Making Connections


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. — African Proverb

I’ve been challenging myself to take myself more seriously when it comes to telling others about my lifestyle photography brands and finding new clients. So far, I’ve gone to a few networking events, reached out to lots of people online and conducted a styled shoot at my studio in preparation for a new marketing initiative. I’m on fire! It feels invigorating to be taking action towards the kind of life I want for myself. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out my photography brands: Sweet Girl Photos and Gernelle Nelson.

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It’s also been a little draining. I managed to catch a bug from one of my social escapades and have been fighting it off for about four days now. Sunday I was stuck in bed, the worst of the virus had caught up to me but now I’m at that ‘coughing but not contagious’ stage. You know, the part where you sip large amounts of hot fluids and feel antsy because your energy has started to come back.

Anyways, back to these connections. One of my friends is working on building her makeup artistry business. She moved here from Puerto Rico after the hurricane with her husband and only two suit cases of her belongings. Leaving everything behind, she’s hoping to start fresh by finding opportunities to work with new clients. I recently collaborated with her on my styled shoot. She did an amazing job on our model and has agreed to be my preferred MUA whenever I have a studio session. Check out her work below and follow Damarys on Instagram.

Elleword-makeup-by-Damarys-Ocasio2 copyElleword-makeup-by-Damarys-Ocasio1

Another friend has opened her own venue space and has agreed to partner with me on a monthly event to get lots of ladies and little girls in front of my camera. I’m hoping it brings lots of eyes to our brands and adds on retainer clients in the process. When you get a chance, check out all the Lemonade Lounge has to offer, especially if you want to host a part or workshop soon.

I’m going to join my local chamber of commerce soon and find ways to create more partnerships with local business owners in my neighborhood. The other day I attended a chamber meeting and was pleasantly surprised to find a room packed with excited people ready to talk about their businesses and support others. People were giving their 30 second commercials, thanking those who had sent them referrals and sharing events they had coming up. As I listened, I started coming up with ways I could parter with these brands to reach more of my target audience and it was pretty much a done deal from there. I’ll be getting social with the chamber very soon.

Have courage, Elle
gernellenelson.com
besweetgirl.com

Came Back from Cuba Feeling Anxious


How is it that I feel energetic enough to make it through a Taebo workout, yet unable to get off the couch at the same time? (Gets up, walks down 5 flights of stairs, checks mail, jogs back up 5 flights of stairs and resumes typing) Sigh, it all started two months ago….(Proceeds to waste 20 minutes scrolling on FB while eating grapes… I have a problem!!)

This past June, Brandon and I took our first trip abroad. Since I was hired to capture a group vacation as the official trip photographer for Vron’s World, Brandon decided to book the trip too. When I tell you we had a blast, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. We experienced Havana, Cuba to the fullest. We danced the night away salsa dancers, saw a shipwreck while snorkeling (also a first!), took an AfroCuban tour ate dinner beside the sea and much more! All my years of Spanish class came in handy. Being able to speak with locals revitalized my desire to learn new languages. It was incredible and we can’t wait to take another trip across the globe with Vron someday.

 

Once we came back, Cuba felt like a distant memory. This is when the trouble began.

At this time, I was heavily considering what to do with my life after struggling to build my photography businesses. It’s fun, challenging and hard as heck to build your business from scratch when you only have a few hundred in the bank. There have been plenty of times when I felt like a failure but my heart kept telling me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. Looking over my life, my attention was heavily divided. During the week, I was spending 6 – 8 hours a day babysitting my niece and the rest of my time recovering, LOL. Weekends were split between errands, church, dance ministry and spending time with Brandon. Needless to say, I hardly had any mental or physical energy left for working on my brands. Something had to give!

