006: Kelly Shroads - Healing yourself so you can serve others

Kelly Shroads, owner of Kelly Eileen Essence + Artisty, is an artist, entrepreneur, and healer who offers lifestyle/branding photography, essential oil coaching (has developed her own custom blends), as well as affirmation cards, prints/canvases of her curated photographs, crystal/stone education, and she partners with wellness professionals and teachers for retreats in nature. She also owns an e-commerce business that sells high-end luxury spa robes - which is just awesome!

In this episode we talk about:

  • the life-changing news that set Kelly on a path of self-discovery and personal development that has allowed her to not only flourish as a creative entrepreneur, but to serve others through her work and experience

  • how to develop a powerful brand that you can stand behind as a creative with several interests or offerings

  • the importance of discerning what parts of your creative work are fulfilling for you and support your needs, and what parts are draining you or are taking away from your spirit, whether that be client or personal work

  • how she took what started as an obstacle and turned a side hustle into a lucrative e-commerce business

  • for those in the early stages of their business, Kelly shares how to make that first step of hiring employee #1  

  • where she finds inspiration for her creative projects as well as how she deals with creative blocks — it’s actually the same thing


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Kelly Shroads: 00:00:00 That goes for anyone. I mean, if you're doing work, if you're going to your cubicle and you just, it depletes you. I mean, we see this all the time. People are like, I can't do it anymore because it depletes me. It's the same thing. Even if you're a creative and you're doing your creative work, there are still there are. You still need to be discerning about what parts really are good for. Your wellbeing are good for your spirit, are good for your bank account. They're just all around good for you and and the ones that aren't. Maybe the imperfect alignment, just being okay, letting them go because then someone else can do that cause that's their best.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:00:46 Welcome to the Vitalic Project podcast where you'll learn how to find your own voice in a world filled with noise. I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host as I sit down with fellow artists, creators, and entrepreneurs to learn more about their work and how they serve others so that you can tap into your creative purpose and live a life that's drawn, not traced. All right, I'm stoked. Let's get to it.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:01:14 Hey guys, this is the Vitalic Project podcast, episode six. I'm Gabe Ratliff. I'll be your host is I help you thrive while you create with purpose. On this episode, I sit down with Kelly Shroads. Kelly's an old friend of mine and she is absolutely amazing. She's an artist, entrepreneur and healer who offers lifestyle and branding photography, essential oil coaching, which she's developed her own custom blends. Uh, She has affirmation cards, prints and canvases that you can purchase from her website that she's curated, crystal and stone education. She also partners with wellness professionals and teachers and does retreats in nature. This is a really important episode to me because it gets deeper, on a, on a human level than just being a creative or being an entrepreneur. And that's really important to me with this podcast. And I just, I really want to say thanks to Kelly for being vulnerable with me and as we both share some pretty personal things about ourselves, mostly her, and I just was really so moved as I've come to, to be such good friends with Kelly. I was really moved by her story. And how she has triumphed over some obstacles in her life that really could have stopped some people in their tracks. And, uh, I just, I really, I love her and I love her power and her purpose and her passion. I think it just signifies what an amazing she is. And I'm really excited to share her story with you and to introduce you to her. So some other things we talked about in the episode is the life changing news that she got, um, that took her on a path of self discovery in personal development, which has allowed her to not only flourish as a creative entrepreneur but to now serve others through her work, in her experience. And she's also been spending the last couple of years developing a really powerful brand. And she talks about how you can really do that and have a brand that you stand behind as a creative. And we talk about the importance of discerning what parts of your creative work or fulfilling for you and support you and your needs. And on the flip side, what parts are draining you and taking away from your spirit. Whether that be client or personal work and uh, she also shares, you know, for those in early stages of their business, how to make that first step of hiring your first employee. And finally she talks about how and where she finds inspiration for her creative projects as well as how she deals with creative blocks. And interestingly enough, it's the same thing. So I'm going to step out of the way now and let's get to it. Kelly!

Kelly Shroads: 00:04:26 Hi Gabe.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:27 Welcome. Welcome back to Denver. So good to see you.

Kelly Shroads: 00:04:34 So good to be here.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:04:34 Yay. Okay. So I was thinking first I would love if you could just tell the audience about yourself and what are you up to these days?

Kelly Shroads: 00:04:43 Yeah, well, I am a Denver native. I grew up here. I went to school in Boulder for photography. I got a BFA in photography in 98 with other interests like photography or besides photography psychology, astronomy, sculpture were kind of my other interests in school. Um, lived in Denver. After that I worked at a photo lab, started doing professional photography pretty much right out of school, did weddings for 12 years. And then I moved to San Diego for a couple of years at, which was awesome. Loved that. And that was Kinda when I started getting into web work a little bit more and uh, yeah. And then moved back to Denver and did some other photography work and really started building my understanding of web design and then kind of, that was the beginning of my most recent trajectory of work, which is I've come to realize this, you know, I'm a jill of all trades. Um, I'm trying to hone it in, but yeah, that's kind of a little summary of me and what I'm working on now is trying really bring all of my passions into one umbrella, which I just launched my new website and yeah. So that's kind of my most recent thing I'm doing that, uh, which is a rebrand from just being a photographer and bringing some more lifestyle elements into my work. So it's really pulling more of me into my work. And then I'm also working on this book project with someone named April Glaser.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:06:26 Fantastic. Now I know with, that's tons to dive into. I know you moved recently, a little bit ago now. I wanted to ask, I'm going to get definitely dive deeper into the Kelly Eileen trajectory, but um, I wanted to ask you what led you to that decision and why did you choose a Phoenix to be your new home?

Kelly Shroads: 00:06:49 Well, it's, it's, it's a bit of a long story, but um, I'll, I'll kind of summarize as far as the decision to move. It was, you know, I would say it was more like I was led there. I was guided there in a spiritual sense and also it answered a lot of the things that I wanted in my life that I probably could have created here, but it just kind of appeared for me there. It goes back. Let's see, back in 2000, right after school when I was in Undergrad, which I didn't go to Grad school, but when I was in school right after school, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and that really changed the course of my life. So after CU Boulder, my plan was to go to Grad School for art and that's really what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a working artist. I wanted to teach. So that was my original plan. And the reason I tell you, the reason I go back that far is because it all, it all kind of culminates in my move to Phoenix. So there's a lot of steps along the way of my whole life that kind of led me there in a way. So when I, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, that really changed my lifestyle. So what ended up happening is I worked as an artist for a few years. I worked in this photo lab and I kind of managed my symptoms and things were okay, but I was, it was getting worse, the pain was getting worse. And so I moved. When I moved to San Diego, a lot of my pain went away and it was a big relief, you know, to not have that much pain. But San Diego didn't really work out, but my symptoms went away. And I just kind of got to thinking about why that was. And uh, the climate has a lot to do with that. Is it climate related or altitude as well? I think, you know, in the, what I've learned is that it's, um, a lot of air pressure and you know, weather systems type stuff.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:20 Which we have plenty of here.

Kelly Shroads: 00:09:20 We have a lot of bipolar weather here.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:09:25 And people. Just kidding.

Kelly Shroads: 00:09:27 So yeah, so, so when I came back to Denver after San Diego, arthritis got really bad and I was working, I was doing photography full time. I was doing wedding photography and working like 18 other jobs, so it was like just putting it all together and it got really bad. So I had to eventually quit doing photography altogether. And what I felt like at the time between getting diagnosed and kind of pivoting from going to Grad school was that I let I let my art go.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:10:02 Okay.

