Creativity Tell All // Chelsea White of Maderas Golf Club

Chelsea is such a beautiful soul. I met her years ago at a wedding she was coordinating. She is grace under pressure. One of the coolest experiences we've had together is when Alex hired me to photograph their proposal at the Marine Room in La Jolla. I fell in love with both of them in that moment. I know she will bring that joy as a wedding specialist at Maderas Golf Club

How do you continually stay inspired and creative?

You would think that planning weddings and events every day would mean that I would avoid doing it in my free time, but the complete opposite is true. I love planning dinner parties and summer BBQs at my house. The satisfaction I feel when I see all my friends and family enjoying the food and details that my husband and I put together for one of our get-togethers is all it takes to remind me why I love what I do. That’s why I strive to make sure all my clients get to see that reaction from their guests on their special day.

Is there anything special or unique about your morning routine?

I am absolutely a creature of habit. My alarm goes off at 6:30 every morning. My mastiff Oden comes over for his morning snuggles, i.e. slobber kisses, and then I roll out of bed to have my morning java with my husband (this part is key; no matter what the agenda for the day, I always crave a warm cup of coffee to start it off).

If someone wanted to break into your industry, what advice would you give them?

Do it! It’s so rewarding and beautiful! The details are crucial. I think after awhile some people in this industry find that weddings can be a little repetitive. When you’ve seen one blush themed colored ballroom, you’ve seen them all. But here’s the thing - it’s our jobs to be detectives and find out the little details that make each of our couples unique. It’s those details that are going to cut through the chaos of the day and make it unforgettable.

Did you always know this career path was ‘the one’?

I went to college to learn the art of advertising. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t until after moving back home and waitressing to support myself that I was forced to really evaluate what would make me happy in a career. One day I was at home thinking about the things in life that I really enjoy; entertaining friends and family, making and enjoying great food, meeting new people and pretty things like flowers, art, love, etc. Then I had this epiphany; like a full blown, stop you in your tracks moment. I wanted to be a wedding planner.

What season inspires you most?

My knee jerk reaction is to say Spring, but if I really think about it, Autumn is my favorite. I spent the majority of childhood in Wisconsin where the change in season from summer to fall was truly magical. There is something so refreshing about crisp air, leaves crunching under your boots and a hot cup of coffee (all the greatest things involve coffee.)

Do you have any funny short stories or embarrassing moments from when you first got started?

I can’t think of any one particular moment off the top of my head, though I do recall that when I first started out, I thought it was always better to have an answer to everything, even if it wasn’t 100% true. I’m pretty sure a few mothers of the bride and grooms had their corsages on the wrong wrist for quite a while.

I’ve learned that there is no shame in saying, “You know what, I’m not sure the correct answer for that, but let me find out for you.”

What is the best advice you have been given?

Be yourself and don’t be afraid to say no.

What is your dream project?

I’d love to create a successful blog that people actually want to read, or write a novel. I’ve always loved to write. If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably the way I communicate best. The tricky part is figuring out what to write about that you think people would be interested in. Or maybe the hard part is just deciding not to care if anyone isn’t. I’m working on it.

If there was a song that played every time you worked on your craft, what would it be?

I have the most spastic collection of Pandora stations ever! My mood and energy always reflect in my music choices, so it’s not unusual to hear Norah Jones if you walk by my office in the morning, “Country Love Songs” if you walk by in the afternoon and “Today’s Top Hits” if I’m about to head out for a wedding. You know it’s a really good day, though, when I’m blasting the Justin Timberlake Radio.

Is there anything in particular you are obsessed with these days?

Gardening and finishing the puzzle that I started last weekend. Life can be hectic, so I relish the moments where I can zone out, but still get something accomplished.

What would you do if you had $40,900 for a vacation?

I’d take off a year and plan an around-the-world excursion with my husband! I have this sometimes overwhelming urge to travel and I’d love to have the opportunity to let go of adult responsibilities for a bit and just get a taste of what the world has to offer.

