Consider the Wildflowers

019. Kelli Kroneberger: Embracing an Unconventional Journey

November 17, 2022 Kelli Kroneberger
Consider the Wildflowers
019. Kelli Kroneberger: Embracing an Unconventional Journey
Show Notes Transcript

From marketing director for a real estate company, to wedding photography, to fine art, to a dream job working as a photographer for Magnolia, Kelli Kroneberger has dabbled with many mediums in many creative industries. As someone who has always been a little embarrassed by the twists and turns in her own career path, Kelli shares how she is learning to embrace the journey and give up her natural tendency for people-pleasing and seeking the validation of others. 

I think as entrepreneurs we can all fall prey to striving out of the need for approval and today’s conversation is a permission slip to do what makes sense for you even if no one else understands. Embrace the journey, though it will likely not be a straight path, and have fun along the way! 


Kelli Kroneberger (00:00):

I used to be so embarrassed by my career path in that it wasn't a traditional one, and that I have done a lot of different things within the creative industry versus just choosing one thing and doing that one thing and going for it. I have always just been embarrassed by my story.

Shanna Skidmore (00:18):

You're listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast, episode 19. I was introduced to today's guest back in 2016 when my very first course launched, called Pricing for Creatives, a collaboration with If I Made. I've been obsessed with following her work ever since, from photography to art to most recently a corporate gifting company, she is talented beyond belief, and yes, she did in fact work for Chip and Joanna Gaines. More on that fun story in today's episode. So when I reached out to her about coming onto the podcast, I was actually kind of surprised with her response. She said, I'm not sure I have anything important to talk about. If you've ever felt your story wasn't headline worthy, embarrassed by your career path, or the need to prove yourself for validation, today's beautiful conversation with Kelli Kroneberger is for you. If you dig professional bios, here goes.

Kelli loves the intersection of art and business regardless of the medium. She's been a creative entrepreneur for the past 14 years, and her work has included photography, creative direction, fine art, creative business consulting, and most recently, her time is spent as the founder of a corporate gifting company, Maker Hill. Because of her entrepreneurial experience in many creative industries, she's able to move fluidly throughout several mediums. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and two boys. Okay, formal introductions over, let's dive in.

Hey, it's Shanna and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turned business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory.

Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite, encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here.

Okay, Kelli, here we go. This is such a treat. I am so excited just to hear more of your story, have you on the podcast. Thanks and welcome to the show.

Kelli Kroneberger (02:42):

Thank you. It is honestly such an honor to be here, share my story and just to chat with you.

Shanna Skidmore (02:49):

Well, I was thinking back about the first time I heard about Kelli Kroneberger and when did I become obsessed with you? Let me get back to, it was 2016 when I launched Pricing for Creatives with If I made, do you remember that?

Kelli Kroneberger (03:04):

Yes I loved that. Obviously I feel like that was the start of me just transforming my mind about business and money.

Shanna Skidmore (03:14):

So they posted, I remember some of your artwork on Instagram and I was just need in house immediately. <laugh>, so talented and you've done so many wonderful things. So I'm excited. So I'm gonna kind of pass the mic over to you and we're gonna talk about all the things in the next 45 ish minutes. But tell me about just your background before you even became an entrepreneur. Just what did life look like back in those days?

Kelli Kroneberger (03:46):

Yeah, well I feel like it's kind of funny cuz I look at other entrepreneurs and I feel like my story is still evolving and I feel like my story has taken some twists and turns within the entrepreneurial world. But gosh, I started out on my own probably 14 years ago. I was 23 years old, and so I was still a baby. I still had no idea what I was doing with my life with my days. But prior to me kind of being a business owner, I was fresh out of college, had no idea what I wanted to do. And so I ended up getting a job. Thankfully I got such an amazing job right out of college. I was the marketing coordinator for a real estate development company in South Dakota where I was from. And honestly, I really did not know what I was doing, but for some reason they just believed in me and they just kept me giving me challenges. And I feel like that's really where my love for business started to grow because I had always been creative. I had always been an artist. I always wanted to do something creative, but I had no idea about business or what it all entailed, how to even do it. So I feel like that's really where my love for just thinking, I think I can do this someday. I think that I wanna have the flexibility, I wanna have a life that I get to create, but also make money doing. And so that's really where my, I guess life prior to becoming an entrepreneur started was working for that company.

Shanna Skidmore (05:26):

That's so interesting. And it sounds like I know with, when you work for a small company, you get to see the ins and outs. That's what I always loved about working for a small business. So was it kind of a smaller real estate company?

Kelli Kroneberger (05:39):

Well, actually, so it was a family run company, and at the time it was, I would say it was probably a medium size company. Now they're huge. It's massive. And I still keep in touch with them, which is so fun. But it was because it was a family run business, I did get to see a lot of different areas of the business and honestly just felt like I was thankfully thrown into situations and I just said, yes, <laugh>, yeah, yeah, I'll do that. Yeah, I'll learn that. And then I would turn around and I was like, I have no idea what I'm doing, <laugh>, I'll figure it out. And so it was just really fun. It was such a fun process to be so young and feel like I could do anything. And I feel like that fearlessness led me into wanting to take that leap into running my own businesses.

Shanna Skidmore (06:27):

Yeah. So did you get a degree in marketing? Was that what you went to school for?

