Michelle and I met back in 2012 when I was a sophomore in college aspiring to be a photographer. For all our vast differences, we immediately hit it off. Early on in our friendship I knew she’d quickly become a fixture in my life, but I had no clue how truly intertwined we would become. I interned for her photography business the summer of 2013 and took her on as my work mentor, soaking up all the knowledge she could pass on. Any time I had a huge business question, Michelle was my call. More than that, however, she became a dear friend. She photographed my engagement day and wedding. She became the friend I’d come by and sit with, making dinner and catching up on life and whittling away hours with dreaming together. She then began her painting journey and we started joking about what it would look like for us to work together again.
In 2017 we began throwing back and forth the “what if I worked for you in some capacity” scenario. In the time since we’d last worked together I’d started and kept up a photography business, she’d began talking of growing her family with Bryan, and we had made several life transitions. In 2018 I told Michelle we were definitely moving back to Austin the following July and talks began in earnest of us partnering together for Michelle Boyd Studio. It felt surreal, but in 2019 when I moved down to the city, I became Michelle’s studio manager.
Our differences have always worked in complimentary ways. Where Michelle is well thought out and deeply tender in a beautiful way, I am an immense dreamer and rush into the bull pen type. Where Michelle is organically artistic and vastly creative, I am business minded and networking focused. We fell into a new rhythm of working together, made easy by the years of trust and friendship and growth we’d experienced. In the beginning when we first met, Michelle was the one pushing me to grow in my business and stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of. Now, I’m the one who is pushing her to grow and dreaming for what her studio could become. Our working relationship is one of the best I’ve stepped into because of a few key reasons.
- We have mutual trust and initiative. Michelle and I sit down at the start of every work day together [usually Wednesdays in her home, sometimes Tuesdays in coffee shops], and do a twenty minute life update on the past week then begin our daily run down of business priorities. Usually for her it is to paint and for me it’s to update our social media calendar, refresh our Tailwind queue, reach out to any networking opportunities, and plan ahead for what we’re dreaming towards. Our days are filled with coffee and small talk and big life conversations alike. We are each self starters so if we have a project we can trust the other to get the work done. We also trust each other to be honest in all our business conversations of where we’re at and areas we need to focus on growing.
- Our giftings fill gaps. By this, I mean that when I am dreaming too wild and past our seasonal boundaries, Michelle gently reigns me in and reminds me of our other responsibilities. When Michelle is working herself super hard to get commissions fulfilled, I remind her to remember why she started and bring her water so she doesn’t get shaky. Our friendship has always worked that way, her strengths cover a lot of my weaknesses. My strong suits are areas in her business that needed attention. It wouldn’t work to have two people great at dreaming but none great on tangible steps to make those dreams reality. So where one dreams the other hustles, and vice versa. To be honest, Michelle and I have vastly different tastes. She loves things that are classic and refined, enjoys quiet relaxing moments. I am filled with quirk and playfulness and need be constantly on the go. When those two come together, we get a different perspective on the world and are able to be inspired by so much more!
- We mutually support. Michelle has always been 100% supportive of my full time photography business and in turn I use my business to support her in any way I can. We recently were featured by “In Her Studio” Magazine and it was a double victory: our mutual business was featured with her words and my photos and her paintings and my cheering her on! It was the sweetest win on all accounts. There is grace for days where we are both in busy seasons and pep talks doled out in spades when needed. And to be honest, we spend a lot of our time in the studio in fits of laugher or in honest tears. Trusting your business with someone else can be scary, but finding someone who fights for you dream just as hard as you do is a beautiful thing.
All this to say, our working relationship has been built over years of learning how we work best together. We’ve had readjusting of roles and learning new strengths and realizing Michelle doesn’t love writing blogs. Having a parter in business makes ALL the difference and we can’t advocate for growing your work team enough. It can be tricky finding the right fit, however. If you’re thinking of expanding your creative team, here are a few really great questions to ask.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do I see this person growing alongside me longterm?
- Do their gifts cover places where I need help?
- Is their communication professional, honest, and kind?
- Do they dream big for themselves and for others?
- Am I in a place where I can delegate and trust letting go of control in order to expand my business?
- Do they have the values that I prioritize in my business? Is this someone I would trust giving me business + life advice?
- Is your business in a space where you can financially support hiring someone?
Questions to ask who you're hiring:
- Do you see yourself in a place to commit to growing someones business?
- Do you have any environments work wise where you don’t thrive? [Ex: in certain communication situations, only meeting up once a week, etc]
- What do you need in order to perform your job well? Delegation? Check-ins? Verbal processing? Time alone?
- What dreams do you have for your work future? Is this partnership going to help you or hold you back from reaching those?
- Are you in a place where you are willing to truly learn and grow alongside someone?
- What music do you best work to? Working playlists play a huge part in our synergy.
- Are you able to see areas that need help and create solutions to fill those spaces?
Get ready for the hilarity of photos from over the years. I love when you can look back over friendships and see growth in both persons as well as their closets.