Last year, I had the absolute honor of working with Marquette Mower, of Marquette LaRee Photography. This woman is a loving mother, an incredible photographer, fellow mountain lover, and a true example of a passionate, dedicated entrepreneur. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing her story with you. I am so grateful for her willingness to take time out of her busy work and life schedule to be here with us today. In this in-depth Q&A, she shares her triumphs, struggles, and journey to where she is today in her business and life.
Marquette is also here to share her kind words about her experience as one of the students of my Wedding Photographer’s Playbook. Make sure to keep reading if you want to learn more about how the Playbook helped her save hours each week in her business and get more time back to live her life to the fullest with her family!
One day, three years ago, Marquette decided to quit, quitting on her business and is here today to tell her story. You are going to absolutely LOVE Marquette and everything she has to share with us today about her experience! Grab a cup of coffee or tea, find a comfy seat at the coffee shop, and meet Marquette!
Meet Marquette & Her Business
Tell us a little bit about your business! When did you start? What do you do?
I am a wedding photographer, sidekick, and friend for couples wanting an escape to the mountains of Arizona! But getting to this point has been quite the roller coaster. Long story short I started and stopped for about 7 years, and finally quit quitting 3 years ago and jumped in with both feet.
Where are you located?
Payson, AZ! Think of it as the lopsided belly button of Arizona…almost in the very center! And to many people’s surprise, we’re up in the forest and mountains, not the desert. We’ve been here for a year now and fall in love with it more and more every day. It’s the perfect mix of desert meets the mountains (because I just can’t get enough of the desert).
Tell us about your dream client or wedding.
Oh goodness! I feel like I get to tell you about pieces of my best friends/brides from the past nearly 3 years! My dream clients are unpretentious, family-oriented, and down-to-earth yet classy. They love tradition but aren’t afraid to shake things up a little to infuse their ideas and personality into the day (which for me is the perfect mix for a sentimental and meaningful day). They are the kind of people that, when you leave them, you feel uplifted and enthused about life. They know they are truly marrying their best friend, and before the wedding, this makes them more excited than nervous.
What’s your favorite part of running a business?
The people I get to meet! Clients, vendors, creatives, family members, friends, etc. I have learned so much and found some of the most amazing friendships because of running a business.
What is your least favorite part of running a business?
Finances hands down. I just want to go be with people, serve them, take emotional and pretty pictures, and do everything I can to lift them up…I hate having to budget and plan and document and log. But, it’s part of running a business and I’m learning to make that part more smooth so I don’t waste time on it and I can do the things I love doing.
What has been the highlight of your career so far? Or a favorite moment since you started out?
My highlight moment is really two built into one! It seems so simple I’m sure, but it’s a highlight for me. After my first major price jump, I was terrified. I was sure I was in the “too big for her britches” zone (pricing myself has been an interesting journey, but that’s another story). But then this couple came along, Martin and Kara, who are some of the most amazing people I’ve met. We met for the consult and clicked instantly. Their hearts are solid gold, we both love orange, and they were infusing their wedding with the perfect blend of personality and tradition. Every interaction with them I went away feeling happy and excited about life. They became dear friends.
The whole wedding experience with them was incredibly touching and exhilarating, and I’m so grateful for the sweet friends they are. After the wedding, I received a package in the mail from them containing one of the orange Mexican bridesmaids dresses from the wedding. It has hung in my office ever since except for one occasion. One of the nights at United in 2017 was the Fiesta de la Party. I knew I had to wear the dress in their honor and in honor of all the sweet couples who I’ve worked with who have forever touched my heart. The world is a better place through their actions and I still can’t believe that I get to be their sidekick in telling their stories. I was awarded the “Most Bueno Fiesta de la Partier” award that night, and still laugh at the name (best Gringo named award ever, I just love the humor of the Showit crew!), but it meant a lot. Not because of the award, but really because I felt so honored to get to wear the dress and to represent not me and my business, but the couples who I love so dearly.
What advice would you give business owners just starting out?
Social media can take over your brain. Don’t follow everyone. Don’t feel like you have to do what you see “everyone else” doing. Be selective with who you follow, tell your story, and be okay being you! The world needs YOU.
And to go along with that first point, my very very favorite quote lately that applies to every aspect of life (personal and business) is this: “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley
Give yourself some grace, don’t let your business take control of your family, and be okay being you!
