From being denied a job at Big Lots to having her work featured in Magnolia Journal, Kaitie Bryant embodies what it means to be a serial entrepreneur. Fueled by gumption and the belief that she could do anything, she unapologetically took the ideas in her head and went for them! While Fickle flops didn’t make it big on her watch, Kaitie’s unapologetic pursuit of joy, excitement, and curiosity has brought many of her ideas to life. Something she hopes to inspire in others, especially her own children, to use your gifts, interests, and curiosity to be a maker not just a consumer.
If you’ve ever pursued an idea that didn’t pan out, unsure of your path, or found yourself easily bored looking for new ways to find excitement, today’s episode with Kaitie Bryant is a must listen!
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/kaitie-bryant
Kaitie Bryant (00:00):
I tried to get a job at Big Lots, and that was probably the apex of my denials. I got denied. I was overeducated, and they said, no, no, you can't work at Big Lots. So I thought I just got denied from two Master's programs and from Big Lots <laugh>. I'm pretty much at the end of myself, end of my rope. So I really thought, why did I go to college? What am I doing?
Shanna Skidmore (00:29):
you are listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast, episode 29 denied from two master's degree and a job at Big Lots. Today's guest may have been at the end of her rope, but thankfully it wasn't ready to give up. Fueled by gumption and the belief that she could do anything. She wasn't afraid to take the ideas in her head and actually pursue them from fickle flops to pitching wardrobe ideas to Gap. Today's guest embodies what it means to be a serial entrepreneur. Photography may be what Katie is most known for, but that's just one of the many paths she has pursued. Her wisdom is immense, and I'm so honored to have one of my dearest friends on the show today. We laugh, we tear up a little, we talk deep and drop plenty of sarcastic comments. Y'all meet Kaitie Bryant. If you dig professional bios.
Here goes. Kaitie is a photographer who has worked primarily in the wedding industry while also shooting fine art, photography and collaboration with minted and online marketplace for independent artists. She has also worked with her husband in creating small booklets of questions as a resource to help people connect on a deeper level. Called well-known. Katie and her husband live in Athens, Georgia, and our avid Georgia fans. She has two boys of 14 year old and an 11 year old, and they spend most of their days on a soccer field or basketball court. She is honored to have photographed all over the country, including weddings in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Mexico, while having her art featured in magazines such as Real Simple Magnolia the Knot. And in stores such as West Elm, Katie and Jared continue to grow their side business. The known project with total sales of well-known books, over 18,000 and new additions to be released in 2023.
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, turn business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the reel. 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.
Kaitie Bryant (03:00):
Shanna Skidmore (03:02):
I'm excited to do this.
Kaitie Bryant (03:03):
Shanna Skidmore (03:05):
How long have we been friends? Let's count it back.
Kaitie Bryant (03:07):
I looked it up 2014. June.
Shanna Skidmore (03:12):
June of 2014. You emailed me. I was living in Savannah at the time. That was my dream life. You were going on a family vacation. So did you hear about me through Friends of Friends, right.
Kaitie Bryant (03:27):
It must have. Yeah, it was friends of friends, this person that you need to meet who helps people with their creative business and get their life together. I actually just found your worksheets you sent me. It was great.
Shanna Skidmore (03:43):
I mean, you did a deep, deep dive in prep. I did deep dive to this podcast. This makes me happy. Welcome to almost 10 years of friendship. I mean, next year's a decade. So we'll have to go ahead and do something awesome.
Kaitie Bryant (03:54):
That's pretty good. That's pretty good.
Shanna Skidmore (03:56):
I know. Okay. I'm excited to have you sharing your story today. I don't want to just gab about our friendship though. It's my favorite. Tell everybody who you are and then let's just kind of take it back to the early days of business.
Kaitie Bryant (04:10):
Okay. So I'm a photographer and that's my primary job. I also have a long history of side businesses, but the current one is writing these little books of questions called Well Known with my husband. So we do that. I've got two boys who are a, one's a tween and one's a true life teen about to start driving. Just crazy. It's crazy. I still think of myself as 22 maybe, maybe 25, but I'm not. But yeah, I feel young on the inside. So yeah, it's been a good journey of figuring life out.
Shanna Skidmore (04:51):
How did you get into photography? What did you know that was going to be your career path? Were you pursuing something else?
Kaitie Bryant (04:58):
No, I kind of joked that I'm a late bloomer, so I grew up in a really creative family, but I'm one of three and I'm the youngest. And I probably fit all the youngest profiles for all the sibling discussion. But my older brothers are both creative in the film industry. My dad was a photographer in the eighties, and my mom did lots of stuff, but she also had her own cake business, and I just was pretty good at school. And so I wanted to be different than my siblings. And so I just focused on school and thought I'm not as creative. I just didn't even try to compete with them. So I went to University of Georgia, got a history degree because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I was pretty sure I wanted to have a briefcase and I wanted to wear suits.
But then I realized that I didn't want to wear a suit and I didn't even just the closer I got to law school, I thought, that's actually not what I want to do. So history degree made sense to me because I really enjoyed history, but I had no intention of being a teacher. And interestingly, I did think that I started to get into photography. I started taking pictures of flowers and then framing them. And I thought, I'm going to open my own store and sell pictures and sell things. So that was even my senior year of college at uga. But it sounds like I was 12 based on my career aspirations or my ideals. So I just think I had no clue, but I was okay having no clue. And then it occurred to me that I'm going to need to make money. It didn't occur to me until too late in some ways.
