#7 -Letting the team know

This was the scariest part for me. By far. Letting the team know that….

1) our lease was up after 9 years and this time the landlords weren’t going to renew it. Shit.

2) the entire business model and brand was changing after some hippie like ideas I’ve been having.

3) their hours would be going down a bit, but that eventually when we start booking these killer projects the hourly pay itself will go up substantially. So really it should all even out…


4) don’t worry, because I know that this is going to be really, really good for us. How do I know? Oh just the completely fool proof fact that I can just totally see it in my mind.

So, you see ladies who depend on me for a paychex every other week, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Which was basically my pitch. Plus some very Marissa like visuals and the details of the plan. Spiral bound. Obviously.


What’s true about this situation is that I have been thinking this through, running the numbers, the ideas, the plan over and over in my mind for a long time now. With the help of my bestest business friend, Google Docs, and my second best biz friend Google Spreadsheets. And don’t forget my necessary biz tools since kindergarden; colorful markers and notepads. I think obsessing and fretting is the right way to describe this process actually. As business minded Marissa kinda went out the door here and I turned a bit into overprotective girl scout leader, worried about her troupe. How do we make this a learning and life enhancing experience, and a rallied, fun, team activity? In short, I kinda lost my mind a bit once again.


What’s also true about this situation is that I think my team is superb. 

Lindsey killing it for five years as our production gal. She can seriously edit a photo I shot, and I look at it, and I think it may as well have been processed by me. Trust me that’s rare for a photographer/editor relationship. And just staying on top of all things production, clients always getting what they want on time. Dy-na-mite gal right there.

Ashley, blowing my mind with hair and make-up skills, photography skills, overall styling skills, stay on the ball and get it done skills (read that in a Napolean Dynamite voice if you know it). But most of all, just in straight up freaking gumption. She’s excited to make art, even if it means driving a huge truck and a flatbed trailer to Arizona to pick up an epic spiral staircase for a set we were dreaming of making- which she offered to do and I said ‘thank you’, but ‘no thank you.’ Sounds too dangerous Ash.

Megan, giving her fun loving spirit to our clients and creating some seriously sexy pics in our studio, also just ready to shoot everyday with an incredibly serving heart and infectious positive vibes. Using lights in off beat ways that I never thought to use them and churning out next level images. Laughing it up with our clients constantly. And that girl can sell! To be a fly on the wall in her after-the-shoot-sales-meeting …

Peggy, our insanely talented HMU, who has been with the studio for 8 years!! She helped us craft the whole glamorous look that women wanted our studio for. And she’s seen all the fluctuations of this place, being a support and incredible team member through all of them. Adding so much to the experience for our clients. 

I care about these strong and loving women. I don’t want to stress them out by saying June 1st we are totally hopping off this routine, and always on time, train and getting on a bullet train that’s basically going to the wild wild West. You with me, cuz alllllll aaaaaaaboarrrrrd!!!!

Here is the plus though. It’s going to be EXCITING! We are going to create things that we’ve never dreamed of. We will have to work together even more as a team than ever before. We can be scared together, and for that reason I know we will grow even more creatively as artists, and as a business, than we thought possible. I’m tempted to google a quote about pressure refining wonky stuff and then making diamonds or something, but I like to think I am above googling quotes for my original blog. Or maybe I’ll do it and edit this in ten minutes. You won’t know.

I want to be a good leader. And I know I’ve fallen short more in the past few years than ever before. As I am coming into this new chapter of not being so damn hard on myself I will say this, I care. I sincerely care. And that’s what matter most I think.

And also I tell you all about this fretting, because the thing is I am not fretting at all anymore. The goal, the vision, it might as well be here. Because it is. And that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard and that random things that throw me won’t happen, as I assure you they will. It means that I have done the time to figure my shit out, and I feel damn good about me and my purpose. The best I’ve ever felt yet as an artist and creative and biz owner. So I lay all this reality out to say that it’s a process. Shaking in your boots is part of it. Not wanting to get out of bed because you are so overwhelmed is part of it. Arriving and feeling pretty damn unshakable in your vision is best the part of it.

In the words of Steven Tyler “dream on” (read that in a screaming voice),

Marissa. And I leave you with this gem.

PSS. Lindsey will be part time for me indefinitely in June, unless we have big projects under out belt, then I hope she will be around more. So if you need an outrageously good editor to take some of the load off for you so you can spend time doing what matters, she is your girl. Enter your info here and after all this chaos of the changes she will contact you with her rates.



  • reading the back story is so so powerful.so much gratitude for your share Marissa!
    stay strong.

  • Heather Shanahan says:

    Life would stand still if people settled for complacency (I think I said something like that in another response). But its true. If people didn’t have these crazy ideas and visions, we would never progress. Sometimes I spend half the day thinking and researching something because I just know there has to be a better/faster/easier way to do whatever it is I am doing. It would have taken less time to just do it, but I want the next time I have whatever task to be better. On the business side, my employees know that I certainly don’t demand perfection. The hard part is that I know I expect perfection, and that I know that THEY know that I expect perfection. That goes back to my fear of failure. I expect perfection from my performance and work which makes it very hard not to expect perfection from my employees. But I work very hard on that and make sure to talk things out with them when mistakes happen. No one can be perfect. In our jobs, there is HUGE potential for human error. All I can do is talk to them about the implications of mistakes and that we simply need to work to minimize as many errors as we can.

    I am far from conceited or arrogant. But every now and then I like to pat myself on the back and think that I’m one of the best managers at my company. Everybody wants to work in my department. When people WANT to work FOR/WITH you, you know you’re doing things right.

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