What is Mom-Boss Mondays?
It is a series of interviews with some of the best mom-bosses around! We are going to find out what businesses moms are running, how they are managing being the boss of a household and of a business, and all the things that inspire these moms to keep being amazing.
Without further ado, I’m excited to present the second mom-boss in the series!
An Interview With Ashley Nuzum
Ashley Nuzum is a mom to four boys, the owner and main photographer at Nuzum Photo, and also an avid makeup enthusiast working with Younique Cosmetics. While all of these things are important in her life – I was particularly interested to find out about the great lifestyle photography she does with her very own business Nuzum Photo.
I originally met Ashley when I was about to get married back in 2009. I was searching high and low for a wedding photographer whose style fit for my wedding when I stumbled across www.nuzumphoto.com. One look through Nuzum Photo’s portfolio and I knew I found my match. Still, before signing any papers or making agreements, my then fiance and I needed to sit down and talk details with Ashley and her husband/wedding photography partner Steve. We arranged a meeting and when the day came I looked up directions to our meeting location – only to find out their home was just a few blocks from ours!
Though Nuzum Photo has moved forward from weddings to other things, it has stayed a part of our life. Ashley has photographed the birth and growth of all three of our children. Many of the beautiful photos on this site are only possible because of her talent. This interview was an amazing opportunity to really find out the motivations and details of her business and what it took to become a successful photographer and kick-ass mom all at the same time.
Our interview was conducted over the phone, with the sounds of kids playing and maybe once or twice arguing in the background. It was fun to know that as mom’s our lives can look different but they all have that same “background noise” soundtrack playing through.
Hey Ashley! Thanks for letting me call you up and talk all things business and family today! Time is precious so let’s start by telling the world about your most important job – motherhood. How many kids do you have and how old are they?
I have four boys – let me figure out how old they are now! *She pauses doing the math that we all have to do sometimes as moms of multiples* They are 11, 10, 8, and 6. Yes, I think that’s right!
At this point I’m a bit stunned because time has flown by – I remember the oldest two as a baby and toddler. Wow.
I got to know you through your business – Nuzum Photo. When did that business start? Were you already a mom or was it before that?
I started my business because of my oldest son – Cole. I wanted to stay home with him but in order to that I had to also follow my photography dream. It was following my dream of starting the business that was going to let me also stay home with him. I started in January 2007, about two months after he was born. We shot our first wedding in April 2007.
Whoa, that’s an intense time to start a business! I was barely surviving when my oldest was two months!
Had you always wanted to be a photographer?
I had always wanted to own a photography company but never really thought it was possible. It took having Cole to realize that the time was now to do it. Cole was my motivation to get going so I could stay at home. Hard to believe it has been 11 years now!
Yes – time zips by us as moms doesn’t it? How has your business changed over the years?
At first I was all about acquiring new clients – which meant that the clients always seemed to come first. Don’t get me wrong, my clients are still very important to me but at first they sort of ran my life. I had become a stay at home mom but the clients were taking the front seat. Over time I’ve learned that part of being your own boss is knowing how to set hours for yourself so I can actually enjoy what I do, give my clients great care, but also enjoy having that family that motivated me to start in the first place.
Do you remember a moment where you realized – oh things have to change – I need to figure out how to balance this business and mom life better?
Oh yeah! The year we had 36 weddings..I was gone all weekend, editing all the time, I was ALWAYS putting my kids second. I realized I needed a better schedule. Now I try not to work after 2 p.m. on editing and that side of things. Fridays I try not to work at all on the photography end. It does help that my kids are in school now – it gives me time where they are occupied and I can get things done.
I know that part of finding that balance has been cutting weddings out of your business plan for the most part. You were so good at them, but seeing your business grow in other places has been fun to watch too. What would you say your favorite thing to photograph is?
Birth is probably my favorite thing to photograph!
Didn’t you just photograph a triplet surrogate birth?! Can you tell us a little about that?
Yes – it was AMAZING. They didn’t tell me ahead of time that the birth was surrogate and so it was very intense and emotional. The whole experience for me as as photographer was surreal and to know the importance of the moment I’m catching just adds to it. One of my career highlights so far.
While we are on such a high right now let’s talk about the rewarding side of your business. Actually let’s talk about both businesses for just a second because you aren’t just doing photography any more. You have also started selling Younique makeup and I would love to know what parts of both businesses bring you joy.
With photography it is so rewarding when people message me and tell me they feel good about the photos they received. When they tell me that they are happy with the moments captured, with the emotions, and the look of their photos. You can’t really ask for more than that as a photographer. Other times people will get in touch with me and tell me about someone they lost recently from their family and while the moment is sad they tell me that having the photos I took of them that include the passed away loved one have even more meaning and importance. That’s special to me.
With Younique it has been seeing the women around me gain confidence. I’ve gained confidence doing that business but seeing other women grow personally in that business has been both unexpected and inspiring. I’m motivated in the business not by sales – since that’s not the reason I started in Younique anyways – but by seeing women getting involved in a company that changes how they feel about themselves either by using the product or joining my team. My Younique journey is a story all on its own that has started to reach so far beyond makeup!
While we all love the highs of business ownership, let’s be real, it has struggles. What has been a struggle for you?
Starting out the photography business was just so time consuming. Finding a balance of work and family when you have four young kids close in age was really hard. Then as they grow they start doing activities and so much more. Balancing it all was the thing at times that made me question myself. It’s a work in progress – especially adding in Younique. It’s always something I am working on..every single day.
Since the business takes so much of your time, what do you hope the boys will see when they look at you as a mom, woman, and business owner?
I just want them to see me as proof that you really can do whatever you want. It sounds so cliche but that’s what I want. That if you will really put in the work you can achieve your goals. I want them to see the work – and then see it is worth it.
Do you think any of them will take up photography?
Once she is done laughing at me Ashley answers plainly…”No..not even a chance!”
However I do joke that Logan could sell makeup! He loves to talk and can sell anything..makeup included!
What’s in store for the future of your businesses? What do you see?
Even with cutting back on weddings, Nuzum Photo keeps blooming. Reaching people through Younique has lead to more connections for Nuzum Photo too so that adds to it. The photography business is steady and great and I’m at a point where if I can maintain the client base I have and keep doing family photography for the years to come — that will be great!
With Younique..I really want to use my business to inspire and empower more women. I want to promote within the company itself. My husband and I spend a lot of time talking about how to use this business to create an environment of growth for women — dreaming of holding seminars for people..doing things to help others grow personally and professionally. It’s fun to dream and especially to include Steve in on the dreaming process.
We are almost done with the questions! One thing I’m really dying to know, is how running a business has affected the way you parent…thoughts?
I think for me it has made me really want to show my kids and instil in them the value that you don’t just get handed things in life. You have to work for them! You have to really get in there and do the hard stuff to get the rewards. Work is…WORK. My kids have come with me to so many shoots and I’ve had to learn how to turn work time into a chance for family time. My kids will fish at the lake at the park while I shoot photos nearby and then I can join them when its done. Being a business owner teaches us how to multitask as parents!
Last, what’s your advice for a mom looking to start a business?
Just jump in! You need to believe in yourself and then when you start be consistent.. KEEP GOING. If you stop the minute things slow down or don’t go well – you can’t succeed. Push through and as Dory says – “Keep swimming!”