Consider the Wildflowers

033. Rylee Hitchner: Keeping Creativity Alive

February 23, 2023
Consider the Wildflowers
033. Rylee Hitchner: Keeping Creativity Alive
Show Notes Transcript

As a sixteen year old with camera in hand, Rylee Hitchner set out on her creative journey. It’s not often one turns art into a career so young, but there’s a quiet confidence in Rylee. From college dropout to pursuing photography full time, becoming a wife, becoming an adult, and becoming a mom all in the span of ten years, hear Rylee share more on what keeping creativity alive means to her.


Rylee Hitchner (00:00):

Had a really tough year personally, and I completely went off of line for a while, and that I think allowed, I think it was just like this God-given limitation there, realizing that I have limits. And that was a year that I feel like it allowed me to step back and just out of necessity, be with my family more. And then business came second and yeah, we figured that out. 

Shanna Skidmore (00:29):

You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast, episode 33. She strolled in 18 years old with camera in hand, ready to confidently capture the wedding. Amy and I had spent months preparing Design and Florals four. It was 2012. I was still doing flowers with Amy Sabba trying to figure out my life. I was amazed that someone so young was executing work at the caliber Riley did. From the moment I saw her work, I was obsessed. But meeting Riley in person, Mamie love the genuine, kind, funny person she is. Even more. I am beyond excited to have Riley Hitchner on the show today, starting her photography work at the ripe age of 16. She has so much to share on the growth of business, becoming a wife, becoming an adult, and becoming a mom all in the span of 10 years. If you dig professional bios, here goes. 

Riley is a destination photographer living in Alabama with her husband and three children. She travels for portraits and weddings and teaches motherhood photography at the Found Collective Workshop. She is also the co-host of the newly released podcast Making Motherhood. Okay, formal introductions over, let's dive in. Hey, it's Shannon, 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 encouraged to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here. Hi, Riley. I'm so excited to have you on this show today. Thanks for coming on. 

Rylee Hitchner (02:26):

Hi. Thank you, Shanna. 

Shanna Skidmore (02:28):

Okay, so we have known each other for a long time. I mean, I think 10 plus years. 

Rylee Hitchner (02:35):

Yeah, I think I was like 19 when I met you. I 

Shanna Skidmore (02:38):

Think you were. I like, I literally was thinking about that this morning. I was like, was Riley 16? Okay. 19 though, it was probably, no, it was for sure. 2012 or 2013. Yeah, so that's amazing. 19. Yes. Yeah, Andrew was with you. I was doing flowers with Am Yo at Monte Louche, I think was the first time. Yeah, I met you. So that's so fun. And I'm excited because we got to see each other last year, so we got to catch up. But I'm excited to have you on the show and just share more about your business journey and how it's been starting your business so young. So it's going to be a good show. Thanks for sharing your story. 

Rylee Hitchner (03:20):

Yeah, yeah. We've known each other since the beginning of our stories and or where we are now, so 

Shanna Skidmore (03:26):

No, that's fun. So neat. And now we've gotten married and had, well, I was married already, but had babies and all the things. So for those who don't know, just tell everybody who you are, what you do, and then we'll kick it back to kind of what were you doing before you started your business. 

Rylee Hitchner (03:43):

Okay. I'm a photographer. I travel for weddings and families and newly added studio sessions is early in portraits that I do. So mostly my work is all just about family and life and telling people stories and it is just the greatest honor. I love it. And my, let's see. And I have three children that are seven, five, and three. And I'm married to my husband Andrew. And my story before photography is pretty much just my childhood. So I started photographing and working when I was 16. I had gone to a school up until 16, but when I was 16 I started homeschooling. And that allowed me to have so much time to pursue my passions. And so I started a little blog just of all of my interests and learned about photography along the way and started offering that to just whoever would hire a 16 year old. 

And thankfully there were a lot of people out there. So I started, I started when I was 16, and then when I was about 18, I got my first film camera. I had shot with a film camera prior to when I was 16. I somehow, I just always loved film. I didn't tell what it was that I loved about it, but whenever I saw a photo taken on film, I just loved it. But I got a professional film camera that I still shoot with today when I was 18 and had saved up for that and was so proud to have a new camera that I could really, I was taking myself seriously at that point. And that was the year that I was trying to figure out if I was going to go to college. I just thought, I guess I have to go to college, but I had no desire. 