Kelly Shroads: 00:10:03 I just kind of had to let it go, which was my passion. That's what I really wanted to do. Um, and I still did photography for all these years in Denver, but what it felt like was I was, I was doing what I could, I was kind of, I was always stressed out and running from one thing to the next. And so the work was a lot of friends. It was mostly referral based and I was doing what I love, but it was actually not really, really what I wanted to be doing. It was the way that I was doing. It wasn't working for me. So the reasons that I moved there when I did were because I was looking for a new home, Denver has gotten really expensive and I lived in the same home for 12 years and I was ready for an upgrade. Like I am a 42 year old single woman. I want to feel like my home is my sanctuary and I can't buy quite yet. So I need to find something to rent that is like plush that gives me a hug when I walk inside and makes me feel cozy, comfy and cozy. And also is something that feels inspiring, that I can work in. And it's bright and I can cook and I can be well there and I can do all the things that feed my soul and I couldn't find that here for the price that I could afford. So that's one piece. Arizona is obviously hot A F. It's so warm there.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:11:34 That's part of why I was asking you. (laughs)

Kelly Shroads: 00:11:34 Yeah, I mean it's so hot. But so, so what happens for me and I can kind of go back to it a little bit so we can fill in the gaps. But I'm living with chronic pain when the high pressure systems come in, which is just something I've realized. I think it could be anywhere. I think it's a combination of things, but bipolar weather is not good for someone with joint problems. And so that will always trigger pain. Winter, anything from like rain to big snow to just clouds coming through, which is Colorado. I will get triggered, um, um, get flare ups and for me like a flare up. What that looks like is, you know, by mid afternoon I could feel a little bit of pain coming on. And then, by the end of the evening, it's like really super duper intense to the point where maybe I won't sleep that night and then, and then if I'm taking anything to help with the pain, then I'm really cloudy the next day. So it's, you know, it's like a two day thing and being an entrepreneur I want to have every day that I can to be focused and to feel good and to be clear. So anytime I have a flare up it just, it just, pardon my language, but just fucks with my world, you know? So when I, when I'm in a warm climate that's a little more stable like Arizona or San Diego, it's just more mellow. And then another piece is that my life here is so full of goodness. It's so good and full. But I think it was a little too full. I needed to simplify and you know, I don't think the answer is always to leave a place. Like you can definitely simplify your life by creating boundaries or changing things up a little bit. Or just kind of restructuring how you do things and what you say yes to and what you say no to and all of that kind of stuff. But anyways, so kind of to back up those are, those are a few elements, you know, cost of living, health, and just simplicity of living. Those were kind of the three things. The wellbeing is mixed in with the weather. So the kind of story around it is that every winter I go somewhere to kind of escape the cold.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:14:06 Yep. We do too. San Diego actually.

Kelly Shroads: 00:14:07 Yeah, it's, yeah, it just goes somewhere to escape and usually it's the desert because I have a job that I do in Palm Springs every year. So this year my job in Palm Springs budget got cut in half, so I was looking at AirBnB is there and I usually try to stay for a week and do like clean on my inbox, do my accounting, just kind of have like a work retreat where I'll like go to the pool in the morning and then I'll do a bunch of admin and then I'll go to the pool and I'll just like do that for a week. And it's really helpful because then I start my year off clean and I feel organized and I'll do my taxes and just do all that. And then a nice heavenly kind of environment. But I couldn't do Palm Springs this year because my budget got cut and the airbnbs. We're just pretty expensive. And so I just kind of started randomly looking for other places to go. And uh, I had always, you know, I've gotten really into rocks and gems and minerals have become a big nerd around that. And it's so fun and there's so much to learn and discover and energetically it's fun and it's like, it can get really obsessive and it's, there's a huge show that happens every year in Tucson and I've heard about it before and so I'd always wanted to go there and check it out and see what they had in terms of crystals and rocks and stuff. And so I looked at Arizona and Tucson. AirBnB's were pretty expensive, but I just went to, uh, the show for a day, but I found this AirBnB in Phoenix and the girl, she's like, Gosh, she's like, you know, Middle Age entrepreneur and she has this dope little house in this. I'm kind of up and coming neighborhood in Phoenix. And she said, the longer you stay, the better, the cheaper it gets. So I booked it for two weeks for like 600 bucks and had a lovely two week retreat and Phoenix. And in my mind I thought, well this is kind of random. I've never really even had my eye on Phoenix. I've never really wanted to go there. It just seems kind of like, not even on my radar, but I went there and I had a week of just kind of working on my new website. I was taking this class called, Soul Lodge Earth Medicine School and that was taking that class there, which is a self healing program. And I can talk a little bit more about that too. But, um, I was doing my class there, which is very spiritually driven and very experiential. And so during some of my experiences with that class, I just got some guidance to get somewhere warm and make it happen and quit waiting and also to simplify and lighten - Just kind of lightened my experience of living. And um, I went to a yoga class and I couldn't get an uber so I was stumbling around this neighborhood and I saw this building and it looked awesome and I pulled up my apartment out because I was looking in Denver for so long. And um, I was just shocked at the prices, how low they were and how affordable they were. And so the next day I went and looked at this apartment and uh, just for the hell of it just to see because this woman's house I was staying in was 600 bucks for two weeks. And I'm like, wow, these prices are amazing.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:17:33 Yeah, especially compared to here.

Kelly Shroads: 00:17:34 Yeah. So I went and I said, can I look at your cheapest two bedroom and your biggest one bedroom? And um, because they need an office I need to work at home. And she said, I think you might like the Kelly model. And so it was just very synchronistic and all these things that happened there. I didn't have any plans while I was there. And I just, you know, like I went to the art museum and I just talked to this random guy there and he told me to go check out this other art gallery and this other neighborhood in downtown Phoenix that was up and coming. And that's where I went to the yoga class. And I just kind of was being guided along the way. It just felt like I was there by myself. I could have either stayed in the house for two weeks and just did my work and put my blinders on and got a lot done, but, but instead I chose to adventure around and I just kept getting these little little nudges every step of the way and yeah. And so, and I had some other just really beautiful experiences there and it felt good. The weather felt good. Um, I love the desert. It feels magical to me there.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:18:40 I can tell from your photography.

Kelly Shroads: 00:18:43 Different than Colorado and I love Colorado and I've lived here my whole life, but there's just like, I'm, I'm, I'm always fascinated with spaciousness. It's, it was my best work, my best artwork when I was actually doing conceptual artwork before I stopped doing it was always I'd go out into the Pawnee Grasslands. Have you been there before? It's pretty amazing out there and it's just like bluffs and grassy fields and there's no end to it all. It's just really spacious and there's something that I feel when I'm in spacious landscapes that aren't like colored with big mountains and trees and rivers and I love that too.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:19:26 Right. Like Telluride?

Kelly Shroads: 00:19:28 Yeah, I mean, and I've been driving through Telluride to come back here or through that corridor and it's, you know, the word that I came up with the other day that I was driving back. It's like Colorado is just a beast!

Gabe Ratliff: 00:19:38 It is.

Kelly Shroads: 00:19:38 It's just like so beastly, you know, it's so big and, and, and I think there is something about that, although I've lived in it my whole life that feels maybe a little too big for me and a little. I'm done snowboarding, not like rock climbing. I don't like driving to the mountains that much, but I want to be in nature and I want to be surrounded by beauty and so the desert just has this magical feeling to it and then I want to explore something different and it just, it has some color palettes that I am in love with and just different landscapes and um, anyway, yeah. Now I'm kind of rambling, but the other piece to it, which, you know, I could go back again. The story's still, I haven't really told it in a linear way yet, all in one swoop, but when I was doing conceptual artwork in school, my muse, I guess you would call him, is James Turrell. You familiar with him? So he's creating this experiential installation work that's like the largest of its kind in the world. Um, he has a crater just north of flagstaff, Arizona and he's building this

Gabe Ratliff: 00:20:59 Mhmm. I'm familiar with the crater. I've seen it.