I quickly realized that part of my anxiety of attempting to work in a cluttered apartment. We had stuff overflowing from our bookshelves, dishes taking over the countertops, books, bags and other random items invading my desk. It was no wonder I couldn’t get anything done. So I started discarding the junk from the life. Anything that didn’t get discarded got assigned a new ‘home’. Then I started clearing my schedule so that I’d have time to give my best efforts to work during the week and on weekends. Now I’m no longer babysitting and in a few weeks, I’ll be on hiatus from dance ministry. You’d think that would open up my mind to progress right?

Well I guess my mind has become weak from a lack of stimulation for two months and now I have to build it back up if I want to do anything productive. I’ve been eating primarily fruits, grains and veggies but my sleep quality has really sucked the last couple of days. When I’m up, I have to convince myself to try to work, or at least move my body until I feel an inertia to keep going forward. I guess this is the ‘withdrawal’ stage of my former routine. Dang it karma! Despite that, I have managed to book a few shoots, network and spend time reading for pleasure. You know how long it’s been since I read or listened to an audiobook just for fun? Months! Maybe a year or so!

And now, here I type at my almost cleared desk, staring at my to do list that hasn’t yet been finished. And yet, I feel hopeful. Hopeful, because I now have put time back into my hands. Relived because I was able to let go of some things and obligations that were stressing me out more than anything else. Thankful because I’m blessed enough to have these issues without a day job. Yes, I’m feeling antsy and tired (WTH) but I’m free to figure things out again. I can’t wait to see what happens when I create a new daily routine for my life.

Have courage,
Elle ^___–

Dallas Chocolate Festival Media Preview


A few days after returning home from my month long photo assignment at KAA, I received an invitation to attend the Dallas Chocolate Festival Media Preview event. Andi, owner and managing editor of FunCityStuff.com and all around awesome gal has invited me to other fun local events in the past so I was excited to be working with her again. Plus, who doesn’t like free chocolate? In celebration of National Thrift Shopping day, I put on a cute combination of thrifted pink and black items and chocolate themed makeup. Brandon, my sweet and supportive husband, dropped me off at Whole Foods in Addison a few hours later and I quickly climbed the stairs that lead to the event space.

I was instantly greeted by the sights and smells of artisan chocolates. My first stop was at a table sponsored by Whole Foods that featured wine pairings with decadent morsels of Guittard, Divine and SRSLY chocolate bars. Hands down, my favorite wine was the Cava Mistinguette sparkling white. It was sweet and perfect for dessert or mimosas. After chatting with the Whole Foods rep, I spotted the confectionary display on the Isabelly’s Chocolate and Sweet Treats table. Isabelly’s won the Dallas Market Center 2016 “Best Chocolate/Candy” award this year.  I scooped up four red velvet cake balls, Brandon’s favorite flavor, and then tried one of their chile de arbor dry peppers covered in caramel and dipped in Belgium chocolate. The closer I got to the stem, the spicier and more savory it became.

Next up was Dr. Sue’s Chocolate table where Dr. Sue herself was serving attendees. Dr. Sue’s goal is to fight obesity-related disease by offering all natural chocolate with healthy ingredients mixed in. That night, she was giving away Rosemary Olive Oil Melt Aways and Texas Mendiants. The melt aways had such a unique flavor. I could smell the rosemary and tastes hints of sea salt as it melted in my mouth. You’ve got to give it a try! After trying a candied jalepeno topped Mendiant, I moved on to Yelibelly Chocolates. Yeli has been studying bellydance since 1999 and making her own chocolates since 2007. After securing her first chocolatey partnership with a dance studio, the name Yelibelly Chocolates was born! Yeli gave out Expresso Rum chocolates, Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Ganache and Habanero truffles that intensified in spicy flavor the longer you hold them in your mouth. She also had these adorable Chocolate Covered Oreos, each of them decorated with a pattern or design. Yeli was very kind and her candy was as fun to look at as it was to eat.