Kelli Kroneberger (06:31):

I did actually. So in college I actually started out as a, I wanted to be a painter and obviously I still do that, but I told my parents I wanted to get a degree in art, and my dad kind of looked at me like, that's great and all, but you have no idea even how to sell your work. You can create your work, but how are you gonna sell it? And so he, it was the best advice he could have given me, but he just said, you know, can always work on your craft, but maybe you should get more of a business degree or a marketing degree, so you know what you're doing. And so that's what I did. I got a marketing degree and I'm so thankful that I did because I feel like, again, that just kind of launched me into this different world that I had never really explored. I was more of just the dreamer and everything's gonna be perfect and it's all gonna work out somehow as a little girl. And then just these small steps along the way or what I needed to launch me into the next thing.

Shanna Skidmore (07:35):

Yeah. So did you put out your application to get a marketing degree or did you know somebody at the company? How did you get connected with this first job?

Kelli Kroneberger (07:45):

So with the first job, it was actually, I was, gosh, I had graduated from college. I was working at Starbucks in the summertime because I was trying to figure out what I was gonna do. I think it was on an online job search, and it was a position for an assistant manager at one of their properties. And so again, I was like, I have no idea what this means. I'm just gonna apply. I've heard it's a great company to work for. And so I applied, went through several interviews and the funny thing was is I almost didn't get the job because, which I understand now, I was 23 again, I had no idea what I was doing. I just felt like I'm a quick learner, I can catch on to things pretty well. And so they said to me, I think at one interview we like you, but we don't feel like we can hire you because you're not sophisticated enough, <laugh>, <laugh>. And so that was, I kind of was like, okay, well then I'll just have to prove myself. And I feel like I kind of begged for the job and pretty quickly, again, pretty quickly I started the job and moved into a marketing position probably within the first month or two because I think they just saw in me just a hunger and a drive to learn and get better and to grow. And so that's what led me to that marketing and position.

Shanna Skidmore (09:14):

That's so interesting. So as your heart started stirring or seeing while you're in this position, like, oh wow, I'm interested in business, I do wanna start my own business, was it art? Is that what you wanted to do and talk through the transition of leaving that job? Did you start your own company? What happened next?

Kelli Kroneberger (09:34):

<affirmative>? Yeah, so it's kind of interesting. So as a painter, I've always been a painter and I feel like that's something that I've always been, even throughout different career shifts. But that wasn't necessarily what I thought I could do at the time. And again, I think for a really long time I had these negative thoughts in my head of yes, I feel like I'm called to be a painter, but I can't make money being a painter. I can't progress in my career being a painter. And so I think that's also what stirred this need to do something on my own. But also I think for the longest time I had such a mental block to be a painter, even though I did it all the time. So when I started working with this real estate company, they asked me, Hey, we need to take photos of all of our properties, would you be interested in doing that? And so I was like, yes, get me out of the office, get me doing something creative. I have no idea about photography, but I will learn <laugh>. And I think that that's always just been something, I love learning, I love trying new things. And so I taught myself how to do photography and I went from photographing their properties, commercial properties and residential properties to doing portraits. And then I did that with, I worked with them for about a year and really just felt, I feel like I can go out on my own as a photographer. I have enough clients now. I've been doing it on the side, I've been saving up money. I think I'm ready to take the leap into this unknown entrepreneurial world that I've always been really interested in.

Shanna Skidmore (11:22):

So you've been doing photography on the side, building up your clientele, doing the commercial photography, and after you said about a year you decided to go out on your own. Do you remember what year that was?

Kelli Kroneberger (11:35):

Yeah, so I think it was 2009, between 2009 and 2010. It's a little bit fuzzy, but it was around then.

Shanna Skidmore (11:44):

Okay. So walk me through the beginning stages of your photography career. How did you figure out pricing and did you put up a website? How did you get clients? And were you taking on all kinds of photography or did you decide to niche in one area or another? I'd love to hear just about those early days of photography

Kelli Kroneberger (12:02):

<affirmative>. Yeah, so early on, again, I often just kind of dove in and said, yes, let me do this and I'll figure it out as I go. And so I was more focused on becoming a really great photographer versus how much money I was making. And so in the early days, again, it was like, okay, I have this business background. Now I have a little bit of knowledge, but I really don't know how to price my work. I'm a new photographer, I'm seeing pricing all over the place. I'm seeing weddings for 2000, I'm seeing weddings for 10,000. And so it was just really, really abstract for me. And so in the early days, I just kind of said yes to everything and I felt like that was my way of gaining experience in all different things. So I was doing portraits, I was doing weddings, I was shooting a little bit of commercial stuff and just saying yes to everything.

And in the beginning it was fine because I was busy. And so I kind of was like, well, if I'm busy, I'm also making money. But I wasn't necessarily paying attention to the money. It was more of the money was coming in and therefore the money was then going out because I didn't have a plan for what I was actually doing. And so eventually within the first year or two, I kind of just started to gravitate more towards wedding photography. I liked it better. It felt it just fit better with my schedule. So I primarily was a wedding photographer for a good chunk of my, I would say my photography career, I still do photography, but it's not necessarily my main thing right now. And so in the early days, I feel like in regards to just pricing and money, I just guessed it was a very emotional pricing. And it was like I have a website, I put my prices on my website and looked around at other photographers and what they were charging. And then I thought, great, I'll just be in the middle. So was there was no formula, there was no thought. It was more of let's just dive in and try to figure this out.

