Entrepreneurship

Behind the Hair and Makeup by Anna Whitener

Earlier this week I shared some sneak peeks of the headshots I had taken by my friend and local photographer Whitney Fisher. I don’t think I’ve gotten that many likes and comments since posting my wedding pictures almost three years ago! For someone who focuses on lifting up women daily, I have to admit, it felt really good to be on the receiving end of so many compliments. However, my immediate reaction to feeling proud, pretty (thank you Tori Stewart), and loved was guilt and shame over my vanity.

Y’all, that is ridiculous!

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If dressing up, being pampered with professional hair and makeup, and posing in front of a camera for an hour or so leads to a moment captured in time when you felt strong, beautiful, and loved that you can share with your children, spouses, moms, colleagues, and girl squads, DO IT!!!

More importantly, if you can help another woman feel these things by uttering a kind word or posting a fire emoji, DO IT!!!

In a world where we only see what is posted on picture perfect social media, it is easy to forget that we are all struggling with some aspect of our lives. We should seize the opportunities we have to lift one another up and celebrate the sense of pride and empowerment we get from being supported by those dear to us!

Ok, it’s about to get real…

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Though I don’t allow negative body talk in the store, I myself worry about not being pretty enough, cool enough, curvy enough, business-savvy enough (thank you ever-changing IG algorithms), a good enough wife, a good enough daughter, and as a self-admitted people pleaser, likeable enough.

The good enough daughter card is probably the hardest to play right now. I lost my dad almost 10 years ago, and I am now finding myself on calls with palliative care doctors regarding my mom’s health, with an overwhelming sense of guilt for not being there in person. As a 32 year old, most of my friends can’t yet relate (nor would I want them to be able to). I feel like a “debbie downer” for being distracted with these stresses even when I don’t utter them aloud.

Even with amazingly supportive friends and family, I can sometimes feel alone.

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So…receiving numerous “likes” and comments on a simple post of pretty pictures left me feeling seen, acknowledged, supported, and loved. Those small acts served as reminders of what I already know is true. Ladies, keep it up! The next time you see a noteworthy post from a friend, a colleague, a family member, or even an aquaintance, don’t you dare keep scrolling. No matter how idealistic each of our lives looks from the other side of a computer screen, we all need each other.

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So You Said Yes…And? by Anna Whitener

In improvisational comedy, there is a rule of thumb to encourage a collaborative approach. The thought is that you say “yes” to the person with whom you are acting and then contribute to the direction of the outcome by saying “and” with your own added information. Starting a business has felt (only sometimes comically) very much like improvisation for me. I have known for a long time I wanted to start my own business and went through too many ideas to count – just ask my girlfriends or my now husband (eek!) – but when I had my own wedding dress shopping experiences, I knew I had found my niche.

I absolutely LOVED the way each beautiful designer gown made me feel – secure, womanly, glamorous, bridal, beautiful, and special. However, I didn’t love each of my visits equally. I found the task of finding “the dress” somewhat daunting and without the proper guidance felt very ill at ease and sometimes out of place or looked down upon. No bride should ever be made to feel that way for her particular style, level of bridal knowledge, or budget. I mean, for many of us, this is our first time going through this unique process and we are not quite sure what to expect, right? For that reason, I have decided to bring to Knoxville a unique wedding dress shopping experience where brides can try on the oh-so-amazing designer dresses and ultimately purchase them at sample sale prices, all while feeling comfortable and having fun!!

Since deciding to take this journey 10 months ago, I have continued to say “yes, and.” The result is that I have watched this budding dream of mine blossom into reality. This has only been possible with the love and support of those around me, especially my husband (still SO weird to say!). He has decided to say “yes, and” for the past 6+ years of our relationship, encouraging me to continually move forward and turn my ideas into actions. Ultimately, I have found that commitment, whether it be to a profession, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or any other adventure almost always requires a “yes, and” approach, because really, aren’t we all just improvising?

Now that you have said “yes, and” to your soul mate, I would love to help you say “yes” to your dress!