Tell me about you! Are you married? Kids? What do you love to do?
This is always the dreaded question! What do I say?! Cameron and I have been married for nearly 12 years now (12 years in August!). We knew each other as young teens but he was 14 and I was 12, and at that age, that is an uncrossable chasm. We reconnected in college, pulled pranks on roommates, I fell in love with him and convinced him to give dating me a shot. 5 weeks after we officially started dating we got married! Crazy, I know! We have two kids: Darrow is our 4-year-old lawyer and sunshine boy. His golden hair has been wowing everyone since he was born, his laugh is the best ever, he can’t hold still, and wants to be on your lap. Ione is our 2-year-old with the attitude of a 15-year-old. She’s a firecracker to the max…short fuse, big explosion, and then so fun, pretty, and entertaining. All within a few seconds. That might have been more than you wanted about the family…but I’m a little partial to them and that part of me.
We love a good board game (Carcassonne is a big favorite around here) paired with brownies or carne asada fries, or a day out exploring where we live. We love visiting local attractions, getting to know the Mom and Pop shops, finding the neatly hidden spots in nature, and falling in love with wherever we live. We started our marriage as poor college students so getting to know all the local and free things was just what we did, and that hobby has never left. It’s our secret to falling in love with where we live, no matter where it is.
What are 3 fun facts about you?
- I’m slightly obsessed with Prickly Pear cactus. I’ll pass up a saguaro any day for a Prickly Pear. We harvest our own fruit and have our own process to get the most flavorful and colorful juice so we can turn it into jelly, syrup, marinade, etc. I just can’t get enough!
- International travel isn’t a huge pull for me…but I would LOVE to hit every single site within the National Park Service. We have a soft spot for the National Parks after working at the Fort Bowie National Historic Site for two summers in our marriage, and now I just want to see them all!
- I don’t like chocolate. Especially chocolate ice cream or regular chocolate cake. Vanilla bean ice cream, vanilla milkshakes, caramel anything, Reese’s, Horchata…now those I can’t get enough of
Marquette’s Experience Working with Laura Lee Creative
When did you start working with Laura with workflow help? What product did you have?
I joined Laura’s Fireside Tribe in late 2016 and gleaned every bit of info I could from her blog posts and from her group. The first official time that I got to work with Laura was through her Wedding Photographer’s Playbook with complete guides to post wedding workflow.
What was your biggest struggle with your business prior to working with Laura?
I had no idea how to even set up a workflow, or what a normal workflow looked like. I had it all in my head and when I’d try to write it down I couldn’t figure the steps and didn’t know if I was missing anything. I’d forget steps with clients because I had nothing written, no firm plan to follow.
Prior to the Playbook or other workflow services from Laura, how many weeks did it typically take you to deliver a wedding gallery?
I was able to deliver a wedding gallery in a week, but it took the ENTIRE week of neglecting my family, little sleep, and sometimes forgetting a step.
How many weeks does it take you now?
I could still deliver in one week easily (wayyy easier…way way way easier than before) but have expanded it to a week and a half. I decided to keep Sunday’s completely clear of work, which set the workflow off by a day in and of itself. And I found that my clients responded better to having their gallery delivered on a weekday instead of a weekend, so I’ve expanded my workflow to fit my family life and to get the best response to my clients. Still have a HUGE amount of time saved though!
What are the top three benefits you’ve experienced since working with Laura?
- A huge amount of time saved! The first wedding after implementing the workflow I saved 16 hours of time. That’s just increased since that first wedding as I’ve been able to better implement what I’ve learned from the playbook and mold it into my business. I love that she gives you a workflow that helps immediately in your business, but then it grows and molds to you as you go to help you be better!
- Confidence in my processes/workflows. I don’t have to worry if I’ve missed something, or what the next step is. I know these workflows work, they impress clients and vendors, and they have made my business much more efficient!
- Organization. My files are organized better, my exports are orderly, I know where everything is and where it should go. And that just acts as grease to keep the rest of the wheels and cogs of the business running smooth.
What, specifically, was your favorite part?
Not only knowing what steps I needed to take but how to take them and why it was important. I like knowing the why and I loved that she explains it all!
What was your business like before you used the Playbook and how does it compare to today?