The next table belonged to Eileen’s Pralines. Eileen Scheib, Chief Executive Baker, and her business savvy husband Jack served up coffee, oatmeal and mocha treats. I love the fact that, together, the Scheibs bake, package, sell and market their treats side by side. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that her cookies are light and crunchy, thanks to her graham cracker base, instead of thick and chewy like other pralines. She also sells praline bars with cayenne and chipotle flavors at her shop in Dallas. My mom loves pralines so I took a sample of each flavor for her to try before walking over to the table belonging to Wackym’s Kitchen. Paul Wackym has been selling his sweet and crunchy cookies since 2008. That night Paul was wearing one of his many decked out hats, a tradition he started during his first year in business.  He had several cookies out including his Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Snickerdoodles and Dark Chocolate Orange cookie which will be offered at Central Market starting this fall. My favorite is definitely the Salted Caramel!

To wrap things up, I tried the Chocolate Pot de Creme french desserts provided by Haute Sweet Patisserie. Chef Gianni Santin, one of the founders of Haute, showed us all how to make this dessert during his cooking demonstration. His passion for cooking showed as he artfully prepared each ingredient and topped them with whipped cream and handmade chocolate toppers. I’m especially a fan of the crunchy chocolate pearls. Haute’s retail space is in Old Lake Highlands where they offer coffee alonside their yummy cakes and pastries. They also offer gluten free and paleo items.

I had such a good time at the event but keep in mind, that was only a preview of the full Dallas Chocolate Festival taking place on Saturday, September 10 at the Addison Conference Centre. This year’s sponsors include Callebaut, Cocoatown, D Magazine, Guittard Chocolate Company, Perfect Temper Kitchen, Solbeso, TCF Sales and Whole Foods. Ticket are $30 for adults, $5 for children under 12, and $75 for VIP tickets. Thanks to the host, DallasChocolate.org, I’ve got a discount code for you! Use the code: CHOCOLATEFUN to get $5 off admission to the festival or the festival’s Movie Night, a new addition to the event.

For Movie Night on Friday September 9th at 7pm, the DCF will be showing “Bean to Bar: A Film About Artisan Chocolate” and then hosting a Q&A with director Bob Ridgely, chocolate makers Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate and Rob Anderson from Fresco Chocolate. Attendees can expect cocktails, chocolate (naturally) and finger foods to be served. Movie night admission is  $60 for individuals and $100 for two tickets. The DCF is offering three classes on Sunday, September 11 at Perfect Temper Kitchen in Plano for those who want a hands on experience. Each class is $60 per person or you can attend all three for $150. Seats are limited so reserve your seat quickly by visiting DallasChocolate.org!

Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Reading Inspired Writing

Elleword - the storefront at my local Half Price Books store

Aside from improving my photography and client relation skills, I’ve been working towards becoming a more descriptive writer. The goal is to improve my writing style and blog posts so I can start racking up paid writing assignments and spread my reach across the internet. Starting to write proactively after a long drought can be pretty intimidating. That’s why I’ve decided to go back to the basics and read books on a daily basis until I’ve equipped my mind with enough diction to improve my writing skills. I call this technique reading inspired writing. The more I read entertaining and colorful stories, the better I’ll be able to write colorful and entertaining content.

I’ve just begun this journey of falling back in love with reading now that I’ve left the corporate world. I’m starting slowly and then building up my mental stamina and capacity to learn again. I can already tell that this strategy is working because I found myself inspired to write after a few minutes of watching a small family through my patio window. I’m also incorporating foreign language studies, primarily Spanish, to keep my mind challenged. Alright, enough of the technicalities. Here’s what I’m reading to get my brain rebooted.

 

Elleword - Elle is reading 'My Life in France' by Julia Child to improve her righting skills.