And I also, this is a necessary detail. I had met my husband when I was 14, so in my head I was thinking we were never going to get married if I go to college. <laugh> like, okay. I was just so interested in starting my life with Andrew and so interested in starting just being an adult and just had no desire. And so I really fought with that, trying to figure out what I was going to do. I had taken some college classes during high school and in my first official year or what would've been my first semester of college, I started, and then I started booking all these weddings for the next year. And at that point I realized I could do this, and I figured if I had 20 or so weddings that coming year that it would probably have some kind of snowball effect hopefully, and take off. 

And it did. So I dropped out, I paid my parents back for what they paid for my college that semester and asked them to just give their blessing that I could just pursue this. And so they were very supportive and I did, and that's, that's where it all started. So I dropped out a college. I was never really officially in college. I was taking just a couple of classes trying to figure out if I was going to officially start college. But yeah, that's the beginning. And let's see. So that would've been going into 2012. In 2012, we got engaged, got married in 2013. So we are officially celebrating 10 years this year, which is really exciting. 

Shanna Skidmore (07:13):

That's so fun. But 

Rylee Hitchner (07:14):

Yeah, that's my story. I love it. Starting photography, 

Shanna Skidmore (07:18):

I mean, were you always a creative child? Did you have a role model? I mean, 16, I think that's learning to drive and you're finding your future career that just, and I know it happened so often, but it feels so young. I mean, were you just sure of what you wanted to do? I'm just so intrigued. 

Rylee Hitchner (07:40):

Well, I feel like it was such a blessing to have both Andrew and photography at that time of my life because I didn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out who I was or where I was going. I pretty much knew I'm going to marry this guy and I'm going to do this job. And that really helped me have a vision for life. It feels like the biggest blessing that those things happen. Kind of around the same time I feel that I was a creative person. I really struggled in school. I didn't know what I was going to do. And I love anything, art. I love crafting. I still do all of that today. Hasn't changed. I just feel like a kid anytime I do what I do. But I, I've been always crafty. But as I kind of dabbled in anything arts, my mom was so great at giving me every opportunity. 

We would sign up for pottery night classes, we would sign up for painting mean she gave me anything that creatively I needed. She was supportive in that as a child and a teenager. And I don't know, I think that contributed to just me dabbling. But my only experience was though, I thought that you just had to be a starving artist. And I didn't think that you could actually actually have a business. I just thought this is, I can't do this as a job, any of the things that I'm dabbling in. But when I found photography, I was so grateful for it to be something that I could actually do. It gave me such a vision because like I said, I really struggled in school and thought, what am I going to do? And I had my brother who was three years younger than me, but three years ahead of me academically. I just always compared to that kind of, I just thought, I'm not book smart. I don't know what I'm going to do with the skills that I have, which are just creative skills. But the only people that I know that are creative are starving artists. So I was really, really grateful to have found photography and to be able to go that route with my creative energy. 

Shanna Skidmore (09:38):

So when you first started, how did you start figuring out the business side of things? I mean, even when you said, if I could book 20 weddings in my first year, I mean, how did you know to do that? 

Rylee Hitchner (09:49):

So I was living at home, obviously at the time. And really money-wise, any money that I made was a lot of money. I could have made a hundred dollars, that would've been a lot of money for a 16 year old. So at first I had no idea how to do business stuff. And I was grateful just to be at home during those times where I'd write an email and I'd ask my parents for advice. I'm like, does this seem like a appropriate response? And maybe clean it up a little bit. So business wise, yeah, I just had so many years that I even just think that it was the fact that I was 16. I think people had pretty low expectations of I was managing things. So I was grateful that I had a lot of years to learn. And then I think when I turned 18 and started shooting film, I don't know, I think where I was mentally was like, I'm taking myself more seriously and started to figure all that out. And then I took year course, the blueprint model. It would've been the year that I was pregnant with wil. So that would've been when I was 22. So 

Shanna Skidmore (10:59):

2016. Yeah. You were in the very first group. Oh, yes. Yeah, I remember that ri, yeah. 

Rylee Hitchner (11:06):

Yep. So I was so grateful to be able to invest in that, and that I think was probably my first investment into my business. Education wise, honestly, I've never done workshops or anything like that, and that was the best thing that I could have done. So yeah, prior to that it was just figuring it out. 