You know how everything is now “in the cloud”? That’s pretty much what my business was like only the cloud was my brain…which was also the brain of a mother of a two-year-old and a new baby. Not a good recipe. I was starting to book clients, but their experiences varied because I took different routes with every couple. I felt overwhelmed by the work coming in and saw it taking over my life and my family. Today it’s like my business isn’t so nebulous as it was then…it’s not all in the cloud. I’ve learned a better harmony between family and business, learned ways to make the business efficiently so that I can serve my family, but also be the sidekick I want to be for my couples. The Playbook gave me the freedom to grow my business, but also to be able to step away from the business as needed for my family.
What other side effects have you seen in your business as a result? (i.e. Better client communication? Better vendor relationships? Better client experience?)
- Can I say all of the above?!
- Better vendor relationships for sure! Through the Playbook I was the only photographer in one of my service areas that were able to turn a wedding around in a week and who served the vendors and not just the clients…and that was a HUGE benefit. 85% of my referrals that first year was from these vendors that loved the results of the Playbook.
- Before the playbook, I didn’t really have any email templates set up. The playbook gave me an amazing framework to build those in and even helped with writing some of them. That’s so much time saved from rewriting those every time, but they also have improved communication with every client, knowing that I’m able to give them the best of me every single time.
- The ability to assess and diagnose parts of my business and make tweaks through the workflow to make my style of business more efficient.
- Better wedding blog posts that not only tell the story better but also are more SEO friendly!
- It gave me the ability to outsource! I didn’t have enough of a process or organization to even be able to effectively outsource anything.
What side effects have you seen in your personal life? (i.e Less stress? More time to spend with your family? Feeling less overwhelm?)
- More time with my family is a big one! For too long I molded my family around my business and that wasn’t healthy. The Playbook was the first in a series to help me start turning that around and molding my business around my family. It set me on the path with the tools I needed!
- This overlaps with business side effects, but I’ve been able to bring my sister on part-time as a Virtual Assistant on a wedding by wedding basis (hoping to increase that as time goes on). The Playbook helps keep us organized, know who’s tasks are who’s, but on a personal level it’s been a way I’ve been able to work with my sister, and the pay helps her family.
- The Playbook helps me definitely have less stress and overwhelm. I know where I’m at in the process with every client, I know what I need to do today, tomorrow, next week, and next month, and my brain doesn’t have to hold on to that. It’s all logged in my workflow.
- I sleep better! Getting all that out of my brain made a huge difference!
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about getting starting with Laura?
If you feel like you’re drowning, don’t know how to get your business organized, and are looking for a magic wand…this is it! It’s so much more than just a to-do list. It’s a playbook that walks you through everything from when you shoot the last image on a wedding day, though when and what emails to send, culling and exporting hacks, and even blogging tips. It adapts to your business while still elevating and refining it. Working with Laura has been one of the biggest blessings. She saved me from drowning and gave me the tools I needed to push on and succeed. It truly was the catalyst in so much positive change the past year and a half!
How much time do you think you’ve saved overall since working with Laura? Weekly or per client?
This one is hard to figure for me! I’ve added things into my wedding experience that weren’t there when I first implemented the Playbook that add extra time, and have deliberately “slowed” down my timeline and restricted the number of weddings I take on so that I can serve my clients better and give more of me to my family. I can say this though…I am working on implementing a new work schedule for me that only has me working 15-20 hours a week (beyond shooting, that time is not included), and I know that would never have been possible without the playbook. I was working 40-60 hour weeks before to get a wedding out in a week and that was working almost solely on that wedding. Now I’m working 15-20 hours a week, can get a wedding out in a week and a half, and still be working on other facets of my business. The Playbook truly was a catalyst for major change!
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Not only is the Playbook life-changing, you gain the best and sweetest personal cheerleader. Seriously, Laura, you are so uplifting, humble, and giving. You’ve poured your heart and soul into everything you do and it’s changing the lives of so many. I wished I could go to your first retreat and was bummed to miss having lunch with you at United. You’re one of those people who spreads joy wherever you go. I’m so glad our online paths crossed and I can’t wait until they cross in person again!
Wow – I cannot thank you enough, Marquette! Your story is truly amazing and your clients are SO lucky to have you in their lives. I am so excited to see where your business takes you as you continue to grow and thrive!
To view Marquette’s beautiful portfolio, click here!