I was asked by the Colorado Springs Business Journal to photograph their Women of Influence for 2015. It was a huge honor and something I really enjoyed. The morning of the shoot, it dawned on me– when else was I going to be in the same place with 12 women that powerful and have them as a sort of captive audience behind my camera? If I’m lucky, maybe next year for this same event…but if not, perhaps this was once in a lifetime. In that moment, I decided to take full advantage of photographing them and ask some questions worth asking as we went about the shoot. And I must say, these women are something else. They are brave. They are tenacious. They are beautiful. They are strong. They are feminine. And many of them are funny :)
I enjoyed this shoot so much that I wanted to share a little bit about each of these women with you, especially the questions I asked and the answers I received. So here we go…
What advice would you give me as a female entrepreneur?
“It’s all about relationships. People like to do business with people who are nice, who smile, who they like.”
Shay, one of 3 women to ever complete Army Ranger School.
What did you tell yourself mentally to get through Ranger School?
“I thought about my mom, how I didn’t want to disappoint her, even though I never would. I thought about all the people who were following us, all the people who would believe that they could do this, too, because we did it first. And I don’t want anyone to tell little girls they can’t do something. So I thought about that a lot.”
What advice would you give to me as a female entrepreneur?
“Be confident. If you’ve put the time in to learn your craft, then be confident in it. Be part of the voice and take a seat at the table.”
Sharyn, Executive Director.
What’s kept you in Colorado Springs for 40 years?
“The jobs, for one. The climate, the nature, the relationships. I couldn’t have survived as a single mom without all the wonderful friendships.”
Christy, leader in Democratic party.
What pitfalls can I avoid as a female entrepreneur?
“The biggest thing is not undervaluing your work. As women, we tend to get worried and back down, and I don’t think men do that as much.”
Stacy, Chief Development Officer for Care & Share.
How do you know when to give freely and when to stand your ground?
“It’s important to not just emotionally react in a moment [when someone is asking you for something], but to always take a step back and think ‘What am I actually passionate about? How can I actually make the most difference?'”
Michelle, co-owner of Picnic Basket.
What’s the secret of your success?
“I think it’s that I still love it. When you’re leaving a tasting at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night because that’s the only time the couple from Denver could meet, and you are still happy–because you’re helping people– you must be doing the right thing.”
Kelly, Chairman and COO
What has helped you the most being a woman in a mostly male dominated business?
“I think not being a girl, but just being a person. Being authentic and honest. I think it’s sad that people find that so refreshing and don’t realize how many people do actually live that way. I don’t serve on a lot of boards; I think the best way I can invest in this community is to build and lead a successful business and pour into those people who will then give back to the community.”
Kristie, president of a bank.
What quality in yourself do you think has made you most successful?
“I’m a strong person.
What do you like the most about yourself?
“My ability to think outside the box.”
Linda, co-founder of Special Kids Special Families
What’s been the greatest reward of starting your organization?
“Knowing families can go to work and support their kids. Seeing children thrive in school. I’m such a kid-lover.”
Una, Education Dept. of Colorado College
Why do you think women are important in Colorado Springs?
“I like to think that we get things done! We can be a little less territorial. Silos can happen across both genders, but I see us being more collaborative.”
Regina, professor and motivational speaker
Instead of asking her one question, I asked her to coffee :) I’ll keep you posted, because this woman is a gem, a fountain of good thoughts and advice, and a beast on the dance floor. (I had the pleasure of first meeting her at a wedding last summer)
All photos shot at Bourbon Street Productions in Colorado Springs.