Kelly Shroads: 00:21:03 Yeah. So, so that's, that's in northern Arizona. And so when I was in Arizona visiting, I got kinda reconnected to just the vibe of that because I saw him at the art museum has worked, was in there. So it was like when I went there it was like the life that I have been living here in Colorado is very rich and full of love and so much creativity and so many people and so much collaboration and just, just so much goodness. Um, but I, but I think I kind of forgot about a part of myself that was still very much there. And when I went to Arizona, I remembered I love that and I got all these nudges to remember how much I love being an open space and how much like quiet is really crucial for my soul to feel good. I think it could also have something to do with arthritis because um, if you, you know, if you look into the energetics of illness, there's always something that is emotionally or behaviorally connected and you know, my joints are struggling and I'm also like a connector and I'm, I've been kind of the glue in a lot of situations in my life. And I think to a degree that's kind of like putting stress on my body.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:22:39 Yeah, I can understand that.

Kelly Shroads: 00:22:42 Yeah. So to be in this, I don't know if it'll last, I don't know if I'll stay there forever, but right now it's reminding me of a piece of my soul that I forgot about and it's giving me the space to really explore that and to open that back up. And it's also, I'm just giving me a little step back perspective to see like what's really important to me, how I can function as I grow older as an entrepreneur and to do what I need for my own health and wellbeing so I can take the next step and help other people heal. Because if I'm constantly being, needing to heal myself all the time, I'm never going to take that next step. Not that anyone is ever like fully healed. We always need that. But we, if, if we're going to help others, we really need to be feeling, feeling whole and our own wellbeing. We need to be fully taking care of before we can do that next step. And so I think Arizona is helping me do that. I'm already, I'm exercising, I'm eating better. I feel good when I wake up and I don't have to sleep as much. Um, it's brighter, it's more spacious. I can, I can go to the pool and sun bathe whenever I want to. And it's just, it's nourishing my soul.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:24:09 I love that. I actually, I completely understand because tiffany and I are very into the ocean and that's why we go back so much to San Diego and Baja is because that place going down to um, there's a little kind of ex pat village just south of Rosarito above Ensenada that we go to and it's so therapeutic to go back and just hear that circulation of the ocean and it's kind of like here with those systems that come through. I remember we moved to Boulder um, several years ago and that was something you could really feel with those systems because I came, I wasn't native and so I came here from the south and you could feel that energy. But the thing I love about going there is it's, it's slower because it's Mexico, so it's much slower.

Kelly Shroads: 00:25:09 Oh yeah, Arizona is part Mexico. It has such Mexican influence.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:25:14 Yeah. Well, and if you go, that's why I'm so interested in, in what you had to say about it and you know, because I understand the thing thing is once you cross over the hill into the valley there, it's, it's desert. It's just becomes desert and um, so it's very, very, very similar, but for us, every time we go back it's harder to leave because we feel that pull and that I don't want to leave this I one like running on the beach and we both love Mexican food, just such great, fantastic culture. Um, but yeah, so I, I totally get it and, and every time I go I just zen out and I'm always like, can I have this every day as a thing?

Kelly Shroads: 00:25:58 I mean that's what I felt and I'm in a position where I don't have, you know, other than like all the amazing people I have here, which I definitely miss and I've been through a lot of ups and downs with missing my community, but I don't really, I don't have, I'm, I'm, I don't, I'm not untethered really. So when I was there I didn't want to leave. I was like, I don't, I'm not ready to go home yet. This feels good. And then I really asked myself the question like, well, can you? Like all these things just presented themselves even in an apartment? And it was like my dream apartment, which I've been vision boarding for all this time and there it was just ready at the right price and so that's why it happened so fast is because I had that feeling that you just talked about. I didn't want to leave. I have kind of a new thing that's happening and I really had some things I need to focus on with no distractions and I just felt like I can, I can make this happen. And it was a situation where if I had to, if I waited six months, the apartment, you know, the apartment I was offered two months free rent. So that paid for my move. I had to make a decision really fast. Had I overthought it. I probably wouldn't have gone. I would probably still be here. Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:27:23 Well I love that you took that step. That's awesome.

Kelly Shroads: 00:27:26 Thank you. It's still really unraveling as far as like the purpose behind it, but it's already, it's really helping me out in a lot of ways. Yeah. Yeah. It's really good for me.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:27:39 One of the things I wanted to do now that we've kind of gotten caught up to where you are now, I want to go back to the. The little, the little Kelly, the young Kelly. What was it that made you decide I'm going to be a photographer?

Kelly Shroads: 00:27:58 Well, when I was little my dad was always taking pictures and he was kind of the family documentarian and so I was always fascinated with the camera and I think maybe I was 10. My Dad was a traveling salesman and so he would drive. His territory was the southwest and I think he had like it was, it was just the west. You had Montana and Wyoming and Colorado I think a little bit of the southwest, maybe Arizona and New Mexico as well, and so we would. He would be gone a lot, but once I was old enough I went on a trip with him and he let me take his camera while he was doing stuff, you know, and I was young so I'd go with him on all his appointments and whatnot. But in the interim, I could just play with this camera and it's an slr, so it was like a good camera and I got to start learning how that worked.

Kelly Shroads: 00:29:00 And so that was my first experience with that and I think he gave me that camera. That was my first camera, a Minolta. Um, and I just, you know, I just loved it and I always had an artistic. I was doing those hysterical, like Teddy Bear drawing replica's. Did you do those when you're a kid? Do you know what I mean? Is like here, draw this teddy bear freehand.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:29:27 Oh Gosh, yes. I remember that.

Kelly Shroads: 00:29:29 I would do those and I could just nail it. I'm not a good drawer now at all, but I could, I could look at it and I could copy it really well.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:29:37 I used to read, choose your own adventure books and I used to draw stuff from in those the same way I would like to mimic whatever it was from eye.

Kelly Shroads: 00:29:47 Yeah, yeah. So I enjoyed that. And then um, I think in probably in the middle school, I don't know if they had photography class in middle school, but as soon as I could take a class it started taking classes. Dark Room classes is probably high school and I just loved being in the dark room. It was more about being in the darkroom. I liked shooting too, but I loved being in the dark room and you know, seeing images come to,

Gabe Ratliff: 00:30:15 to life. Yeah. Well that's where you can manipulate to. Yeah. I, I'm definitely the other way I am, I have, it took me a long time to figure that out. But I am definitely, I love being in that moment of capturing the image and being out in places. Especially travel for sure. I'm always like, that's where I get lost too. Tiff's like, Hey, let's keep going.

Kelly Shroads: 00:30:40 Yeah, I do too. You know, it's, well that's a good point because it takes a special partner or friend to just go photography wild because most people are like, ugh, more pictures. Like you just did that. Like do you really need to keep taking pictures all day?

Gabe Ratliff: 00:30:59 I've definitely figured out a schedule. Like I have like a window and I'm like, okay, I'm going to put it away

Kelly Shroads: 00:31:06 Yeah. I've never, I've never really had anyone like that unless they vocally said like, I want to go with you, I want to do that with you. Otherwise I've done a lot of, it might just alone, but I've had a couple friends who are like, hell yes, let's go adventure for hours. I don't care what time of day, if it's sunrise, let's go, let's do it. If it, you know, if it takes all weekend, I'm all about it. But most people aren't. And so I'm always like trying to make other people happy. Like I don't want to, you know, ruined the moment for you. So I'll just, I just won't take pictures. So it's always been kind of like a balance with like who the right people are to go with on those adventures and now I've kind of figured out that's like, one of the things I learned when I was rebranding was they asked like what really lights you up? Like what would you do all day if you, you know, that question? Yeah. What would you do all day if you want. It wasn't money wasn't an issue and I'm like, I'd be on adventures and nature taking pictures with people who want to do that too. And so now that's kind of what I'm creating with the branding photography. Yeah. Which we can talk about.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:32:14 Yeah. Yeah. That's actually where I'm heading is uh, you're, you're, you're guiding the way. So that's the, that was one thing that I wanted to kind of start diving in. One of the things I love about that I read is you said that, um, "my mission with this work is to help you feel more aligned with your true self through photo sessions, transformation of space experiences and tools for elevated wellbeing. My goal for you is to feel seen, supported, connected, inspired, expressed, and free." Yeah. I love all that.

