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Sacia Matthews: Trusting Your Gut as an Entrepreneur Even When It’s Hard

APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY Do you know where you want your business to be 12 months from now? How about five or ten years? As business owners, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day without pausing to consider what we’re really working towards. Our latest podcast guest, Sacia Matthews, is here to remind […]

Sacia Matthews: Named One Of the Best Wedding Photographers in America by Brides 2020, 2021



Do you know where you want your business to be 12 months from now? How about five or ten years? As business owners, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day without pausing to consider what we’re really working towards. Our latest podcast guest, Sacia Matthews, is here to remind us how getting clear on what you want can change everything.

Sacia Matthews is a destination wedding photographer based in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s known for her honest, documentary-style photos and has been named one of the Best Wedding Photographers in America by Brides Magazine.

Since starting her business, Sacia has gone from overworked and underpaid to running a luxury business and working just 10 weddings per year. Now she’s pulling back the curtain to share how you can do the same!

Press play for the full interview or keep reading below.

From Teaching English to Photography

Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, both of Sacia’s parents worked in education. She decided to follow the same career path, working as a high school English teacher and pursuing her Master’s degree. 

It was only after she graduated that she started to have second thoughts. Midway through her first year back, she found herself burnt out by the education system. 

“I was undervalued and underpaid,” Sacia says. “I wasn’t bringing the best version of me to the classroom and I felt like that was a disservice to the students.”

Knowing she couldn’t afford to leave a steady paycheck behind, Sacia took herself out to Barnes and Noble one day and resolved to stay there until she had a new career plan. Six hours later, she walked out determined to become a photographer.

The First Wedding

“I didn’t go to art school and I never thought of myself as creative,” Sacia says. 

But when her husband bought her a camera as a gift, she discovered a real passion for photography and dove into learning everything she could. “I watched Youtube videos, took courses, and took any experience I could get my hands on.”  

Her first wedding happened by accident, when a friend of a friend’s wedding photographer was sick at the last minute. The bride offered Sacia $900.

Although the wedding was a great experience, it required traveling from South Carolina to Florida – and when Sacia got home and ran the numbers, she realized she hadn’t made a profit. “We basically paid to be there.”

Some may have found that discouraging, but it only made Sacia more determined to turn her passion into a profitable business.

Reaching Burnout 

For the first few years, Sacia was firmly in hustle mode. She shot 43 weddings in her first year, relying entirely on word-of-mouth referrals. She worked hard to build relationships with clients, wedding vendors, and other photographers. 

Although her business was fully booked, Sacia soon found herself approaching burnout again. She had almost no time off and was constantly traveling for destination weddings – all while still learning how to run a profitable business.

In year three, she reached a breaking point and announced it was her last season booking weddings. “I almost shut the doors.” 

That was when she came across a group of mentors that changed everything.

The Power of Community in Business

In 2019, Sacia connected with the Educate, Empower, Encourage Community, a business group for creatives led by luxury wedding planners. One of the co-founders reached out to Sacia just as they were getting started.

“I told my husband, ‘I don’t know why, but my gut is telling me that I need to do this, and if it doesn’t work then I’ll be done.’” 

Luckily, it did work. The group helped Sacia get clear on the three pieces she needed to move forward: creative direction, understanding what she wanted out of the business, and setting personal boundaries. 

“Getting those three things under control was a game-changer.”

Getting Clear on What You Want 

Before joining the Educate, Empower, Encourage Community, Sacia was focused on living month to month. She’d never considered what she wanted the business to look like in the future.

“It took a lot of soul searching and thinking about what I wanted life to look like long-term,” she says. But having those hard conversations with herself and her husband helped her decide on a new direction for the business.

As someone who specializes in finance, my students are surprised to learn that all my courses start with vision casting. That’s because the first step of a financial plan is to know what you want.

Creating a Vision for Your Business 

One tool Sacia and I have both found helpful is journaling. Sacia practices stream-of-consciousness writing every morning, and at the end of the week, she reads it over to look for patterns.

“I was writing very similar things every day without even realizing it.” For Sacia, it all came back to a love of storytelling. She loved writing short stories as a child and became an English teacher because she loved reading and writing.

Journaling led Sacia to the realization that what she truly wanted was to be a storyteller – her medium just happened to be photography. 

Asking the Hard Questions

With a new vision in mind, Sacia had to make drastic changes to her business. She let go of clients, improved her client experience, and increased her prices. She transitioned from 40+ weddings per year to less than 10.

Cutting back on the number of events has given Sacia more space to be creative and to spend with family. “It’s given me back my life, and I feel like my work has never been more honest and authentic.” 

Sacia has also learned to check in with herself and revisit those hard questions. “The big question I ask is: am I being satisfied artistically, emotionally, and financially? And if I’m not, then this is not serving me.”

Marketing a Luxury Photography Business

As a former teacher, relationship-building has always been a core part of Sacia’s marketing strategy – and it’s become even more important now that she’s working with high-end clients. Most of her time is spent building the know, like, and trust factor.

Although Sacia is active on social media, she doesn’t spend a lot of her time and energy there. Instead, she likes to be in the room with vendors and potential clients, where it’s easier to position herself as a trusted creative partner.

Relationships with other photographers have also been crucial for her success. “Some of my best referrals every year come from my friend group.” 

The Time-Money Connection

Another major turning point in Sacia’s business was learning to say no. “For a long time, I was operating from a place of scarcity and need. I thought, if I don’t take this job, how will I know the money will be there later?”

She’s spent the last few years learning to operate from a place of abundance, always believing the next opportunity will appear. “When you lean into who you are and what your gifts are, the money will follow.”

The best thing Sacia has learned is that time and money are connected. “Not all money is great money if it’s going to suck time away from things that you aren’t willing to give up.”

Now that she’s a mom of two young boys, Sacia is unwilling to miss family milestones for the sake of her business. 

Bringing Your Business and Family Vision Together

Sacia had her twin boys right around the same time she was restructuring her business, which helped her focus on what she truly wanted. Her kids are a big part of the reason she chose to take on fewer weddings, so she can spend more weekends at home.

Becoming a mom has also helped Sacia become more decisive. She’s much more in tune with her gut instinct and doesn’t hesitate to say no when an opportunity doesn’t excite her.

As for balancing work and motherhood, Sacia says: “The best gift I could give my kids is having a mom that’s happy and fulfilled.” 

Clarity Changes Everything

Getting clear on what you want can completely change your business, your family life, and your relationship with money. 

For Sacia, it’s helped her go from burnout to living a life of harmony. She’s learned to trust her instincts and follow her own vision instead of someone else’s.

“For so long, I’ve been a chronic overthinker, and leading with my gut has made me so decisive. It’s either a heck yes or a no. Period.”

Sacia’s next venture is jumping back into education through The Creative Edge, a series of in-person retreats to help photographers bring their artistic vision to life. Follow along on Instagram for the latest updates!

More from this Episode

To hear the full story and more about Sara, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.



Educate. Empower. Encourage Community

The 5 am Club Book


Sacia Matthews

Sacia Matthews is the owner of Sacia Matthews photography. She’s a visual artist specializing in honest documentation of destination wedding experiences where nostalgia meets art. Named one of the Best Wedding Photographers in America by BRIDES in 2020 and 2021. Her work has been featured in prestigious publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings.


Website | Instagram 




September 7, 2023

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