And I applied. I thought, well, I'll be a counselor, I'll be, I'll get my master's degree in counseling. So I applied for a community counseling program cohort at Georgia, got denied. So sad. It was a small 10 person program and whatever. I didn't make it. So then I thought, okay, I'll get a master's in history. I don't know. I don't know why, but that's what I'll do. It was a master's PhD program, got denied at uga. So this is two denials. And I had all, A's at Georgia, I, there's probably areas I'm not the sharpest, but I was good enough in all the G R E, whatever. And then I tried to get a job at Big Lots, and that was probably the apex of my denials. I got denied. I was overeducated and they said, no, no, you can't work at Big Lots. So I thought I just got denied from two master's programs and from <inaudible>, I'm pretty much at the end of myself, end of my rope. So I really thought, why did I go to college? What am I doing? It was really a low point in my life. And then at this point I got married
Shanna Skidmore (08:18):
Your senior year of college.
Kaitie Bryant (08:20):
I graduated okay this semester early and got married in the spring. So it was pretty much a child bride. And my husband was going to seminary and I needed to find a job. So I found a job as a teacher at a private school teaching history, which thankfully I have a history degree. That's great. So I taught high school history in government and I love history in government. So that worked out. And I actually really liked teenagers probably because I was very close to being one, but I am kind of a immature middle schooler in a lot of ways. So it worked out, but I knew that that was not my end goal and I, I wasn't sure where I would end up. So I ended up just trying out a lot of things on the side.
Shanna Skidmore (09:12):
Yeah. Tell us about some of those things you tried out in the path to becoming a photographer.
Kaitie Bryant (09:18):
I try to remember that this is two thousands. You're going to cringe. I'm going to cringe. But I always have a very optimistic outlook on I can do anything, which is actually not true. I can't do anything, but I really believe I can do anything. So my mom and I one time we were talking about flip flops and how you should be able to change out the straps on your flip flops to match your outfit. And we came up with fickle flops and I even looked into patenting them. And then later some girl did really well and they had exchangeable flip flops, sandals. So every time we saw that store or whatever kiosk at the beach, I was like, eh, we came up with that. I'm sure we didn't come up with it. So I had that little side business that I went to craft bears and sold. I also Oh,
Shanna Skidmore (10:08):
You really did it?
Kaitie Bryant (10:09):
Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, we bought out all of Old Navy split flops.
Shanna Skidmore (10:14):
Yay you Did
Kaitie Bryant (10:19):
we did Velcro straps. My mom And I,
Shanna Skidmore (10:21):
you have a very creative mind. Kaitie, keep going with these ideas. I'm excited
Kaitie Bryant (10:24):
About it. Okay, keep going. So then I did t-shirts design for kids because I thought kids should be funny and they should have cool little. So I had a little child at this point. And so I made onesies that had off the chain kind of ghetto rap sayings on them that I designed in some program. And then I went to a warehouse and I didn't screen print, but there was a garment printer that I would use and I paid them, and then I sold them in stores in downtown Athens. I actually came up with this one idea, cause I thought that they looked like old men, that boys looked like old men when they wore their onesies with their pants at high as babies. So I came up with this concept of adding a bottom of a onesie attached to a untucked shirt, and I tried to get a patent for it and release it to Gap.
So I reached out the gap and was sure that you needed my idea. I had such confidence in my ideas, they did not respond. Turns out, I dunno, the direct access to the gap, you high higher ups, all that to say I did a couple other things. My last hoorah was a organizing business, it's called Simply Organized. And I organized people's houses and that was satisfying. And then I met a girl who did photography and she made real bunny and I thought, I can do that. I have done that. And so I started taking people's pictures and not charging them anything to see if people were interested. And then after about three or four free sessions, I said, I'll charge them. And then that actually made the most money of all of my little projects and seen the most sustainable. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (12:15):
Okay. So you're married teaching history and government. You have your first baby, Right?
Shanna Skidmore (12:25):
Okay, so you have one little tiny at home. Were you hoping that these side businesses would get you out of teaching? Were you looking for your path or you just hoping for something creative? I mean, clearly you're an entrepreneur at heart. You're reaching out to Gap about your onesie pants idea. That takes a lot of guts, Katie. I mean, that takes a lot of, gumption is the word I want to use. straight gumption
Kaitie Bryant (12:50):
That is gumption. I need to look up that word. What a great word, gumption. But I, it's interesting because I would not call myself ambitious. I was thinking about the word ambition too, but I would say I get bored easily and look for ways to be excited. And so all of these things were a little bit of, huh? What would be exciting? Oh, this would be exciting. I think this should exist, this should exist. But something hit me really powerfully. I noticed that when I graduated college, I met a lot of women who were married who were doing multi-level marketing, whether it was AR bond or at the time, creative memories, or I knew about Tupperware and some people have done really well with this. That would not fit my personality at all. And I had a fear that I would end up having to do almost, that's the only option for women who have kids who need a flexible job.
And so I scrambled because I thought, I don't want, I'm terrible at selling stuff and I will never want to have parties at my house, or I never want to go to parties, so I got to figure out what else is there if I don't do that. And I don't if I don't get my master's, because clearly that doesn't seem to be tough right now. So I just was scrambling to figure out, I don't want to wake up one day at 50 and have to figure out where to a job. So it was a challenge and I needed to figure out how to make money, and I wanted to be able to be in the driver's seat with that.
Shanna Skidmore (14:36):
And so that's why with teaching, why weren't you? I just want to be a teacher. I want to go in on teaching. You always knew that.
Kaitie Bryant (14:44):
Yeah. And I really enjoyed teaching and I really do love learning. But I think I knew if I wanted a baby, I remember I wanted a baby, I had a baby, and then I knew that that baby, someone needed to take care of the baby. And I don't know why that never connect. I never connected the dots earlier, but I wanted to be the one doing that to some degree. I needed some flexibility, and I knew that teaching full-time, I couldn't be home and flexible. So I think I loved being independent too. So I wanted to be able to make a lot of decisions for myself and not beyond someone else's schedule.
