It’s a long one, but it’s a great one.
I love looking back in hindsight on our journey and connecting the dots of how we ended up here. Both working full-time from home, raising children, while we own and operate a business together. This is just the beginning and my future self can’t wait to revisit this story years down the road and see how far we’ve come.
When I was 19 years old, I had a sprinkle of a dream to be a photographer. I had a point and shoot camera, had been in a few local art shows, and sold some of my work. I vividly remember sitting on my kitchen counter and telling my dad that I wanted to be a photographer. His response was actual laughter. My nineteen year old self was pissed. I took his advice of the logical plan, tossed my dream to the side, and stuck with college.
I graduated college at the top of my class with a degree in Nursing. At twenty three, I went straight to work at our areas Level I Trauma Center hospital. I began working as an RN on a surgical unit. As I gained experience, I became a nurse preceptor training new hires and a charge nurse running the unit. I transitioned to the ICU and made the same progress, nurse preceptor and charge nurse. While I was advancing rapidly as a young nurse in my career field, I was simultaneously feeling pretty exhausted. I graduated high school with great grades and always felt like I was supposed to go to college because it was what you “did”. By the time I was twenty five though, I started questioning the longevity of my career choice from the burnout.
This is where Tyler comes in.
Tyler has always had an entrepreneur mindset. In his early twenties, he was the director of operations for a clothing line his buddies created. His real love was in the restaurant industry. He started as a server, worked his way up into management, and eventually became a part owner in the restaurant he worked in for ten years. He loved his job, and really was thriving there. It was easy for him to work sixty hours a week and not even think twice about it because it was something he loved doing. Ty had many hats in the restaurant all ranging from keeping up with inventory, to managing budgets, social media, websites, and graphic design. At the time, I couldn’t even understand that type of passion for a job because I was so burnt out with my own.
Tyler could see the emotional and physical tole the hospital was taking on me, and really encouraged me to make a change. He was pretty much like listen – I don’t know what you could do in the medical field to lower your stress level, but you need to do whatever you need to do to be happy because life is too short to be miserable.
I remember sitting in a Mexican restaurant one night on a double date with friends and we started a conversation about what our dream jobs would be. When it was my turn, I knew my answer immediately and I told them photography. It might have initially been the tequila talking, but this was that night I told Tyler, “I want to start a photography business”. He was all in even though neither of us had a clue what we were doing. Now I’m not totally crazy – I didn’t go and quit my hospital job right away or anything like that.
To purchase my first “real” camera, I saved up every extra penny I could. I worked extra shifts at the hospital to cover the cost, and got a business license. I didn’t even have a business plan, or even know how to write one. Taxes, marketing, budgets – none of that even crossed my mind. I just knew I had a camera now and I wanted to take pictures of happy people and their loved ones. We settled on the business name Lia Everette Photography, and I made a cheesy floral logo in Microsoft. Again – I had *no* idea what I was doing, I just wanted to start somewhere.
Tyler helped me create a business Facebook page, a super simple website, and a few other official things to get started. From there, I continued to photograph friends and family. After my hospital shifts, him and I would stay up late Googling anything and everything we could get our hands on to learn. I spent more hours on YouTube than I honestly even want to admit. If college taught me anything, it was how to teach myself, and how to learn. I knew I could literally learn anything I put my mind to. All of that tenacity and never being willing to take no for an answer as a kid [sorry mom and dad] was starting to pay off.
Eventually, people started offering to pay me for work. A trusted friend let me shoot her wedding, and then another and another. I was able to use the images on my website and word of mouth kept going. All the while I was still working at the hospital full-time. Fast forward to a year later, and I was practically working two full-time jobs between photography and the hospital. When I got seriously hurt at work and was faced with needing potential spinal surgery, Tyler and I came up with a long term plan. We also knew that one day more children would be in the future, and I couldn’t sustain what I was doing forever.
The plan was for me to cut back to part-time at the hospital and supplement the income with photography work. I kept learning and pushing and growing. Tyler sat down and ran the numbers after about two years of me doing this and it was a HUGE moment for us. This little business was officially not so little anymore, I had matched my hospital salary. Whoa. We were blown away. It was in that moment that we both realized I was onto something and we went full speed ahead.
I gave my notice at the hospital and I remember sobbing. It was so scary to leave that security blanket behind, but simultaneously so freaking exciting. People thought I was crazy for leaving my career – and maybe it was a little crazy. Looking back though, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Once I was no longer at the hospital I was able to invest so much more of myself into my business. Running it full-time caused exponential growth, and a lot of learning happened in a short amount of time. I was suddenly learning about balancing books, budgeting, tax percentages, and contracts.
I was traveling for work, shooting full-time, and even got to the point where I was turning down work because I was totally booked.
In our personal lives we found out we were expecting TWINS! After having fertility issues, getting pregnant with twins was a freaking miracle. Cue five months after the twins were born – and we found out we were expecting, AGAIN! That season in our lives was so challenging. Trying to juggle it all was rough to say the least. We had to learn to navigate our new normal, and it was around that time Tyler knew he needed to cut back on work hours and spend more time at home. We thought to ourselves, “how cool would it be if one day you could quit your job too and work from home?”
Cue another lightbulb moment. I mean, we had done it once – why couldn’t we do it again?
Noah, our fourth child, was born on November 19, 2019. Two days after Noah was born, Tyler sat on our couch with him in his arms and wrote his resignation letter to the company he was employed with. You see, he was supposed to go back to work the next day. Noah would have been just three days old. Ty said he just couldn’t leave us, and needed to be home. It is a moment that will be etched into my mind forever. Watching my husband put our family first and being willing to do whatever it took for us to be successful on our own.
We had always dreamt of one day working for just ourselves, but it was in that moment that we decided to just totally go for it. We had spent so much time day dreaming goals for my business, but there was no way I could accomplish it all alone. It was time to hire staff, and if we were going to hire staff, why not hire my husband.
Tyler’s knowledge of finance and graphic design coupled with his creativity is the perfect partnership to my photography work, marketing skills, and creative brain. Tyler has a way of taking my visions and turning them into life. I’m so happy that he will be running much of the back end of our business as well as continuing to second shoot weddings with me like he always has.
Here we are, four months in and we are thrilled to share the launch of our new website with the world. Our business name, Lia Everette Photography will remain the same and nothing about our process will change. This is just a seamless integration of husband and wife teaming up together to accomplish big things and live out the life we believe we were created and called to have. We want to show our children that you can do literally anything you put your mind to. That you don’t have to dream small or stay in the box you think you’ve been put in. We love this life and want to live it in a big big way. Thank you SO much for following along with us on this journey!
Lia & Tyler