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Creativity Tell All // Luna Wild Design

Aly with Luna Wild Design fills me with wanderlust and a laid back vibe that inspires me to be more creative and design my life with greater possibilities. You can often find Aly on some exotic beach in Mexico making couple's dreams that much cooler. I once asked her a dream related question and she said she'd like to spend a couple months of the year working remotely practicing yoga in a jungle in Central America dreaming up designs for cool people. Yes to that!

How do you continually stay inspired and creative?

Traveling and making sure I'm always exploring is one way to always stay inspired.  It's hard not to feel inspired when you're visiting new places; a city, restaurant, coffee shop or the outdoors. I also learned early on that overbooking myself and being too busy is the fastest way to kill creativity for me.  I need time to breath, think and process my ideas rather than rushing through them. I find that my best designs come in my 'slow' seasons because I have more time to truly dedicate towards each idea and the client, instead of treating creativity and design as a check list.

Is there anything special or unique about your morning routine?

My husband and I always get up and make coffee and breakfast together. Especially Monday through Friday. I need an hour of slow time just sitting next to him on the couch with coffee before I get started with anything. Sometimes we'll go on runs, and sometimes we'll just sit in silence, but I love starting off my day with quality time with him.

If someone wanted to break into your industry, what advice would you give them?

That's a good one. Start connecting with your fellow industry-mates. This industry is so personal and for the most part very supportive and helpful. Truly get to know those around you and treat them with mutual respect. Naturally, if there's a connection, people will want to work with you because they like you. I would suggest working your butt off and start helping people and learning from them. Connections and opportunities will naturally happen when they're supposed to.

Did you always know this career path was ‘the one’?

I knew from pretty early on (when I was about 20 years old) that I loved this career.  I still haven't gotten sick of it and I don't plan on doing so. The best part about the design and wedding industry is that it's so big and there are so many different areas and types of things you can do that it never gets boring.  I love that I get to start fresh every year with new clients and new challenges.

What season inspires you most?

I'm a summer girl through and through, but I would say my soul is drawn to spring. Fresh life and the muted tones. I guess I'm a spring/summer mix. :)

Do you have any funny short stories or embarrassing moments from when you first got started?

My most embarrassing moment was setting a center piece on fire. The centerpiece had pampass grass wildly growing to one side of it and right after I lit a candle, the wind guided the pampass grass to the flame. I'm terrified of fire, so I just stood there paralyzed and I couldn't move or speak.  One of the guests saw what happened and ran over and dumped his drink on the fire in front of me. It was so embarrassing because everyone saw it and all night I was that girl who lit the table on fire.

What is the best advice you have been given?

I would say to know that you're worth it. I struggled a lot first getting started about discounting myself and overworking myself, but a few people told me to stick to my prices and know my worth.  Telling myself that my time is valuable and that I deserve to get paid my set rates allows me to be more selective, work less and truly enjoy my clients and my life more. I'm more focused, more inspired and I feel respected and appreciated.

What is your dream project?

My dream projects are design projects where I get to travel, and use local sourcing and vendors to create experiences. I love the pressure and excitement of sourcing things locally and creating something that's truly unique. And, of course, traveling is always an added bonus of fresh inspiration and materials to play with.

If there was a song that played every time you worked on your craft, what would it be?

I love listening to Buena Vista Social Club when I'm working or cooking. It's soothing yet playful and always puts me in the best mood.

Is there anything in particular you are obsessed with these days? 

Definitely Frosé, but what girl isn't!? I'm also obsessed with cold brew + lemonade - I love the bitter mixture and have been drinking it nonstop to get me through busy days.

What would you do if you had $40,900 for a vacation?

So much! I would spend one month traveling in Central America, two months in South America and one month in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and some other places around there. I would spend my time exploring, finding local spots and getting to know the culture. I'd probably sign up for some cooking classes, run, do yoga a lot, walk all day and eat and drink a lot too.

