Birdie James @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

I am not exactly what you call a “fashionista.” I’ve spent more money over the course of my life on fitness clothing, and some of my favorite and most-complimented pieces were found in thrift stores. As mentioned in my last post, I was more interested in a good deal (and elastic waistbands) than I was in making investments in fashion. To be honest, I didn’t think I was worthy of having “style.” I enjoy a little retail therapy and always aspire to look put together when called for – but if I can’t compete with the bevy of fashion bloggers who eat $12 bedazzled donuts washed down with rosé and still fit in Size 2 pants that cost more than my monthly rent, what was the point? (DisclaimerI know they’re not all like that… but sometimes it feels that way…)

Coastal Bliss @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

When approached to collaborate with the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber for their inaugural Chamber Fashion Week, I thought there had to be some mistake. I went to the meeting anyways. When I met the initial group of women involved in making Chamber Fashion Week happen, I felt an immediate sense of powerful #girlboss vibes – and I LOVED IT. I may not entirely recognize the difference between vintage pink and blush, but dangit I know the smell of ambition and possibility. I told them to sign. me. UP.

After we sorted out the details and negotiated the what’s-what-and-wheres, I embarked on a two week adventure with the HHIB Chamber that included meeting with the boutique owners, learning about brands and trends, and taking a zillion pictures of the store interiors (while somehow winding up -in front- of the camera, which you can all rest assured my 15min of Instafame are up now). It was an intense and exhilarating experience… and I cannot tell you how lucky I felt to be a part of this experience. Every one of the owners and associates were so welcoming and attentive; each of the shops were so unique in their style; all the clothing and accessories were chosen to reflect our coastal community in some way; and most importantly, they each had a story to tell about why they chose and love Hilton Head & Bluffton.

Maluka in Bluffton // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

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Y’all, we truly have something special here in our little corner of the Lowcountry.

And if you think you need to venture to other big markets to find the latest in beautiful coastal fashions, unique accessories to go with your favorite pieces, or lovely finds for your home,  YOU CRAY.

Louette Boutique in the Village at Wexford // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

The best part?

Each of these stores knows and loves on their regular clients while always reaching out to new shoppers with a big smile and a handshake (or a hug, because huggers recognize other huggers). I felt free to wander and browse while knowing someone friendly was closeby to help when I needed it (and y’all know I NEEDED IT).

Seriously, it made me truly appreciate what we have here in terms of brands and variety; but also, as well as the hard work each of these stores does for it’s local and visiting clientele.

Overall? The experience was exhausting (you know, standing around trying to look beautiful) and a total whirlwind of putting all the puzzle pieces together (and wondering how I could afford all my favorite pieces and still be able to eat this month). But how magical to be around these hard-working, big thinking, down-right lovely people.

Suffice it to say I’m thrilled to know where to go to get my next ensembles, whether a waterside brunch or a fabulous soiree; and to do so knowing I’ll be greeted by new friends.

 

 

Traveling Chic Boutique @ Coligny Plaza // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

I’ll still most likely never be the called a “Fashionista.” And I doubt I’ll be able to eat expensive confectionaries and be able to pull off anything that doesn’t have at least a little elasticity to it (which is why Pure Barre HHI will forever have me on retainer as a client). But one thing I learned is that I am worthy of style. That choosing quality brands and supporting local vendors can be and very much is an expression of that. Because a true friend won’t let you walk out of store looking like a crazy person. And they’ll help make you feel beautiful no matter what.

Copper Penny @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

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A very big THANK YOU to:

Dorothy, Hallie, and the whole staff at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Too Belles Boutique @ the Fresh Market Shoppes // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

… and the following retailers:

Birdie James

Coastal Bliss

Copper Penny

Gigi’s Boutique

Island Girl

Louette

Maluka

Too Belles

Traveling Chic Boutique

….. and…. 

Island Girl @ Coligny Plaza // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

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And an even bigger shout-out to my better half, John, for not being too upset when I maaaaay have come home with a new new finds… and for always telling me I’m worth the $12 bedazzled donut.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

Gigis Boutique in Bluffton // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

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When was the last time you really held something in high esteem? Or looked at a product or piece of art or plate of food and became incredibly overwhelmed by the time and thought that went into making it?

When was the last time you thoughtfully purchased something, truly considering the workmanship, production, and the careful selection of materials?

When was the last time you chose to support a company or store that supported its people and missions?

When was the last time you really honestly “valued” an experience or a product or person?

I’ve been contemplating all of these questions a lot lately as the concept of “value” has been a reoccurring theme in the last couple of months. Not only the value of worth but the values to which I want to align my business and the clients I want to work with… and personally for myself. It seems at every corner I can’t avoid the conversation, and more and more I’m in situations where I have to make decisions about what I value and be confident in explaining my worth to others.

Let me explain.