Shanna Skidmore (14:10):

And did getting clients come naturally or how are you finding your clients?

Kelli Kroneberger (14:16):

Yeah. Okay. So again, I was in South Dakota at the time, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And it's not a huge town, but it's big enough. And so I feel like it's a very tight knit town. And so I remember getting a few early on brides that had heard about me that I had kind of known, and I shot their wedding and they were connected to everyone in the town. And so I felt, honestly, I felt like it was a little bit of luck combined with me just being willing to take an opportunity. And so that's really what started my just client base was me doing, trying to do the best job that I could. I wouldn't say that I was an amazing photographer in the beginning because it was still learning, but it was me just showing up, doing a really good job, treating people really well, and then the referrals just kept coming. So I feel really lucky. I don't feel like I had to do a ton of marketing back then to get those clients. And again, I feel like it was partly the town and partly just people that my name got spread around pretty quickly because everyone knew everyone, which was great.

Shanna Skidmore (15:33):

Yeah. And would you say, just thinking through your photography career, what would you say? Were there turning points or big pivots with seasons of life or in the photography business? Talk me through just the growth of the photography business and then yeah, I would just love to hear how that went over the next few years.

Kelli Kroneberger (15:55):

So over the next few years as I was kind of really honing in on being a wedding photographer, that's also when I started getting really interested in film, which I feel like there was this shift in photography from digital to film, and everyone was wanting to shoot film and everyone was doing these workshops. And so I went to a one-on-one workshop with Jose Villa way back in the day. And I don't even know if he still does them anymore, but I feel like that was a big shift in my business because I finally took my business seriously enough to invest my money. And it was a lot of money I think at the time, which back in, I don't know, 2010 or 11, it was like $6,000 and I was 24 <laugh>. And so that was a lot of money to me. And so I thought, gosh, if I'm gonna invest this much money into my business and into this workshop, cause I really feel confident that I wanna shoot film, I'm gonna have to start taking it a lot more seriously. And so that's when I started really just obviously not only honing in on my craft as a photographer and becoming better at my craft, but also understanding the numbers of my craft and the type of weddings that I wanted to be shooting. And so I went from just saying yes to everything and trying to figure it out and just more emotionally running my business to saying, okay, I've just spent this money, I'm gonna commit to being a film photographer. I'm gonna commit to do weddings and these are the type of weddings I wanna do. And so I really got specific on what I wanted my style to look like, my website, my clients, all those things that I think in the beginning are just kind of figuring it out, or at least I was. And so that's really when I saw a shift in my photography business and saw a drastic change in the growth of my business for probably the next three to four years. And then in that I actually made a move to Colorado. So I was in South Dakota starting this business, made a move to Colorado. That's where I went to college and just wanted to be back there. And so even that, just the shift in where I was located brought a different type of clientele as well. I mean there's a lot of mountain weddings and they're beautiful and wonderful. And so just kind of launched me into a different echelon, I would say, of wedding photography.

Shanna Skidmore (18:31):

And at that time, how did you start learning more about pricing? And did you start looking at the numbers more? What numbers were you looking at? How did you start learning the business side of the photography business?

Kelli Kroneberger (18:46):

So I feel like I started to pay more attention when I knew that my film costs were gonna be a lot more and it was no longer my time. And so I think before when I thought, oh, well I already have the equipment and digital photography, it's just my time. So to me it didn't really matter. I could spend 12 hours a day or 14 hours of the day working, and I didn't really correlate my time with money. So it wasn't until I thought, oh, now I have film costs, I have processing costs, I have print costs, all these things that I really started to see where I was kind of losing a lot of profit because I wasn't pricing myself high enough. I was just feeling like I wanted to be safe and more probably from a scarcity mentality of feeling, if I'm not booking weddings, I'm not making money, so therefore I'm gonna be middle of the road and that way I can just at least book weddings. So I think it was around, it was a little bit before the Pricing for Creatives course came out that I started really kind of looking at my numbers from a more business perspective and less from, I just need to put money in my bank account. Yeah.

Shanna Skidmore (20:06):

And were there people that you went and asked these questions to, or how did you start even knowing? I mean, did you just figure it out?

Kelli Kroneberger (20:15):

Yeah, so it's kinda weird. I feel like I am a very highly creative thinker, but I also love spreadsheets. And so I think I just dove into spreadsheets, not, again, not really knowing. I don't think I ever really talked to anyone about it. I just took a deep dive into my own numbers and had a really good understanding for spreadsheets because again, it was just a weird thing. I have this creative side but also have this very structured side as well that I love to explore. So I just started creating all these spreadsheets of what my costs were and my time involved. And then honestly, I feel like pricing for creatives was, it blew my mind because I feel like everything that I had been wondering about or thinking about within photography and within painting, because I was also painting a lot at the time, just brought everything together and it was like, this makes so much more sense. And now I have something to actually go by and a formula that I can be confident in versus just kind of guessing

Shanna Skidmore (21:31):

That makes me feel so good. I love that we connected, that was my very first kind of introduction into the digital course digital education world. And I'm so thankful for if I made, I was one of their, think maybe their very first educator and then six months later launched the blueprint model, which is a little more comprehensive. And so that just makes me feel so good. I love the same kind of weirdo who loves spreadsheets and is super creative. So I love that we are kindred spirits in that. And I just think there's so much power and that's so good to hear. So thank you for sharing to have a formula is like, okay, yeah, I am doing this right. I mean even just knowing, okay, I'm doing this well or is helpful. So I love that we connected way back. That was 2016. So at that time you were doing photography and as you mentioned your painting on the side. So painting was just something you did for fun. Was it a portion of your business talk through the role of painting as far as business?

