Wednesday, October 1, 2014

True You

by Leigh


Have you ever had one of those friends who not only supports you as a friend does, but also encourages you and pushes you to do things you would never have thought of or done otherwise?  Have you ever had one of those friends who will plant a seed that makes you think outside the box?  Have you ever had one of those friends who looks you straight in the eye and tells you things about yourself that you would have never thought?

I do and her name is Jamie Csizmadia.  Jamie has built an amazing business for herself called Olthia, An Urban Prairie Garden Design Company.  She has the ability to not only come up with amazing ideas, but to develop and bring them to fruition.  She follows her heart and stays true to who she is at all times.  I aspire to be more like her!

Not only does Jamie plant seeds of beautiful indigenous wildflowers in her pocket prairie gardens, but she also plants seeds of ideas. As we sat enjoying a cup of coffee one day she said, "you should do a photo shoot for women entrepreneurs who need photos of themselves"  She went on to explain the importance of putting a face to a business so people would know who they were dealing with. There needed to be that feeling of familiarity even before the first contact.  She encouraged me to let that idea mull around in my head for awhile and then if I felt like talking more about it to let her know.  After a couple of months the thought popped into my head again….she might just be on to something!  I thought about how much I hated having my photo taken because I was so critical of myself.  I wanted to give these women something they could be proud of.  I wanted them to look at these photos and see themselves as the strong, beautiful and creative women that they are.  I called up Jamie and told her I was ready to move forward with this idea.  Now that the seed had started to sprout it was time to nurture it.  She did what she does best….she took the concept and fully developed it.  The True You photo shoot was born! 

Jesslynn, one of the True You women

I felt honored and humbled that these amazing women were willing to stand in front of my camera and be vulnerable to my lens.  We all know how hard it is as women to be photographed.  It's just not in our DNA to put the focus on ourselves so part of me wondered if anyone would even sign up for the shoot.   As word got out, the spots filled quickly. On a beautiful Sunday morning the shoot went smoothly and everything just flowed naturally like it was supposed to.  After we packed it up and called it a day, Jamie stopped me and told me how what I just did was important…..that I was giving these women something that they needed.  I realized that not only did they need it professionally, but they needed to see themselves the way others see them.  Beforehand I asked the women what they loved about their jobs. I could feel the passion these women had for what they did in the words they wrote to me.  There were interior designers, an energy worker, yoga instructor, masseuse, dog kennel owners, realtor, and skincare consultant.  Each one expressed how nervous they were and that this shoot was a huge personal challenge for them.  But they also told me that they wanted to be seen as relateable, genuine, trustworthy, and real.  In retrospect, Jamie and these women gave me what I was hoping to give them.  The self confidence to know that they are relateable, genuine, trustworthy and real.  Now I find myself the nervous one….anxiously waiting to hear their reactions to their photographs.  I hope that they feel the photos show who they are….their true selves. 


Carol said...

What a wonderful, original and important way to advocate for women! Because I am older than you, Leigh, I cant help thinking that this would not have existed years ago. Despite our inner doubts, its wonderful seeing women running successful businesses, and bringing warmth and personality to them too. And you are one of them! Congratulations -If this is representative ( of 15 minutes -yikes!) you did a great job!

Dotti said...

Echoing what Carol said! Such a great way to empower women ... and yourself! Yes, it might be about putting an image with their business but in reality it's about empowering them to wash away those self doubts {we all have them} and to feel more confident, to get over, or at least begin to get over the negative body self-images all of us women conjure up in our minds. And knowing you, Leigh ... I can't think of a better person to start them on this journey. And as you've learned, when you do something like this, you get much more than you give. Thanks so much for sharing this idea and experience with us.

kybarb said...

What a fantastic idea! I was just watching a show on PBS last night called Makers--Women in Comedy that made me think how much has changed for women since I was a teen. Still so much work to be done for me personally and many others I'm sure. Thanks for sharing your ideas and photos!

kelly said...

I love this leigh! and I can't imagine a better person to help bring out the inner beauty in another woman!

Deanna said...

This is absolutely wonderful, 1) that you have such a great friend that encourages you and plants those seeds of inspiration and 2) that you were able to bring to fruition this wonderful project. Congrats & Bravo!!!

Kim Stevens said...

Can I just tell you how incredibly awesome this is? It is! These are beautiful portraits, yours included. Personally I've never been more fearful of being in front of a camera and I even did a little modeling when I was 18. The funny thing is I'm probably more comfortable with who I am as a person now in my 50's, but I avoid mirrors like the plague. They are going to love these! xo

terriporter said...

What a great idea and such a great friend to know you could do this and would be so good at it. I think women feel more comfortable having their picture taken by another woman and how great that there's a business (yours!) that can provide that for them. I'll bet they were thrilled with the results!

Cathy said...

I tired to leave a comment yesterday.... this is awesome. Such a great idea.

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