Shanna Skidmore (15:27):
So when the photographer that you knew kind of introduced you to photography again, but your dad was a photographer, your family's in film, did you push back against that? Were you like, no, I'm not going to be a photographer? Or was it a time in your life where you're like, okay, I will do this?
Kaitie Bryant (15:45):
I think I felt again late bloomer. I thought, oh, hello. This is, of all the creative things I've done, I have a camera, I have all the backgrounds that would make sense for this. So I think it was more like a light bulb moment. So I really didn't push back and I thought, I like a challenge. And I thought, well, why don't I try this, see what happens, and if I'm going to work and keep working as a teacher, but if this bill holds up to it equals the income of teaching, then I can phase out. And that would be a great transition. So it didn't feel like I had all the pressure that to make the money right away, but if it worked out, then it's great.
Shanna Skidmore (16:28):
Yeah. Okay. So tell me what year this was. How old was This
Kaitie Bryant (16:32):
Is two 10.
Shanna Skidmore (16:33):
Okay. 2010. So how old was your
Kaitie Bryant (16:37):
Oldest? So my oldest was two, and I started taking pictures of him a lot. And that was really fun. That was actually probably the number one reason is you have so much time at home with a kid and there's only so much you can do with two year old. But I just made him my little model and I thought that's what we're going to do all day. I'll
Shanna Skidmore (16:55):
Just take, so you're still teaching, and then just talk me through how did you structure your pricing and your offers and at what point you, I'm so interested at what point you realized photography's going to stick around for this is the one versus the other creative idea. I mean, great ideas, clearly pickle floop flops, made it
Kaitie Bryant (17:19):
Shanna Skidmore (17:21):
How did you know photography was going to be more long term?
Kaitie Bryant (17:24):
I think as I started 2010, I got the first wedding for $250. That felt amazing. And then the next year I was in the perfect place and time with people getting married, coming out of UGA and friend groups. So I got a lot of bookings. And then at that time, just the way that life worked out, my husband was finishing seminary, but he was still looking for the right job. So actually we really needed more income. And even though that probably wasn't ideal with a young child, I was pregnant with our second. And it looked like this was the way that God would be providing for us in that year was through me and him kind of going up, moving into the next job for him was at my last wedding. I shot three weeks before I had Andy, and I was so big and just sorry for all those people who had to watch me, but it just became clear that there was a lot need and the money made sense.
And I just started saying yes to everything because I was so maybe excited that people would want me to do it. I loved, did love the challenge at this point, I went to part-time teaching and then had our second, and 2011, I stopped teaching completely and just did photography. And I don't think I really, I've never been good with numbers. I've always just been too busy to even look at them, which was really unfortunate. But as I look back, I think, oh wow, I was able to replace that income completely. And that just amazed me. And I was really able that by 2012, now I look at the numbers and have a very different relationship with numbers, but I was able to double a teacher's salary for me, for my teachers salary at that time. And to me, that just felt from going from denial of graduate school and big lots to, oh my gosh, I have, cause I always had this
Shanna Skidmore (19:41):
Kaitie Bryant (19:42):
Myself. I have potential, but I just couldn't reach it. But I actually still really have that There's potential that I just don't know it's yet
Shanna Skidmore (19:52):
<laugh>. One step at a time, one
Kaitie Bryant (19:54):
Step. I know.
Shanna Skidmore (19:56):
That's amazing. So within one year of doing photography, you were able to leave your full-time job, which is a big deal because you guys needed that income. Yeah, it was. And then mm-hmm. Doubled your income the next year. I mean, to be celebrated,
Kaitie Bryant (20:10):
Right? It was really, really,
Shanna Skidmore (20:12):
Were you mostly doing wedding photography or were you just taking it all? How were you figuring out pricing?
Kaitie Bryant (20:20):
Oh, I have no clue. I think I probably asked people, there were a few people I had a good friend who really walked me through what she did in business, and so I just borrowed so much of that. And then I did a lot of portraits, senior sessions, babies, all the things. But mostly that I went 2011, I did 14 weddings. So my first full year of business was 14. 14 weddings. The next year I did 29 weddings, and that's when I was just had a baby. So that was crazy. And then still, I had no clue. I didn't know how to make an Excel spreadsheet. I didn't understand taxes. So it's around this time that I reach out to you to say I'm kind of clueless and I'm kind of drowning too. And I feel guilty because I don't feel like I'm being a very good mom because this is actually, I know right now it looks like I need to work, but I don't know how to make all these, it kind of, the sky's opened business was good, but I didn't know how to make sense of any of it.
Shanna Skidmore (21:30):
Yeah. And to shoot mean, so when we got together in 2014, right, 2014, how many weddings had you, I mean, I want to say you had done 40 or Oh yeah. A lot of weddings with,
Kaitie Bryant (21:46):
By that two toddlers, I was already at 75 weddings for the last two and a half years. And I had a newborn that was with two toddlers.
Shanna Skidmore (21:58):
So walk me through, if you remember back nine years,
Kaitie Bryant (22:03):
Shanna Skidmore (22:03):
Kind of what shifted for you? What were kind of the aha moments in talking through? I remember when you came to me and I remember the email you sent me and I love, we are such good friends now and I'm so grateful for that. And you are who I work with every day. Business is going good, this is great, but I'm busy all the time. I can't do all the things. We can't manufacture time. And so this idea of how does money and time and freedom all mesh together? So I mean, isn't that what it always is? How do we Yes. Marry all those things together. So do you remember any kind of big shifts or pivots you did in business at that time? Any kind of takeaways that really helped you moving forward?