Kelli Kroneberger (22:36):

So I honestly did not start painting to sell them. I kind of going back to my early days of my early story in my childhood, I've always been a painter. I've been, I've loved it. I remember painting for hours as a little girl. And so I feel like in my business mind I would say, and I feel like I've grown a lot from these thoughts, or in the early days I thought, okay, I really wanna paint and I'm gonna continue painting for fun, but I can't call it my main job because my parents will think that I'm crazy <laugh> and so, or other people will think that I'm crazy for doing this. And so I just started painting as an outlet and just a creative outlet to just do something without the expectation of making money. And I started putting it out on Instagram just for fun. And I feel like pretty quickly, I don't know, I just felt like the Lord said, this is what I've called you to do. And so it's been something so intimate for me to continue to paint. But I felt like pretty quickly people started commissioning me to do paintings for their houses, for their studios, for different things. And so I thought, gosh, I can do the same formula that I've been doing as far as pricing my photography work, and I can do the same formula for painting. And it just has organically grown from there. My style has evolved a little bit. I feel like that's the common thread between all the different things that I've done entrepreneurial wise is I always go back to painting and I always go back to just the root of being an artist and wanting to paint and just purely wanting to paint to paint, not necessarily with the expectation. Because I think a lot of times I personally just put so much expectation on myself to perform, to do things to people please in a way. And so painting has always just been something where I've done it without any expectation and it happens to be the one thing that continues to bring in an income and bring in sales.

Shanna Skidmore (24:50):

Yeah, I'm curious, but first I wanna circle back to something that you said a few minutes ago and I just thought it was so such a good comment that I need to point it out. When you said that you didn't charge for your time just with digital photography, it's just your time. And that's something I see so much for people who are more in a service based business <affirmative> that is like, oh, it's just our time. And something I teach now is the idea of you're the CEO of your business and also the employee of your business and you wanna get paid as the employee of your business. But I would be curious, Kelli, now that you're a mom, do you see your time differently?

Kelli Kroneberger (25:34):

Yes, absolutely. Yeah, I think since being a mom, I absolutely do life very different. I naturally work at a high capacity. I can just keep going and going and going if I wanted to. But since being a mom, I've really had to say no to a lot of things. And I always say no to the wrong things so I can say yes to the right things. And so I feel like I've really always been a challenge since becoming a mom is having to feel like I have to choose my, what I'm doing with my time very wisely, because I don't wanna be spread too thin, been there, I've been at burnout, I've been waking up at 5:00 AM going to bed at midnight or one and just trying to do it all. And so I feel like becoming a mom has actually been so much more beneficial for me to see my time much more wisely than charge for that time.

Shanna Skidmore (26:35):

Yeah, it's almost like when you moved to film photography, you saw money differently. Cause now you have these costs. And I know for me too, becoming a mom or in any kind of time constraint for people who are working full time and growing their side hustle, any type of time constraint teaches us about time. So I just wanted to hear you talk about that. Cuz I know so many people that I work with and hear from in the entrepreneur world, either they don't need the money and so that becomes an issue or they have a ton of time and then they don't anymore. And so I think these seasons of life or changes in life teach us lessons or can kind of spotlight an area that we need to work on. So for you, it sounds like with film photography, hey, we need to work on pricing or become a mom. Like, hey, let's talk about time. So anyways, I sidetracked a little bit, but I was just so interested in that. And I also love hearing you talk about how painting is a creative outlet. I would be interested, Kelli, if you would share, talk about your financial goals during this time. So did you have to make money? Did you need to pay your own salary? Were you able to say No, I just am so curious of how the growth happened. And did you have these money pressures or money goals that you had?

Kelli Kroneberger (27:56):

<affirmative>? Yeah, unfortunately, and fortunately I've always had to make money <laugh>. And so honestly, I grew up not with really hardly anything. I didn't really, it wasn't like I just had all these opportunities. And so I think for me, I always have just instilled into me work really hard, make money, save your money and grow your money. That's kind of the whole thing that I've always just been told or taught. So yeah, I think throughout my entire career, I've never been in a place where it's like, well, I can just sit back and relax cuz I don't necessarily need to make money. I've always been in a place of this is our need. Whether I was on my own or now with my husband and kids, I've always just had to know this is what I have to contribute, this is our need. Colorado's not a cheap state to live in. And so we always talk about, gosh, if we live out in the country somewhere, then I wouldn't have to work. But I think just within me, I love what I do. And so I think that I've always just known that I have to work really hard for what I get. It doesn't just come easy. It doesn't just come to me naturally. I've always had to work really hard for it. And I think that's also made me appreciate digging deeper into knowing my business really well and knowing my numbers really well because I don't have a lot of room to just say, oh, I mean I could do it, or I don't have to. There's always money there. And obviously that's my story and experience and everyone has their own, but for me, I've always known that I don't have the luxury to just not necessarily need to make money.

