Donna Leathers, owner of Captivate Create LLC, had done everything from working on a ranch to training horses to website development to graphic design to project management. She says her varied background gave her a strong work ethic and sense of adventure.
She says she has always communicated through imagery with most of her corporate work including some kind of photography. After her first child was born and she decided to stay home photography became her career, but not without some convincing by a friend.
“A friend said I really needed to be a photographer, and my response was ‘but I like photography! I want to keep it fun!’ I decided to take the plunge around 2010 and have loved it,” she explains.
Donna appreciates the ability to go the extra mile when needed, set her own deadlines, and manage work/life balance - all perks that come from working for herself. “I love that I can be my own accountability - and what I mean by that is that I can ensure integrity, consistency and quality in each job. If I promise something, I will make it happen.”
Last year, Donna decided to evaluate how she was working and hone in on a niche she loved. “I was an all around photographer before. My previous corporate life in branding and development really was something I missed, and I found that I really have a talent for headshots and image branding,” she says.
With a rebrand started in 2020, she hopes to grow to a full branding agency with employees.
One of the things that makes Donna’s photography business unique is a custom trailer that acts as her mobile photo studio. It was a concept she planned and designed. “It was a lot of work and I’m loving it. It is COVID-friendly with lots of ventilation, sanitation, separate entries, and other safety measures,” she explains.
Although COVID threw a big hiccup into her plans, she has continued to put work into her business and custom photography studio trailer. Donna says she needs to turn some of the branding and business expertise she shares with clients on herself.
She advises anyone thinking of starting a business to think about their end goals and ten year planning to stay on course.
She would tell her younger self to not stress out too much and know that all experiences come together for good. She says “Everything I've learned at jobs along the way is something that I can apply with what I do now. It's funny, even my time in Montana (until I was about 20) on a ranch applies because I spent years hauling horse trailers and now it helps me drive my photography rig! Even when it doesn't make sense at the time, it all comes together if you are strategic and willing to look at how it helps!”
When asked what she does when things are challenging Donna says she leans on her overall vision. “Especially this year, I keep reminding myself to play the long game, and to help others do the same. Things might not immediately be perfect, but we can use this time to really polish our brands, fine tune our services, and be ready to go when things open up!”
Donna’s best referral is someone who owns a business and wants an all around branding package that integrates photography into their website, print media, social media and more.
She says the biggest impact of being a part of the MOB Alliance has come through exposure to other business owners’ insights, experiences, and thought leadership that keep her inspired and motivated.
Her favorite benefit of the Alliance is the focus on community over competition and focus on helping and lifting up other moms.
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