Kelly Shroads: 00:32:52 That took me awhile to get to that.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:32:54 I imagined so. And I've been there trying to get that language right.

Kelly Shroads: 00:32:59 What's your mission statement?

Gabe Ratliff: 00:33:01 I know you're like, Oh God, give me a few months

Kelly Shroads: 00:33:04 Yeah, or two years. It took me two years to get to that.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:33:09 Me Too. I just finally started getting it nailed down and it's two years. So I was wondering now that we're heading this direction, you can you, can you unpack that for us? Like how did you get to that? Because I mean that process I think is very interesting and worthwhile because I would like to know for myself.

Kelly Shroads: 00:33:28 Yeah, well kind of a little bit of a backstory around it is that, you know, the reason why even wanting to rebrand in the first place is because I kind of compartmentalize a lot of my business stuff and my lifestyle stuff. So I was getting really good productive feedback from some fellow creatives that were like, we feel like we know you have a lot more going on than you tell us about, but it's also confusing. It's not really clear like who you are and like what's going on in there. So, you know, at first a long time ago, I used to be really hard on myself like guys do all these different things and I'm just making money and I'm just doing it. I'm just saying yes to projects and I really do want to ultimately do what I'm very best at. Um, that was one of my core purposes behind rebranding is really get clear on what I'm best at and let the rest go. So in the, in the branding process, it was really looking at what part of my professional life do I want to pull into this brand and what part of my personal life and my experiences do I want to pull into this brand so that not only can I do this work from a place of passion and me living my truth and me feeling all of those things. So when you do a personal brand, the way that they guide you to figuring out what it is that you're going to put out to the world is kind of somewhat of a mirror of what you want. Right? Okay. So the things that you've experienced in your life, the professional experience that you have, you want to share that in a way where you're being really honest with people about what you can do and what you've experienced so they can relate to you on a personal level and on a professional level and you have exactly what they need and you have exactly what they want and you have experienced things that touch their heart because they might have experienced something similar. So the key is, is like making it really specific to me, but also making it fairly universal as well. Um, so, so that mission statement kind of took like what are my offerings? It's photography, art, doing retreats, and a little bit of wellness tools. So those are kind of what I offer. Those are the tangibles and then how do I want people to feel as a result of what they get from me. And those are all things that I have been seeking to feel my whole life through all of my struggles. You know, having a chronic illness like auto, like an autoimmune disease, a lot of people experience this as it's not visible. People don't see you as being like sick or you know, but you're taking, you have a shot of medicine and you go and get an infusion every month and you're, you're, you're getting like medicine that costs like 30 grand a year or type medicine, you know, so like you definitely are managing that, but it's invisible. So there's kind of a. and I think without even aside from that, we all want to feel seen for who we are and we also also all want to feel supported. And so all of those things that I said that I want to offer people is also things that I struggled to feel through my life. And now I've gotten to a place where I have, I feel those things and now I can transition into helping others.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:37:25 I love it. You know, I wanted to share that on a side personal note. My mother has fibromyalgia, same. Very similar. That's, that's actually why your story is so personal to me. And uh, and it affects me because I, my mother is very, very dear to me is going through a similar thing that's invisible I for years, especially when I was in, you know, in school and I'm young and virile and, and like, you know, active and not getting it, just totally disconnected from it. And as I've gotten older I've been able to, you know, I've learned more about it and researched it and she's shared more and, and I, there's more of an understanding of like, wow, what does that, what does that, like?

Kelly Shroads: 00:38:14 It's a big deal in a lot of people have actually just got connected to a nonprofit the other day that I'm going to hopefully do some work with. It's something like invisible disabilities and just supporting people who struggle with things on the daily that really are not seen to other people. And it's not that everyone has to understand exactly or that you even want to make them understand. But when you have something like that for a long time that affects you so deeply and a lot of times you're showing up in the world and just putting on your best face like so much and you're good at doing that. Like I've been really good at doing that because I'm just, I am positive like you said, but it gets really exhausting after awhile and you just kind of wear out.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:07 And because with our line of work, right, you're, you're already on stage.

Kelly Shroads: 00:39:12 Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:39:13 Due to whatever degree with the client, if you have talent, you have your crew, whatever, however large or small that the shoot or work is, you're already on stage. So I can't imagine to have that extra level of just being on a human level, positive and, and, and, and, and, uh, confident and strong and being on stage for your clients. I mean, I can't imagine.

Kelly Shroads: 00:39:40 Yeah, And I think that was one of the points where I decided to kind of pivot the type of photography that I did is because showing up for certain types of shoots at a certain point became like I knew that that type of shoot would hurt my body more, that I would leave feeling a little more drained that it wasn't like my purpose work. Like I could still do it and help people and it'd be great and I enjoyed it, but it would ultimately leave me feeling really depleted. I had to kind of make the decision to let that work go and that's hard to do because it was, I was good at it and I could still do it. But it was the point of like, when I'm showing up for it, I'm getting fully depleted, so I need to choose work that I get filled up when I go.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:40:29 I can totally understand that because I. There's definitely work I, I've done.

Kelly Shroads: 00:40:33 Yeah. And I think that that goes for anyone. I mean, if you're doing work, if you're going to your cubicle and you just, it depletes you. I mean, we see this all the time. People are like, I can't do it anymore because it depletes me. It's the same thing. Even if you're creative and you're doing your creative work, there are still there. You still need to be discerning about what parts really are good for your wellbeing are good for your spirit, are good for your bank account. They're just all around good for you and, and the ones that aren't. Maybe the imperfect alignment, just being okay letting them go because then someone else can do that because that's their best skill and you're not trying to like just say yes to everything and hoard the work when someone else is like begging for that sort of work and that's their best skill. Like I needed to get really clear on like what fills me up and what's gonna be best for me. I do a better job.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:41:36 Right? Well and, and, and yeah, and you're not trying to fit. I always think of like the square peg round hole kind of thing. Like I can do it, I can do it. And you're like, yeah, you can do it. You can fit it in there, but it's not going to be a nice fit. I have a friend, Jung Park. He speaks. He's. He has spoken at the Denver Startup Week several years now. He's a branding consultant and he used to be in corporate and his body did the same to him. It said no, shut down. Went to the hospital and he had major course correction, went entrepreneurial, left corporate, changed his whole life, very devoted to his family. Now he builds his life in a way that he can have that space with his family. He can do the work that fulfills him and, but he also shares that, you know, he speaks and he also, um, is a professor and I just love. I don't love that that happened, but I love that he did something about it and I love that story behind it because he took that opportunity and said, okay, my body's telling me no, no, you're done bro. You can't do this anymore. And then he actually, because I, you know, I was in the, I came from the east coast, which is very, very much: Work. Work. Produce. That's one of the reasons I love more the more westerly states that we are in a because it's a different vibe. It's Work Hard. Play Hard. It's not Work. Work. Produce. It's a very different formula and I, I feel blessed to at a younger age recognize that and have understood like, and having friends like you that I can kind of also take as like, okay, you gotta take care of yourself. And I hear that more and more and more from friends no matter what age they are. And um, and it's so great to hear that that message is being shared to really honor yourself and your body and what you need mentally, spiritually, and physically, you know, to, to live that full life, you know?