My Life in France by Julia Child, with Alex Prud’homme

For those who may not know, Julia Child was a tall sassy chef with a thirst for adventure. She’s been coined as the woman who brought french cooking to America. If you ever watch her cooking show ‘The French Chef’, she just makes you feel wonderful about yourself. When she speaks, it’s like she is singing. This book speaks of her adventures in France with her husband Paul, a government worker and fine artist, and her love of delicious foods. The beauty of this book is that it is filled with historical images taken by Paul himself, of France in the late 1940s after World War II. Though Julia passed away just before the book was published, I feel as if I am getting to know her through her words and stories.

She was a woman of courage, living life in a way that filled her (and her husband’s) life with joy. Paul loved her intensely and always supported and encouraged her to go for her dreams, despite the limitations imposed on women at that time in history. She had this amazing spirit of perseverance and encouraged her readers to keep moving forward, even when they made mistakes. Paul and Julia’s relationship and zest for life inspires me to make an adventure of life and run towards my dreams. Be forewarned, you might want to eat before reading this book. Her descriptions of French food will make you start salivating.

The Wait by Devon Franklin and Meagan Good with Tim Vandehey

I have not yet started reading this book but I’m itching to get started. It’s a book about approaching relationships with a different perspective than that prescribed in magazines. Devon and Meagan share their personal stories of how taking your time and not rushing into things – sex and marriage – can change your life. Although I’m in a happy marriage already, I’m looking forward to absorbing as much information from this book as possible. I believe there is still much that I can learn and apply to my own marriage as well as sharing it with friends. I love talking about relationships, especially with single people because I have a new perspective that I didn’t have years ago. In hindsight, I can see some of the dumb things I jumped into and strive to remind my friends of their own self worth. When you know how valuable you are, you won’t just let any old person come into your life. I’ll give a full book review once I’ve read the book in case anyone wants the inside scoop.

Elleword - Whenever I want to read something interesting or get book/magazine pages for projects, I buy books from the Haggard Library in Plano.

Aside from reading, I’ve also started writing more frequently to stay in motion, so to speak. (This reading inspired writing thing is really working!) Currently, I’m writing up multiple blog entries for three blogs including Fun City Stuff DFW. They have been gracious enough to offer me compensation per post, especially ones with pictures included. I’m so excited because Fun City gets quite a lot of monthly traffic. Posting content regularly on their site is only going to benefit the rate of traffic on my websites. It’s also a way to show people what I can do photographically without consciously trying to sell them on my work. I love working with Fun City because they occasionally send me to events (they sponsor admission for me and a plus one!) to write up cover stories with plenty of pictures. I’ve been to two events thus far, the first being the Savor Dallas Garden Party. The second event was the Taste of Addison this past week. I am always ecstatic and grateful when Andi, their editor, asks me to cover an event. I hope another one comes down the line soon!

I’m only in the second month of my new entrepreneurial routine and having the time of my life. I’m learning how to find work, overcome shyness, gain confidence and rediscovering things about myself that I thought had been lost in corporate seas. I hope my blogging improves. I want you – all five lol – to enjoy reading it and hopefully take positive points away with you. I want my story to encourage and inspire others to live a life of courage. Inspiring stories must be told with inspiring words.

Are you interested in trying “reading inspired writing” techniques? What are you reading right now? When was the last time you read something for pleasure? Share your thoughts in the comment won’t you?

Have courage,

Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Update! 9 Days

Elleword rebrand preview

In nine days, I’ll be leaving the corporate world to pursue my career as a full-time entrepreneur. I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve been talking over lots of details with my husband, planning and dreaming of the possibilities. As I wrap up my work with my current employer, my main job is to teach and support the new team members. My last day is next Wednesday!

Until my company begins generating regular income, I plan to do some simple transcription and freelance work as a way to bring in some cash. This way I get to spend my most effective hours of the day focused on networking and acquiring clients. But aside from working for myself, I’m looking forward to the new freedoms and personal projects that I can explore with my new schedule.