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Creativity Tell All // Amanda Thorne

Amanda Thorne owns the amazing Thorne Artistry, a mobile, creative styling company based here in San Diego. I love Amanda. She's kind and such a boss. I share office space with her in Mission Hills and it's always inspiring to see her work. 

How do you continually stay inspired and creative?
It sounds hokey, but I find inspiration every day. Just taking a walk or driving home from work, I'll notice a cool tree or how the rain has made everything in San Diego look like Ireland. I'll think to myself, "Wow! I really need to find a bright yellow dress to shoot on that hillside. Some berry tones would be cool to tie in, maybe by doing a bold lip or some fun flowers!" That's how my mind usually works; a mile a minute with ideas that I'd like to explore and visions that I want to create. It can be overwhelming sometimes. I get anxious if I can't get them all out!

Is there anything special or unique about your morning routine?
I romanticize everything including my coffee in the morning. It's definitely a ritual in a sense that I use the same mug and have everything set up the night before so it's ready for me in the morning. It's a must that I wake up to make my coffee before I get to my emails. I honestly can't work and feel complete without having some good music and really strong coffee from my favorite mug that I bought (for someone else - whoops!) in Sayulita, Mexico.

If someone wanted to break into your industry, what advice would you give them?
Prepare to do a lot of grunt work in the beginning and some thankless jobs to gain the experience that is so crucial. I'm a believer that whatever you want to do in life you do by jumping in head-first and learning on the job and gaining as much knowledge as you can. Shadow someone that you respect, ask a ton of questions, do a lot of research, think about what makes you stand out, and network as much as possible! Show up everywhere and meet as many people as you can. This one can be daunting, but it is so valuable. I always gain some insight or make an important connection by showing up and just saying hello. I let people know that I'm here and interested in not only what I'm working on, but what they're working on!

Did you always know this career path was ‘the one’?
Subconsciously, yes, but practically no. I've been doing styling since I was five years old; making clothes for my dolls, doing my friends hair and makeup at ballet, and even cutting hair in college when my friends had no money. While I was in college, I even tapped into styling work to pay for school, but I was pretty focused on my degree (radio, tv and film). I ended up becoming a radio DJ for over 10 years before the light bulb went off that I needed to go back to my true passion that was there from the start! Sometimes I'm so laser-focused that I miss the obvious signs that are there all along. I'm so thankful that my husband finally pointed out the obvious and pushed me to start my business.

What season inspires you most?
Summer, always. I'm happier when the sun is out and that generates my creative juices.

Do you have any funny short stories or embarrassing moments from when you first got started?
Everything about when I was starting out was embarrassing. No one knew that I had this other life and styling background so I was basically starting with nothing and had to prove myself on every level imaginable. People that knew me from radio thought I was crazy for getting out of the business, and creatives in my new industry wondered how in the world I ended up in their world, and if I had any right to be there. There were a lot of doubters and even some haters. Luckily, those people actually drove me to be better and gave me the motivation to step up my game. I'm always pushing myself and trying to improve and that's a big bonus when you're jumping into the unknown. There are sharks in any profession. It's how you handle them that matters. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had my share of days that I curled up into a ball crying and thought I made a huge mistake. Thank God, the important people who do love and support me always talked me off the ledge and got my head straight again. 

What is the best advice you have been given?
Turn others negatives into your positive. I might have made that up just now, but I like it and I think it resonates.

What is your dream project?
Working on a photo shoot in another country - Paris or Africa pop into my head. I'm already dreaming up the crazy dress that I would create and the avant-garde hair and makeup that I would do. Oh man, how fun would that be!?

If there was a song that played every time you worked on your craft, what would it be?
I love New Politics 'Harlem' and anything from Grouplove and Vampire Weekend. For my mellow days, anything from Royksopp, Sigur Ros and Bon Iver.

