There is something about a home that is so comforting. Most of the time, our best memories are made sharing food around the dinner table, lazy mornings in the kitchen, parties in the back yard, or cozying up in our favorite spot in the house with a good book. A home should ultimately be a sanctuary where we feel safe, comfortable, and happy.
As I've been walking this path of entrepreneurship, there's one thing I truly don't think I'd be able to live without. And that's community and friendship. Being able to sit across the kitchen table from someone, sharing a cup of coffee, and listening to each other's dreams, triumphs, challenges, and fears create such powerful memories for me. It's honestly one of my favorite ways to spend my time! And the coolest part about all of it is that we all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences, different motivators, and different dreams. We are all walking on this path towards fulfillment, service of others, and finding joy in our own unique way.
As I've continued to have these enriching conversations with so many other entrepreneurs over the past couple of months, the idea of The Kitchen Table Series was born. I wanted to create a place where we can learn about one another and celebrate each other's journey even if we can't do it in person. Each month, I will be sharing the story of one entrepreneur so we can hear about their background, how they got to where they are now, and some fun facts you might learn if you were sitting across from them at a kitchen table!
NAME || Cinnamon Wolfe
BUSINESS || cinnamonwolfe.co and Cinnamon Wolfe Photography
TITLE || Photographer, Blogger & Educator
LOCATION || Budd Lake, NJ
COFFEE OR WINE || Coffee all day but a nice cold glass (or bottle) of Stella Rosa Platinum could tempt me away from coffee some days. ;-)
Tell me a little more about your business and how you got started!
I call myself the accidental entrepreneur because I never really planned to go into business for myself, until….I did. I was working a corporate job in Human Resources at a major wireless company in Seattle when I found the love of my live Paul, and we got married and then a year later moved to the high desert of California. Paul is in the Army, so we knew a move was in the future, but we had no idea it would take us to the middle of nowhere California.
There weren’t any jobs that suited my background in our town, so I decided I would take a break from the day to day grind and just focus on things I really enjoyed doing, which at the time included blogging and maybe some napping as well. ;-) I was visiting a friend of mine one afternoon when I noticed she had a big, scary looking DSLR on her kitchen counter and I asked if she knew how to use it. She said, “nope, no idea”, and I was like, “let’s learn together!” That quickly turned into me becoming obsessed with all things photography and it wasn’t long after that, that I started taking photos of friends from church and then I really started to think, “hey, I could actually turn this into something!” And Cinnamon Wolfe Photography was born.
That was a little over four years ago and one move across the country and that has translated into hundreds of clients and now the addition of my new educational website www.cinnamonwolfe.co. It’s kind of surreal that this is the path God has brought me down, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
A lot of days look really different, but they almost all start with time on the couch with Paul, the puppies and a big cup of coffee and we will talk or read and then we always try to pray together before the day begins. Then I’ll normally try to get somewhat “put together” - which really means putting a bra on and brushing my hair - and go into my office to start working on whatever needs to get done that day. I really try to schedule any out of the house meetings all on the same days of the week so that I can save time and energy into getting ready for the outside world and also save on drive time and gas money.
I tend to work best and be most focused in the morning so I try to do any sort of heavy lifting or thinking work in the mornings before lunch. After lunch, I try to schedule meetings, skype calls or client calls and then I do my absolute best to turn everything off when Paul and Kyle get home. It's really difficult to focus on work with other people are around plus I like to give them more of my undivided attention.
How do you balance work with your personal life?
Honestly, this is a huge struggle for me mostly because I still feel like I’m building my business. With our move 2 years ago and then another move coming up, there doesn’t feel like a lot of “off” time because running your own business is just flat out hard. There are a lot of distractions, a lot of potential strategies and now with social media in our faces all day, there is a lot of worry about how to differentiate yourself or find clients in a seemingly saturated space.
Paul and I talked a lot about this at the beginning of the year and we decided to schedule out trips all throughout the year to intentionally make time for our personal lives especially before we leave the East Coast. We really saw a need for this and so we knew we would need to bake it into the calendar before other things got ahold of that time. I’m really excited that we did that and I’m really excited for more personal space and time in my life this year to explore and have fun with him!
What do you think your unique mission is?
It’s taken me a long time to really and truly realize what this is, but this past year it’s become a little more crystallized and clear to me. I truly believe my unique mission is to be a light to others and help others realize they are capable of so much more than they think they are.
What do you feel is the hardest part about being your own boss?
For me, I think it definitely goes back to that work/life balance aspect of being your own boss. I honestly miss the days when I would “come home from work” and be able to just veg out and just focus on hobbies or doing something fun and not having to do lists and emails sitting around in the back of my mind. When you run your own business, it's all you...there isn't anyone else there to pick up the slack like in a corporate or office job. Having spent so many years in other types of jobs and work environments, that is hands down the hardest part of doing this mostly on my own!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a creative project, blog, and/or business?
Oh gosh, I could probably spend all day talking about this question but I’ll try to be succinct. My number one thought would be to just start. Don’t wait until you “have it all figured out” because honestly, no one has it all figured out. We are all learning as we go. Have fun with it. This life of creative entrepreneurship is hard enough on its own, if you aren’t having fun or enjoying it then that will just make it 100x harder. Ask for support or advice from others you know who have been where you want to go.
How do you stay motivated through the ebb and flow of being an entrepreneur?
I would say I do this in two different ways. Feedback certainly keeps me motivated. Knowing that something I have done for someone has mattered to them in their life absolutely keeps me moving forward.
Also learning new things. I love to learn and tinker and figure new things out and that always keeps me jazzed and excited about next steps in business and how to make myself a better business owner so I can bring in more income and serve my clients better.
What are some things you struggle with as an entrepreneur and how do you cope with them?
Definitely balancing work and life. Still working on this one, but putting some guidelines around work hours has helped along with scheduled time off on the calendar for the year.
Navigating the complexities of running your own business can be pretty lonely at times and sometimes I question whether or not I’m making good decisions or the right decisions. I definitely view community and being in a good community of other like-minded people as the absolute best way to combat this.
What do you believe is the most important factor in building an authentic and successful brand?
Your voice and being who you really are as a person both online and in person. I see so many people saying and doing things that they think they “should be doing” because it's working for someone else, but it doesn’t really work for their life or their personality etc..and it causes a disconnect. And people are intuitive, they can pick up on it and I really think it affects brands in a negative way. It can be really scary to be vulnerable and your true self through your business because you risk rejection but at the same time, those who value what you stand for and what you bring to your business will find you faster and will connect with you quicker.
What has been the most rewarding part about doing what you love on a daily basis?
To see what I am capable of. I think it's always rewarding when you look back on work that you have done or mountains you have climbed and to realize, “I did that!” We are all so hard on ourselves all the time, that it is so important to take time to celebrate the wins and the accomplishments that we have made no matter how “big” or “small” they might be, we are doing things we should be proud of.
Do you have any other questions for Cinnamon? Ask in the comments below!