Speak up!! On not Filtering my Thoughts and Facing Confrontation

I hate confrontation. It could be the smallest issue that I need to bring up to the nicest person...but it still makes me so uncomfortable. As a business owner, misunderstandings and disagreements are a part of my every day life and so I have had to learn how to deal with them. Lately, I have found myself reverting back to old habits of not speaking up in order to avoid conflict. Why does vocalizing a thought that I am having make me anxious and uncomfortable? After a lot of introspection, I realized it's because I value respect and fairness and I am hypersensitive to being managed or manipulated. My aversion to being managed was one of the things that made existing in corporate America really difficult for me. I've reached a point in business where I now have to manage other people and so I'm always scared of coming off as a micro-manager because. I. HATED. THAT. I have come to realize that I filter my thoughts a lot and many times will keep quiet about things that I am uncomfortable with in order to avoid conflict. I also keep quiet because in my mind I feel like speaking up for myself and my own interests, especially when they are in conflict with someone elses, means that I am somehow being selfish or unfair to the other person. With my team members, I want them to like me to maintain a harmonious working environment. However, many times it means that I don't do a good enough job of explaining expectations.  I've also noticed that I get so wrapped up in how and when to confront someone that I end up just not doing it, even if it is something small.

My intention for this week is to speak freely. I am letting go of needing to figure out the perfect time and the perfect way to express my feelings and just saying them.  I'm letting go of needing for people to think I'm selfless..because I'm not. I've made many sacrifices in my life because I value my happiness above everything. To me, being happy is the absolute most important thing that you can do. I believe being happy is the path to living your best life and to inspiring others to do the same. I believe that one happy and peaceful individual has an exponential ability to create happiness and joy in others. So I'm going to be protective of my happiness because it does matter and because it's bigger than me. 

You know I'm a plans and action-items type of girl so I've come up with a plan for the week of exercises to keep me focused on my intentions. If speaking up freely is something you want to improve on, I invite you to join me in trying these out. If you think they're BS, TELL ME! 

 

5 Exercises to Improve Self-Expression: 

1. Every morning, take 3 minutes to say something out-loud that scares you. This could be an insecurity you are dealing with or a truth in your life that you don't want to face. Being open and honest with yourself is the first step in being able to express yourself openly to others. 

2. Engage in an activity that allows you to get out of your head and let loose. This could be a dance or workout class or just cranking up your speaker and dancing by yourself in your room. Allow yourself space to act without inhibition (responsibly...) 

3. Journal exercise- Think about a time you didn't express yourself and write down a new ending to the event where you do speak up and speak your mind. Let yourself image what would have happened if you had expressed yourself in that situation

4. Make an effort to express one positive thought to someone each day. It may be easier to express something nice to someone than to saying something that may bring about confrontation. 

5. Engage in creative activity. Research (and by research I mean google) shows that creative activity allows you to transform the energy from your thoughts and feelings into something tangible. Practice expressing your thoughts and feelings freely through artistic activities like painting, writing or coloring. I am grateful that photography offers me a creative outlet but since it's also work, I am going to try something different this week...stay tuned. 

These world Market coloring books are awesome     

I want to hear from you! Do you struggle with speaking up and expressing your feelings? If you try these exercises, let me know!! 

 

 

6 Years in the Game- My Journey as an Entrepreneur

On this day 8 years ago, I probably woke up 15 minutes before I had to be at the office, rushed out the door into work just in time to clock in by 9:10 AM before I was marked as late on my timesheet. I walked to my desk hoping to not have any voicemails or emails from my boss. I probably went to the cafe and spent 10 dollars on overpriced coffee and baked goods to help me get through the morning. I probably spent the rest of my time scrolling through the internet trying to figure out a way to escape corporate America. Unless I had a deadline that day, in which I was probably frantically trying to get my sh*t together to make up for the work I hadn't done all week. 

At this point, I was working as a clinical research assistant and my position couldn't be any sweeter. My job was relatively interesting and relevant to a topic I was interested in. My boss was really sweet and also worked from home 90% of the time so I never had to see her. My schedule was flexible and I worked by myself so didn't have to deal with annoying coworkers. It was the ideal job which made it really difficult for me to understand why I hated it so much. I realized my unhappiness was not about the position itself but moreso about the fact that it was a job. I hated clocking in and out, I hated having a specified amount of time to eat lunch, I hated that I was spending 40 hours a week working on achieving my boss's goals. 