Shanna Skidmore (11:27):

I remember, I still have in your head, I think it's probably on a testimonial graphic or something somewhere where you said, and you probably don't remember this because it was forever go, but I just remember it because we reuse it, I think, in our promotional material. But it said something to the extent of, I've just taken the first few video modules or chapters we called it originally, and you said that was already worth the price of the course, and you had multiple more weeks to go. And that just meant the world to me, just to know it was worth every penny for you. And so 

Rylee Hitchner (12:00):

Yes, it made so much sense to me. And as somebody who doesn't do numbers, just your language around numbers was life giving. I enjoyed the conversation. I enjoy things like discussing budget. I enjoy living under my means. I like the discussion around money and life, but when it comes to, I don't know, some of it, I can't speak that language. And so you came to me and made it easy for me, you know, came to my way of talking about money, and it really resonated. So I was so grateful for that, and I would do that a million times. 

Shanna Skidmore (12:45):

It's the best you best. Oh, thanks darling. But I want to give to give more credit then when we met in 2012, or I think it was 2012, I'm pretty sure. So you're 18 years old, 19 years old, just getting started. You were doing big events. I mean, this event that I was doing with Amy wasn't a small budget event. So when you say you started taking yourself seriously, was that hard? Did you have to hype yourself up to charge what you needed to charge? Or was it just kind of a flip of a switch mindset? 

Rylee Hitchner (13:22):

I don't know. I think it was a mix. It came easy to me to take myself seriously and believe that I had something of value to give to the people that were hiring me. But the thing that I struggle with was the money part. I definitely felt, especially knowing where I was with the situations that I was in. So at that point, I wasn't married, but then we got married, and even still when we got married, it was like we lived in this tiny apartment. Our expenses were so low, I didn't have children, and I was in an industry where they were working parents that had to support their kids, and I just felt, I couldn't know. I remember crying to another photographer and just saying, I don't know what, this doesn't make sense that I would charge the same thing that you would charge and you're supporting your family, and I just have very little needs right now. I wish I would've just ignored all of that, put it all away, thought maybe one day I'll have three children who I want, who I'll want to buy cars for and go to college and just hidden it away from me. Now I'm like, what was I even thinking? 

But I struggle with that part. So I struggle with feeling guilty that I was making what other people were making, and they had, their expenses were just so much higher. I mean, the expenses, even now we live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We don't have the super expensive mortgage and all of that. And now we have children though. So I think of them, but I definitely felt like guilty about making money, but I didn't have a problem with believing that what I was offering was something I could take seriously. 

Shanna Skidmore (15:13):

That's amazing. What helped you boost your confidence? Was it you just saw the beauty of your work? Other people were telling you it was good or you were getting published? Was it any of the external or was it truly just internally you could see the value of your work? 

Rylee Hitchner (15:34):

I think it's really important to take away any of that external. I wish there was a way to take that away from anything. Analytics is really handy, but I wish there was a way I could step away from any of that, because I want to create in the mindset of that I'm just creating for myself, for my client. And I don't care if anybody else sees it. This is just me gifting them something really beautiful and it's out of my heart. And I don't know, I think that's for me to take myself seriously and seeing it. I don't think it took me a lot to see the value in that. So 

Shanna Skidmore (16:08):

That's such a gift. That's such a gift. 

Rylee Hitchner (16:10):

If I could step away from any of anything external, I would. Yeah. It's just between me and my client. I really enjoy producing work that feels really authentic and true, and not having to see any of the other stuff. 

Shanna Skidmore (16:25):

Yeah. Oh, that's so good. I have had, on my wishlist, ri, I told you this last year to have Riley photographs something for basically since I met you, your work is so beautiful. Thank you. And it has so much life, and there's just depth to this beautiful image. It is truly art. And so it was just a dream come true to have you photograph our family last year. So 

Rylee Hitchner (16:51):


Shanna Skidmore (16:51):

Such a gift. Okay. Talk me through ri the next, the first few years in business, before you had your first baby. Tell me about the growth and how did it go well, how are you getting clients? Just kind of talk through that, the growth those first few years. 

