Hey Rachel, care to share a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I'm Rachel and I work with my husband, Abe! We have a cutie 8-month-old son named Nation, and a grandpa dog named Leo. I'm going to be saying "we" a lot because Abe and I are together 24/7 and so much of our daily life + business is reflected in the way we balance out each others' strengths and weaknesses. We love conversations around a bonfire, quoting The Office, and good food and music. I like to make polymer clay earrings in my spare time, and Abe's current obsession is slacklining (and the NBA always).
Can you tell us what you do as a business owner for Memo Collective Film for those who are unfamiliar?
We run a wedding videography business together, and we've been working together for 6-7 years now. Being a small business owner means you wear a lot of different hats! I take care of the communication between clients, log inquires, write contracts, oversee billing, and I even get to write our own pay stubs each month, haha! Abe is the "tech guy" who researches new equipment/software and maintains our gear. We both film and edit together :)
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I studied Film & TV in college thinking that I wanted to become a screenwriter, but as soon as I started my program, I quickly realized that I wasn't interested in either of those industries. I loved the flexibility of working on smaller projects and helping capture what people were passionate about. During my time in school, I made a lot of friends who were aspiring musicians, so I got to shoot a bunch of music videos and studio sessions. Filming and editing those videos were really inspiring and life-bringing to me as a creative, and getting to know those people through the process was a huge blessing. I also spent over a year filming small moments of my daily life so I could cherish and revisit those memories later. And to this day when I look back on those videos, I get amazed at the power of video and its ability to capture such precious moments in life so vividly. That feeling was a huge inspiration to us when we started Memo. We wanted to capture love and passion in a way that would allow people to feel exactly how they did in those moments - even 10, 20, 30 years later.
And more than "pivotal moments," there are pivotal PEOPLE who helped us get to where we are today! The first is our self-proclaimed "manager" and long-time friend/mentor, Linda. Abe's first wedding video (ever) was when he filmed Linda's wedding 10 years ago. Since then, she's been one of our greatest supporters and Memo truly wouldn't have gotten its feet off the ground without her constant love, encouragement, and referrals! The second pivotal person was a stranger to us 5 years ago. Soon after we started Memo as an official business, Abe and I were editing at a local Starbucks when a woman approached us and asked if we were wedding photographers. We replied that we shoot video, and she left her name and contact info saying she was a wedding coordinator. We didn't even have business cards at that time, so I wrote down our info on a piece of lined notebook paper that I ripped out haha! And that simple, God-ordained, 1-minute conversation led to an amazing friendship with Nancy (@sohappitogether) and so many wonderful job + learning opportunities with her. There are countless others. We owe everything to the amazing community that God has placed around us!
What inspired you to start your craft?
To be honest, we didn't know early on that this would end up becoming our full-time jobs. Abe and I were recent college grads, we had no money, and little experience. A lot of our old work makes us cringe haha, but a piece of wisdom that always pushed us is this quote by Ira Glass:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” (https://vimeo.com/24715531)
Any advice on how to get started for those who want to start their own business?
*What Ira Glass said haha! In the beginning, say yes to everything - take every opportunity that's even remotely in the realm of your craft because it will fine-tune your taste. And you never know who or what that single experience can lead you to! In the past decade, Abe and I have shot so many crazy and random things and we've learned a lesson and gained new connections from each of those job opportunities (i.e. weddings, mattress ads, restaurant/cafe menus, medical fabric, kickstarter campaigns, fashion lookbooks, real estate, music videos, travel agency videos, muay thai, non-profits, birthdays, funerals, jewelry, etc.). Not every one of these experiences was a good one, but even from the ones we didn't enjoy, we at least learned something we DON'T like haha!
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Kindness, Teamwork, Taste
Most difficult thing about your job?
Emails - especially the ones that are difficult to write. It doesn't happen often and almost all of them are received well, but the people-pleasing side of me always goes through some internal turmoil while drafting hard-to-write emails (it helps to have Abe who always proofreads them for me haha)! And when we're in the thick of wedding season, the hardest thing is definitely keeping up with our edits. We'll film about 3-5 weddings a month, but it takes a few weeks to edit just one. So you can imagine the backlog once we start adding a new wedding each week. Our editing process has definitely gotten quicker and more efficient over the years, but I guess we can take the inevitable backlog as a good sign that our business is doing well!
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don't lose sleep over searching for a career in something you love. All things (even the things you love) will begin to feel like work once it becomes work. But even the most difficult and mundane jobs can be done joyfully when you love the people you're working with.
Best advice you've received/heard?
"Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last." - excerpt from the poem, "Only What Is Done For Christ Will Last" by C.T. Studd
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn your craft?
Personality and friendliness are huge factors in photo/video because you're working intimately with people to help capture precious moments in their lives! A big part of the job is to help others feel comfortable in front of the camera, so remember that a little kindness goes a long way. Smile lots and always treat others with love and respect :)