Memphis Artist | Kara Rodgers | Tennessee Portrait Photographer

Kara Rodgers. There are so many reasons why I wanted to photograph this woman. She was the first person I remember truly meeting at Fellowship Memphis, my current church. We were running across a street headed to a summer party last year. Cars were speeding around us, while I heard her say “I’m kara, whats your name?” It was so exciting to make a friend before I even walked in that door.

Then at a friend’s birthday jam party, Kara stood up to sing. We were all taken away as she sang from her soul.I wanted to capture Kara. Kara with all of her joy, soul, and creativity. Her dancing, singing, and expressing the incredible woman that she is! I have a passion to capture people who have never been in front of a professional camera. The experience of shattering any expectation they did have is just so much fun. I pulled out my speaker, and we jammed and danced for an hour or two downtown. I hope I captured at least a fraction of her radiance and authenticity.

Abi Powell | Cellist | March 2018

This is Abi. She’s a spunky 19 year old living in Tennessee. Abi studies cello at University of Memphis. I’m so excited to attend the one of the concerts her orchestra preforms! I asked Abi what women have impacted or empowered her in her life and how they did that. “My old cello teacher, Hannah, is the best person in the entire world. She is so honest. She wanted me not only to be a better cellist, but a better person. She seamlessly tied in cello with life; how I was suppose to treat people and handle situations. Another would be Jill. She’s accepted me into her family. Lets me be imperfect but also pushes me to grow at the same time. She feeds me, which is a huge love language!” Last year Abi had the opportunity to visit her father’s family in Germany. She spent time in the homes of her aunts and uncles with cousins and friends. “My great aunt in Germany really impacted me. She taught me so much about hospitality and love even when you can’t speak the same language.”

I also asked Abi what it meant to be empowered by others for her? “When people drop the competitiveness. When I feel someone being competitive it makes me sad, because they are losing the opportunity for community. It develops that “I have to better then you.” instead of sharing and learning from each other. Its really empowering for me when other people come together within the same art. ”

I also asked Abi what it meant to be empowered by others for her? “When people drop the competitiveness. When I feel someone being competitive it makes me sad, because they are losing the opportunity for community. It develops that “I have to better then you.” instead of sharing and learning from each other. Its really empowering for me when other people come together within the same art. “

Hope Peck | Artist | Memphis College of Art

Celebrate women every chance you get. This month I’m reflecting on women who have empowered and impacted me. I would be a different person if I hadn’t formed a friendship with @hepeck_ so long ago. The Lord has used her to prune, encourage, challenge, and love me. If you ever get the opportunity to be graced with her presence, soak up every moment. She is a woman of sheer talent, challenging wisdom, true beauty, and such elegance. She works harder then anyone I know- she hustles in the midst of struggle. She is integrity. I celebrate the woman and thank God for her. I’ve cried and laughed early hours of the morning with her.

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Learning to Celebrate Alone | Small Business Owner

 

I’ve learned and I’m learning in my own journey the leading pitfalls and leading strengths of my “success.”

When an incredible email comes or I mark a massive milestone in my work and company, I usually find myself alone.  And as I’m growing into that, I’ve learned to celebrate instead of pity myself.

Tavi Gevinson answered the question, “What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?” – “What would otherwise have been free time, like after school or post graduation. But this is what I wanted to do with my free time, so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, just non traditional.”

It’s not that no one chose to spend time with me to celebrate. My work day is simply alone- I don’t have coworkers, I’m not married, and my roommates work most days out of home. (It has its benefits, TRUST me.) I think that’s been the biggest growing point. Feeling comfortable dancing alone in my room. Learning to call and text friends when something big is happening so I don’t sit there mourning that I have no one to be with. And when no one answers those texts, I’m pulling out my journal and writing what I would say to a coworker or best friend. Sometimes I go get myself a great coffee. Sometimes I let myself “off work” an hour early, and other times I don’t have time to stop- I just keep going- smiling alone!

On the day I launched my website, I dressed up, left my work at home, and headed to a favorite spot to get myself lunch. I was on cloud 9. But it’s taken so much to get there. I’m a socialite and networker by nature. People feed me, conversation energizes me, but I chose this. I chose to spend my evenings and nights editing and blogging in high school, I chose to not go to college, I chose to make this my full time job. If you also chose to work alone, in pursuit of your passions, and God blessed you with a way to have that as your job, celebrate. Plan your own parties. Learn to sit alone reading your book. Learn what makes you spring out of bed in the morning. Learn what lets you enjoy the solitude. If I can, trust me, you can. And I’m still learning. I get lost sometimes in the morning. Lost in self doubt, in purpose, and in lack of energy. Some days I’m overwhelmed with loneliness. I long to be surrounded by other people working hard with the same goals. I’ll find myself envious of those who get to pass the buck up when it’s out of their expertise or above their pay grade while I sit googling for hours. But I’m learning. I’m learning to take care of myself, to love my job through the amazing and the rough. To not beat myself down when I  have to spend the day working on taxes of website hackers instead of what’s on my actual to do list.

