We had the good fortune of connecting with Ren D’Anelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ren, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I realized doing what I love could be my career AND I could work for myself, there was no going back. I’ve never fit well into the standard structure that many others thrive in. Instead, I find the most joy in expressing myself creatively and being my own boss, setting the rules and paving my way forward. I knew that by choosing this it would be a challenging life, it would take hard work and focus, determination and resilience; that didn’t scare me. Having the opportunity to build the life I want for myself through an artistic career felt like the only way. Starting my own business was the next step, getting my work out there and seeking clients to create for. I’ve grown into a one-woman production company/marketing firm, finding creative ways to help my clients achieve the visual branding they desire, to tell their stories authentically and connect with audiences. One of the things that keeps me going is looking back at how I started, where I came from, seeing my growth and how much closer I get to my goals each year. Starting my own business was one of my best decisions. And in the very near future I’ll be able to expand, plans that overwhelm me with excitement!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Creating stories, sharing experiences, expressing myself – these are the sparks that ignite my passion for what I do. With my films I intend to create work that connects with my audience, challenges perspectives and societal norms, and highlights the side of something they may never had otherwise seen. I think entertainment can be a powerful tool for communication and it should be used for more than passing time or escaping reality completely. My last short film was inspired by the #metoo movement, and my next project is in support of Black Lives Matter, because these are the very real subjects that need to be amplified. I want my art to make people not just see but FEEL what someone else’s experience may be. Especially now, halfway through 2020, we need more content that pushes us forward and creates change; I hope to contribute to that cause with my art. With photography, I have to pack all of that into a single frame; there’s no screenplay or dialogue to express it directly. Telling someone’s story through a portrait is wonderfully challenging. I continue to practice my portrait photography with the goal of capturing my subject’s authentic self in a way they themselves may not even see. I find it fulfilling to pull this out of someone with only a camera and the creation of a positive environment, taking great care to make my subject comfortable enough to show me who they are. With each shoot I learn more about myself, too, and I truly find so much beauty in this art form. For my marketing clients I bring this same artistic approach to their branding and content, telling visual stories and creating a strategic plan that achieves their goals. Every client is different and that’s yet another challenge I enjoy, finding how to adapt my skills and knowledge for what they need. I’m extremely excited that after two years of this work I’ll be able to expand this side of my business! I’m separating it from my art, though it is still using my artistic and creative approach, which is what I believe sets me apart from other marketing firms. I feel so grateful that I’ve been able to build this life for myself and continue to grow, working toward my goals in real time.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Let me tell you about Long Beach, because this place is magic. It’s a beautiful community driven city with so much love and art, so many incredible humans, and rich with local businesses. Assuming this is in a world where COVID-19 doesn’t exist, I would take my friend out on the town and explore each neighborhood, eating the best food, visiting local shops, and admiring the fantastic street art. We would walk along the beach path, maybe stop for some sunbathing (but definitely not for a swim – sorry, LB) and revel in that beach life. It would be incomplete without finding live shows, supporting our incredible local musicians and comedians. Rapid fire list of favorite spots: The Stave for cocktails, Milana’s for pizza, Thai District for Thai food, Seabirds for vegan food, Padre/Mezcalero for tacos and mezcal cocktails, and Blind Donkey for whiskey and dancing. A fun night at Hamburger Mary’s, karaoke at Beer Belly, an afternoon on 2nd Street, a walk around Shoreline Village, thrifting on 4th Street – there’s plenty to do around Long Beach, I could go on and on. I’m not originally from here but I’ve adopted it as my home!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Nothing would be possible without the incredible support group I’ve had: my friends who push me, my first clients who took a chance on me, and my supportive family members. A few key people I’ll mention here are my sister Brittney D’Anelli, my client Mike Sheldrake, and my friend Taylor Crawford. My sister is 9 years older than me and has always been one of my heroes. Watching her start her own business young and hustle to do what she loves most was a major source of inspiration for my own path. Her many titles include salon owner (HEX Hair Studio in Las Vegas), color and curl specialist, and Davines educator. Truly just to mention a few. She has been a model for me of going after a career fueled by passion, what it looks like to be resilient in the face of adversity, and how to be a confident self-employed woman. Next, Mike Sheldrake. I started working for him as a barista at Polly’s Gourmet Coffee and quickly moved myself into running his marketing – he was technically my first client for Instagram management and that made my growth possible. He saw my strengths and let me lean into them. He has always believed in me, given me opportunities, and been a mentor for understanding small businesses and marketing. I have learned so much working with him, and I have so much gratitude for it all. Last but never least, Taylor Crawford. Years ago she hired me for a music video, my first project like that, and we’ve been friends ever since. When I started pursuing photography, she was my first model. She gave me so many chances to flex my creative muscles and that gave me the confidence I needed to continue growing personally and professionally. In the time I’ve known her I have watched in awe as she makes beautiful music, started her own music studio where she teaches lessons to all ages (The Whale Song Studio), and pushes herself to constantly improve on all fronts. These three people are among the many inspirations in my life that have echoed back to me that my dreams are possible too.
Portrait of Ren D’Anelli by Marc Mecham All other photos by Ren D’Anelli