to open Rachel Serb Photography things have fallen into place. Things have a way of working out when you are doing what you are meant to do. My husband and mother have been super supportive of my business. When I first started- I spent lots of time editing sessions for clients in a hospital room with my son. Now things are a lot better regarding his health— but it’s still hard to find enough hours in the day managing a toddler (while being pregnant) and working full time. Every day is a little bit crazier than the last.
5. How did you reach your potential clients when first starting your business? Has anything changed in that process now? What have you learned?
I started marketing in “mom groups” on Facebook! I never really marketed to friends and family. I wanted to go and seek out my own “real” clients- not just friends. Haha! Now-- I still use social media quite a bit, but in a different way. Facebook is a great tool! I also keep clients up to date with an email list, etc. I also make sure my clients are super happy and love their photos so they return and refer their friends. Referrals are HUGE!
6. Do you feel you need to educate people on what you do? How do you handle that situation?
Totally! People think I just come to them and take a few photos. They definitely don’t see how much work goes into the back end. There are also SO many expenses that go into running a business. Taxes, insurance, equipment, etc. I spend hours editing photos to perfection. Most individuals don’t know how much work goes into the final product. Between marketing, emailing clients, setting up shoots and sending out contracts, editing, importing and exporting photos, etc. I would estimate maybe 1/50th of my time is actually spent shooting. REALLY. I do, however, want my clients to have a seamless experience. I don’t want them to see how much work goes into a session. I want them to have it easy and just have fun and be relaxed-- make memories with their kids.
7. What is your favorite & least favorite “hat” to wear as a business owner?
I HATE working on website stuff. Rebranding was a huge pain, but SO worth it. I don’t like dealing with domains, SEO, etc.
8. As a busy business owner, how to do avoid burn out?
Just make sure you keep doing what you love. Look at the big picture. Why did you start your business? Certain seasons are hard but it is all worth it. I get better at facing challenges every day.
9. Where do you look for inspiration?
All over! I get ideas from my clients. I am always open to trying new things. Many times, clients come to me with a specific idea in mind. I also love to see what other photographers are doing too. Chicago has a great community of photographers and we love bouncing ideas off each other and giving each other tips!
10. How do you stay motivated?
It is pretty easy for me to stay motivated. I truly work hard and keep long hours, but I love what I do. I love my clients. I love seeing them happy. I LOVE seeing my clients cry when they look at photos of their children. I love making moms feel beautiful. I love watching my baby clients grow. I love my job. It is easy to do something you love.
11. How do you start your Monday?
I try to take Monday off--- sooooo COFFEE!
12. What are you working on right now?
Still working on finishing up the tail end of my rebrand. I changed my business name from Little Dumpling Photography to Rachel Serb Photography. I am also working on booking Spring/Summer 2019!
13. Where is your favorite place to work?
My favorite place to shoot is outside! I love love love shooting outside in the fall. I also really love shooting in my client’s homes. Kiddos are usually quick to warm up in home and we get some great photos. You don’t need to have the “picture perfect” home to get great photos.
14. What are some colors you are connecting with right now?
I love blush pinks and sage greens.
15. What are some of your favorite textures/ materials?
Marble, driftwood, greenery!
16. What is something you could not live without?
My son. My hubby. Coffee. My camera. Coffee. My mama.
17. What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago?
I love going to the Shed with my son
18. If you could travel anywhere in the world for inspiration, where would it be and why?
I really loved shooting in Ireland. I am dying to go back.
19. What’s your favorite season and why?