We had the good fortune of connecting with Kai George and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kai, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
I remember when I first started my product photography business, ContentSugar. I was so excited at the thought of becoming an entrepreneur, I did what most new aspiring entreprenuers do–I began collecting and reading all the go-to business and mindset books. I started following entreprenuer influencers online, and began putting in countless hours studying strategies and videos. I started pushing myself based on the extremes I saw other successful people willing to go, and would often feel guilty whenever I fell short. I knew there had to be something that clearly separated the successful people from the rest and I was willing to drive myself crazy getting there.
The truth is that it wore me down. The more pressure I placed on myself to become “successful,” the more I slowly started to resent the work. Instead of enjoying the process, it began to cause me great anxiety. I operated like this for some time, until I had a breakthrough. I read this quote that said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” I realized that my mind was either wrapped up in future ambitions or stuck on yesterday’s defeat. This quote reminded me that I had been living everywhere BUT the present.
I’ve since created five principles that have allowed me to stay grounded throughout this journey:
1. Trust myself and the process.
2. Feed myself affirmations and kind thoughts.
3. The world deserves to see my art.
4. Always be grateful.
5. Have fun.
The first one is a reminder that I’m capable of anything and that this journey is bigger than me. The second principle is a well-needed reminder for the times when I’m being a little too hard on myself. The third principle is what keeps me going, it’s a reminder that I would be doing the world a disservice if I stopped creating my art. The 4th one is what keeps things in perspective for me. It’s easy to get caught up in all the things success will bring, but I often remind myself that I already have everything I need, and a lot to be grateful for. And the last one is probably the most important one–it’s what makes the journey worthwhile. I know with these principles in mind, I can tackle anything ahead of me while keeping my mental health and happiness at the forefront.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated with the idea of materializing a single thought or image in my mind into something functional and real. So it was only natural that I eventually found myself behind a camera–first as a Video Producer and now as a Product Photographer. I’ve found a certain joy through capturing products that I’ve never quite experienced through filming. While film is capturing the world as it is, I get to create my own little worlds through product photography. When I shoot products, I create immersive sets that truly represent each product in a unique and intentional way. I’ve fallen in love with the process of building these little worlds. I work with my hands creating handcrafted wooden props and painted backgrounds with pops of color. I’ve become skilled at using power tools and jigsaws and I’ve pushed my imagination beyond what I thought imaginable.
My business ContentSugar has become an outlet for me to continue to grow in this passion of mine. ContentSugar is a creative agency that offers monthly photo subscriptions for small businesses. We’re a great resource for businesses that need a consistent stream of stunning photos that reflect their values and brand, but at a reasonable cost.
Exploring this new space of business ownership has been filled with some amazing ups, and a good share of downs. My biggest hurdle has been balancing my full-time job with this new found passion and business. It was rough in the beginning. I had to learn to say no to a lot of things. I struggled to meet my own expectations–and let me tell you, clocking in and spending 8 hours doing creative work, only to come home and do more creative work is the real struggle! And don’t get me started on Imposter Syndrome.
To be honest, these are things I still struggle with, but I’ve come to appreciate this journey and the resiliency it has instilled in me. I’ve learned to ground myself in the present, and focus on what has connected me to this work in the first place. Product photography has allowed me to combine all the creative elements that are meaningful to me, and it evokes the very fascination that I felt as a young girl when creating. The ability to create is a gift that I don’t take for granted. It’s our superpower, and I’m both happy and honored I get to express mine in this way.
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.
The truth is that I’m such a homebody! But whenever I do find myself wanting to get out, there are some LA gems I often visit. I would start with coffee at a local LA favorite, Hilltop Cafe. I’d get my usual, a lavender latte with the breakfast sandwich. Cafe Connection is another favorite, it’s a non-profit cafe near Marina Del Rey that reminds me of an outdoor oasis and the perfect place to sip on lattes while catching up. For lunch, there are too many places that come to mind–If you know me, you know that I LOVE to eat. We’d have to choose between shrimp po’boys at Stevie’s Creole Cafe, or takeout brunch at Red’s Flavor Table (if you’ve had both, you’ll know how tough of a decision that is). Afterward, a stroll in Leimert Park would be fitting. There’s never a limit to the interesting people I meet there. I’m happy that LA has preserved this little slice of our culture, and it’s the perfect place to support local black businesses and listen to some live music. While in the area we’d pick up some burritos from Taco Mell and kick off the nighttime festivities! The week would be filled with fun activities like thrifting, hitting up The Last Bookstore roller skating at Venice beach, spontaneous photoshoots and visiting the Getty museum. The special thing about LA is that there are so many things to do, and it’s home to some of the most interesting and unique people you’ll ever meet. I’m LA-born and raised, and there’s still so much I have yet to discover!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my parents. They were my earliest example of entrepreneurship. My mother owned a senior home in the heart of Inglewood for almost 15 years and my father owned several insurance offices throughout Los Angeles during the span of 20+ years. So, I guess you could say that my journey was paved before I even realized it for myself. It’s not often that people who look like me have these types of influences at home while growing up, so I realize how special and lucky I am. Watching them achieve what sometimes feels like “the impossible” is a reminder that I can do anything!
Instagram: Personal: @Kailaide Business: @contentsugarco