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Guest opinion: Necessity is the mother of invention


By Holleen Lawrence | Co-owner, Blind Photography

It’s a 400-year-old proverb that hit me, my daughter and our business square in the nose seven months ago when COVID stopped our professional world cold.

“The mother of invention is necessity.”

My daughter, Becca, and I had a steady Central Iowa wedding photography business for more than a decade.

But when the pandemic hit, everything stopped.

At first, we thought it would be a few weeks of keeping out of social settings. A few wedding couples might need to move their dates, but overall we thought business would be back to normal in short order. But six weeks went by. Then 10. Panic set in. No weddings. No family sessions. Nothing. Our livelihood, like that of so many other small businesses, was in serious jeopardy.

Fortunately, we had started envisioning a new-to-the-world product near the end of 2019 — turning the wedding guest book into one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Hearing couples express disappointment and confusion over having to create a Zoom wedding and jettisoning much of a traditional nuptial — including the guest book — seemed a sign for our business to survive.

We gathered family to generate funding. We partnered with a local design and development company. We developed branding and went live with a website. Weddings haven’t come back, but this business extension shows real promise.

Not yet out of our seven-plus-month business journey through COVID, I’ve been reminded of several hard lessons learned as a mother:

Creating a new business is like having a baby: It is scary. It takes far more time, money and energy than anyone tells you. It is an emotional roller coaster that never ends. It is worth every minute.

Cultivate and appreciate your support system: Developing a business, like raising a child, takes a village. No one does anything entirely on their own. Your personal commitment and willingness to put in long hours, hard work and financial sacrifice is buttressed by fellow believers. Lean on them. Thank them.

It’s OK to take things personally: All business origin stories include struggle, failure and success. Cry when you need to. Celebrate your successes when they come. Acknowledge all those beside you. And continue to believe when people say you have a good idea. Keep believing, even if it takes years.

You will have moments where you question the idea or your resolve or the timing or something else. Know that fellow women entrepreneurs want to see you succeed. Necessity has been the mother of invention since there have been mothers and children. When forced to make a decision, do so boldly and with determination and believe in your vision.

Holleen Lawrence and her daughter, Becca Hodges, are mother-daughter owners of Blind Photography in Beaverdale. They have recently created Joy Anthology, a custom online tool that creates one-of-a-kind wedding art generated by guest book selfies.

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