Kelly Shroads: 00:43:41 Yeah. And that, um, that took me a long time. I mean I'm, I'm 42 and I've had RA since I was 22, so I pushed against it for a long time and I went in and out of it and I tried and I kind of got sidetracked and had all these other things happen. The other thing that people will say once they've kind of see clearly is it all those other, you know, quote unquote sidetracks or detours that I had really are the things that gave me the skills to do what I'm doing today. So it's always a blessing. But those, you know, I was diagnosed with RA when I was 22 ish and the first handful of years was just managing pain and figuring out that, you know, it was just like dealing with and seeing how often it would come up and just getting these, getting to know it kind of and then, and then it got worse and then it starts to kind of wear you down and you realize like how much it impacts your life. And then it was like, okay, how about some like long-term changes which took a long time and then different medicines kind of bring on other things and then learning ways to deal with that. So I feel like from the time I was 22 until very recently, it was like really figuring out how to manage a chronic illness and still have fun. Have a good fulfilled life and feel good about everything I've. I've been very blessed for sure, but it was also like really a struggle and it's only been in the last five years that I have really gotten perspective on what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur and run your own show and be well and be healthy and do all the things that's necessary to have self care and then now I'm kind of jumping into this new phase of life. Hopefully I can help others in the way that I can whenever I can.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:45:46 Yeah.

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Gabe Ratliff: 00:46:18 Well, I, I wanna I wanna step back just a little bit here because I feel like this is a great opportunity to talk about luxury spa robes.

Kelly Shroads: 00:46:27 Yeah, it is actually.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:46:30 Because I love how you took that. You mentioned it earlier, but you said there was a point where you had to kind of take a break from photography and I'm, I'm familiar with this story, but I would love if you could share that because I think it's so great. I love that you did this and you, you kind of pivoted off in this way that's now coming kind of full circle. Totally think with where you are now.

Kelly Shroads: 00:46:53 Let's see. So, so back in 2005. I don't know if the timeline really matters, but I was on a break from photography because I was managing chronic pain and trying to figure that out and I couldn't do photography anymore. I just couldn't do it physically. So I went into retail, which had always been in my life. I love retail. It's fun. It's easy. You get to talk to people all day and just as long as you show up you can, you can have fun with it. And my dad was wholesale sales man, so, um, I had a sense of how wholesale manufacturing and I was in DECA in high school. Do you know what DECA is?

Gabe Ratliff: 00:47:36 I don't remember what it stands for.

Kelly Shroads: 00:47:37 Distributive Education Clubs of America. It's basically like the chain of retail and you compete and you make up products and you'd have competitions on like who could sell better.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:47:50 Nice.

Kelly Shroads: 00:47:50 Um, and I did the photography for DECA.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:47:53 Okay.

Kelly Shroads: 00:47:54 Um, so I was always into retail and so I was in retail. I was working at Aveda and my ego was of crushed at the time because I had to put photography down and I didn't know what else I was going to do. So I was exploring. I didn't know where the illness was going to go, like it. Was it going to get worse? Could I make it better? Like I didn't know what was gonna happen. So I was really looking for new opportunities that I could do from anywhere. I can do from home so that I can be flexible and web design really interested me at the time, so I got some random piece of mail for one of these like cheesy workshops and it was a how to build a retail store online postcard, like a gift from God. I don't know how it came to me, but it did. And I was like, okay, I'll go to that. And um, it was a sales presentation and it was this company called stores online and they were selling websites and teaching you how to build an ecommerce store. And I was like, yeah, I want to do that. I want to do that. I don't know, that sounds good. I think I can do it. It makes sense to me. I learned, I learned the ins and outs of it and I just, I could get it. So I decided to do it. So I bought a couple of websites with every penny that I had and decided that would be something that I would try. Well, so first you had to, you know, in order to figure out what you're going to sell. You had to do a lot of research and then figure out the right formula for what would work and there's this whole formula of like you have to make at least 25 bucks per sale and what's the demand and what's the competition and all that kind of stuff. And when I was at Aveda over Christmas, we couldn't keep the spa robe. We had a spa robe and we couldn't keep it on the shelves and so I saw demand for them. That became one of my ideas to research and my dad had always said to me in when I was a kid, like the problems that he would have at work or things breaking and leaking and you know, things like that because he sold glassware and China and stuff. So I didn't want to sell anything that would have parts or be complicated or break. And also clothing is tough because it's got to fit right. And so robes just kind of fit the bill.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:21 And they fit pretty much most people.

Kelly Shroads: 00:50:22 Yeah. A big piece of fabric that wraps around and it's kind of expensive. It's a good profit margin. And um, so I looked into that and I called up this company that was selling robes and I said, hey, I'm a internet consultant and I'm starting a new company and I want to sell your product. And they said, cool, what do we need to do?

Gabe Ratliff: 00:50:43 Wow! And here we are and it's been like over 10 years now?

Kelly Shroads: 00:50:47 Yeah, I had my 10 year anniversary in 2017, so I started so. And at the time there weren't that many people doing ecommerce, like Amazon was still selling books only back then I think. And so I got a great url, I got luxurysparobes.com. And that was a score and my competition, their design skills were horrible and so I knew I could compete there. And the product I was selling was high quality and so I put together my first website and I think I sold a thousand dollars my first year. Nice. Yeah. I was like, sweet a little extra money.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:51:28 Not Bad. Right?

Kelly Shroads: 00:51:28 Yeah. And then tripled every year for about six years. And then I was like, this is actually making some money. It's definitely, I'm doing well and growing consistently and I wasn't doing too much to make it grow. I got really lucky I think with positioning and I did do. I understood how to optimize a website. I still, even today I do not have the lingo. I'm not, I don't talk the talk, I just learn a little bit here and there and I apply it, but now I'm to the point where I'm paying people to do that stuff for me. Yeah. So yeah, it's grown and I'm on. I'm about to launch version five of the website in mid October.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:52:15 Wow! Already. Looks Great.

Kelly Shroads: 00:52:17 That's, I mean you really have to nowadays you have to redo your website every two years.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:52:22 Yup. Yup.

Kelly Shroads: 00:52:25 So yeah. So yeah, that's, that's. So that has been the hugest blessing for me because that business has consistently grown. It's supported me on the side of my creative work and now it's more like my fulltime job and, and the creative work is still supplemental, but also they're both important. They're both really important, but this is what's enabling me to explore some new things with creative work. Kind of refocus back on artwork and passion projects and

Gabe Ratliff: 00:53:00 Well, and I saw. I'm kind of jumping ahead a little bit, but I saw that you have a healing yoga retreat, speaking of which coming up then you're, you're now kind of wrapping this into this like experiential side, which I think is amazing. And I saw this with our friend, Cher (Aslor) as well. I was wondering, I'd love to hear what, what can people expect from that kind of experience? And I'm also curious about what that experience is like, you know, how are not just what the experience is like, but like how, how you guys kind of came together as well.

Kelly Shroads: 00:53:40 Yeah. So when I stopped after, I am going to give another little backstory to that. If that's,

Gabe Ratliff: 00:53:49 Please.

