Salt + Sirena's I RUN THIS Series features women entrepreneurs, influencers, and small business owners doing what they love, and excelling at it. I hope to not only spread the word about what these amazing women do, but to inspire you to take the leap and follow your own bliss!
This month's feature is on Kelly, co-owner of San Diego photography and branding company, KDN Studio!
Kelly specializes in product photography and brand management, and I greatly admire her passion for helping other small businesses. I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly last Fall, and as a new business owner at the time, it was so nice to connect with her and experience her passion firsthand. I've provided a link to her website below, as well as a fun interview with Kelly about her business!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how KDN Studio got it's start.
I grew up being completely fixated on the idea of living my life as an artist. I always loved the act of creating something to express yourself, your opinions, and your experiences. When I was in high school, my goals for my future solidified in art and I found Otis College of Art and Design. I attended Otis for four years to receive my BFA in photography and graphic design.
Being from a family of an accountant and computer consultant, I was always reminded of the real world applications of art based skills. They always supported my passion but when I decided to dedicate my future to it, I think I made them a little nervous. But as it turns out, their influence of business sense led me to be most passionate about business orientated art, hence my career in product photography and brand management.
When I graduated, I returned to Escondido, my hometown, because I had always seen potential in the art presence but it seemed to always exist just below the surface. My first "in between" job was at EscoGelato on Grand Ave. where I met my fiancé, Millard. He has a wonderful gift for people. He's that guy that everyone knows and everyone would come to say hi to. Together we were greatly inspired by the people around us and the incredible small businesses that they started.
In November 2014, Millard and I opened KDN studio; primarily as a photography studio focused on products, but also as a creative and collaborative studio that brought graphic design, networking, public relations, photography, and branding together under one roof. As time has gone on, we have now become completely focused on the support of other small businesses. Whether it be a food blog, an online boutique, a small brand shop, or an up and coming restaurant, we want to work with people who are building their business and need support in making their dream of a beautiful menu or awesome Instagram photos a reality.
2. What inspires your photography?
Stories. Whether it be of the product and how it was made, or the business owner and where they come from and how that inspires their work. Stories are different every time; sometimes they tell of overcoming hardship or of an inspiring friendship, but either way they are always different, like a fingerprint.
3. What do you feel is the most challenging thing about being a small business owner? How do you push through?
My biggest struggle has always been silencing my doubts and worries in slower times. With all businesses, there are heavy and light months. But when you are the owner of a small business, slow times seem to bring you so close to the edge. Luckily, KDN Studio has always been surrounded by the most supportive colleagues. We have been blessed with friends that have continued to inspire and support us. Even my mom has told me, "Creativity takes courage," so in the end, we have always had to keep our heads up and our faith strong.
4. What do you like to do for fun?
I absolutely live for traveling! I started traveling when I was in high school when I went on a backpacking through Europe for the first time. I was never the same. Every trip changes me and always for the better. I find that seeing new cultures, beautiful lands, and meeting wonderful people have always been able to give me a fresh perspective on my own life, but also continue to show me how much I still have to learn and experience. My favorite quote and now literary self portrait is “She cried everyday, not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.”
5. Lastly, any quick advice for photography beginners?
Never stop learning. Whether you choose to learn through classes, workshops, collaboration, tutorials, or just practice, keep doing it! For me, the day I stop trying to learn more is the day that I have given up.
Thank you so much, Kelly! You are so sweet and talented, and I love how strongly you also care about women supporting each other.
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