Kaitie Bryant (22:56):
Yeah, I really needed the organization and structure. I had no, I mean I didn't get into this because I was really organized and thoughtful about business. I just saw something that looked exciting and did it and then money came and I thought, oh no, what do I do? Or when do I say yes? When do I say no? I turns out. And I think I would guess most people who are in this type of self-employed work are, they get excited about business, but they don't have a grid for what, yes, no, maybe what makes sense that we love freedom. And yet freedom is also really scary because freedom can bring a lot of chaos. And so we need structure, but we also hate structure. So just kind of intention, the freedom and structure. But I think when we met, it was so good because I needed a coach, I needed someone to talk me through the reality of money.
Defining enough was huge and it was very connected to my household budget and what our family's needs are. And so you can talk about business all day and profit and your revenue, but if it's not connected to what you need at home, I needed a bridge. And because that would drive, one would drive the other and they're very connected. But a lot of times I would go to, I would hear business read books that were just about business. And I needed it to be connected to, well, what is my home life and what are the needs of my family and how do they relate? So as I was able to connect the dots and then how do I figure out pricing? And part of that journey was demystifying money. There really are real formulas for pricing. And it's not just shot in the dark, what feels right.
It was taking it from an emotional place to a more objective place, which is very freeing for me. So just figuring out, this is how many I want to shoot. And if I had a goal, then I didn't need to shoot more than that. And just asking what would it feel like to do less. And then at the next few years, I did fewer weddings. So I went from guns blazing all out to making almost the same or maybe few years I did make, I looked back and I made less money, but it was very just a little bit less with at least half the work. Half, yeah, the hustle, which is what I really wanted. I didn't want to work. It wasn't sustainable. I mean, I was in tears and I had a twitch in my right eye, so that was not going to work. So I'm so encouraged when I look at that. Cause the first five years you can just see I'm busy all the time and I'm married to my computer. And then the next five years it's half that, but almost merely the same income about just a little bit less. So it was great. That was the sweet spot.
Shanna Skidmore (26:15):
Yeah. Oh, I love how you said that. The sweet spot. I feel that that's the perfect way to put that because I don't know if you've ever felt this way. And so I'll just pose it as a question. Did you ever feel that, oh, I could be doing more, I should be doing more business is about growing and increasing, right? Did you ever feel that kind of pressure or because you had aligned it with, no, this is what my family needs and this, you felt content with that you felt happy with that?
Kaitie Bryant (26:47):
Yeah. It's interesting because I'm, I'm sure people are in different circles. The circles that I'm in married to a pastor, I'm around a lot of women who have a lot of kids and stay home. And so I had a lot of guilt about working. And so my thinking was, I feel like I'm not a good enough mom. That was more what haunted me. And so I actually didn't have the drive as much to keep growing business wise. I had more of a drive. I kept wondering, can I work and be a good mom? And so what I was looking for and what was a sense of, I really want to do motherhood well, but I also think I'm wired for business and I just need to figure out, are these two at odds or can I do this? And it's okay if other people around me aren't doing this. So I had a pull. I actually felt like in my little world, or maybe just my own mind, I had set up this, oh, is working bad and no. And my husband never said no. He was always affirming of how I was wired and wanted to encourage that, but I just wasn't sure if that made me a good mom or bad mom.
Shanna Skidmore (28:08):
Do you feel like with time now that your boys are teenagers or going into the teenage years, has that changed now that
Kaitie Bryant (28:15):
A hundred percent. It's really interesting because when they're little, you're, you go to little playgroups or whatever these little environments are and no one's working, and then teenage years you start to see everybody go back to work. And I knew that that at 22, that's why I started looking because I knew the day will come when I want to figure out what can I do that would be a blessing to my family and in line with my wiring. So now it's not weird at all because everybody, they're compatible. But those young years, it really is felt very confusing to me of what's everybody else doing. And I just thought, I just need to go with what family, what we've decided is good.
Shanna Skidmore (29:00):
Yeah, yeah. I love that I'm hanging onto those words about finding the sweet spot because I think that resonates so much in whatever season someone's in. For me that's like, that is how I work too. There is a sweet spot. What is enough for your family, your lifestyle, what do you want that aligns with the type of life that you want to live. And so, yes, and I love how you've seen that shift as your family has changed and your boys have gotten older. And I would be interested, Katie, as you mentioned, you know, haven't always loved numbers or been someone to think about the number side of things there certain things now in your business that you do look at or that help you have that structure that you mentioned you push, you don't want, but is helpful for you for how you operate?
Kaitie Bryant (29:54):
Yes. I've grown so much. I'm so proud of myself in that I'm not great at numbers. Even when I think about math, my favorite subject was geometry because I think it was pictures and I love triangles, but now I'm a nerd with Excel spreadsheets and Google and all that because the numbers really help ground me. And that is so good for me. I was actually thinking, I'll listen to business podcasts and start to feel really down. I'm not anybody, I'll never be. But when I look at numbers, they don't tell this emotional good story, bad story. They just give information and they actually help me see where I'm at, where I've grown, and then I can appreciate, oh, there has been good growth. I don't need to be, I might not have these other vanity metrics, but I have real data that says this has worked, or this has gone well, or this has not gone well.
And I needed to pivot and change. So I think the numbers have just been so they get rid of the lies and they work through the drama or the doubts and I just need to cut all that stuff out and say, okay, what did I need to make? Did I make it? And anything above that, that's amazing. That's great. That was such a gift. And then it keeps me really grounded and it's like I think I've, it's become more of a game to me and I really like the game of it. It feels like a puzzle that I need to figure out. And it always changes. So it's kind of the continual puzzle. I will say 2019, I, I thought I got fired from photography. I really thought, this is it. People are done with me, whoever people are. I started booking less weddings. I thought I phased out.