So I decided to start a business. I thought about opening a yoga studio, then pop up yoga, then a daycare...every week I had a new idea. I began to go to entrepreneurship meetups and networking events. When people asked me what I did, I had no idea how to respond. Sometimes I was the owner of a pop up yoga studio, sometimes I was "interested in getting into real estate." As an introvert who was known by my friends and family as always having a life-plan and always having my shit together so these networking events were extremely uncomfortable. I continued going because I would always connect with one person who gave me encouragement and hope.There was always one person who had achieved a certain level of success in entrepreneurship but their story started in confusions and uncertainty. 

I went to one event at Wework coworking space in Washington, DC. I fell in love with the space and with the people there. The following week, I spent way too much money to secure an office space for a business that didn't exist yet. The following months were a whirlwind of me trying to balance my day job and wanting to just be at wework networking with other business owners. I met someone who was doing short-term rentals and he said he would pay for client referrals. So I hopped on craigslist and emailed every single listing in DC offering short term rental services. I sent over 100 emails. I got one response back. He ended up being a developer who I partnered with and helped me to launch a short-term rental company which turned into my full-time business for the next two years. 

I quit my job at a point when the short-term rental business was more of a side-hustle than an actual business. I only had one client and was not making nearly enough money to cover my expenses. But everyday I walked into my cubicle, I felt I was losing a part of myself. I felt I was selling myself short and that I was wasting time that was extremely valuable and limited. Quitting my job was the scariest and (in retrospect) reckless thing I'd done to date. I had no safety net and no backup plan. 

Starting my first business was truly a crash course in entrepreneurship and it was EXPENSIVE. I had no.IDEA.what I was doing. I made a lot of mistakes that cost me a lot of money. I have come to realize that learning is expensive. Whether you spend it on tuition or losing money in real life mistakes -- it is going to cost you. I've also learned that money comes and goes. Moving forward as an entrepreneur means that I will lose money. I also know that I will make it back. 

I want to hear from all of you people who know that you are bigger and better than your day job. What's holding you back? What are your fears? Let's talk through them and turn your passion into your paycheck. Comment below, send me a message on FB or IG or email me at booking@victoriabonhomme.com

 

Don't Listen to the Negative Shanaynay's! Featuring Syerena Orr- Designer of Overconfident

As a creative and an entrepreneur, I have to be quick to internalize experiences and to be able to pivot. I am constantly changing and growing, and my methods constantly have to be tweaked and redirected. I am still learning how to mitigate the fine line between protecting the ideas I have in my head and sharing them with others for feedback. I have had so many experiences where I share a good idea, or my goals/dreams with someone only for it to be shot down, picked apart or met with apathy. I've questioned and even deaded  ideas because of negative feedback from people who have no idea what they are talking about. I've dragged my feet on starting on projects or pivoting in a new direction because of people telling me why I can't. On a path that is already so unsure, staying positive is so important to my progress. For this reason, I have become extremely protective of my thoughts and goals. I'm careful about who I share my ideas with because all it takes is one drop of negativity to slow down momentum to push forward. The desires and dreams I have for my life are massive and extraordinary. I've learned that there are some people who are intimidated by my vision and simply can not see it. 

I recently shot the winter collection for Syerena Orr (pictured blessing my lens below) the founder and designer of Overconfident, a luxury womens clothing brand (check out pictures from the shoot here).  I met this bada*s boss babe about one year ago and have watched in awe of all her success as a designer. In addition to being a successful designer, she is also a successful real estate investor. Syerena shared her thoughts on her career and dealing with the negative blahblah.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments in your career as a creative entrepreneur? 

Definitely my 200th sale with Overconfident! But of course it's much more profitable to sell in bulk-this year my goal is to harass buyers and get my looks in boutiques and later on major retailers! 

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How do you stay positive on the long, bumpy, crazy road of entrepreneurship? 

By realizing as an entrepreneur, you're in complete control of your success. It's in your hands. This isn't a 9 to 5- you're not relying on  your boss for your success, for that promotion. You're relying completely on yourself. What I mean by that is, not everyone will say yes. It's your job to hear 20 nos, to fail, just to get to that one yes. To never quit. Not every project or goal will be successful at the first attempt.  It's up to you to figure out how to get what you want. How to tweak your methods for success. Having determination, discipline and a solid plan alone will get you what you want- knowing that really keeps me positive. It may not happen exactly when you want or exactly how you want but never quitting will always get you success in the end. 

