When you flip through the Verve Photo Co. portfolio, a Toronto-based boutique wedding and lifestyle photography company, you are transported to some of the most beautiful weddings… Ever! Photographer Melanie Galbrand-Chen, founder of Verve Photo Co., has been a contributor to WedLuxe Magazine, Weddingbells, The Wedding Co and Style Me Pretty with stunning editorials and real wedding shoots. Her work is so moving, it even makes me (a wedding cynic) feel weepy. Melanie has travelled all over the world documenting couples’ special moments, including their engagement, wedding and maternity shots.
I had the honour of being present for the birth of Melanie and her partner’s first baby, Bijou who is now 5 years old and I fell in love with this fabulous couple. Melanie has a quiet and powerful presence that immediately makes you feel like you are in competent hands. Her wife, Karen, in comparison is boisterous and high energy. Together they are a powerful force. They are parents to two beautiful girls, Bijou and Indigo, now 2.
Melanie started her business back in 2009, before she was a mom, and since the births of her girls she has been able to modify her business so that it also incorporates the goals and needs of her family. Currently, she identifies as a full-time mom and part-time mompreneur. Even with her clients taking up a ‘part-time’ piece of her life, her days are incredibly long! The ‘mom hours’ are the typical 7am – 8pm, however, her ‘business hours’ are 8pm – midnight or later. Yup, I did the math on that too, and that leaves very little time for sleep. Melanie did highlight that her work is seasonal, but still, during wedding season it does not afford for many free hours for this mama.
Melanie and Karen collectively made the decision to not put their girls in daycare, so Melanie is home with the girls through the week, and Karen’s job also gives her chunks of time off where she can be home with the girls too. They appreciate that this is not an option for all families and they are grateful that it works for them. According to Melanie, this is one of the best things about being your own boss! You get to decide how much or how little you want to work. In Melanie’s field, she loves that she also has creative control over her work. She feels that this is something that she would have to give up if she was an employee.
One of the questions that I love to ask these mamas that are kicking ass in their business: how does your partner play into all of this?
In this case, Karen supports Melanie’s entrepreneurial spirit to the fullest. Karen understands that during Melanie’s busy season they have to sacrifice their one-on-one time during evenings (and some weekends) so that Melanie can work on and in her business. Photographing destination weddings is one of Melanie’s main services so she is regularly out of the country on weekends, leaving Karen to happily hold down the fort.
Thinking about starting your business? Melanie advises,
‘Businesses take time to build momentum and you have to be prepared to grow your business consistently in the little time you have as a mom. Just know that you will get back what you put in, so as little or as much is up to you and what works for your family and schedule.’
Melanie has built an amazing business that has allowed her to grow her career and creativity while being present for her two girls, with her very supportive partner… That is a great gig!