And that was after great years. And the people that I thought would book me, and they booked younger film photography has grown. And I thought, oh, I'm like, I'm the digital girl. Does that mean I'm Walmart or Target in a boutique world? I really wrestled and I kind of shut down for ironically right before 2020, and I said, I quit. And that was just a whole other season of maybe, I think if you do something long enough, you're going to hit all sorts of bumps in the road and changes in direction. So I should have known if I stuck with something long enough, it was going to take turns I wasn't prepared for. So I looked at those numbers even and thought, wow, I went from starting out at 29 weddings, 25 weddings. I went to nine weddings, but not really on purpose. At that point, that was not on purpose. That's when I quit. Except I didn't because anytime someone reached out that I was excited about, I'd say yes. So slowly inched my way back and said, yeah, oh, I'll do it. I'll do it. And then hit came back to a equilibrium of what do I want? And now I feel like I'm at a good spot of at 10 weddings a year. That's a big number for me. So it has not looked, the graph is really interesting, I think.
Shanna Skidmore (33:17):
Yeah. Do you feel like hitting that 2019, your financial need for your family changed? So therefore you feel like you didn't have to work as much or I know you have some other avenues now that you have added
Kaitie Bryant (33:31):
Yes, yes. Encouraging. I did. It was encouraging because I looked at our other business, the known project, and those numbers in 2019. 2019 was our highest year of revenue. So when I add the numbers together, and I wish I could say I was really on top of that and I knew that that was happening at the same time. But that was really just good provision because that ended up being one of our best years with the known project. And that number exceeded my photography number that year. So there is this up and down, but I really knew, I did know at that point I wanted to diversify my income. I wanted multiple revenue streams because then it gave me more flexibility with maybe this year these other photographers are, they're killing it and I'm not killing it as much. And I hate to feel like I need to, I don't want to impress people. I don't want to feel like I need to be a circus monkey. And so if there's years that I think it's not going well, I don't want to turn into somebody who needs to impress all this people to get business. I want to find other ways.
Shanna Skidmore (34:41):
Yeah. Would you say for you, photography has been such a gift and you're clearly very talented at it, it's grown your business, but do you still long for other, do you have other ideas you want to pursue? Talk through just that creative side of you? Like you said, you want to be interested in something and you get bored easily talk through that. Yes. Cause I know somebody listening can resonate with. How do you incorporate that into business as well?
Kaitie Bryant (35:11):
Yeah, I love, I'm such a side project person because I think side projects can turn into big projects, new projects, and they keep you sharp and you just have to find ways to feed that creative part of you knowing that they could also be a main part of you. So I think, and life is not fixed it, it's constantly changing and we're constantly changing. And so I just knew I wanted to be, look, I needed to grow, but growth doesn't always need to have a dollar sign next to it. I needed to be really in touch for me and my wire, and I needed to be in touch with what excites me. And not for other people, but for me. And so I think a lot of us, I would venture to say most of us have a sense of what we're good at, but there's things that are untapped that you want to explore more, but you don't know how to explore it or there's fear different things.
And ever since I was in probably high school, I have enjoyed writing but didn't know how to explore that. And so one of my most recent exciting things is to explore that more. I feel like I do love photography, but what I really love is connection. And Mimi and photography is a way to help people connect and feel and see what matters. But words do that too. And so I've been wanting to explore, so this is actually the project that I'm excited about. And this year, saying it out loud is making it something I have to follow up on, which is good for me. But I really want to make a coffee table book with photo on one side of the coffee table, book on the inside, and then a writing on the other side that explores just truth around me in science, in nature, in how all truth is God's truth, but how anything from how plant grows based on where it's position is, and it's positioned to the light and soil and just exploring more of creation and delighting, for me, it's delighting in the world around me and really examining it more.
And so photography is a way that I can examine things on a deeper level, but words are also a way to make sense and make connections in the world. So that coffee table book is really, I say exciting me. I get it's exciting in the thought. It is not exciting in the work, but I've learned that that is what I need to do. I'm going to face the resistance, and when I face it, I need to lean into it because I want to see the end product. And I've learned I have a million ideas that it's no shortage of ideas. The shortage is of people who follow through. So I just need to follow through. And then also I want to pass that on to my kids. That's probably huge motivation for me is I want them to use their gifts, use their interests, use their curiosity to be a maker, not just a consumer. And it doesn't matter what if the end product is successful in the standard of sales. What matters is that you followed through and developed the work ethic to bring to life what was inside of you. So I just want them to do that, whatever in whatever areas. So I have to do it myself.
Shanna Skidmore (38:53):
I love that, Katie. I love that. And we haven't got to talk a lot about the well-known project, but that's such an awesome, amazing thing that you created too. I love that photography is a creative outlet that pays the bills and that you also allow yourself to pursue other ideas whether they ever are financially successful or not. And I think so often, I mean this is what I do every day, it's about systemizing, workflows, creating opt, optimizing things. Sometimes in the beauty of creating those workflows and those optimizations and which is all really good, the creativity can be lost. What ifs can be lost, the dreaming can be lost. And I love to see people re-finding that in their main source of income for you photography, and then also exploring these other avenues, giving yourself permission to let something not be a business. Or if it becomes one, it becomes one.
I just think I wrote down what you said as you were talking. There's no shortage of ideas. It's people who follow through on those ideas. And I just think we have a little tiny TA at home. And so right now, maybe not isn't the season for me to explore new ideas, but I can take a pottery class or I can try something in my business that doesn't need to make money. That's the beauty of entrepreneurship. And I just love how you said that. Yes. Will you quickly talk about the well-known project, and then I want to kind of go into a quick fire round, but Sure. Tell me about the well-known project.