Shanna Skidmore (29:50):

So walk me through these last few years, and you took pricing for creatives in 2016, it sounds like that really solidified some things. You were already learning about money, you were doing wedding photography, painting on the side, just kind of catch me up five years and five minutes <laugh> having kids, how your business has shifted. And I definitely wanna dig into more of just this new season of life, especially with kiddos, how that's really impacted your business because your business has to make money. I'm right there with you, girl. I have to work. And I know for me sometimes I love what I do, but it's always a little bit of a juggling. So yeah, just walk me through how your business has changed and shifted over these last five years.

Kelli Kroneberger (30:37):

Yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. So I feel like there's a lot that has shifted and changed. I was kind of getting burned out with wedding photography and I could feel it. I knew it. And at the time, my husband, we were newly married and had been married for a couple years and he was like, are you really gonna be gone every single weekend in the summer <laugh>, because that's not, that's not really a fun summer. And so it started that kind of season of my life. I felt like, I think wedding photography, it's been really fun. It's been amazing, but I feel like I'm kinda ready for this next season. And that kind of led to a season of, I would say I was painting a lot more. And again, it's always just been this outlet for me. I never really took it seriously as a business, but it's always been the thing that's like I continue to sell it, which I'm so thankful for and just feel beyond blessed to be able to do that. But I feel like there was a few years in there when we started having kids, I did a quick jaunt to Waco, Texas to work for Magnolia, came back, and then after that it was like, okay, I really need to figure out what I'm doing here because I've been a photographer, I've done some business consulting, I've worked for Magnolia, I now have kids. All these different things have just felt, it felt a little bit chaotic. And so I just would say I took a little bit of a step back in my career. I was still doing things, but I wasn't necessarily pushing forward in any certain thing. And I feel like I've always prayed for vision in whatever season that I'm in. And that vision has led me to gain knowledge and experience, whether it was just simply doing some consulting with someone that was starting a creative business or working on a commission for someone or doing a photography project. It's always just been creative business. That's kind of just been my thing. And so I think that the biggest shift in my world happened during 2020, the summer of 2020, I was still doing photography. I was still painting, but I was doing photography for small businesses. And so in March, actually, I think it was the day of my birthday, March 18th, when everything shut down, then all of my clients shut down. And so that summer I kind of was like, well, what am I gonna do? I obviously don't have a job right now and my kids need me, so I guess I'll just be home. And so I stayed home with my kids that summer, and it was honestly the best summer of my life. I was so exhausted. I was just tired all the time. But it was the best summer because I think I got to take a step back and say, I've just been striving for so long and I'm ready to just stop striving and I'm ready to just settle into being a mom, being present with my kids. And when that time comes to dive deep into business, then I'll know when that time when I'm ready. And so I took that summer off just to reevaluate. And I think that it was really good. And that's also, so my husband, he's a graphic designer, so we've both been on our own doing more service based businesses for a long time. And so we've always had this thought of, gosh, we get to the end of a project or get to the end of the year. And we were like, we just really want to give amazing gifts to our clients because we care about them, we care about quality, we care about just doing things and with excellence. And so that's when the idea of Maker Hill, which is what I'm kind of working on right now, obviously in addition to painting came about. And so Maker Hill is our corporate gifting company, and we do one off gifts, but we also do highly custom gifting programs for businesses. And so that's kind of what I've really been doing. The last two little of our, well, I guess it's been two years, is working on that and growing that. And it's been amazing just to see how so many things in my past career wise have just all come full circle into seeing Maker Hill grow and thrive into what it is today.

Shanna Skidmore (35:21):

I love this story so much, and I know everyone listening is curious as me about your jaunt to Magnolia <laugh>. So one day, I'll have you expand on that a little bit more, but I would love for you to touch on just this idea of striving and do you feel like you've pinpointed, what was it you were striving for and do you feel like now you've been able to find more contentment maybe in where you are?

Kelli Kroneberger (35:57):

<affirmative>? Yeah, that is such a good question because I feel like that's a question I've asked myself so much, especially the last two years. And I think with age, just maturing more and becoming a mom and wife really, I've really asked that question a lot. What is all this striving for? Not that it's bad, but I feel like it's just been very constant. And so for me, I think it just stems from I didn't grow up with a lot of money and I kind of just always felt this need to prove myself. And I think as I got older and you get a little bit more traction in what you're doing and whether it's praise or you experience success, I think I latched onto that early on and was like, I just to want more of this. And so I think that that is what fueled that striving was that constant need to feel like my life is gonna look different than my childhood, or I'm gonna do things differently and I wanna prove to people that I can do it and I'm capable and I'm smart and I'm a girl, but I can do this. All these things that I think when I finally just breathed or allowed myself to breathe, it was like, man, we are made so perfectly the way that God wants us to be. And you don't have to strive for all these things, but you can do things with excellence, but you don't have to keep striving. And so I feel like that's something that's been really heavy on my heart the last two to three years because I felt that place of, I'm striving, I'm experiencing success, but now I'm experiencing burnout because I'm doing things to please others versus myself. Just that constant mental challenge of that finding that balance. And so I think that's mostly where it comes from. I think there's a lot of people pleasing. There's a lot of just wanting to just not only prove to myself, but prove to others that I could do it.

