Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is freelance photographer Alexa Mazzarello. From shooting intimate weddings to campaigns for big-name brands like lululemon athletica and Saje Natural Wellness, Alexa is a truly multifaceted visual storyteller. We caught up with her to find out what inspires her and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I help businesses, brands, and people tell their story through visual content – photography to be specific. I’ve always thought of photography as storytelling. So, yes, I’m a photographer, but that entails more than the push of a trigger. And my absolute FAVOURITE thing is bringing to life the vision of my clients, whether it’s for their business’s rebrand or their wedding day.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
The inspiration was the desire for freedom. Freedom from a traditional path that didn’t feel natural for me. When I was younger, I worked every summer in between university for the municipal government in Ottawa and then full time when I complete my academic studies. The lifestyle just didn’t resonate with me. Something felt deeply off and at 26, I decided to leave and follow my gut. I just couldn’t imagine spending my days constrained by other people’s time restraints on me, if that makes sense.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
To be honest, it’s the combination of several little ‘big’ steps, like registering my business at the beginning of this year, or committing to a permanent desk and office of my choice in Gastown, or landing dream gigs (there have been a couple this year). I think it’s also in taking the time to look backwards and see where you’ve come from. I’ve been invited to speak at TEDxSFU this November and for me this was a BIG milestone – one I didn’t expect to have (at least this early on). The choice to continue this path isn’t always easy and so reminding myself how far I’ve come is really important.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t like thinking too far in the future. Hopefully, I’ll be doing exactly what I’m doing now but also in cities around the world. Work and travel. And I’d like to own a van and a couple dogs.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Whatever it is you want to do, you should take steps in that direction from as early on as possible. And don’t look at mistakes as failures…don’t be afraid to fail. I look at all my past experiences and know they’re what got me where I am. Also, do the thing you love and find a community that also wants that for you.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I do – I take on a couple unpaid gigs a year for organizations I want to support. This year I worked with a group of amazing women in Vancouver called The Pack. They host inspiring evenings showcasing women in the community as well as and photographed their event and I have another potential one coming up Paws for Hope with an organization dedicated to the protection of BC animals.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Ha! how long do you want this list to be? This year, it’s client management. The challenge has been ensuring clarity and scope is understood throughout the course of project or job and when those foundational pieces aren’t in place at the beginning, disaster ensues. I take that on as my responsibility and naivety means I’ve made mistakes and paid the price (literally). I’ve overcome it by leaning on my community and then taking the appropriate steps to set up workflows that protect both parties – ie. having cancellation clauses! And contracts and signatures and deposits! I know it sounds yucky and business-y, but it is so so so critical to the well-being of the business and my creativity.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable to me means distinct – like something that stands out.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Dine – go-to restaurant is Peaceful. Wine – breweries…lately, Main Street Brewery and I recently tried Faculty (it’s new!).
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Facebook (haha!) – I have so many great communities on Facebook. And then Pixieset – the platform I use for client galleries.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
@_lauraberger_ – her illustrations melt me.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Right now, North America! Western Canada is a never-ending paradise. So much homegrown talent and inspiration. I’ve recently visited Seattle, Portland, and drove from Vancouver to Canmore. SO MUCH BEAUTY. Next places are NYC next week, home (Ottawa) and then planning a little staycation in Berlin for 2017. I’m hoping to create some networks there and work on some fun projects with other creatives.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
INSTAGRAM OBVIOUSLY. I try and manage my relationship with Insta – especially now with Insta stories….you can get caught in a black hole.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Candy. And wine. And beer.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I didn’t spend so much money on Evo & Car2Go! It’s so convenient but adds up. I wish I spent more money on my wardrobe – it’s difficult when all your pennies count to justify buying pieces, and ethically sourcing them, too. But fall is the best excuse to do this…and feeling good in your clothes is massive.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is so subjective. For me, it’s living a balanced, wholesome life full of good food, drink, travel, family, design, and of course meaningful work. Success to me is the freedom to work from where I want and with the clients I want – THAT is what keeps me going and that’s what I’m working towards.