You may not see it, but everything you do – from the way you run your business to how you interact with your clients – stems from your story and what you’ve been through. One of the first exercises I walk my clients through (in fact, Rebecca was the very first person I walked through this process!) is determining the theme of their business in one word. Most of the time, people have no idea what this is, and I can often see it before they do. For Rebecca, her standout superpower is support. It’s not that she’s supportive because she’s a nice person (which is totally true), she’s supportive because of her story.
From suffering from mental illness and spending four years raising her daughter as a single mom to managing three learning disabilities and a full time job while running a business (Rebecca Nash Photography), this Gem has seen the contrast between having and not having support. And because of that, she knows how powerful it is to be there. She shows up for everyone in her life in to the fullest capacity, which is why I am so honored to share her story with you! This interview will leave you inspired to conquer any struggles you’re facing and proves that you can still show up for others no matter what you’re going through.
During the day you teach kindergarten. How do you possibly find time to keep up with photography? Share your secrets!
As with most things in life, it’s not always easy. Our schedules are often jam packed and even a day that has nothing planned becomes a full day. I don’t find the time for my photography. I make the time for my photography because I love it. It fulfills me.
In the end, I schedule everything – my time with my family, my time for my business, and my time for myself too.
On top of scheduling everything, I find ways to simplify and automate the tasks I can so that I can give my personal time and attention to my clients and the tasks that needs me most. One of the biggest time savers of all – email templates for all my standard emails (ie. first inquiry, how to prepare for your session, session confirmations) that include all the most important information and frequently asked questions. It takes only a moment or two to personalize these but makes sure each and every client (and fellow vendor) gets all the info, links, and resources they need quickly and efficiently.
Support has been a theme throughout your life. How has this concept become the foundation of your business?
I remember riding the bus home from the coffee shop in July 2005, oblivious to everything around me, thinking “What Now? I’m pregnant and alone – how am I going to take care of this baby?”
Her father had walked out when I told him and something told me I was never going to see him again. What about my parents? What would they say? I was worried about how they would react, like sick to my stomach, making every excuse I could think of not to make that call. I didn’t want them to look at me differently. I didn’t want them to be disappointed. I worried about if they would still love me the same, if they would love the baby I was carrying.
I still remember that conversation like it was yesterday. There was no judgement. There was no lecture (not even from my dad!). They listened. They understood. They accepted. They asked how I was doing with it.
Throughout the rest of my pregnancy (and pregnancy related illness) my parents were there. They called. They visited. They attended doctors appointments. My mom even came to stay with me – cooking and cleaning for me – when I could barely get out of bed. When I was 7 months pregnant they offered me a place in their home and their help until Alyssa and I figured out this new life of ours.
From that moment on, I knew whatever challenges I faced as a young single mother – I had my parents with me. Loving me and my daughter unconditionally. Supporting me (and my daughter) unconditionally as I built a new life for my little girl and I. From then on, I knew that I could do this – I could be the kind of mother my beautiful little girl deserved.
My journey to put the love and support we received back into the world began where I experienced it – with families with young children as an early childhood educator in childcare centers, before and after school programs, and the kindergarten class.
Now I spend my days meeting and photographing some amazing people and supporting them as they create memories, celebrate their lives, and see and feel their own strength and beauty (sometimes for the first time in their lives) through the lens of my camera.
What things have you successfully conquered? What makes you proud about having accomplished them?
I am a sufferer of Mental Illness – there is a battle raging inside me everyday.
I have 3 learning difficulties – I approach things a little differently.
I became a single mother at 20 – for 4 years it was just me and her.
I returned to college as a mature student and mother to a nine month old baby – I had to balance motherhood, work and school.
I started my own business – and made it past the first 2 years when most new businesses fail.
In every challenge that was put in my way, there was a moment when I was ready to give up. There was a moment where others told me it was okay if I couldn’t do it. There was a moment I stopped believing in myself. But, in every struggle there was also a moment when someone held out a hand to help me up, when I dusted myself off and stood back up, when I remembered what I was fighting for – or should I say who. There was a moment when I looked at my little girl looking up to me and fought for the life I wanted to give her and to be the kind of woman she could look up to.
What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Oh… this was my favourite question to ask when interviewing people for jobs when I was a manager but you know, I don’t think I have ever had to answer it.
I think at the end of the day, my biggest weakness is that while I may be the biggest supporter and cheerleader for everyone I know – never letting them give up – I don’t always have the same belief in myself and my ideas.
As a CEO (chief everything officer) in my business, I know that my success or failure always lies 100% with me. Everything good that comes is a result of something I did, but so is every failure. For me that is both motivating and terrifying, usually in the exact same moment.
It is this fear that gets me listening to the critics and the online trolls, questioning everything, and stuck in a place of fear. Ok, maybe fear isn’t the right word – Sue Bryce would say it isn’t fear because I am not in danger, I’m not running from a lion and risk of being eaten after all. It’s a lack of self-value with an anxiety disorder thrown in to stir things up. (I highly recommend Sue Bryce’s Fear talk to anyone who is struggling)
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- The ability to dream and to believe in those dreams
- The knowledge of when to follow your head, and when to follow your heart
- The ability to communicate and the willingness to ask for what you need
This year, you’ll be giving back to 2 mental health organizations. Why is this a cause that’s important to you?
I want to start with a question – Why is it normal and totally okay to talk about having a heart condition or asthma but people are looked down on or ridiculed if they talk about depression, anxiety or mental health concerns?
I will be the first to stand up and say I suffer with mental illness. I have a battle raging inside me every day as my depression and anxiety disorder battle me, themselves and each other. I have kept quiet, coped as best as I could, and felt ashamed to share that I wasn’t as strong. On more than one occasion, sharing my struggle led to doubts about my ability, or doubts about my honesty (because I ‘looked fine’).
RELATED: Giving Back in 2017 – Why Mental Health (via Rebecca Nash Photography)
Now, as I watch my 10 year old daughter fighting the same fights within herself (and more) but ashamed to speak out or ask for help the point is driven home ten fold.
We live in a world where mental illness still carries a huge stigma, where admitting to mental illness carries the risk of losing your jobs, your friends, and standing as a strong, capable person, and where being brave enough to ask for help is rewarded by a lack of services and long wait lists.
This needs to change and it needs to change today. It’s time to bring mental illness out of the shadows and reduce the stigma. It’s time to step up and offer an open door to services when they are needed.
This year I will be speaking out as well as supporting local organizations through the donation of 10% of my sales in 2017 and gift certificates for fundraising (1 session for each wedding or session booked in 2017) too.
What are you most passionate about, aside from photography?
My family means the world to me.
For a long time I thought that meant I needed to spend every spare moment right with them or doing something for them. I felt guilty when I couldn’t do everything for them or being the perfect homemaker.
Now I recognize that activities I once saw as selfish (working out, meditating, eating well, going to bed at a good time, or taking time for my hobbies – painting and calligraphy, etc.) are really an investment in myself (my physical & mental health especially) that allows me to be the best mother, wife, teacher, photographer and friend I can be.