 

How do you keep naysayers and negative people from getting in the way of your positivist and progress? 

I'd be lying if I said that negative people didn't at times kill my mood! Sometimes it's hard not to take negativity personal- but that's it,  it's not personal! Never have I heard negative comments or bad energy about my goals when speaking with a successful or ambitious person. The successful ones are always upbeat and excited about my goals! They encourage me and even give me advice toward them. However the negative ones are always the ones with no goals, a job they hate or a dissatisfaction with how their life is going.  Their negativity is how they cope- they are self reflecting their problems onto me. Understanding that keeps me positive! I tune them out and never take their unsolicited advice seriously!

 

Let me know your thoughts on dealing with negativity as an entrepreneur and creative or anyone pursuing big dreams!! 

On Impostor Syndrome and faking it until you make it

It took a long time before I was comfortable referring to myself as a photographer. I felt that I wasn't good enough or experienced enough to claim the level of expertise that comes with that title. It took me an even longer time before I was comfortable charging clients for my work because I felt like I was just pretending to be a photographer. I've spoken this week with people from various fields who have all experienced feeling like you are portraying a level of expertise that you really don't have. Imposture syndrome has held me back from taking on certain jobs and sharing my work in certain spaces. 

This post is for anyone embarking on a new journey in any way. The only way to deal with the learning curve is to keep at it. You are going to suck and make mistakes, keep at it. If you are feeling frustrated and like you aren't ever going to get better, consider this post a sign to KEEP AT IT! If you have stopped pursuing something because you tried and sucked at it, pick up where you left off and KEEP AT IT!! It's ok to not be perfect right out the womb. Allow yourself some space to try, fail, learn and improve.

Every mistake I've made as a photographer has contributed to my development. I still have a long way to go in terms of my growth and I look forward to a life-long journey of cultivating my craft. I am working on letting go of judging my art based on how shareable it is or how many likes it gets on social media. I have tons of pictures sitting on my hard drive that I never shared because they weren't like-able enough. The power of social media isn't in the ability to gather likes from the internet but rather in the ability to reach people across the world who you would otherwise never be able to engage with. 

In an effort to take my own advice, here are a few pictures from when I first started out that I personally loved but didn't think were good enough to share. I don't care if you like them   ;-P

Have you had to deal with impostor syndrome? What are ways that you overcome it? I'd love to hear from you! 

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Setting Goals and Sticking to Them: A Strategy for Achieving your Biggest Dreams!

Is it just me, or do you get overwhelmed thinking about all of the goals you want to achieve? Trying to figure out what to focus on and where to start stresses me out particularly because I have so many different interests. Besides photography, entrepreneurship, Haiti and chocolate chip cookies, I also love real estate investor. I listen to real estate podcasts (biggerpockets podcast is my absolute favorite) and spend a lot of time soaking up information about real estate investing wherever I can find it. Last month, I attended a real estate meetup which I was expecting to be very technical and dense. Instead, the meeting was about goal setting strategies for life and business. The moderator was a successful real estate investor and he shared his strategy for goal setting in his own life. I found his approach to setting goals, starting with long-term descriptive goals, to be completely life-altering(I'm dramatic, I know). Below, I'll share the strategy I learned in this meeting. It's taken me a month to write out all my goals and the process has made me really think about what I truly want. If you do decide to try this strategy, please share your thoughts! If you have other strategies for setting goals, I would love to hear them! I hope it is as beneficial to you as it was for me.

The cornerstone of this strategy is setting specific long term goals, then working backwards and breaking them up into smaller, measurable benchmarks. Goals go unfulfilled because there is no plan of action or accountability to accompany them. The dream seems so big and unattainable, its hard to know where to start and you end up not starting at all. Using this strategy, you will set big goals, break them down and hold yourself accountable to reaching specific benchmarks.

10 Year Goal: 

Make a list of goals you want to accomplish for the the following categories: Personal, Career/Finance and Play(fun stuff just to make you happy). 

Notes on your 10 year goal list: 

-These goals should be BIG! Take your biggest dreams, and triple them! Don't limit yourself from the very beginning by thinking small. 