Kelly Shroads: 00:53:49 It's relevant. So when I was doing web design stuff, I started doing a and I left retail. I worked after Aveda, I worked at Lululemon and then so I got really more immersed in the yoga community and my first website for a yoga studio was for Root Yoga. I helped open that studio is because I was laid off from Lululemon and so I had a little time on my hands and I'm Cheryl Deer was one of our first teachers there and she really helped us establish a strong forrest yoga community at Root Yoga and she became a yoga teacher and she also became a client at the time and Cher Aslor also worked at route. She was one of our original teachers there as well. And so my role at root was whatever I wanted it to be, really. I kind of created my own job. So I built their website. I did their photography is a united help organize events. Um, and that's where I really kind of started my second. My first real business, honestly, besides photography, was this Kelly Green Creative which was serving health and wellness entrepreneurs with web and photography. So that I did that for eight or 10 years helping wellness entrepreneurs and, and that's when I really built a strong relationship with Cheryl and Cher. And so Cheryl wanted to do a yoga retreat at Mount Princeton and I helped her create that. So I am less of, I am, I'm not a facilitator at that retreat, I'm starting to sprinkle in a little bit of my tools and I'm selling on the website in the retreat experience. So Cheryl is the guide, she's the leader, she's a retreat leader. She leads four days, well four Yoga intensives on that retreat. It's set in beautiful Mount Princeton. It's gorgeous. There's hot springs, it's lovely up in the mountains there. And we have a whole conference center to do yoga. So I basically coordinate that retreat. So I do all of the marketing for it. I manage her website, I helped plan it, I communicate with all of the attendees and that was my role for the first three years. And then as I started getting into crystals and oils and my affirmation cards, I integrate those things. So those are kind of. Those are the gifts, those are the bonus gifts. It's kind of like, you know, the, the root of the experience is Cheryl's teaching. Um, and she is a Forrest Yoga Guardian. She's been teaching for years. It's very healing work. It's intense share is her assistant. So shared his hands on assist, she also guides in Yoga, Neidra, she guides and other ceremonial things. We do like a water, a release. We do some other experiences that are all tied in with nature and then I kind of, I'm like a little fairy and I like sprinkle these gifts so I. So I, when people sit down on their mats, I go round with oils and give them an essential oil experience at the beginning of class and I create custom blends for each class. Nice. So that retreat is, is all focused on the elements. So we have earth, air, water and fire and we theme the classes and then I create themed affirmation cards for each class as well so that we can have kind of a mantra and then people can leave with that. And then we do. We have crystals lining, we have crystals in the room that kind of shared the experience with us. And then we set intentions with those stones and have a ceremony at the end and each person gets to take one and leave with that as a intentional kind of memento for the retreat.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:57:49 That's awesome, and I saw that is May 31 through June 2, 2019.

Kelly Shroads: 00:57:58 Yeah, it's great. It's really wonderful. We call it Yoga Camp.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:01 It looks, I mean your photos look amazing.

Kelly Shroads: 00:58:04 Thanks! Oh yeah. And then I photograph it obviously. So there's that. So I'm. I do a lot for that retreat.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:11 Am I busy then? That's what I was thinking.

Kelly Shroads: 00:58:14 It's great. It's really, it's, it's brilliant. It can be very intense, like there's definitely tears. There's, there's a lot of intense physical work, there's acupuncture, so there's some healing work. There's playtime in the pool. I mean it's not all serious. We have tons of fun after Yoga. We play and have fun and we have lots of. It's a really full beautiful weekend experience and the people that have been there more than once called Yoga Camp.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:41 I love it. Yeah, it's fun. Well, it's that time of year too. It's perfect. Okay. So now I wanted to ask you about Erin Waynick.

Kelly Shroads: 00:58:49 Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 00:58:50 So I was reading about her on your site - kellyeileen.co. And how did you two meet and like what's that all about?

Kelly Shroads: 00:58:57 So I was feeling like I couldn't really manage everything that I wanted to do with the photography business because I'm running multiple things. I'm doing the robes some, you know, doing, I still have, I saw marketing clients, I just Kinda had a little bit too much going on. And Liza Morgan, Cher Aslor's sister. She called me up one day and said, hey, I have a friend that I went to high school with and she's a photographer and she's looking for work in Denver, do you know anyone who's hiring? And I said, not really, but I'll keep my eyes open and I just, you know, it just kind of let that simmer a little bit. And I said, well, how much work does she need? Because I have, I could create some work for her and I could certainly use some help but I don't have a full time position. And she said that's okay. And so Erin and I connected. So Erin is from Fort Collins and she went to school with Cher and Liza and so she's integrated in that world up there. Before those girls moved to Denver. But she had been living in on the east coast for a while so she was moving back here and I'm so yeah, we met up and hit it off and she's awesome and she has like mad editing skills and that is my least favorite thing to do. I love editing artistically, but I don't like calling. I don't like choosing the pictures I have. I take forever to do that and she's so good. I can tell her like I want 30 pictures from the shoot and she just does it. I don't even look at the other ones. I just trust her so much. So she started editing for me. That was the first job that she did with me and she's a really great portrait photographer. She photographs, she started photographing her daughter but she went to school for photography as well. So she has really good technical skills and she's also an artist so she's great and we have a similar aesthetic and so we really paired up nicely and so I just kind of, as she would work with me, I would see more how it would free me up to do other things to make more money so I could pay her a little bit more. And so she really helped me a lot and a lot of ways. She shoots with me now and she, sometimes her pictures are better than mine and I mean a lot of the times I'm like I wish I took that one.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:01:17 I know. I've been there before.

Kelly Shroads: 01:01:17 It's so good. When we work as a team. Yeah, she's so good and what we're learning, which is really cool. Like she's been coming with me on some of the branding stuff and as you know, um, and me too, the way I got started as a photographer was being a second shooter and when you're a second shooter you don't have the pressure of like dealing with a client and you can really be kind of moving around and taking your little more stealthy. They're not looking at you. No one really notices that you're there a little and that is a magical viewpoint for a documentary style shoot and and that's what I try to do. So she's, when she's on my branding shoots, it is magic.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:01:57 Love it.

Kelly Shroads: 01:01:58 Oh my God, she's so good.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:00 I want to ask you about, because this is, I'm in this stage of now growing the team and I want to ask about that beginning stage

Kelly Shroads: 01:02:10 Of working with her?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:11 Like that part time before getting more full time with her. Can you speak to that a little bit and like kind of how, how that developed because this is a really interesting and relevant time in a business growth.

Kelly Shroads: 01:02:26 Yes. Well, if someone has the flexibility first of all to contribute only one day a week, that's great. So you want to look for someone who has another job but they really want to learn and they really, they're, they're willing to work with their schedule so they can give you just one day a week. I think we even started with five hours a week. It was really small.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:51 That's great though. Right?

Kelly Shroads: 01:02:52 That was great.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:53 Because five hours to you and myself is huge.

Kelly Shroads: 01:02:57 Huge to have five hours of help.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:02:59 That's a lot of work you can do.

Kelly Shroads: 01:03:00 It's great. So we started really slow and I think the biggest learning I had was to get really specific with her about what I needed and that was best for her too. So she really knew what I was looking for. So we started by giving her small jobs to edit and then we, we really identified what her strengths were and then played off her strengths and she's amazing at culling and picking the best shots. So what. So then I could expand and give her additional projects. So I noticed how well she did that. So I was like, Gosh, I really need to Redo my website. Can you go through all of the galleries on my clients on the client side and picked 30 of the best pictures from each one and put them in a folder and then I can build a website in like a week if you do that part. I can do all this other stuff. So I just, we really focus on building on her strengths and doing the things that she loved doing the most that she could do the quickest so we could maximize time and money and then we just kind of slowly grew from there and we would have touch ins like I'm not a micromanager, I'm not a micromanager. I mean sometimes I do. I'm sure my friends and Erin would tell you that I'm picky. I like things a certain way, but

Gabe Ratliff: 01:04:27 Which is good. I mean, right at this point,

Kelly Shroads: 01:04:31 Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:04:31 You spent a lot of time developing your style.

Kelly Shroads: 01:04:34 Yeah. So then we just grew on that so she would end up doing a lot of different projects which gave her a lot more experience on what it looks like to run a business because that was not something that she really wanted to do and still doesn't really want to do it because as a creative you're either running your own business or you're like assisting kind of. I mean second shooting is one thing and that's great. I think second shooting is like the best job ever.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:03 Right? It's like you said, I mean because you get to be free and you're in this space that's been prepared to take advantage of all this really great stuff. BTS, the actual work, there's like different aesthetic you can look at, you can capture the whole thing which is kind of the BTS, but you can like kind of capture the experience which then you can repurpose to showcase your business. Right. And it's not just the BTS to show working with a client.

Kelly Shroads: 01:05:33 What is BTS?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:34 Behind the scenes, just sorry, just, that's, what we call it in media production.