I have been that girl who scours the endcaps of Target hunting for that bright red clearance tag (the more layered on there THE BETTER). I used to “just go out and buy something” for events at fast-fashion stores and didn’t care it would fall apart because I could just go get a new whatever-it-was for the next thing. Cheap drugstore makeup? UH YEAH, you’re not getting me to pay over $10 for stuff I don’t even know how to put on anyways. Y’all, there are certain restaurants I’ve been to where I only go at happy hour because I could never wrap my mind around paying for the “real” food there.

I love a good deal and I always will.

But certain things are NOT worth the cheap price tag. And I’ll tell you, I’m paying for it in some ways now (pun intended?).

And not knowing how to articulate and speak up for –my own– value has cost me even more. Literally.

The concept of “value” has been on my mind a lot, but it really started to pick up steam when I attended a national photographers conference in Texas back in January. No matter what seminar I went to – technical lighting, posing, marketing, business strategy, etc. – each and every speaker spoke to some degree of presenting one’s business and being confident in your work so you are appropriately compensated at the highest level of your worth. For the first time since turning my photography into a business over five years ago, it hit me like a bird into a glass door: the business of photography is not the cutesy girl in the felt hat with her “retro” camera bragging about wearing sweat pants while she edits charming flower-field engagement pictures drinking her $8 latte. It’s a PROFESSION. And the people I was surrounded by and learned so much from wanted to make it crystal clear that yes, creativity is important, but treating your business with the same professionalism, customer service and value as any other career is what makes one succeed. While photographers all do things a little differently, when they do not value their own work and think they’re “lesser than” (e.g.: undercharging, giving away too many freebies, letting clients take up valuable time without additional compensation) because they’re not curing cancer, the whole industry suffers.

WHOOOOOA

Coming back from that experience has prompted me to explore other areas of my life needing a serious value audit. I suddenly found myself being more mindful when making purchases, checking to see if they were sustainably produced, quality made, and even if they supported local/semi-local/small shops. As I’d run out of beauty and personal products, I’d research safer, cleaner alternatives that aren’t made with junk or tested on animals (I am always on the hunt and welcome your suggestions). When choosing vendors to use for my business, I explored the companies that invested back into its employees and clients (people first, people!). I started, too, evaluating my time, assets, and education so I could communicate with my own current/potential clients what my work product is worth… and not let fear of “not being enough” let me undervalue the way I conduct business. (Because, y’all: I still have to eat and pay rent, too… and we all know I LIKE TO EAT.)

In doing so, it brought me to other people who are also supporters of quality goods and services. Seeing them so gracefully declare their work to be of a certain quality so effortlessly has motivated me to be serious about my work. To stop giving away time and talents to people who can’t seem to get past that red clearance sticker, demanding and expecting more but wanting it for less.

And it’s not easy. In fact, it’s terrifying.

But what’s scarier is knowing I’ll burn out and live in a space of never having/being “enough” if I don’t make that change (and I’ve lived in that space repeatedly… there’s only so much I can spend on wine to keep getting through it). And I risk putting the well-being of the creative/photography industry at stake when I cheapen it with my own ridiculous fears of people not respecting my work. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

Harbour Affair Small Business

via: http://whitneyenglish.com/

I share all of this because I believe the concept of “value” is rooted in bigger conversations of appreciation and respect. While I’m not suggesting to go out and wildly spend your cash on top-tier goods and services, I am suggesting that maybe the ability to truly value things and experiences has been lost because they come so fast and cheap these days, easily replaceable and momentarily appreciated because the next “latest & greatest” is around the corner.

As a business owner and someone who really wants to be part of our coastal and larger digital communities, I’ve come to realize what I wear, what I purchase, what I put on my face (no matter how terribly I do it), what I eat, and what brands/products/shops I choose to support has implications. I know there are a lot of people who make these decisions for a status thing, and that’s not what I’m suggesting – but rather, taking time to invest in things with a little soul.

Listen. I will always be the $5 bottle of wine & Oreo girl at heart. And I truly do believe in being a good steward of money and choosing the sensible options to support one’s self, family, and business. You have to pick and choose, I get it, and the price tag isn’t always the best indicator of the true worth of something (I’m looking at you, $5 fancy grocery store bottled water).

And you’d best believe I won’t turn down the cute Target endcap find with brilliant layer of 10 bright red clearance stickers on it.

But I’ve learned being truly enamored with a quality piece of clothing or product instead of buying several cheap ones makes you feel better about putting it on and more careful to maintain it. And getting that little hand-written note in your purchase when you  support a local/small retailer is a feeling of connection you don’t get when you wistfully buy something at a big box store. And working with clients who appreciate and LOVE on your work because you deliver an experience that gets you both extremely happy you took the chance on each other… that’s the stuff of an entrepreneur’s dreams.

And one of these days I’ll get to one of my other dreams: eating my Oreos with a crisp glass of Dom Perignon.

But until then, I’ll do what I can.

And I welcome your suggestions on ways to do so, products to buy, or places to support that provide heart and value.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

#seanlucagram

Photo of my chubby chihuahua, Sean Luca (aka, Shark Luca), because we all know this is #priceless.

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