-Use descriptive and specific language for these goals. Instead of saying 'I want to be rich', decide what income you want to make(then triple it!!!) and where the income is coming from (job, investments, business etc).  

-This should be a completely exhaustive brain dump kind of list. Every dream, goal and desire you can think of that you want should be included. 

Once you have your three lists, choose the top three goals from each that are most important to you. This will allow you to direct your focus towards specific goals. It took me a looooong time to choose my three goals but forced me to be introspective about what I truly want my future to look like. 

5 year goals: 

Repeat the same process. 

Make and exhaustive, brain dump list for your personal, career/finance, play goals. Use descriptive language. Choose the top 3 you want to focus on. 

3 year goals:

Same process! 

1 Year goals: 

Same process!! 

Break your 1 year goals down into quarterly goals.

Then break your quarterly goals down into monthly goals. 

Every month, sit down and set weekly goals that will put you on the path to achieving your monthly goal. 

Set aside time every week to review your entire goal list, starting with the 10 year goals. Review your progress over the last week and your goals for the upcoming week. Write down action items in your calendar for the week that will allow you to achieve those goals. Scheduling action items is KEY!! If it isn't on a calendar, it's not happening. Another really important part of this strategy is having an accountability buddy. This is someone you schedule a call with every week to go over your goals and progress and vice versa. 

Who this person should not be: 

someone who will not keep the weekly meetings, someone who will cut you slack when you don't make progress, someone who lacks focus and follow through, someone who doesn't have big goals and dreams. 

Who this person should be: 

someone who is comfortable giving you crap if you slack off, someone who is focused and reliable, someone who will force you to do the weekly call even when you don't feel like it. 

Let's try this with a concrete example 

Let's say we have a 5 year finance goal of building an emergency fund of 10,000 dollars(that's a lot!)  In 3 years, you should have 6,000 saved. Every year, you have to save 2,000 dollars. 2,000 dollars per year may still seem like a lot but if you do the math, we see that you have to save 500 dollars every quarter to reach your goal. If we save 167 per month, we will reach our quarterly goal (not so bad!) We need to save 42 dollars each week in order to reach our monthly goal. Our action item could be that we transfer 42 to savings every week at a scheduled time that we write down on our calendar (like right after you get your paycheck so you don't spend it on something else!) We could also decide to do a daily transfer to our savings of 6 dollars every night before we go to bed and we would reach our weekly goal. You and your accountability buddy have 'transfer money to savings' as an event on your google calendar at an agreed time. You have to text your accountability buddy after you make the transfer, and if they don't get a text from you they WILL nicely harass you about it. If you don't make the transfer one week because you say you are low on cash, but you post an IG story of you drinking mojitos at the club, they will respond to your story with question marks and the money bag emoji. 

PLEASE NOTE I'M NOT AN ACCOUNTANT SO IF MY NUMBERS ARE A LITTLE OFF CUT ME SOME SLACK.

Go forth, set goals and prosper!! 

Let me know what you think of this strategy and if you have any of your own! 

 

On Haiti, wealth and words

Poor: (adj) 1. lacking material possession. 2. Less than adequate 3. inferior in quality or value 

 I grew up in a house physically situated in the suburbs of Maryland. Inside the walls, however, was a gateway between Haiti and the United States where my strict and loving Haitian parents were self-appointed rulers for life. The very core of my existence has been shaped by the diri ak pwa (rice and beans) served with 97% of our family dinners. My childhood nostalgia is accompanied by a soundtrack of my mom singing chansonette francais and kompa. Who I am in this world is defined by my Haitian heritage.

When I hear someone refer to the birthplace of my ancestors as poor or(or lacking material possession, less than adequate and inferior in quality) I feel like the value of my identity is being attacked.  When people call Haiti poor, the inference is that there is an inherent lack of value in the country itself and the people who call it home. This is unsettling for three reasons. Firstly, it completely ignores the wealthy segment of the Haitian population whose standard of living far surpass what any upper-middle class American could ever even dream of (like full house staff, Maserati's, private jets... which is problematic for many reasons but that is a different post for a different day). Secondly, it insinuates that Haitians living with limited opportunities are innately inferior. Thirdly, it ignores the vast and diverse natural resources of Haiti which many foreign corporations have exploited (To read a little bit more about how the Reynolds aluminum foil you buy at the grocery store contributed to the decimation of a massive Haitian Pine forest, click here    I can't vouch for all of the statistics, but this article gives a pretty good overview.) 