Kelly Shroads: 01:05:38 I don't do jargon,

Gabe Ratliff: 01:05:40 But just, you know, capturing the overall experience of the shoot itself, plus what's being shot and you said they kind of documentary style, like where you're capturing what's going on in that can be repurposed for you as well as the client. And it's social content is like so much. That's the thing that's so great about what we do is that it can be reused in a lot of different ways to tell a different story.

Kelly Shroads: 01:06:04 100 percent.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:05 That's awesome.

Kelly Shroads: 01:06:05 Yeah. It's so, so, so now she's a second shooter for me on my biggest jobs. Yep. And um, the dynamic usually goes like I'm face to face with the client and I'm maybe doing art direction, which is why she like I get jealous of her shots because I'm like doing the art, I'm being an art director and photographer lead and she gets all these beautiful in between moments. So it's really beautiful to have her there. And, and honestly she does produce some of the best work on those shoots because she's, it's low pressure and she gets all the little magic.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:06:44 That's what you want, right? You want somebody that's amazing to like be there to help you grow and you help them grow. I mean that's, that's a great partnership.

Kelly Shroads: 01:06:54 It's great. And it's, you know, it's made me see how I've grown too because I never wanted to be guiding the shoots. That's a lot of pressure and it's still, it's hard. Some days I show up and I'm like okay, can we do this? Like can we get the vision and make this happen? But with more practice that is now my role as the business owner and I guide the shoot and sometimes I'm doing all the shooting and guiding the shoot and sometimes when I get to have her there it's just, it's so much more. It's so much more. It's so much more valuable than I could've ever imagined.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:07:31 It is so nice. I was creative director and lead photographer on a food photography shoot not that long ago and it was so nice to have the second shooter to be able to like just do what I needed and then to also be able to like work out, hey, how do we experiment a little bit about this, what do you want, what are you thinking? And have that dialogue. But then to also be able to go over and work with the client and make sure we're managing scope creep and all of those things that always happen.

Kelly Shroads: 01:08:03 Well and I've always been spend a one woman show so I don't. I don't have. I've hired our director is when I'm done bigger clients. But you know, usually there's a team. Usually there's a huge production team to get a shoot successfully done and executed. So for me, for sure it's, it's, you know, I would like to, I don't know if that's in my future or not. I like working small sometimes and just having fun with it, but I see the value in having someone else there. It's huge. And eventually maybe have a couple people on board would be awesome.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:08:42 That's what I'm hoping. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was great that it was necessary for that one. It was a really big one. It was like four days. Lot of setups. It was like 50 setups.

Kelly Shroads: 01:08:59 Wow.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:01 And it was a lot and I had to have the stylist and his team and then um, the, a prop stylist and her team lots of setups with all different looks. So I mean, yeah, it was, it was a lot, but man, it just was so much fun to be and It's food. I love food photography a lot

Kelly Shroads: 01:09:21 I think it's harder than people realize.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:23 Yeah. And we did not do

Kelly Shroads: 01:09:26 Sometimes you take pictures of food and it does not look enticing?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:09:29 Yeah. Well, that was one of the things too, I was just going to say we actually, I wanted to work with this stylist that was, au naturale. That didn't do any of the tricks, you know, like milk, cereals, glue, all that stuff. I didn't want to go that way. I wanted it to be prepared, like they're going to see it on their plate or however it's served. And Man, he's so good. Eric Leskovar. Man. I love him. He's so good. He is so passionate. I love listening to him talk about it because he just, he's very like Hemingway about his language when he talks about his dishes that he's going to make that just make you ever. We were just constantly drooling as he would be talking about the next dish. Then we'd be working through it. Yeah, it was fun. So I want to. We're going to start winding down now, but I was going to start kind of going a little bit broader and talk about you. Where do you find inspiration when you're, when you're working on creative projects and how do you deal with creative blocks?

Kelly Shroads: 01:10:30 That's a great question.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:31 The flip side, right? Each side of it because we have both of them.

Kelly Shroads: 01:10:35 Yeah. I would have to say for sure that most of my inspiration these days comes from Instagram.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:10:41 Okay. I've heard that a lot.

Kelly Shroads: 01:10:44 It really does. It's so accessible and easy and you can do it anywhere. And that's why I think I find that is because, you know, if I'm not working or focusing on my own projects, I'm either with people having fun or I'm tired. So Instagram is very much, I can have like 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, just kind of weave it in to the mix. So that'd probably be my top. And then when I have creative blocks I go outside 100 percent.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:11:18 I've been hearing that a lot lately actually. That's so interesting to me.

Kelly Shroads: 01:11:21 Yeah. I, that resets me 100 percent. I could try, you know, I'll, I'll cook something or meditate, but that's, that's usually, that's just, that's just kind of route self care. Um, but going outside really fills me up and getting some sunshine or jumping in the swimming pool if you can water just or take a shower even, you know?

Gabe Ratliff: 01:11:47 That's one of my favorite things to do. Yeah, just a nice shower. It's like a zen thing again, it's the water, like the ocean.

Kelly Shroads: 01:11:55 It's getting in the elements somehow, whether that's water or sunshine or just getting outside with fresh air, take a walk and then usually it comes right back. I mean I have, I have, I'm sure like anyone out there just piles of to do lists. So I, I'm never short of things to fill my time with.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:12:19 No you're not.

Kelly Shroads: 01:12:21 So that's easy. So if I'm like struggling on one thing, I'll just shut it down and do something else for a little while or if I really need to just finish that one thing, then I'll definitely go get outside.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:12:35 Yeah, I think, I'm so excited to hear that for more and more people because as we know, as we keep moving forward, we're getting more and more technologically connected. Um, and we already are now, but it's just, I feel like it's just going to keep going and we're kind of, we've kind of past that point of getting, analog still with us, but digital is not going away. I love hearing that, you know, for so many people. I recently interviewed a friend who's an artist and a motion graphic animator and things like that and she has this really great way of tapping into the old and the new. Um, but she does the very same thing she was saying she used into nature and I love hearing that, that that's a place that we all keep going back to that it's still a space we can reconnect with the elements because we are so connected. It's great.

Kelly Shroads: 01:13:30 And that's my inspiration to. Yeah, it's going outside. So it's both, it's, it's helped with the creative blocks and it helps with inspiration and, and then, you know, I'm trying to be more intentional about going to events, going to creative events for inspiration because, you know, Instagram is just scrolling effect. Obviously there's, it's, there's only so much you can get from it. So I think being out in the community and connecting with other people and hearing new ideas and just sharing and experiences with other people and meeting new people, that's also a huge element of inspiration, but I need to be really intentional about it because you know, it's to like get done with your work day and just be tired and just kinda.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:14:16 It's not unknown for so many of us. What's the most important realization that you've had in your life and this life? What do you think? I like asking this question.

Kelly Shroads: 01:14:29 Yeah. I would say probably is to not take things so seriously. I think to lighten up. I think, you know, when I look back to some of the darkest times in my life, there's a tendency to get real serious and it's hard not to because it feels how things feel heavy and whether that's pain or sadness or emotions or loss or whatever. But I think that when I shift my perspective and lightened up a little bit and not take everything so seriously, that always. It always helps. Yeah. Yeah.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:10 I've got just some quick wrap up questions now. If you could own any one piece of art, what would it be?

Kelly Shroads: 01:15:20 Well, I would want a James Turrell installation in my house, but I'd first have to get a really big house.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:27 Got It. Okay. Love it. Okay. Then here's an interesting one. If you are in a city and how did choose between a good meal and a bad hotel or a bad meal and a good hotel, which would you prefer?

Kelly Shroads: 01:15:45 Hm. That's tough, right? Yeah. See, I would definitely go with the bad news and the good hotel.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:15:57 Nice. Can you say why?