Kaitie Bryant (40:34):
So I'm a huge Seth Godin fan and listened to a podcast and he said, what have you made that people ask you for super basic? And that's what I love about him is that he makes it really easy and practical. And we had made these book of questions. I had printed them out and stapled them together and given them as wedding gifts and used them for retreats. And people ask me, can you give me a copy of those? And so at some point I thought, oh, we need to give a real copy, get real bound, make it pretty. And so we 2016 started, we got these books printed and they were just three and a half by five little cards and spiral bound. And they were five levels of questions to help people know each other better. And then my husband and I just spent some time kind of dreaming together, what else could we do?
And this was just a great way for us to connect. And at this point, he was doing counseling in a counseling practice. And so he was looking for resources to give couples to help them connect. And seeing that a lot of times they don't even know how to ask questions or create space for each other. And it's so much of connection is just creating that space. So we called it the known project, and then underneath it decided we were just going to start dreaming up different branches of it. And one branch was well known. And that was the books that we started with Five levels to know somebody on a deeper level or to go deeper in your relationship. And since then we ended up, we are at Seven editions. We have a marriage edition, any agram edition. We've worked with foster and adoption agencies for books that help them connect with their foster children.
We have a teen edition that we've worked with camps in Florida that they do these Christian camps and how to get teens to get off their phones and to engage each other. And then the sweetest one to me is my son Andy. He wrote one, we wrote one together, the Kids Edition. And so he came up with questions and then we got them printed and it says Andy Bryant. And he was so excited. He makes a certain profit off of each book and he brought them to his school and then his great teacher they used every day, they started out with a question and just helping kids, the skill of engaging and being curious about other people. So that's been a really good, I love it. It's gone through, it's had all sorts of ups and downs too, but it's been a great project.
Shanna Skidmore (43:04):
I just love, I know, and I'm glad that you're still pursuing that and growing that because it's such an important, even more, I feel like even more so in the age of social media to hundred
Kaitie Bryant (43:17):
Shanna Skidmore (43:18):
Know how to, so we could talk so much about that. I'm going to link for everybody listening, please check out the known project. And of course, Katie and her beautiful photography. I can't wait to see your coffee table. Girl, I love me. A coffee table book. I
Kaitie Bryant (43:32):
Know you're, that's actually your coffee table books inspired me.
Shanna Skidmore (43:36):
So I am a hoarder of coffee table books,
Kaitie Bryant (43:39):
As you should
Shanna Skidmore (43:40):
Be. I'm so excited. But I love you so much and your heart and the known project is something that I just love so much and it's so important. So I'm going to link all those in the show notes because if you are going on a road trip, take this little book with you, ask these questions. I, years ago was speaking at a conference and it was in 2017, I remember. Cause I had quit social media and somebody asked me, what do you even talk about with your spouse? And I was just like, that is such a real question. It is. And it's easy for us to be so busy doing that when we have a moment to sit. It's like, I'm bored. I don't know how to fill this space with conversation anymore. So I think your books feel a real need and just serve. So anyways, I can go on and on. Hey, before we go into quick brow round, I like to always ask everybody, what would you say is the best thing that you've learned about money?
Kaitie Bryant (44:42):
Okay. Best thing I've learned, money is either an idol or a tool. And so being careful about is money serving me or am I serving money and figuring out to what end, I need money for what? And just trying to figure out what the for is.
Shanna Skidmore (44:59):
Yeah. That's so good. Okay. I looked at my notes and there is another question I want to ask you. We've talked a lot about how your business has shifted and changed from having babies at home to toddlers at home now, almost all teenagers at home. Your boys are big. I see your Christmas card, they're big, they're driving, they're about to be driving. And you spoke on this briefly, but I don't know if this can be a quick answer, but is there any kind of epiphany that you had as a mom and a business owner just on that harmony of finding that harmony and working, and especially in that season where everyone around you felt like they weren't working? Anything you want to share on that that you've learned as a mom?
Kaitie Bryant (45:46):
I think I was so focused on really specific details of motherhood at that point. How much screen time does your kid have versus my kid, how much does your kid use plastic toys or wooden toys? Do you have chickens? Do you eat organic? There was just a million little things that I obsessed over. And I think what has become so much clearer to me is about connection. You being connected to your kid is not about controlling your kid. And so work me working. That's not a checklist of a good parent is these checks, these boxes doesn't work, eats organic, never goes to Chick-fil-A, especially not, but especially as I've seen kids get older, I think, oh, I can tell the kids who are connected to their parents, their parents, their mom is in tune with them and gives them space, can contain their emotions and let them know they're safe and secure.
And a connected child is a connected relationship. And is it That is a good mom and that's what I want. And I just wish I could. And that's not in conflict with me working because I can work and be connected and create space for connection and I can know what's important and not every minute is important of my kids' life. I remember telling a friend of mine that I said, I feel bad that I got this babysitter to watch the kids. And she said, as if they're not my responsibility anymore, now they're the babysitter. She said, they're still your responsibility. You're just choosing what's good for them with this person. And so I thought, oh, that's so great. They're having a great time with this person. And that's not me. Abdicating responsibility, that's me saying, this is good for you to learn how to engage with this babysitter, to learn how to have play dates, to learn or to have connection, to learn how to be secure enough to spend the night at someone else's house. So that gave me so much freedom where I'm not just keeping up my responsibility, I'm choosing what's good for them.
Shanna Skidmore (47:56):
Yeah. Oh, that's so
Kaitie Bryant (47:57):
Good. And actually we don't need to be connected at the hip for the rest of our lives. That would be weird.