Before you take what the media or demented politicians have to say about countries they have labeled as  third world, I ask that you remember that your words have power and to mind your ignorance. 

As a Haitian-American photographer, part of my mission is to create content that challenges the one-dimensional view of Haiti and the 'third world.'  Thus is the intent behind my project 'Wouj e Ble.' Like my childhood home served as a portal between Haiti and the United States, I hope these pictures in some way foster a connection and rapport between you and the beautiful and rich culture of my native land. I hope that these pictures make Haiti seem a little less far removed from your life, and chip away at the otherness which phrases like 'third world' inevitably foster. 

Link to Wouj e Ble

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On Trusting the Journey

I find myself reflecting on the crazy series of twists and turns that brought me to photography. In photography, I have found my voice and purpose. It has helped me to realize and savor the power of the moment. The path it has led me down has been riddled with angels. I don't mean the metaphorical kind with big feathery wings playing harps above the sky. I mean real, living human beings who have touched my spirit and lifted me up unexpectedly but also exactly when I needed it. Photography found me my current roommate/friend who has been such a massive source of inspiration and support throughout my journey of entrepreneurship. It led me to one of the kindest women, and most talented photographers I've ever met who allowed me to shadow her and whom I credit for giving me hope that I can actually build a career out of photography. It has brought me so many special moments, with so many beautiful people. 

I recently captured my beautiful friend Alysea as she celebrates her pregnancy. She is gorgeous inside and out and her baby boy is so lucky to have a mom like her. Her spirit is so kind and sweet. Our whole shoot was amazing, and we ended up with so many incredible images I honestly felt overwhelmed at the thought of having to erase any of them. It's always slightly nerve-wracking sending images to clients. I hoped that she would like them as much as I did. She sent me a message that came at such a perfect time and that I will carry with me forever. "Thank you for capturing moments with my growing son that will last forever."  I read that message about 200 times as tears came to my eyes. I became surprisingly emotional and while it is partially due to the fact that in my old age I've grown into a complete sap and cornball, it was mostly due to the magnitude of the thought she expressed. 

 I love photography because it is my most authentic means of self-expression and self-exploration. It is a physical manifestation of a moment in time that will last forever. These images of Alysea and her baby boy will last long after he is born and grown up. It hit me like a ton of bricks, that maybe her grandchildren would one day look at these pictures. Maybe HIS great-grandchildren will one day look this picture! This moment is something that is extends so far beyond me and will last long after I am gone.

Following your passion isn't easy because it will always lead you off the beaten path, to uncharted territory that is yours alone to discover.  I believe the purpose of struggling along this journey is to transform us into more than just mere humans who exist on earth for just a second. Your passion gives you superpowers-like the ability to interact with people across oceans and to exist in moments that will happen long after your moment on earth has ended. The road that your passion leads you down may at times be scary and lonely, but know that angels will be there to encourage and guide you exactly when you need them.  

 

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Hello!

Welcome!! Thank you for stopping by! This blog is dedicated to the things that I love: Photography, travel, fashion and entrepreneurship (and food and art and music). A little about me: I am a Haitian-American photographer/serial entrepreneur who is obsessed with capturing all the beauty this world has to offer through my lens. I have wanted to start a blog for so long but the only thing holding me back was that I didn't know what it would actually be about. I have so many seemingly unrelated passions, and I want to talk about them ALL! I recently decided (today) to throw caution to the wind and ignore every article on the internet that says a blog should have a specific focus. Maybe this blog is doomed to fail or maybe it'll be the best thing ever...I guess we'll see. 

In any case, I hope this space sparks your creativity and fuels the fire to live your best life and go after what you want...no matter what the internet says. 

Me in my natural habitat sporting a basic white t-shirt, the one pair of guess jeans that ever fit me ever and I'll never throw them away, and the face I make when someone says something stupid. Also featured in this picture is my afro doing whatever it wants. 

Me in my natural habitat sporting a basic white t-shirt, the one pair of guess jeans that ever fit me ever and I'll never throw them away, and the face I make when someone says something stupid. Also featured in this picture is my afro doing whatever it wants.