Shanna Skidmore (38:10):

Yeah. That's so good. Thank you so much for sharing that, Kelli. I sit here and wonder if that does, you've mentioned kind of go back to your childhood a little bit or just this idea maybe that was intentionally or unintentionally implanted in your mind that painting isn't a full-time career, isn't a career or I know so many artists think that about their own craft that it's not kind. I'm air quoting a real job. I wonder if that proving, trying to prove yourself or, I had an interview with Mary Marantz a little while back and she talked about we all have this feeling that we need to build our resume

Kelli Kroneberger (38:52):


Shanna Skidmore (38:52):

To prove our own worth.

Kelli Kroneberger (38:55):

Yeah, I think it's so true. I think my husband, he is very creative as well and very just driven and business minded. But he always said to me, Kelli, if you love to paint and you're actually making money painting, do you know how many artists wish they could be that be where you're at? And so I think that by him telling me that over and over again, it's made me think like, oh yeah, I really am. I can be a painter. I have all these things too. I have all these other things that I've done and this knowledge and skills and talents that I've been able to flex. But this one thing as a painter, it's just what I always go back to.

Shanna Skidmore (39:40):

Yeah, I think a lot, we talk so much, I feel like it's almost become a cliche about the idea of defining your own success, but that is a lot harder than it sounds and accepting that this is enough for me and this is what I want. And I know my story of when I worked in finance and my mentor told me, if you say you don't want more money, you're just lying to yourself. Almost like an excuse for laziness. And I believed that for so long, and I think it's hard. What would you say now, and it sounds like this is still something you're working on, has helped you to accept, this is where I am and this is where I want to be in life or in business, while also still having good goals?

Kelli Kroneberger (40:31):

Yeah. I think time, <laugh> time and maturity has helped a lot. I think just again, getting to that point of understanding where the striving comes from and then being okay with it's okay to not be doing something all the time. And it's okay to have seasons where you're not making a ton of money, or maybe you are, but you're not spending as much time as you were. I think that there's such an ebb and flow that I just wish that I could come alongside someone that's really young and is doing the same things that I were, and I wish that I could just say, just chill. It's gonna be okay, <laugh>. And so I think that I've, having a family, having kids has really helped me just kind of calm down from feeling like I just have to keep doing things all the time. And I think that my family means the world to me and they mean everything. And if tomorrow I had to quit everything I was doing just to focus on that, I would, because it matters way more than anything else. And it sounds kind of silly and probably a little bit, probably too emotional, but they are everything to me, and I just love them so much. So I feel like that's been something for me to just really understand that just where my priorities are at now and really settle into that and be okay with settling in

Shanna Skidmore (42:09):

<affirmative>. Yeah, it's like a daily speak truth over yourself. <laugh>. I have to remind myself all the time, this is what you want. <laugh>. Right?

Kelli Kroneberger (42:18):


Shanna Skidmore (42:18):

Yeah. Cause I think we sound similar, we have this ambition, but I love how you brought it back to priorities. That's what I think success is all about. Priorities in this season of life. And I have come to realize though, that doesn't mean we aren't wrestling against this season of life is more family heavy for us. And I don't, I'm not upset about that. I'm so grateful for that. What a blessing. But it also means it's a little less. I gotta calm my ambition down on the business side,

Kelli Kroneberger (42:59):


Shanna Skidmore (43:00):

Yes. It's a wrestling.

Kelli Kroneberger (43:01):

Be ok with that.

Shanna Skidmore (43:01):

Yeah. I would love Kelli for you to share. One of my favorite questions to ask is through your journey and that in growing your business and accepting that I am a painter, I'm doing this <laugh>, but you're jaunt to Magnolia, which I'm still curious about. I want you to share about later <affirmative>. What is the best thing that you have learned about money?

Kelli Kroneberger (43:23):

The best thing that I've learned about money is, well, so I just had a friend tell me the other day, and he said, it's really easy to make money, but it's a lot harder to keep that money. And also I was like, that's so true. Because I think that in just my experience and learning, if I'm not paying attention to the numbers every single day, then it can quickly just get out of control. And then also the other thing that I've really, really tried to focus my attention and energy on, because I think I always know that I'm a hard worker, and so I can kind of calm down a little bit and not feel like I always have to make money, but to hold it loosely, I've learned to hold what I make very loosely and be ready to give it away when I'm asked. And I think that that's helped me, even just with the striving and feeling like I have to prove myself. Because now it's like, I wanna make money. I wanna do really well, I wanna be successful, but I also wanna hold it so loosely that if I'm asked to give it away, I can give it away.

Shanna Skidmore (44:33):

Yeah. Ooh, that's so good. And easier said than done.

Kelli Kroneberger (44:38):


Shanna Skidmore (44:39):

Yeah. I know for me and what I try to teach my students every day, knowing your number and your need, which you've mentioned several times, knowing that need for me gives me a lot of peace of mind. Would you say that that has been helpful for you as you have learned to look at the numbers and figure out what your need is, that that gives you even just the tangible ability to, Hey, I need to slow down, so how can I strategically make what I need to make in my business?

Kelli Kroneberger (45:12):

<affirmative>? Yeah. I mean, I think that that is the number one thing. I mean, I feel like if I could pull that out of the blueprint model and pricing for creatives, which I've done both, and they've both been amazing. I think that's the one thing that I've really learned and go back to is knowing my need and then structuring my time and my business around that need. Because if I don't know the need and it's just abstract and I'm just spending what I'm making, then I think I always get into that. I just need to make more. And so having that need and that kind of number in mind, I can structure even my husband as a graphic designer and booking his own jobs all the time, he has that same mentality. What do we need? And anything that's extra is awesome. We'll save it for later. And anything that's less, then we can reach into that month that was great.