Shanna Skidmore (48:04):
I know. I really am hanging onto to that word that you said, Katie, about sweet spot. I feel like I'm working in home life and there really is for and for every family, it's probably different for every child, it's probably different for every type of business, it's different finding that sweet spot. And for me, I'm such a, it's helpful for me almost to identify giving structure to how many hours I want to be working or in those types of things, or how many full Madeline days or this activity, those kind of structures or boundaries are really helpful for me. And knowing that shifts. But thank you for sharing that. I just always love hearing our perspective from someone who's been in business for the length of time that you have and has older kids. And so that was just for me. Thank you. And
Kaitie Bryant (48:48):
I don't know, I don't know how helpful this is to share, but I've noticed with other working friends of mine, your personality and your wiring are so big in determining that sweet spot. I went with a friend when we were working on this project and I was pitching this idea in Atlanta and we were dressed up as real suits and whatever, and I didn't get home till five 30. And I had been in a car for three hours driving back and forth to Atlanta. And I hated that feeling. I wrote down that day, I do not want to do this. So whatever this is, if this is success for some people, I never want to be driving this much. I don't want to have to wear this kind of stuff. And I really like a clean house. I really like a lot of home in my house, which means I'm going to need to spend more time at home kind of facilitating that. And I just don't want to be that busy. And so some people love being busy and they kill it, but for me, I need a lot more space mentally and physically.
Shanna Skidmore (49:53):
Oh, that's so good. Okay, let's go to quickfire. Okay. I feel like I just want to talk to you for so much longer, but we're getting in there that time zone. Okay. Minute, let's quickfire it. One thing that you would be embarrassed if people knew,
Kaitie Bryant (50:07):
Okay, this is really deep, but we spent $20,000 on an app development for the known project that hurts. And I spent five years and more hours than I should ever counted. And if I used toggle, then I would've counted them. But it hurts too bad. And I had to come to a point where and let it go because it was a time suck. And then I owed, I've never been in debt and I've never owed that much money for an idea that didn't work out.
So 20,000, that still hurts to say, but it's good for me to say. Yeah. But I will say I figured out a way out of it and realized that I was, I said, well, what am I good at that I can make that money back? Cause I thought if I have to work in 20 more weddings to pay this off die. And so I said, we should sell our house and we should sell all of our furniture and see if we can make money. And we did that and we made a lot of money and we're able to pay off all that debt.
Shanna Skidmore (51:04):
Yeah. So num project's a little tender, but I want to encourage you from my perspective as a friend that, and maybe you maybe are like, don't even say that Shannon, and maybe anyone listening, sometimes the things that feel like failures, I just want to encourage you that you likely never know the impact that this project has had on others. And because I know you don't like it's meaningful work. And if one day that big idea comes, it's such a good idea. Nice. With the app is such a good idea. I hope that door opens again one day. But yeah, it hurts and it stings when things feel like a project that failed and sometimes we're too close to it to see the ripple effect that it actually had. So
Kaitie Bryant (51:57):
That's really good. That's really
Shanna Skidmore (51:58):
Good trying. I truly
Kaitie Bryant (51:59):
Suspend judgment suspending judgment from evaluating like, oh, that was all futility. That was all it
Shanna Skidmore (52:06):
Hurt. Yeah. Yeah. No, I have had some projects that totally felt like flops, but yeah, we just don't know the impact or the meaning for that. That's good. Okay, number two. Any wish you could do over moments?
Kaitie Bryant (52:21):
Everything. No, I, there's so many things I've said. I have no filters sometimes at weddings. And I think of I should always assume that someone is the sister of the bride, never the mother or grandmother. I just think out my mouth. I just get excited and say things. But no, I mean, I'm not a huge regret person either.
Shanna Skidmore (52:45):
Kaitie Bryant (52:46):
Whenever I fail, I mean, except for these big failures, those are, that's harder. Small things, I think, oh, it's good for me to learn humility. So there we go.
Shanna Skidmore (52:58):
Me my mouth gets me in trouble too. It's the sarcasm and it comes too fast. I'm like, too fast. We weren't there yet. We weren't there. We weren't ready for the sarcasm.
Kaitie Bryant (53:07):
And then you replay it. I wish I could swallow those
Shanna Skidmore (53:10):
Words that came out wrong. It came out if we were friends for a year. But
Kaitie Bryant (53:16):
Yeah, I'm going to need you to show me a lot of grace.
Shanna Skidmore (53:20):
Okay. Tell me about a big win or a pinch me moment.
Kaitie Bryant (53:23):
I will say a friend I heard she said, Hey, have you seen the Magnolia Journal? Joanna Gaines has your picture in her home office and it's in the magazine. I had no clue. And because I sell through minted and they handle all that and so she had bought through there. So that made me feel like we were pretty much
Shanna Skidmore (53:44):
Besties. Besties for the
Kaitie Bryant (53:45):
Resty. Besties for the besties. So I have that magazine and it is just such a sweet little, it doesn't mean I make incredible money. It was just a really great pinching moment. And this past year, it was my 40th birthday and it was so exciting because I got booked through some great people for a wedding basically off of near the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. And so for my actual birthday, I was standing in the most beautiful place and I turned 40 and it was paid for and it was incredible with my husband to shoot a wedding in Mexico that was just a resort unlike anything that I really ever deserve. So yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (54:24):
That's so fun. Just some
Kaitie Bryant (54:25):
Shanna Skidmore (54:26):
Happy four. Oh
Kaitie Bryant (54:28):
Shanna Skidmore (54:29):
My sister's turning 40 this year and she's like, I can't even can't. I'm like, okay, we're, we're going to get through this. Okay, number four, best advice ever received or just really good advice
Kaitie Bryant (54:41):
That, okay, I'm forcing myself to say one thing. There will be time. That's what I'm going with. We had a good friend who passed away recently who was an artist. And when she was painting, when her kids were little, she was so frustrated she wanted to finish up. She said, when will I actually finish a painting? And then three kids, she said, there was a moment where it was like God said, you, you'll have time, there will be time. And she said, sure enough, they grew and I had more time. So that just has stuck with me that all the things I want to do right now that I feel frustrated that I can't do. I just think it's okay. I don't have to put it all in right now. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (55:20):
Yeah. That's a hard one. But's. So true. Yeah, we need that. Oh, thanks for sharing that, Katie. All right, last quick fire question and then we'll send it off. What you working on now, which you already kind of shared, or one resource you'd like to share. So what are you working on or one resource you'd like to share?