Rylee Hitchner (17:13):

Yeah. I really believe in creating work, like I said, even in the last question for yourself, and I did a lot of things to build my portfolio to learn. I had where I was with not going to college. I kind of mentally was like, okay, I'm going to spend the next four years as if I'm creating my own college. And so those first initial years, I just worked a lot on my own dime. I think when you have clients paying, you feel like you have to produce a certain thing in some sense, at least make it equal. A little bit of you, a little bit of them. But there were some things that I wanted to do where I was like, I want to be able to have no pressure creating things that is just, if the image doesn't come out at all, then it's all on me and there's no stakes here. 

So in the very beginning, I did a lot of work on my own dime, creating shoots or inviting people to be a part of shoots and things like that so that I could build my portfolio, not so much build my portfolio for my website. That's important too. But also build just knowledge behind, like I said, shooting film. It was new for me. So with that, I spent the first couple of years just learning through just doing things. And so in the beginning, mentally I was just in a practice mindset of just allowing myself to play a lot. And that's still really important to me today, and I highly recommend it for anybody who's an artist, to always just feel that they can create just from themselves and not always on the client's dime. Because I think that overflows to allow yourself to feel playful in the work that you create for your clients. 

But in those initial years, I did a lot of building and I think that allowed my voice to be heard so that people were like, oh, this is what she's doing. And it felt very true to myself instead of relying, and it took the pressure off of having a certain client come to me or to attract a certain client. And I wasn't upset if somebody came to me. And they were totally different in style than me because I was like, I'm still creating the old my stuff for my portfolio. So initially I think that contributed to a lot of building. I also just connected with a lot of people that were like-minded and were creating the kind of work that together we wanted to create for clients. 

Shanna Skidmore (19:47):

Were you actively reaching out to other professionals in the wedding industry? Or how are you making these connections? Because I do think you made such a good connected group. 

Rylee Hitchner (20:01):

Yeah, I definitely reached out to two professionals, often very just boldly introduced myself. I remember reaching out to a planner, and it was just based on, I liked the way that her business card was printed, and then we were able to connect. And then also, this was a few years later than the very beginning, but even I think creating, my friend and I created a creative small group that we just posted online and 40 women showed up and that I made the best of friends from that. Three of them, I've photographed their births and were there for the moment that they became a mom. And some of them, I've shot their weddings, and some of them we talk every day still. So that I think was really powerful and never started out as a networking. There was never the desire just to network. It was to connect with other artists and truly get to know them as artists and get to know them as people. So I did a lot of that in the beginning. Definitely a lot of connecting with people, but not in the networky kind of way. 

Shanna Skidmore (21:10):

Yeah. Riley, this is totally off script, so we don't have to answer, but I would love to hear you speak to, have you seen a shift in the industry from the past 10 years with that feeling of connecting just to connect versus have you felt a shift? It is very much more connecting to network or in that way? 

Rylee Hitchner (21:36):

Well, I'm not very good with staying up to date with all the ways that people are connecting now, but I think there is a desire for genuine connection. And yeah, I think what may have worked 10 years ago as people were all trying to, I think with just Instagram being somewhat new, that, yeah, it's weird to say that, but 10 years ago it was a totally different thing. And with all the influencers and things like that that are a part of online life now, I think there is a desire for authentic relationship. And I think connecting now looks a little different than it did in the beginning. Yeah, for 

Shanna Skidmore (22:17):

Sure. Yeah, I think to encourage, I feel like you and I had this sweet season where Instagram was new and even just, I don't know, the industry felt a little different. It felt a little slower almost. And in some ways, I love now we have to be in with three babies at home, more efficient with our time, more, have more boundaries to how much we can connect with others. I can't just go grab coffee as much as I would love, and I just want to encourage anyone who sometimes I know so many that can feel discouraging now if you're just starting a business. But I still, like you said, people are still desiring that genuine connection and even in a more fast paced environment that it can be found. 