It’s awesome. It’s hard. Please don’t forget to celebrate. Have fun. It sounds crazy, but I think I forgot about fun. Of course I’ve had fun in the last couple years, but I don’t think I freed myself to, and I am learning because I also plan out everything else in my life, I have to plan for fun. You carry your story and your company’s story. Just cause no one else’s offered to host it, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t a party. Either let go of how “untraditional” you are, or be dragged along into your own story not having fun.  Surround yourself with friends and people that will celebrate when you give them the thumbs up.  Involve the people who ask you to!  Because TRULY, I don’t do all the work. You can ask my best friends… they usually get texts 5x a week asking for advice. I’m usually spending a couple hours a week bouncing ideas off my sister and best friend. Last week my friend came over and added the last touch to a flat-lay for a giveaway. They are all a part of this. They ground me and allow me to test ideas, ask advice, and cry about failures. My parents have walked this journey right by me. They were there when I decided each step, and have guided in every way they can.

Surround yourself with people who will celebrate with you, but don’t expect them to know when to celebrate if you don’t tell them. It’s good to learn how to ask to go get drinks, it’s okay to take yourself to lunch. Get comfortable with your “alone.” When you sit alone sipping that cup of coffee, you are having a date with the CEO, the Founder, the Intern, the Editor, and the creative behind an awesome business. That’s pretty cool.

Denzel Alexander | Men’s fashion in Memphis

Meet Denzel Alexander. The man behind Memphis’s only mens fashion blogger.

His blog began like some of the best creative pursuits do- in the midst of low season of life. Feeling alone within a crowd, Denzel discovered blogger Kelvin  Davis of NotoriouslyDapper. He was inspired by the style, the fun, and consistency found within Kevlin’s brand. After a year of following other bloggers and pin pointing looks from celebrities he wanted to start implementing, Denzel launched the DA blog Dec 1st, 2015. I asked him what words would describe those first few months.

Denzel: Amateur & hope. I was in the pursuit of a creative outlet in my life.

I met Denzel in 2016 at the cash register of H&M. I started the conversation about how their brand inspired me to dress more European. Before I knew it, Denzel had gotten me his card and we were friends. Within the week, I messaged him about a look-book I was filming the next week. The dude showed up in a parking garage without even knowing me basically. We still laugh about how sketch that was and how downhill it could have gone. But instead, we began a friendship founded on creative collaboration.

I wanted to feature Denzel this month because 1. We really needed a reason to finally get coffee again, and 2. When we chat, both of us leave on fire for memphis and creativity. He has such dreams. Denzel reminds me to dream big, and not to settle for what I can see realistically. One day, he wants to be living in a bigger city and at some point of his career have a role at GQ. Denzel Alexander the blog will continue through all his pursuits, as he wants it to transition with him through life. If you hit up his Instagram feed, you will see that talent and passion. He has such an eye for putting a color palette into action. Studying for a Creative Mass-Media degree, his passion for layout and design has been challenged and taken further. Below are different seasons from 2017 where he chose to focus on different colors/textures.

Personally, I choose comfort over fashion too often for my own good. I asked Denzel about that common battle with our age group/stage of life. What are his biggest tips for identifying a style, developing that look, and finding comfort. I also feel like with guys there is a thought of “I want to look good, but not look like I care too much”

Denzel: I just don’t think you can’t care too much. Self care is so important. Often, guys are insecure to take it to the next level. I would say start searching and finding people and celebrities who have the looks you want. Start taking little steps. Don’t dive into wearing suits every day. As you implement different pieces, it becomes more comfortable. As for finding your style, everyday you grow into a different person. Let how you feel that day decide. Its okay to wear colors the days you feel great and when you aren’t feeling it, wearing darker colors is okay! Be inspired by your own personality. To find your style, its important to embrace other’s styles as well. You see someone who don’t dress like you, just respect and appreciate their own look. Embrace the difference.

I completely agree with that. Once I graduated high school, I realized the judgment I hashed out over other peoples looks and styles was what limited me in my own. We all wanted to be different, yet only a few of us truly broke the trends. I was not one of them.

Now lets talk side hustles. In school and growing a brand/blog, what would be your advice?

Denzel: Planning ahead will get you so far. Engage with other people and take criticism. I hate taking criticism.  You start to learn to reflect on the words and not defend yourself.  Don’t just write off criticism  from someone who doesn’t know what you are doing or your style. They are your audience and follower.  Its actually really good to get criticism/advice from people who are completely outside of your industry.

I have loved watching Denzel grow into blogger he is! It has been a joy to be a part of Memphis Creative crowd.  I asked Denzel what his dream for Memphis’s blogger community is:

Denzel: From my stand point, I want even more of a diverse group. We need different style, different backgrounds. Our city is representative of the diversity, but we don’t see the together within creative community. We never see them working together. Collaborating. We have a lot of bloggers who all look and dress the same. 

I would love to connect more. I feel Memphis’s creatives are threatened by each other. I am the only male blogger, but I would love to be embraced and embrace other bloggers within Memphis. Embracing and encouraging their different and respect all our different styles. 

What about your vision for Memphis creative community?

Denzel: We have a bunch of grit and grind, but we are not exposed enough. Like people don’t get how incredible this city is! I want to see our reputation changed. An embracive diverse community. Let us be known for our art community and collaborative posture + attitude.

CHECK OUT DENZEL:

Instagram: @denzelalexander

Blog: DenzelAlexander

Twiter: @denzelalexander