Kaitie Bryant (55:38):
I need to hold myself to working on this coffee table book. I keep repeating this phrase from John Mayer that's keep me where the light is. And I write it down and I do it in these scripty pretty handwriting. But I think the book, it needs to be called Keep Me Where the Light Is in Exploring Beauty and Light Through Photography in Words.
Shanna Skidmore (56:00):
I love it. So
Kaitie Bryant (56:01):
I think it's good to make yourself say something out loud and then
Shanna Skidmore (56:04):
Follow through. Yeah. Now all of us are going to be asking about it. Katie, this has been so fun. I always spend love spending time with you who you are so wise, and I think you are wise as a human, but also your experiences and life journey is something I love. Just want to glean all your wisdom, but will you send us off and tell us, looking back, even <laugh>, even go back to fickle flops if you want to, but <laugh>, going back to photography, you're kind of day one. Or when you got that rejection letter from Big Lots, what would you tell yourself? Looking back now, what would you tell yourself then
Kaitie Bryant (56:46):
What I heard you said a really good one from, I think our good friend Hillary Buttercup, and I wish I had a really cute phrase, but I would tell myself to find the people you want to serve and to focus on serving with your work. And don't get lost in all the noise, but if you can focus on serving them, then it will feel meaningful and worth it.
Shanna Skidmore (57:10):
Yeah. That's so good. That's something, actually, Katie, right now, I have been thinking about, as I kind of mentioned, it's easy to get swept up in the task list, get this podcast out, get this blog out, get this email out. That's kind of my world. What I really want is for people to succeed in their finances, to have flexibility and freedom, to find their sweet spot. That is my goal and my passion and my journey. And if I could keep asking myself that one question, how can I do that better? That is yes, that is marketing is
Kaitie Bryant (57:45):
Shanna Skidmore (57:46):
Everything. Yes. That's so good. Thank you for your time. Thanks for sharing your story. What were you going to say? One more thing? I
Kaitie Bryant (57:52):
Was going to say, I do want to give a plug for Blueprint at Home has changed my family's financial future and I have never been more served by Shannon than our family has been served. I think our My Family Tree will be different because of your work with clarity in finances that relate to your home and business.
Shanna Skidmore (58:16):
Yeah, I know. So we got to do, thank you for saying that. That means so much to me. So for those of you guys listening, my background is in personal finance, but my business has always been focused on business finance and helping people with their businesses. Until a few years ago, I wrote a personal finance program because I realized I worked in finance for five years. Yes, personal finance. I have a degree in finance, but nobody taught me how to budget. And no one is teaching entrepreneurs how to manage their home money. There are some great teachers of personal finance in the world, great people out there, but none of it's that I know of is geared towards entrepreneurs. So I wrote this program called Blueprint at Home, which is all about personal finance. And Katie, that means a world to me because I think it's so true what you said. Our business serves our life. And for most people listening, I think we all are kindred spirits in that we want our business to serve our life. And so for me, I have to know what we need personally, I need to make, and for that sets everything up for the business. So I'm glad it's been helpful for you. Will you tell me one big takeaway? I can't that, what did you love about that one big takeaway?
Kaitie Bryant (59:21):
Well, I will say it hit me. I love an organized closet. Clearly I had a little organizing business, but what it helped me do is it was like all money was in this really messy closet and you needed to containers for the money. And so Blueprint at home, almost like, it's like they went to the Container Store and I love the Container Store and gave me it containers and said, okay, here's all the containers. Here's where everything you need to figure out, and this is this containers for discretionary spending and this container. And it just organized and clarified and simplified and even made it. So then next year when I would try to find, even add the numbers up. It used to be, I'd have to look at 10 different accounts, but now I have an account for this, an account. You just helped me organize the closet. So I open up our financial closet and it is so pretty. It has labels and it's beautiful. And I think, oh, this has never been this way. This is best closet I've ever opened.
Shanna Skidmore (01:00:19):
That makes me so happy. Thanks for sharing that. Oh, that makes me so happy. Because I said this to a client months ago and I'm like, this needs to be the name of everything. We work too hard to feel poor and
Kaitie Bryant (01:00:31):
Oh yeah, why? You don't have to work that hard to feel that poor and it will help your marriage. I wish we could tell more, more couples. You stay honest and clean that closet. Yeah. And that will help your marriage so much. Yeah. So thank
Shanna Skidmore (01:00:45):
You Katie. You're the best. Grateful for you.
Kaitie Bryant (01:00:48):
Shanna Skidmore (01:00:49):
You. Snap it out.
Kaitie Bryant (01:00:50):
I'm snapping it out. <laugh>. Lots of love. Pick Flo
Shanna Skidmore (01:00:54):
Kaitie Bryant (01:00:55):
Shanna Skidmore (01:00:56):
Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers podcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Katie. One final thought for today from Seth Godden, who happens to be one of mine and Katie's favorite voices when it comes to marketing. He says, making stuff is great. Making connections is even better. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.