Rylee Hitchner (23:04):

And I think if you're just beginning, that's where I was, and I was meeting and reaching out to other people that were just beginning too. Ginny Awe is an example of a friend that I made back then, and we were both just absolute beginners. So some people I reached out to were more established, but for the most part, we were banding together as a lot of new people. And there's a real beauty in that because there's just such an energy to starting out that is so beautiful that there's just this unlimited potential that you believe that there's not this need to, you've already established your brand, you've already established your style. There's not this need to stick to that in the beginning. You can kind of just try all the things. And so finding other people who were also in the beginning of that is really beautiful. So that's where I was back then was yes, it's sometimes reaching out to people who are more established, but for the most part, I was connecting with people who were also beginners. 

Shanna Skidmore (24:12):

Yeah. That's so good. All right. I want to talk through those early days. How did it shift? How did business change? How did your mindset shift in all the ways probably when you started having your babies? 

Rylee Hitchner (24:26):

Yeah. So beforehand, I had all the time in the world. I remember my husband going off to work and me sitting at home and being like, I have eight hours. What do I do? <laugh> just have so much time to spend. And I remember when I was pregnant, my mom was like, don't worry. Those bored hours of trying to figure out how you're going to spend your time with your business is going to be really D, it's going to be different, and you won't have as many hours. And I, at this point, have way less hours to spend because I've never had a consistent childcare. I will get childcare when I have busier seasons and have somebody come for three hours a day, that type of thing. But it's my desire to be home with my kids. So that looks like me getting up early. I'm a morning person, so that looks like me getting up at five or six if I need to. 

And working then. But as far as where I was with vision and creatively, everything shifted because the things that I thought were beautiful and the things that I thought were, that felt authentic to me prior to having kids, definitely made a shift. After I had kids, it felt like I was putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing the world very differently. And there was a beauty in that. And there was also, it took a while to transition and get comfortable feeling like I didn't fully recognize myself in the things that I felt. I don't know. I felt some things I thought were really beautiful and really true prior to having kids. Now, I was looking for something that just felt so much more authentic and true to the love that I experienced with my kids. I was like, this is the love that I want to capture something so different and complex. It wasn't just beautiful on the outside, but what felt beautiful to the experience that you're having with your child. I made a shift in that way too. So a lot of shifts. 

Shanna Skidmore (26:27):

Did you start taking on less work? Did you start taking on different types of work? How did you mold your business to not only financially to what you needed, but also you mentioned to capture more of what you were feeling vision wise at this time? 

Rylee Hitchner (26:46):

Yes. Practically taking on less weddings just made the most sense. So that was where I also wanted to take on more families. And so I made a shift of less weddings, a little bit more family work, and spent a couple years trying to figure out what that looked like and what works for our family there. But my most recent discovery is that especially with homeschooling, because I'm homeschooling my first, who's seven, I will be homeschooling my second as well this coming year. But I realized that I work really well in seasons of a lot of work, and then seasons of not a lot of work, but a lot of family time and a lot of homeschooling time. So that is definitely something that's new. I would say over the last two or three years that I've learned about myself in really embracing this new schedule for myself with the heirloom sessions that I just started recently in 2020, sorry, offering, these are sessions that I do in studio, and I really, really love them so much. 

They have just kind of a nice vintage heirloom feel. And the beautiful thing about them that I didn't know going into it was that I offer them for Mother's Day and Christmas, and those are conveniently six months apart from of each other. And so it allows me to work and kind of structure my business to be busier in the spring around April, may, and then busier again around October, November. And then the months between that, which is conveniently to summer in the south is not most ideal to photograph. And then also winter. So I'm kind of working spring and fall and allowing rest time between that, and I'm really, really liking that schedule. So my schedule in the day and the small scale is early mornings. And my schedule as far as looking at it at the year is busier, just kind of a couple of months of the year. And that has been such a gift. Like I said, when I started offering these sessions, I didn't realize that that would be such a gift to my schedule. And I work really well that way. 