Is there anything in particular you are obsessed with these days?
I'm always obsessed with vintage shopping, road trips, and bad late night TV.

What would you do if you had $40,900 for a vacation?
I would go back to Europe and take my entire family to visit all of the friends that I met when I lived in Australia. I'd retrace some of the adventures that I've already had and add as many new ones as possible. I'd also plan on seeing a lot of live music in the nordic countries (I love electronica!) and taking part in the Summer Solstice in Sweden.

Lots of love,
Suzanne, Mike and the Wanderers

15 Years Because of YOU

All of us at Shewanders Photography are dancing in confetti of love and gratitude for celebrating 15 years behind the lens.

15 years of gratitude. 15 years of love. 15 years because of YOU.

We’d love to take you on a little vacation down memory lane to where it all began.

In 2002, a friend asked me to shoot her big day. I very reluctantly said yes. I had never shot a wedding before and it wasn’t something I wanted to do. By the end of the day, sparks were flying, adrenaline was pumping; I was in love. A couple months later, I got laid off of my job in advertising and started Shewanders Photography.

Mike started with Shewanders in 2008 and has blown my mind with his raw talent.  He took some photo classes when he was younger, but really claimed his voice at Shewanders.  He started as a third shooter and within a couple of years was shooting his own weddings.  I admire his voice and the sense of immediacy that he captures.  I often look at his work and wonder how he puts people at enough ease for them to be so natural in front of him.

There are a few things over the last 15 years that we couldn’t have lived without.

Suzanne says....

I write in my morning pages every day. It’s how I let go of all the chatter so that I can stay focused and understand what I want. The gems are hidden amidst the words of my everyday writing. It takes putting in the work day after day; that’s where the magic happens.

I ask what if it’s magical? Instead of, what if it’s too hard or expensive? Shewanders by nature has allowed me to live an untraditional lifestyle where I get to travel and work. Work to travel, work while traveling, the whole shebang. When I travel, I know who I am. It allows me to learn, grow, challenge myself, and respond to my environment. While exploring a new place, I want to fill each day to the brim with adventures.

I listen to music to make sense of my thoughts. Sometimes an idea or a problem will be floating around in my mind. It takes the emotional quality of a song or the lyrics to help me understand what I’ve been feeling or thinking.

I always allow myself time to daydream and listen to my inner voice (even when she sounds like a drill sergeant). This gives me the freedom to dream up new concepts and ideas from within, rather than what I see on Pinterest or Instagram.

Mike says...

I believe that love and a celebration solves any problem. Regardless of the stress of a wedding day or the never-ending tasks, when I live in the moment of a beautiful celebration, everything else disappears.

I always stand true to who I am. I never try to stand out, I just try to be myself. I do what inspires me and my clients so that we have a journey together.

I find peace and recharge in fitness and nature. Outside of photography, I do martial arts, running, and bodyweight training. I love the outdoors. Hiking and survival type training is a passion and hobby of mine.

I couldn’t survive without listening to my inner voice. This is driven by reading, film, and new experiences.

Both of us say...

We have constantly been inspiring ourselves so that we can create inspired work. We go to workshops, take classes, have art adventures with friends, and always experiment with new techniques.

We attribute our success to the most amazing friends in the industry and rising together. CAKE Bakery was my first industry friend. We love those ladies like no one else. Our companies grew up together.  We had our growing pains together and all of our successes.  Did you see them win Cake Wars?

We also couldn't have done it without finding our ideal clients.  Oh my gosh we love our clients. Seriously! So many people complain about their brides and grooms and we are head over heels for ours.  Our clients tend to be warm people who are grateful to have wonderful people in their lives.

A thousand thank you’s to all of our friends, at home in San Diego, and everywhere around the globe. Because of you, we have been able to create a life we love.

Cheers to 15 more years of art making and dream chasing!