APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY What do you do when you’ve built a successful business, working with clients you love and making a great income…but something still feels like it’s missing? Michelle Boyd found herself in that position a few years ago. She spent years building her wedding photography business, only to find that when she finally “made […]
What do you do when you’ve built a successful business, working with clients you love and making a great income…but something still feels like it’s missing?
Michelle Boyd found herself in that position a few years ago. She spent years building her wedding photography business, only to find that when she finally “made it”, she had a new dream inside of her.
Michelle is the artist behind Michelle Boyd Studio. Her current body of work is an exploration of paint on raw canvas showcasing the shapes, colors, and feelings of flowers in a garden. In this interview, she shares how and why she decided to leave one business behind for another, what the transition was like, and what she wishes she’d known.
If you’re in the middle of a transition or thinking of pivoting your business, you won’t want to miss this episode! Press play for the full interview or keep reading below.
“I have a very obsessive nature when it comes to any creative endeavor,” Michelle says. In her early life, that obsession was dance. She went to college to become an English and dance teacher. But when she volunteered to take photos for her dance company in freshman year, those goals started to shift.
Photography became Michelle’s new obsession. She worked as a second shooter throughout college, and when it came time to complete her student teaching, she simply didn’t sign up for a placement.
“Part of me just knew I wasn’t going to be a teacher. But I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t know what was next.”
It was Michelle’s husband who encouraged her to pursue photography. “He’s my ‘yes man’,” she says. “I go to him with a dream, and he figures out the logistics.”
Michelle launched her photography business in 2011. Although she didn’t set sales goals, she knew the number of weddings she could logistically handle within a year and tried not to go over that amount.
With her husband’s job as a software engineer supporting them, everything Michelle made went back into the business or her education. “We called it a growth bucket, which could be anything from a small course or a trip for a workshop.”
As the business grew, Michelle was able to hire an intern and use her business to fund “extras” in their personal life: vacations to France, trips to visit family, and the down payment for their first home.
By 2015, when Michelle and I met at The Blueprint Model Summit, she’d built a successful photography business. She was working fewer weddings for more money, traveling internationally, and everything seemed to be going well.
But in the back of her mind, she felt her devotion waning. The wedding industry had grown more intense and competitive, and higher-budget weddings also came with more stress. She started dreaming about making a change – and there was one dream in particular that wouldn’t let her go.
Though Michelle never told anyone but her husband, she’d always dreamed of learning to paint. When she pictured her forever home in her mind, it had a sunroom filled with artwork and an easel.
As her love for photography waned, she started taking painting classes. In 2017, she attended a painting retreat in France. Being surrounded by successful women artists was the breaking point – she knew it was time to start painting seriously, even if she didn’t have a plan.
Michelle went home and started a new Instagram account for her artwork. Less than a year later, she’d closed the wedding photography business to paint full-time.
Although Michelle loved her wedding clients, the work had grown stressful. “I feel like I have a lot more to give when I’m working from a place of peace.” Being able to create on her own schedule felt like a better fit for her personality.
It was a big jump to leave photography, but Michelle knew it was the right decision. “The Lord made it clear that I was supposed to let it go. It felt right, but it was also hard – it was both.”
Today, she wouldn’t give that change up for anything. “It feels like a full-time job, but I’m a full-time mom as well. So hourly, it’s probably part-time. I paint when I can and it’s the best thing ever.”
Despite her passion for painting, it took Michelle a while to find her footing in a new industry, especially when it came to pricing her work. “I knew what I ‘should’ be charging, but I also knew my abilities were new.”
So she painted as much as she could to grow her skills, selling paintings for under $100. Along the way, she found her signature style: combining her love for minimalist floral art with elements of old-world France.
In 2020, Michelle started selling semi-custom paintings, offering customers different frames, color palettes, and flowers to choose from. The pre-order campaign sold out within 20 minutes – she’d cracked the code on her second successful business, Michelle Boyd Studio.
In 2020 alone, Michelle sold 150 original paintings. “I felt like a machine.” By the end of the year, she knew she needed to figure out a way to create more passive income. With the encouragement of her husband and assistant, she bought a printer and launched an online print shop.
Having some form of scalable income has helped alleviate Michelle’s financial stress; although her family doesn’t rely on her business revenue, her assistant does. Creating products with the printer has made slow seasons much less stressful.
Looking back, Michelle says there are many reasons why she’s grateful she did photography first and art second – one of them being that her first business changed her relationship with money.
“The amount you charge for a wedding has a direct correlation to the level of the service, and there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that.”
As a photographer, clients are paying for the promise of the service you deliver. As an artist, it’s the opposite. Michelle paints first from a place of freedom, then attaches a price to something that she’s already created. That extra layer of separation has eliminated a lot of the pressure she used to feel around pricing.
In both of Michelle’s businesses (photography and Michelle Boyd Studio), she’s viewed money as a means to grow. Having more cash available lets her invest in the business – whether it’s a large investment like a printer or an assistant, or just everyday materials for her artwork.
“As an artist, you need to have space to try new things and fail, because that’s part of the process. Having the ability to buy the next canvas is huge. If it doesn’t work out, it’s going to be okay.”
As an entrepreneur and full-time mom to two littles, Michelle says her biggest lesson has been learning to hold things loosely, both in her business and life.
“There are some days that I pick up perfect flowers from the market and I have a vision for a painting that I need to create right now, today…and then my kids get sent home sick from school.”
But after two kids and two businesses, Michelle knows that a change in plans isn’t the end of the world. If her kids end up unexpectedly at home, she simply lets her daughter into her studio to paint with her.
Although it was hard for Michelle to leave photography behind, chasing her daydream of being an artist has worked out better than she ever imagined. “Sometimes something has to die first to make way for new growth.”
To hear the full story and more about Michelle Boyd, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
Michelle is a wife, mother, and impressionist artist behind Michelle Boyd Studio based in Austin, TX. She has invariably been an artist at heart, growing up as the “artsy fartsy” one in her family. She first fell in love with dance as her creative outlet, and then medium format film during her wedding photography years, but she is finally where she knew she’d eventually end up: with lots of glorious paint and a brush in her hands. She has always been drawn to the beauty of God’s creation, and is most moved by the unending intricacies and possibilities of florals. Her current body of work, “Tapestries”, is an exploration of paint on raw canvas showcasing the shapes, colors, movement, and feeling from flowers in a garden- some of which she’s been able to grow herself in her humble Texas backyard. She loves gathering women together in community, cooking, reading, and getting her wiggles and giggles out with her two kids.
November 30, 2023