Shanna Skidmore (29:08):

Yeah, I love hearing you say that Ri, because Madeline is 20 months, 22 months, so she's almost two. And even just figuring out the fact that I am very much the same I to talk so much about harmony or integrating life and work, and I think figuring out what works for you and how you work best. And I think being able to voice for me, I think in the similar way, I need really a lot of structure and on time and off time. And so that's just been helpful to identify For me, I truly need them to not integrate <laugh> like yes. And so that's why childcare is super important, so I can have that work time because my brain, for whatever reason, just it doesn't mush it all together well, and some people, some people are very fluid and it works really well for them. So I think even just as you were saying, figuring out how you work best, and I would say, did you have to identify how you wanted to show up in work and how you wanted to show up as a mom? I love how you said I want to be a full-time with my kids. Was that something you had to just knew, or did you work through that for a while to come to that conclusion? 

Rylee Hitchner (30:32):

I knew that when I had my first, that that was my desire from the beginning, but it was trying to figure out what that looked like for my business. So priority was family, business was second. We live off of my husband's income, and my income is primarily for savings and things like that. So we didn't have to make a huge shift on lifestyle. We knew that this was what we were going to do. But as far as just what that looked like with business, I did have to just see. I think I just kind of felt like where it was kind of going. And then in 2017, I had a really tough year personally, and I completely went off of line for a while. And that I think allowed, I think it was just like this God-given limitation there, realizing that I have limits. And that was a year that I feel like it allowed me to step back and just out of necessity be with my family more. And then business came second, and yeah, we figured that out. So it's always been, I remember in your course you have four, you'll have to remind me, but the four 

Shanna Skidmore (31:47):

Core motivators. Yes, 

Rylee Hitchner (31:49):

Core motivators, and mine has always been creative outlet and generosity. I don't remember how you 

Shanna Skidmore (31:55):

Labeled those. Creative expression. 

Rylee Hitchner (31:57):

Yeah, creative expression was definitely mine back then, and it is now. So that's where I come from. 

Shanna Skidmore (32:04):

Have you ever felt cause of that, so creative expression needing to create in some capacity, like you said, you craft, you make these beautiful clothes for your children, and I've seen them, and did you ever feel there was a time kind of laying down your art with photography? Did you wrestle with that? Were you afraid you wouldn't get to pick it back up? 

Rylee Hitchner (32:28):

Yeah, I saw the need to step back a little bit during what I said was a challenging year, but creatively, because it's just who I, and I think we're all creative in different ways, but because it felt like such a need for me to express myself creatively, it didn't stop. Even though photography slowed down that year, I found other ways. And it was like you said, my goal was to create a full wardrobe, a full winter wardrobe for my son and things like that. I think it's really important to continue in the flow of working creatively, even in seasons where you're business, maybe as an entrepreneur, you're taking a step back, but creatively you're still fulfilling that need, and then that allows you to fill your cut back up in your business. I think this steady flow creatively allowed me to jump back in where I really felt like after I had Luca, which is my third, that was also 2020, and while that was a year of what really felt like slowing down for most people, that was a year that I was so grateful that I saw all these businesses being so creative and innovative with their offerings. 

I don't know if you remember thinking back to lockdown, people were offering things that they had never offered before or ways that they were, so restaurants were offering meal kits that you could take home. Yeah, I remember Chick-fil-A was offering a meal kit, awesome to take home <laugh> cutting back chicken, but all these businesses were doing totally new things. And that was such so to me, to see that it was anything that had been established before, you could just break the rules and do something new. And so for me, that year almost brought me back to 2012 because it brought me back to where mentally could feel like a new creator again. And so all of those steady streams of creative avenues that I had taken while I was at home with my little babies, they're all four years apart, four years between all of them. 

So I had, in 2020, I had a two-year-old and an infant. And in all of those years that I was at home nursing or pregnant or whatever, I was still creatively feeding myself. And so when the time came where it felt like an invitation to do new things and to be able to jump back in, I was able to jump right back in. And that felt like a year, that was a good year to offer something new. And so that's where these, my most recent sessions, my heirloom sessions have come in. And so I was really grateful for that. So I don't think I feared photography not being able to come back to it full speed ahead if I wanted to. I think just beating yourself creatively, allowing yourself to do that, and then there's such a gift and feeling like a new business owner, a new creative. 