Kelly Shroads: 01:15:59 Because. Well, yeah. I feel like sleep is more important than food, right? You can get food the next day if you don't get a good night's sleep, it's your whole day is ruined here and there's a lot of other things that could go wrong in a bad hotel.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:16:18 Like bad food. (laughs)

Kelly Shroads: 01:16:18 Yeah. But if the. But if the bad meal is like, you know, really bad when you get sick. I Dunno, that's a tough call. I'd, I'd rather have good food. If the food was gonna make me sick, I would choose a bad hotel and have a good meal.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:16:36 Yeah, I was just thinking, well at least if you had the bad meal. You're in a good hotel room to get well.

Kelly Shroads: 01:16:43 Yeah, plus the hotel last longer than the meal. Yep. So I mean at least the meal's gonna move through you.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:16:56 Quickly (laughts) I was just gonna say I've had some bad hotel experiences

Kelly Shroads: 01:17:00 At least you'd be in a comfy bed while you were suffering or you know, you had a good bathroom. Who knows? I think good hotel.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:06 I'm following this logic. I've been in the bad hotel experience not too long ago and was in another country and was like, man, okay. That's that.

Kelly Shroads: 01:17:20 Yeah. I had a bad meal, bad hotel, foreign country experience and that's,

Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:27 it was both. I was just thinking way. No, it both.

Kelly Shroads: 01:17:31 That's the worst.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:17:32 What is your. We both travel a lot. What is your favorite place that you've traveled to?

Kelly Shroads: 01:17:37 Hmm, probably Iceland. That's what I thought. Yeah, and partially that's because my friend Daniel that I went with, a lot of people obviously know Daniel but that are listening, but he was like, well, he was going to go anyway. I tagged along on that trip, so that was his trip and he just wanted to do photography. I think it was when the new iphones came out with good cameras and he just wanted to do a photo adventure all the way and it was so rare for me to have a friend who wanted to strictly do photography that I was like, please can I come with you and tag along and um, he said yes, and that's all we did was take pictures and we just let that kind of guide the trap. And the rest of it was just fun travel, adventure stuff that happens anyways. But to have someone who was as focused on photography as I was was so fun and Iceland is stunning.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:18:35 Gorgeous.

Kelly Shroads: 01:18:36 And it was like, right. It kind of felt like we felt like we were extra cool because it was before. It was like, right when it was becoming cool to go to Iceland. We didn't even like share the pictures on Facebook because they were like too precious. We did like a slide show viewing,

Gabe Ratliff: 01:18:50 Like a screening?

Kelly Shroads: 01:18:53 We did. Which is hysterical. But that was probably my favorite and, and Paris is also. That would be my second, but

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:00 Nice. I had some good times shooting there. That was fun.

Kelly Shroads: 01:19:04 It was Paris isn't like my favorite place to shoot. It was more of my favorite place to eat and drink and

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:10 I was going to say there's an asterisk to that comment.

Kelly Shroads: 01:19:14 For sure.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:19:15 Because, you know, I'm a big fan of street art and um, that's one of my favorite things to shoot, which is, it's actually a game for Tiffany for Invader who does the tiles. She's way better at it than me, but we've kind of started this game where she, we're always looking and she'll spot, she's really good at it and she'll spot something in a weird place and she'd be like, well she'll go and she'll find the one and I'm like, babe, that's awesome. But that place had a lot of graffiti, like not even like just tags even like graffiti was just tags. And that was actually a big delineation for me in the deciding what I wanted to support in the art of street art and graffiti was going there. And seeing the difference that's tags all over downtown Paris and then when we were. I've been in other places like Amsterdam where there's a beautiful street art and I'm like, yeah, yeah, that's what I support. And that was just a big that Paris was actually like a really pivotal place for me to go around that. So yeah, the food and the drink and everything was much. We did a cool cooking class. Yeah. Is there anything else that you'd like to say or that we didn't cover?

Kelly Shroads: 01:20:27 I don't think so. Yeah. I felt pretty complete.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:20:30 Fantastic. I do too. I just, you know, I'm always excited to ask that question because you know, there's always little nuggets that can sometime had been missed or.

Kelly Shroads: 01:20:39 Well, thank you for having me. That's fun. I mean it's kind of scary. You do a great job of guiding the questions and I'm just grateful to be a part of your project and thank you. Yeah, it's such an honor and yeah, thanks for inviting me.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:20:56 Yeah, thank you. This has been a long time coming because you were the first. The first one I started going this way.

Kelly Shroads: 01:21:03 The experimental coffee shop talk. Yes.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:21:06 Um, so last thing is just where, where can people find you if they want to learn more about what you're doing and the retreats and your products and all that. Yeah. So my website is kellyeileen.co, so it's k e l l y e i l e e n dot c o and that has everything. So it has my photography services. I have a shop on there, I do essential oils and I um, help guide some retreats. I don't, I don't, uh, I may actually lead some of my own retreats but for now I'm really supporting other teachers in guiding. There's, but I'm integral in the process and um, yeah, that's where you can find me. And then my book project is also on there, which we didn't really talk about, which is fine, but if you click on projects down in the footer on my, kellyeileen.co, uh, I'm working on a book project right now and that's, you can find that there, right?

Kelly Shroads: 01:22:01 Go ahead. What is the. Let's hit that before we.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:22:03 Yeah. So the book project I'm working on with a woman named April Glaser and uh, right now the working title is called, Through Our Eyes, and it's a collective storytelling experience. We've got 80 stories from people around the state of Colorado, uh, where we sit down with them for about an hour and invite them to share a story about a specific experience in their life that changed them or changed the course of their life or impacted them really deeply. Um, and we have just a really diverse group of people. We have a really diverse range of stories. Um, they're really touching. The book is hopefully going to be published in the next couple of years. We've been shopping for agents and publishers for about a year now and we have not received any yeses. We haven't made any deals. Um, so we're, we're kind of shifting and exploring self publishing.

Kelly Shroads: 01:22:59 That was my next question.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:23:00 So we're exploring that and hopefully since I have a little more time on my hands in Arizona, I will be able to manage that project. Um, so yeah, it's um, it's beautiful. I mean, every time I sit down and read it, it's been awhile like we started at five years ago, so some of these people shared their stories five years ago and they've changed a lot and I shared my story four or five years ago and I've changed a lot and so we really want to get it out into the world so that it feels fresh and relevant. Um, but every time I sit down and read it, I am like brought to tears. It's so beautiful and really touching and just very vulnerable stories and very real stories. We've, we've done it in kind of interview type way, like a podcast, but then. But then April, who's a writer, she's the partner in the project. She's awesome. Poet and writer. She's a transcribing the interviews, so the stories are all in people's own words, but they are shaped. So the stories are shaped and they approve of the stories. And then I do a portrait, black and white. Really classic black and white portrait of the person and those sit side by side. They're story their portraits. Beautiful. I love it. I love it. And you said that's on your website, where can they find it? In the footer of kellyeileen.co. It's a link called projects and can find it there.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:25 Nice. Well, agents, publishers out there. Hope you're listening, Kelly, you know, I love you. You're amazing. You are such an amazing human.

Kelly Shroads: 01:24:36 I love you too, Gabe

Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:36 Thank you for doing the show.

Kelly Shroads: 01:24:36 Thank you so much.

Gabe Ratliff: 01:24:38 Hey Gang. Thanks so much for listening. If this is your first time checking out the show, then thank you so much for being here. I hope you enjoyed it. The Vitalic Project podcast comes out biweekly and is available every other Thursday for your enjoyment. The show notes for this episode can be found out at vitalicproject.com/006 and all the links from this episode will be in the show notes. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to the show and feel free to leave a rating or review on iTunes. If you'd like to be a guest or know someone that would be a great fit, please go to vitalicproject.com/guest. Feel free to share this or any other episode with your friends and family and thank you so much for listening. Until the next time, keep being vitalic.