I’ve been pretty vocal about my passion for boudoir, but how did I actually turn that passion into a thriving business? I’ve been asked this many times, usually by other women who are thinking of starting their own business. So I’d love to share my experience and tell you how Silk & Lace Boudoir got started.
It began with a move across the country…
I moved to the DC Metro area around 13 years ago. Before that I was in Utah making a modest living as a wedding photographer. When I initially moved to DC I was unaware that it’s one of the largest wedding markets in the country. A lucky coincidence for me – I was moving for my spouse, but I meant to continue my work with weddings.
It was a great time and place to get my foot in the door of more serious photography and really cut my teeth in the industry.
To build myself up as a photographer in this new area, I worked for free for a little while. I tagged along with other photographers and got permission to use some of those images in my own portfolio. About a year later I started getting paid to do weddings, and a year after that I was taking on my own and making decent money. I enjoyed being a wedding photographer.
But then I got divorced, and to be honest, going to weddings became extremely depressing for me. I always cried at weddings before, but now I found myself crying for a different reason. It was really tough seeing these beautiful love stories unfold when mine was ending.
In the middle of all that, I spontaneously and serendipitously signed up for a luxury boudoir photoshoot. Despite being a photographer myself, boudoir photography was sort of a new concept to me. And yet once it was on my radar, I felt so drawn to it.
At the time, I thought there was a chance my ex and I might get back together… I knew he would never let me spend the kind of money I wanted to spend on a boudoir shoot (he was a very controlling person), so I felt like I had to do it while we were separated if I ever wanted it to happen.
So I did! And the experience was unexpectedly life-changing. Seeing my photos for the first time… it’s difficult to explain. Of course it was amazing and empowering, but it was even more than that. It transformed me. It was like seeing myself for the first time. I knew I wanted to change paths.
I started with why
So much clarity came as a result of my boudoir shoot. So much of my past felt truly behind me. I knew I didn’t want to photograph weddings anymore – I wanted to shift my career to boudoir.
There are many different kinds/styles of boudoir studios out there. I could have gone a million different ways with my new business venture. But luckily, my why was so strong and it shaped the direction I decided to take things.
At the beginning of my journey I read a book called Start With Why (there’s also a great TED Talk about it), and as a result I had one of the biggest lightbulb moments of my life. I knew that my why needed to act as my north star – something I could always lean back on through the struggles and uncertainties of starting a business.
So with my why in place, I dove head first into building Silk & Lace Boudoir. I asked a few friends if I could photograph them and used their photos in my new portfolio. I booked a hotel room in Bethesda as the studio. They got to keep their images for free, and then those friends brought more friends…
Cue a little hustle & grind
For the first year or two I did everything on my own. I built and managed my own website, did hair and makeup, photography, editing… looking back at the amount of work I was doing, I’m really not sure how I did it. I think my why was just that strong, and I truly believed in what I was building.
I also felt this need to hustle. I mean, I kind of had to for survival’s sake. But the opportunity to build something of my own and make it work was empowering and exhilarating. With that motivation I was able to bust my ass for the first few years. Honestly, I sacrificed a lot, mostly my health. But looking back on it now, it was all worth it.
Our mission at Silk & Lace Boudoir is to inspire and empower women through photography of the female form, with the emphasis that all women are beautiful and powerful in our own unique ways. This was and is my why. Without it, I’m not sure I would enjoy my work as much as I do.
Being a boudoir photographer and owning my own studio is so fulfilling. I love what I do, every second of it. And I’m so grateful for all the incredible women who walk through our doors and continue to inspire me everyday.