Shanna Skidmore (46:07):

Yeah. Ugh, so good. I think knowing those numbers, yeah, clearly. Hello. Speaking to the choir over here, I find so much peace of mind in knowing that especially as seasons of life change or now my daughter's slowing down, just where to put your time and your energy. And it's been so fun to talk about that with you, Kelli. I love hearing your story. You are an amazing artist on my 2023 goals, and I'm not just saying this truly is written down, is a Kelli Kroneberger original? Oh, well, actually, I wanna commission you not just an original, so be on the lookout because I'm emailing you for pricing.

Kelli Kroneberger (46:51):

Oh my God, I would love that. That would be amazing.

Shanna Skidmore (46:53):

I have a print right now that sits on my mantle. Yes. But I need a commission

Kelli Kroneberger (47:00):

You need an original that you can look at every day and just love it.

Shanna Skidmore (47:04):

Yes. You're so, so talented and just such a joy to talk to. Okay. Do you wanna share about your time at Magnolia or no?

Kelli Kroneberger (47:14):

Oh, sure. I would love to. And honestly, I get asked this question all the time.

Shanna Skidmore (47:18):

Everybody's curious. We're we're kittens over here. We're curious. Yes.

Kelli Kroneberger (47:24):

So I spent a month in Waco, Texas. So I got a job at Magnolia as their photographer, their lifestyle photographer. Jude, my oldest son, he was five months at the time, I think. And we sold our house in Colorado. We drove to Waco, and we really didn't do a lot of research. We just kind of took the leap. So we get to Waco and we were like, Ooh, I dunno if this was a good idea. Cause Waco is not Colorado. And so we lived in a hotel cuz we didn't have a house and we couldn't find a house. We lived in a hotel and Jude cried every single night, all night long because he hated sleeping in the hotel. <laugh> <laugh>. So I got no sleep. I was starting a new job with Magnolia, and we were in Waco, Texas, and we didn't know anyone. And so that was kind of the start of it. And that was kind of the behind the scenes that no one really saw. But honestly, I loved my time there. It was very short, but I loved it there. Chip and Jo were awesome. I loved everything about it. I think deep down in my soul, I just knew it wasn't where I was supposed to be. And that was really, really hard to make that very quick pivot back to Colorado because obviously it's Magnolia. And people were like, are you crazy? What are you doing? And so I just felt so deeply that wasn't where I was supposed to be. And so before we could buy a house, we were like, well, let's just pack up and move back <laugh>. And so that was my short jaunt to Magnolia. It was amazing. It was awesome. I loved the job, loved the company. I just really felt very strongly that I wasn't supposed to be there.

Shanna Skidmore (49:15):

Thank you for sharing that. You gave us our curiosity dose today. I'm so glad. But I feel like so much of our conversation today has, to me, what I'm taking away is accepting and appreciating and valuing and acknowledging even the life that you want. And sometimes that means making decisions that other people will not ever understand. And I like how you came back to being a people pleaser and having to learn. I have to make this decision for myself and for my family, even if no one else will ever get it. And just the empowerment and the permission to do that. I think it's something we all need to hear because I think many people listening to the show are likely creatives and artists. And when I say creatives, I think my husband's I mean, he's an engineer, like the most creative person. So I'm a creative, I do spreadsheets. So <laugh>, very broad term. I think we all create whatever our craft is, and we have to accept that this is meaningful, and this is a career, this is a real job. Even if others don't always understand, entrepreneurship is a gutsy move, and it always will be. Yeah. Okay. Kelli, what a joy. Thank you for sharing. I'd like to end all of our interviews with a little quick fire round. So I'm gonna put you in the hot seat and ask you, what is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew?

Kelli Kroneberger (50:58):

Honestly, I feel like this really goes back to this entire conversation, and it's probably deeper than a quick embarrassing moment, but I am, I'm coming around now. But I used to be so embarrassed by my career path in that it wasn't a traditional one. And that I have done a lot of different things within the creative industry versus just choosing one thing and doing that one thing and going for it. I have always just been embarrassed by my story, and I think now I'm not as embarrassed because I've started to talk more about it and started to just be like, well, this is just me. This is my story, and this is evolving, and we're just gonna go with it. And it's okay.

Shanna Skidmore (51:41):

Yeah. Well, when I emailed you about being on the podcast, I think that you hesitated a little bit.

Kelli Kroneberger (51:48):

I Did. I hesitated. Yes. That's why I didn't respond right away,

Shanna Skidmore (51:52):

Cause your story is meaningful. And you know what? There is an amazing YouTube video, and I found it on YouTube, so it's out in the universe about, with Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert. And she said, Elizabeth Gilbert said, if you have 50 jobs in your lifetime, what an incredible adventure that would be. And I totally botched how she said it. She said it clearly, very eloquently in a writer's way. But that's what I took away from it, was this idea of it's okay if we don't. I mean, how Kelli, you've done so many amazing things, and I just think the cool thing is you've paid your bills and you've spent time with your family along the way. And I love what you said now with Maker Hill, the things that you've learned in the other types of industries you've been in with photography and painting, you've have taught you now with even Maker Hill. So I, I'm so glad that you shared that because I know people listening feel the same way. My story isn't meaningful and I have one job for my whole life, but I just always come back to my version of what Elizabeth Gilbert said. I'll have to find that and link it. But where she sound love, that's a beautiful journey. I mean, that's so cool. In a beautiful life.

