We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Villarosa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had been working at a startup brand, managing a team of 10, hyper focused on the needs of others – all during my mid-late 20’s. I would stay several hours in the office while everyone else went home, and spent my weekends and vacations answering emails and working on projects. It was a work environment that essentially expected employees to sacrifice any free time in order to be acknowledged or see growth. I was convinced that this imbalanced lifestyle was the only way to find success. However, after 5 years of feeling completely depleted, I decided to quit my 9 to 5. My views on success and life were evolving, and at this point I felt that the only way I could find purpose in my career was to work for myself. This way, I could have my own schedule, I could create what I want to create, and I could collaborate with individuals and companies who share similar world values. Starting my own business was my way of taking back control of my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a travel, lifestyle, and portrait photographer. Much of my work is focused on documenting travel experiences, photographing designed spaces, and highlighting diverse individuals in various industries. I started out assisting wedding photographers, and working full time in creative departments for entertainment companies and startup brands. After a decade of working 9 to 5 (more like 9 to 8!), I decided to go freelance and have been photographing full time for the past 3 years. Though staff employment wasn’t for me, I’m fortunate to have networked through those jobs. Past colleagues have connected me with creative opportunities and individuals, and my business has grown from there. For many years, I’ve wanted so badly to create purposeful work, to express myself in a way that felt authentic, and freelancing has allowed me to do just that. It hasn’t been an easy process, and I’ve encountered multiple setbacks and challenges along the way. But I’ve learned that there are two important things for success: 1) having a proper support system, and 2) allowing yourself to take a break. Perspective and rest are essential for growth.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
While I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I’ve actually been living in NYC for the past 10 years. So my favorite spots to visit when I’m home, or when I bring out of state friends, are the places I grew up going to. In N Out is the first place I head to right off the plane – there is nothing more nostalgic to me than a double double with fries and a root beer. Sometimes I’ll stay in a hotel, like The Line or The Hoxton, for a few days before spending time with family. I love wandering around The Getty, especially at sunset for the views. Grabbing a coffee and walking around the Art District is always a good time. Dim sum dinner in Chinatown or Korean BBQ in Koreatown is also a must-eat. And it isn’t a visit to Southern California without a trip to one of the many beaches!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s difficult starting and managing your own business, but it’s even more difficult when you’re a woman of color trying to do so. I’m lucky to have a close knit family that has supported every creative effort I’ve made since I was young. I’m also lucky to have a partner that encourages me to take risks in my work. And lastly, I’m lucky to have friends and peers who have shared my name in rooms of opportunity.
All photo credits are Amanda Villarosa