Leslie M. Gomez founded LMG Photography in 2016, when she was ready to begin her journey as an entrepreneur. Fast forward to 2020, which brought about major changes in how small business owners like Leslie approach their work, their clients, and their intentions. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Leslie about her business evolution.
NAN PRICE: A lot has happened since you launched your business. In what ways have you pivoted to stay relevant and “keep the lights on?”
LESLIE M. GOMEZ: I had already been thinking about my niche and I had been gravitating toward working with women. When the pandemic happened and events were being cancelled, I had time to evaluate where I wanted my business to go and concentrate on who I liked to work with and how I could really help them.
I realized people still need to show up—now more than ever. So, I thought: How can you help women do this? As a photographer, we story tell a lot, subconsciously and intentionally. I recognized that a lot of people have challenges telling their story and I wanted to help those people show up in their own way that is authentic to them it. I wanted to help them build the confidence to be visible online because, before COVID-19, we were so much an in-person and intimate world, and I knew that this was going to be needed more than ever. I also knew a lot of people weren’t comfortable with this and a lot of people didn’t know how to do it.
NAN: Would you say you transitioned more into branding?
LESLIE: I was dibbling and dabbling in branding, but it made me study it even more and dive into some of the skills and processes I needed to be ready to offer branding services. I’ve always had a vision of working with a lot of women who are making huge life transitions. I feel like this is the manifestation of it all.
NAN: Speaking of transitions, how did you transition from being known as a local photographer to becoming a branding expert?
LESLIE: By showing up as the expert and talking about what I know. I also started producing valuable, engaging content directed to help solve problems people were experiencing with their branding. And then the proof is always in the pudding on the end product. People who saw the work and word of mouth helped contribute to the pivot.
NAN: In addition to embracing the opportunity to pivot, what are some of the biggest takeaways or lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
LESLIE: Some of the biggest takeaways for me have been being consistent, showing up, and being visible. Consistency can take you very far.
Another big takeaway has been building relationships with people. Creating meaningful relationships is so important in entrepreneurship. Once you build those strong relationships with people, it’s part of the leveling up, thriving, and existing. For me, showing up and relationship building is almost a subconscious thing. I love people. That part of my personality helped me to thrive. That and being authentic and holding onto good relationships.
NAN: Tell us some of the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur.
LESLIE: Imposter syndrome is definitely a real thing. It’s going to happen throughout your entrepreneurial journey and personal development. When those thoughts show up, I know it’s time to do some self-evaluation or tap into my tribe to provide some positive feedback. I can count of them to let me know what’s real.
What also helps is recognizing the opportunities that have been coming my way. That helps provide validation about how my audiences were shifting from community to professionals and high-level entrepreneurs. That’s also helped me see that I’m doing good work. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. And people are loving it.
So, when those feelings pop up, I’m encouraged to keep going. My passion for what I do keeps me going, too.
NAN: What’s the best advice you could give to others who are thinking of launching a new business.
LESLIE: Getting through the lows will help you get to the highs. That’s not the time to quit. That’s the time to seek support, whether it’s coaching or mentorship. Those hard times, those low times are the times that will help build you and help you get to that next level. Don’t give up.
Read Leslie’s Entrepreneurial Insights contribution: Why I Became an Entrepreneur
Photo courtesy Keith Claytor, TimeFrozen Photography
Surviving: Keeping the Lights On
On May 18, Leslie will join Innovation Destination Hartford for a 30-minute real-life conversation where she’ll share about how she pivoted to enhance her business offerings and reach a wider audience. Jane Krantz of Afterglow Studio will talk about her experience opening a yoga studio during the pandemic.