Kelli Kroneberger (53:11):

 eah, it's definitely been an adventure

Shanna Skidmore (53:14):

<laugh>, or even the old lady in Titanic with all the pictures of all the different things. What a life well lived, right? Yeah. Okay. Thank you for sharing. Oh, so good. Okay. Second, do you have any wish you could do over moments?

Kelli Kroneberger (53:31):

Yes. Gosh, I feel like I'm just so deep in this little podcast. So <laugh>,

Shanna Skidmore (53:36):

I love it.

Kelli Kroneberger (53:36):

I would say it's not necessarily a regret, but if I could go back to when my boys were babies, I would spend every single minute that I could with them instead of feeling like I had to keep charging forward so that my business wouldn't suffer. I felt very torn during those early days. And now that I can see a little bit clearly, I would have spent every waking hour just being and less doing,

Shanna Skidmore (54:04):

Oh, that got right to my heart there, Kelli

Kelli Kroneberger (54:06):


Shanna Skidmore (54:07):

Oh, tissues, please. Yes. I feel that. I feel that <affirmative>. Thank you. I need to hear that. Talk with Kyle after Sweet Madeline, when you love what you do, I love what I do, but I think I needed to hear that today. It's okay to slow the growth a little bit. Yeah. Cause Miss Madeline, she is growing so fast. She was an owl for Halloween and so cute. Okay. Tell me about a big win or a pinch me moment.

Kelli Kroneberger (54:37):

I would say a pinch me moment was for sure working for Magnolia, even though it was very short. I feel like if I didn't do it, I would've always wondered, and I'm so glad I did. I feel like it was such a fun little adventure, <laugh>, and honestly, I feel like the biggest wins for me are seeing a vision come to life. I mean, it's very broad and abstract, but I feel like I'm such a visionary that when I actually see something come to fruition, those are the biggest wins for me.

Shanna Skidmore (55:09):

Yeah, that's so cool. And living in a hotel is not for the faint of heart. When we moved to Minnesota, we lived in a hotel for five weeks and it was, <laugh> was a lot. I tried to be like, okay, we're out of resort. It's like a LaQuinta. We have a pool over coordinated, but that's fine. <laugh>. Yeah. It's Yeah. Okay. What is the best advice or just really good advice that you have received?

Kelli Kroneberger (55:40):

I would say the thing that I always tell myself and other people is learn to say no to the wrong thing. So you can say yes to the right things.

Shanna Skidmore (55:49):

Yes. So good. I feel like I need to make a list right now of the wrong things or even the, not right now things. Maybe they're not wrong, but they're just not right now. Yeah,

Kelli Kroneberger (56:00):


Shanna Skidmore (56:00):

There's so much I'm taking away from this. Kelli, just so you know, I need a notebook. Last quick fire question. What are you working on now? Or what is one resource that you would love to share?

Kelli Kroneberger (56:15):

I would really, really love to answer that eloquently, but I can't exactly share what I'm working on. Right, right now.

Shanna Skidmore (56:23):

Secret. Oh.

Kelli Kroneberger (56:26):

So I'm gonna have to leave you with that

Shanna Skidmore (56:28):

Cliff hanger, but you need to give us a date, Kelli, of when we're gonna hear about it.

Kelli Kroneberger (56:34):

I, I would, but I don't even know the date yet.

Shanna Skidmore (56:36):

2023? or we talking 2024?

Kelli Kroneberger (56:38):

Yeah 2023.

Shanna Skidmore (56:41):

Okay. And we're gonna, how do we find out? Do we get on a newsletter?

Kelli Kroneberger (56:46):

Yeah, you can get on my newsletter.

Shanna Skidmore (56:48):

Okay. We'll post the link.

Kelli Kroneberger (56:50):

Okay. Perfect.

Shanna Skidmore (56:51):

Okay. Oh, I'm curious. Hey, curiosity is everything. That's what I'm learning right now in marketing. You have a marketing degree, cause marketing degree, curiosity. That's what's gonna get me to open something. Okay. So Kelli 2023. I'm excited. All right. Let's send it off with going all the way back to finishing your degree in marketing, working with the real estate company. What would you tell yourself on day one of officially starting your photography business?

Kelli Kroneberger (57:22):

I would probably tell myself that just to know and fully understand that there are going to be challenges and that there will also be successes, but be patient with myself and enjoy the process. So I would also say you don't have to have it all figured out right away all the time. You can kind of learn as you go, but I think the biggest thing for me to tell myself is be patient and enjoy the process.

Shanna Skidmore (57:48):

I love that. Yes. Be patient and enjoy the process. Yeah. We don't have to have it all figured out today. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, enjoy the ride. Yeah. I love all this. Kelli, this has been such a gift to talk with you. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story. Oh, thank you.

Kelli Kroneberger (58:04):

This was so fun.

Shanna Skidmore (58:05):

I love it. It was so much fun, and

Kelli Kroneberger (58:07):

I'm glad I said yes to your request.

Shanna Skidmore (58:09):

<laugh> I'm so glad too. Thank you, darling. Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Kelli. One final thought for today from Anna Quinland. "The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself". As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.