How I connected with Jenna:
Like many of you reading this right now, I've been following this stunna on Instagram for quite some time now. Jenna's the definition of #girlboss - literally. This babe made a life changing decision to set aside the fear of failure and committed herself to creating the life she'd always envisioned, started from the bottom, grew her biz from 0 to six figs, has helped countless entrepreneurs grow their businesses, made brides everywhere fall in love all over again when they saw their wedding pix, and has impacted the lives of many creatives (including myself).
A few weeks back, I was scrolling through my Insta feed and saw one of Jenna's posts and was like - "Why the hell have I not reached out to her already?!" A few seconds after that I went ahead and sent J an email and well, here we are!
Jenna's a small-town Wisconsin photographer, wedding blogger, a watercolor artist, and an educator.
She's obsessed with yoga pants and could probably live off of mac and cheese her whole life if you gave her the choice. J loves to work on her couch with her rescue pups in her lap, and is madly in love with her hubs Drew. Did I mention they just launched Drew's new biz - The Kutcher Method?! Talk about a power couple #goals!
Q&A with Biz Babe, Jenna:
1. At 23, you took the leap that many fear - you left your 9-5 and dived right into entrepreneurship. What made you quit your 9-5 and finally say, "it's time"? What emotions were running through your body at that exact second when you walked out of your corporate job for the very last time?
I knew that I needed a net to be there before I could leap, so I hustled to create a business while working 50+ hours a week at my corporate job! By the time I left, I had enough jobs booked to know that I could match my salary for the first year (and pray things would fall into place after that! Spoiler alert: they did!) I was nervous, I had never quit anything in my life before. I made my mom proof read my letter of resignation and felt like I was going to throw up but something in my gut knew that I would never regret taking that chance.
2. Let's say, 5 years ago I would've said to you - Jen, you're going to create one hell of a biz for yourself, you're going to impact thousands of lives, connect with like-minded women and create relationships that would last a lifetime, you're going to capture the love of many sweet souls on their wedding day, help men and women create the businesses they've always dreamed of, and live life on your terms! What would you have said to me? Would you have believed me or looked at me like I was crazy? LOL
Wow, thank you for the kind words - I mean, I'm over here blushing. It's easy to forget all of those items when you're hustling from the couch in your yoga pants, you know? You forget that you do more than email, social media, the whole business thang. I think I would have looked at you and said a silent prayer that you were right. I've always chased after what I love and I've found that when you're doing the things you're passionate about, you're generally successful (or even if you're not, you're happy!) I probably would have said, "Girllllll, please... but I hope you are right!" There's a bit within us that hopes for things like this, that imagines them, and prays for them. It's safe to say that some of the things I take for granted, others are praying for... if that isn't a kick in the booty to do more, I don't know what is.
3. What advice would you have for someone who knows deep down what they want to do with their life, but are too scared to fail or disappoint their friends and family?
You need not defend your decisions. Whenever you're on the defense, you're likely speaking to the wrong people. My parents? They probably thought I was crazy. Here I was, with a business degree, a salary, benefits and I was ready to throw it all away because of a $300 camera on Craigslist. While we had a few serious conversations about how I was being smart in planning ahead, I also think they knew they raised a girl who was stubborn, who would run with reckless abandon, and who would do anything to prove those naysayers wrong. Stop defending your decisions and let your actions lead you - the best way to prove you were right is in making it happen in your own way, in your own time. They will come around... and if they don't, they weren't your people anyway.
4. What do you feel is the hardest part about being your own boss?
I think the feeling of isolation and lack of validation. When you have a real boss you have someone to bounce ideas off of, you get feedback, things like vacations and raises... when you're your own boss it can feel like you're floating in a universe all alone, wondering and questioning if you're on the right track or doing the right things. It can be isolating when you're scrolling through social media or seeing peoples "work parties," it's mega isolating when you're traveling alone, eating Chinese at the airport. BUT in that isolation comes pure magic. My mantra is, "Chin up, head down" meaning that you should always be proud, stay strong, but keep your head down and do YOUR best work - not what everyone else is out there doing. Success looks different for all of us, so it's important to not get jaded or let your vision be clouded by all we consume.
5. What advice do you have for a babe who's thinking about starting a biz and/or blog, and has absolutely no friken clue where to even start?
Girlllll, no one knows where to start, that's the beauty of it. Every single person has had a different journey, that shouldn't confuse you, that should empower you to know that you really can go your own way. (I pray you're singing Fleetwood Mac!) I believe that imperfect action makes things happen. Done will always be better than perfect, so stop waiting for the perfect time, the perfect Instagram post, the perfect blog platform and just start creating. It will become less daunting as you go. I also remind myself that no one cares about my content as much as I do - so stop telling yourself everyone is watching and critiquing.
6. Do you feel it's a MUST to invest in branding photography when you're starting out or launching a new product or service?
I think that when you partner good photos with strong words together, magic happens. Do what your budget allows, hell, if that's an iphone photo, just make it a good one! I never, ever went in debt for my business, I just prioritized the little funds we had and made things bigger and better as I could. I do believe the beautiful photography can really pack a punch of impact but it doesn't need to be where you begin....
7. Let's dive into Insta: What's your best advice for growing an organic and highly engaged following on the gram?
Speak to your followers that have already chosen to show up for you. Serve them, inspire them, and show up for them. Stop going out trying to get more followers and when you focus on the ones you already have, more will organically come. Stop screaming to the masses and focus on whispering the right message to the right audience - that shifts everything! I promise!
8. What have you found to be the hardest thing about growing your photography biz in the beginning and on a daily? How do you overcome these obstacles and come out winning and even more inspired than ever?
In the beginning it was simply getting my name out there. We lived in a village of 1,200 people. I had zero connections, zero portfolio - it was a scary place to be! I am just so thankful I've been business savvy because that's carried me through each step of the way. On the daily I would just say the hardest part is staying inspired. When I first started I took my camera everywhere, all the time, I was so excited. Keeping that excitement alive is harder than people realize. I love to do personal projects or challenge myself to create new content every day just to stay fresh and excited!
9. Do you have any exciting collaborations, projects, courses, in the works that you can share with us? If so, SPILL!
YES! We are launching a podcast, The Goal Digger Podcast and I AM SO EXCITED! I haven't had a project like this that pumps me up like crazy. It's going to be a live, workshop style podcast where I interview girlbosses who share their talents and teachings with the world in a conversational format. I have so many ridiculously talented friends who are brilliant and I can't wait to share their gifts with my "goal digging" community!
P.S. I've rounded up 3 blog posts from J's site I'm sure you'll looove!