So if you find yourself taking a step back from work for a little while, that energy returns to you as you start up again. And it's just really, I didn't realize how much I love that, and I really wish I could be in that place forever because I feel like I create the best work when I think no one's watching. I'm new, I'm starting from scratch. I make my own rules. And that's something that after you're in business for 10 years, you kind of feel like you lose that a little bit. So there's a beauty in that 

Shanna Skidmore (36:24):

So much, and that speaks so much to the power of rest or sustainability and just creating new, again, I, I've thought about that so much. I teach about systems and getting your numbers together, but sometimes in all of that goodness, and creating just the systems and rhythms of business, we have to keep creating. I think we can't lose the beauty of the fresh ideas, the innovation, the excitement. There's no excitement, like a new idea. 

Rylee Hitchner (36:56):

So I 

Shanna Skidmore (36:56):

Know that's so good. Okay. I want to ask you one kind of money question and then go into a quick fire round. So in your 10 years of business, what would you say, or just in life in general, I would love to hear what has been the best thing that you have learned about money, 

Rylee Hitchner (37:15):

That it's such a gift to when you have the means to be able to give to others. I mean, it's less scared of it now, and I feel less guilty about it now. I think that's my biggest area of learning, is just that I'm very grateful that this is a resource instead of feeling like something that is greedy or selfish of me. It's a resource that I could give to others when I have money flowing through me. It's something that I can give to others. 

Shanna Skidmore (37:45):

Yeah. Ooh, I love that. 

Rylee Hitchner (37:47):

Where I think I've grown the most with just understanding that it's a resource instead of something that is just a bad feeling. That was with it in the beginning. 

Shanna Skidmore (37:55):

And to dive a little deeper in that, do you think that comes from how you were raised, a background? Where do you think that I wonder feeling comes from? 

Rylee Hitchner (38:04):

Yeah. I don't know. I think it definitely could. 

Shanna Skidmore (38:08):

Yeah, I hear that a lot. 

Rylee Hitchner (38:10):

Yeah. I, I mean, I still live pretty simply now, but I feel definitely, that definitely could have been something that I just had to learn as I became an adult and grew into my own understanding of things. Yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (38:24):

Yeah. I think money has such a stigma around it, and a lot of people I know, I've talked to so many who believe there's this money is bad feeling, and it's like, where does that come? And in some ways, it can be the love of money. But yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And I will, something you said I want to circle back to. I have worked in finance for a very long time. I love talking about money. I think it's such a gift and creating the life you want, and like you said, giving to others. There's so much beautiful things you can do with money. But I will say when we had Madeline, it's like, Hey, you need to get serious. And it's funny because it's not that I wasn't before, but then you realize the weight of, wow, it's not just me and Kyle and the, oh, I want to buy this car, this house, or <affirmative> like, oh, wait, like a affording your future, Ann. So it was a big shift for us too, of where our financial priorities were as well. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Riley, let's go into kind of a quick fire round. So I'm going to put you in the hot seat. Okay. Okay. So we talked about the most embarrassing thing before. We're going to keep that on the dl. Would you say there are any regrets or wish you could do over moments? 

Rylee Hitchner (39:43):

Yeah, I wish that, I mean, going back again to the money thing, I regret not just realizing that this was this season I was given this gift to be able to build my business, to be able to build savings in that year, I would've wish I would've just embraced that this was, what was that I could steward that well, that this was a season that I was in, and it would be shown to me later that it's such a gift that I could have built sa. And we did. We didn't spend it all. But I wish I would have just embraced that money is a powerful tool for future generations and would've just kept working away when I had the time. 

Shanna Skidmore (40:29):

Yeah. Yeah. That's a good one. There's this saying we used to have in the financial world. It's so horrible. It's called Dink, d i n k, dual income, no Kids. It's like this beautiful season of abundance sometimes and and to give yourself credit, you were what, 19. So to think that fast forward, but to be able to steward well in all seasons of business study. Yeah, that's so, such a good and hard lesson ri. Yep. Okay. What is a big win or pinch me moment? 

