One look at Ashley’s branding, and you’ll know her in a heart beat. Fun-loving, cheerful, and playful, with a strong desire to encourage and create, Ashley is as sweet as they come! I am so excited to share her thoughts on owning a business; her positivity is always a reminder to never give up. I am thrilled to share this #bosslady with you today — enjoy reading her thoughts & scrolling through some of my favorite V.A. Photography images!!! :)
Introduce yourself and your business: What hats are you juggling every day?
Hey Sunshine! I’m Ashley and I am the owner for V.A. Photography. The V.A. stands for Virginia Ashley (my name!). I am a full-time photographer as well as a full-time preschool teacher. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, and friend. I also love taking Zumba classes, watching movies, laughing, eating Mexican food, and pretending I’m a mermaid. :)
(Sami here — speaking of Mexican food, check out Ashley’s AWESOME Mexico-themed workshop!)
Why did you start your own creative small business?
I first began my photography adventure in April of 2012. I had been out of college for a year and was already photographing a few weddings and portrait sessions and wanted to see where this journey would take me. One afternoon, I went down to the courthouse with a friend and became a business owner. Little did I know all that was in store from that one piece of paper :)
What has been your greatest challenge as a small business owner?
My greatest challenge has been finding enough time to do everything while having a healthy balance. The phrase “there aren’t enough hours in a day” is the motto of my life right now!
What was the biggest game changer in the way you ran your business and managed your time in this last year?
Hmmm… That’s a toughie. I just decided to focus. If I had a wedding on Saturday, I made sure it was edited and blogged within one week. I’m really hard on myself and want to give my clients the best I can. I know if I were in their shoes, I’d want to see my pictures ASAP. So that’s why I work hard to serve them the best I can.
What are some of your productivity tips? (Time of day, tools of the trade, resources / things that help you focus)
I love me some 17hats! I love being able to have my contracts and documents all in one place with 17hats! Being able to send electronic versions of my contract has been a HUGE timesaver. I used to send my clients their contract through e-mail and they’d print it out, sign it, and mail it back with their retainer fee. Now, I just e-mail them the link to electronically sign the contract and BAM! All done! I love it!
What’s the one tool you couldn’t manage your time without?
Does it count, if I say my computer?! I don’t know what I would do without that thing! I’ve had to send it to the shop before and it was gone for almost 2 weeks. I was so grumpy! Haha. It has all of my editing tools, blogging tools, lists, etc. Through my computer, I’m able to accomplish all of the backend side of my business. And when I got it back from being fixed in the shop, I may or may not have given it a hug!
What’s your favorite non-essential business tool? :)
Does a comfortable outfit that makes me feel confident count? If so, then that’s what I choose. I don’t have to have it, but when I do it just helps me work that much harder! :)
What is the key to staying on top of your small business and not getting too overwhelmed?
Baby steps and To-do lists. I like to write a BIG list of all that needs to get done and take baby steps from there. Being a small-business owner can be slightly overwhelming at times, but tackling a small list of goals helps me so much. It makes me put blinders on and focus on one task at a time.
How does your business bring you joy?
It gives me excitement to get up in the morning . I love the wonderful people I meet because of this job. And to me, I don’t even see it as a job. It’s my passion and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it. At the end of the day, I’m not defined by my photography. God defines me. He gave me this gift and I want it to always come back to Him and His glory. I’m just so thankful He has given me this fun journey to go on. I love it all so much and appreciate it every day!
If you could give one piece of advice to all the #bossladies out there, what would it be?
Never give up. Shake the haters off. If you believe in your heart you’re meant to do this, then never look back. Work hard and always strive for your dreams. Nothing is handed to you. You have to work for it. Find a community and lean on them. Encourage others. And in the words of Journey, “Don’t stop believin’!” :)
I hope you enjoyed reading through Ashley’s words today! Doesn’t she just make ya wanna smile?! :) I particularly loved Ashley’s emphasis on the importance of baby steps. As I read through her thoughts, I noticed that theme over and over again: one little action can make all the difference! Owning a small business and working a full-time job obviously results in a lot of work, but with the right focus and a little bit of GUMPTION, it is completely possible!
If you’re not already following along with Ashley’s business adventures, make sure you check out her blog — a living document proving her commitment to baby steps & living creatively! I loved her recent post on encouragement packages, and thought it was so neat to see a fun downtown portrait session of one of her past wedding couples! That alone shows just how much Ashley is doing right; repeat clients are the best!
All photos by V.A. Photography