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One project that I’m most excited about working on is my YouTube Channel. I miss vlogging! Besides tracking my weekends with my husband, I plan on visiting 30 Texan attractions, creating art tutorials and hosting several frock swap parties! I shot some footage of this past weekend and cannot wait to edit and post it online. It’s been over a month since my last video so I am way past due. For now, I’m focused on making content that I like and gaining subscribers. Once things start moving faster, I’ll offer paid one-on-one sessions and workshops in the area. Gotta start small and build.

Have courage,
Elle

Stepping it Up Five Notches


I was looking on Instagram at other wedding industry professionals’ accounts and was immediately reminded that I hadn’t posted to my own account in over a week. That’s like years in social media time. How do I expect to get my company noticed with lackluster performance like that? Furthermore, if I want to meet women, brides and wedding pros, I can’t do it by going to work and then going home. I have to put in the work required, as much as I can when I’m not at my desk job. I think this is my wake up call!

Now that the holidays over and the normal routine has come back to haunt me, I’ve got to shake things up. There’s no way I’m going to reach my goals by doing the same thing that I’ve always done. If I want to be a business owner who is actually taking on clients, I need to work at it everyday.

I’ve already started working on reversing this horrible way of doing business. First, I’ve scored a speaking opportunity at a workshop for new business owners next month. I’ll be talking about Networking and building relationships (ironic eh?) and gifting someone with a photo session. Secondly, I’ve signed up to go to a grand opening party for a new bridal shop this Wednesday. The party planners, bridal shop owners and lots of brides will be in attendance! It’s going to be my first official networking event of the year. My goal is to connect with the planners and shop owners, give them my info and follow up with a phone call or email for a one on one meetup. And finally, I’m going to join a group of photographers for an after work meet and greet in Dallas on the 27th as well as one with other bloggers this Saturday!

For the next 12 months, I’m going to be more social and active online than I’ve ever been! As things progress, I’ll give you an update!

Have courage (and get moving!),

Elle

 

My Work Wardrobe Capsule


One of the things that I’ve been doing while establishing my company, Gernelle Nelson LLC, is planning my marketing strategy and coming up with a brand standard. I thought it would be great to do the same thing with my wardrobe. While I am not shopping for another 10 months, I want the items that I wear when working with a photography client to match my brand words = Stylish, Classic and Feminine. I went through my visual wardrobe and pulled out the items that I felt matched these words and my company color scheme. Please let me know what you think. 😀

By the way, my company website, Facebook and Instagram pages are up. My full website content will be up by the end of the month. Check me out, leave comments and follow me. I have a voucher for a free print for my first 100 clients on the website. Sign up ok? 😀

Website: Gernellenelson.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/gernellenelson
Instagram: Instagram.com/gernelle_nelson

Hace courage,
Elle

Gernelle Nelson Wardrobe Capsule

Have courage,
Elle

It’s Official, This Girl is a Boss!

Portrait of Mikayla by Gernelle Nelson

All of my personal projects (my blog, Youtube channel and style archive) have been on hold for the last couple of weeks but for a good reason. After lots of prep, I’ve finally started…

Gernelle Nelson LLC is open for business!

FB: facebook.com/gernellenelson
IG: instagram.com/gernelle_nelson
www.gernellenelson.com

Cue the celebration music and bust a move my friends! You’re now reading the blog of DFW’s newest women & wedding photographer! Continue reading “It’s Official, This Girl is a Boss!”

Let’s Get Down to Business!


Morning!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been studying up and planning a strategy for my creative career. I currently work at a marketing firm but the goal is to go solo. For a few years, I’ve wanted to officially establish myself and create a studio space but I’ve been too afraid. Afraid that I’d fail or file taxes incorrectly or too afraid to talk to people. Well, I’m over that now. I have stopped focusing on the fear and started looking at the benefits of what working for myself will mean. Being able to do something I love. Networking and getting out of my comfort zone. Traveling with a flexible schedule. Creating the types of things that I want to create. Continue reading “Let’s Get Down to Business!”