Rylee Hitchner (41:04):

I don't know if this would be a big win, but a moment that I felt like in over my head in my business would be when I shot for David's Bridal. I shot for them three times when I was 19 and 20, and when I showed up the day of the shoot, and there were like 60 people creating this shoot, and my name was on every single person's little booklet of information in Big, because I was the lead photographer, I was like, holy Molly, depending on me. And then to be able to see images that I took in magazines and on big billboards and in stores, re was, that was pretty fun. Yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (41:51):

Oh, no pressure. Yeah. 

Rylee Hitchner (41:54):

Oh my gosh. I was an emotional, I don't know. I was a mess before those shoots. Yeah. Every time. Yeah. Okay. We got this. 

Shanna Skidmore (42:04):

Hype yourself up. Yeah. 

Rylee Hitchner (42:05):


Shanna Skidmore (42:06):

Okay. That's a good one. All right. Best advice or just really good advice that you have received? 

Rylee Hitchner (42:12):

I had a mentor that told me, this is kind of a dramatic statement, but it's true, is fear is the number one thing that'll hold you back from your destiny. And I think back to that often is if there's ever a decision that I'm making, whether it's in parenting and there's fear behind the reason I might be parenting in a certain way, or whether it's in my marriage or in a friendship or in my business, anything that I am feeling like fear is taking the front seat of why I am doing or not doing what I'm doing. I question that, and I believe that, that that's not in God's language, and that if it's fear based, then it's not from God, and I reevaluate where I'm going and what I'm thinking through. So I think a lot about that statement a lot. 

Shanna Skidmore (43:07):

That's such a good statement. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, that's good. To kind of mindset shift or check yourself when you're making decisions. Something I've said for years is a quick decision is normally not a good decision, and that's something that I don't know if that's always true, and don't take that as advice, anyone listening, but that's something I repeat to myself sometimes because 

Rylee Hitchner (43:29):

Well, it makes you step back and think again. 

Shanna Skidmore (43:30):

It really does. It makes me sometimes when I've done something really quickly, I've wanted to back out late, not back out, but just take a little more time to think about later. So yeah, I love having those statements that just like, okay, let's stop for a second and really think it over. So yeah, that's good. Last quickfire question, what are you working on now, or do you have a resource that you would like to share? 

Rylee Hitchner (43:54):

Well, I'm starting a podcast, so by the time this, 

No, by the time this is out there, it might be out there, but my friend Joanne and I are starting a podcast called Making Motherhood, and it is a lot about being a mom and being a creative and how that works together and how being a creative can make you a better mother and being a mom can make you a better creative and just kind of the intertwining work of art and motherhood together. So I'm excited about that. So that's the newest thing. As far as my photography work, I'm still traveling for families and weddings and doing a bunch of little pop-up events of my heirloom sessions all over, and always excited to pack up the fam and take 'em on a road trip. So yeah, that's just, that really comes from invitations. If somebody wants me in a city and we can make it happen, I love, love 

Shanna Skidmore (44:52):

To take that. I want an heirloom of Madeline, so come back to Tennessee. Okay. Let's make it happen. We'll 

Rylee Hitchner (44:57):

Do it. 

Shanna Skidmore (44:57):

Yes. And I'm very excited about your podcast. Do you have a date yet? 

Rylee Hitchner (45:03):

We are just waiting for Apple to approve it. 

Shanna Skidmore (45:06):

Okay, excited. Well, we will link that in the show notes and make sure that we share all about that, because I am definitely adding that to my lineup. 

Rylee Hitchner (45:14):


Shanna Skidmore (45:15):

You. All right, RI, let's send it off with, if you could tell yourself, looking back now on day one of your business, what would you tell yourself? 

Rylee Hitchner (45:25):

Think of yourself as a new creator in all the years coming up. Don't give that up. Don't give up what you believe about yourself right now at the very beginning of starting, and stay true to that. And don't feel like you have to stay stuck with the things that you've grown for yourself and done such a good job of creating. Just allow yourself to just be new in your work at all times, and just work for yourself and work for your clients, and you'll create beautiful work. 

Shanna Skidmore (45:57):

That's so good. Yes. Keep creating that new energy is, mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so good. Ry, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing more of your journey. It's just been a joy to hang out with you today. 

Rylee Hitchner (46:09):

Thank you. 

Shanna Skidmore (46:10):

Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Riley. One final thought for today from Emily Dickinson Forever is composed of nows. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.