The Creative Family Feature is a monthly blog series featuring women & men in the C@H family who are building community & education right where they are. We’re inspired by the big things our family members are doing and love being able to celebrate alongside them!! Whether it’s through hosting their own educational experience, building a community-driven team or fostering education with their industry peers, they’re making big dreams happen all over the country!
This month’s Creative Family Feature is Creative at Heart alumni, Manali Sontakke!
Tell us about your story! How did your business begin? We want to celebrate the highs & lows of your biz journey with you!
I started photography when traveling with my family but in high school I really fell in love with learning from wedding photographers such as Natalie Franke & Amy and Jordan. Looking at their images it was INCREDIBLE to me that they could capture details so beautifully and capture such emotional and heartfelt candid moments on the wedding day. Hearing each couples’ stories gave me such a strong example of what I wanted to aspire to! I absolutely DREAMED of running my own business and the flexibility and freedom to create beautiful images, travel and work from home that came with it! I started taking pictures of friends in college while second shooting as many weddings as I possibly could to learn the in’s and out’s of what made a great photography wedding experience! I spent HOURS poring through wedding photographers’ & educators blog posts to learn everything from shooting weddings really well to client experience to marketing to backend business organization!
My favorite thing about building my own business is:
My favorite thing about building my own business is that there is never a peak! You have to constantly be learning and pushing yourself to be a better business owner. It’s also SO cool to see how far your hard work can take you! Two years ago I could have NEVER dreamed of how much I’d be able to grow the business. I also love that I have the flexibility to travel, to spend time on what matters most and to be able to make changes myself based on what I see working or not working. It really also pushes me to be more self-aware and be constantly working on personally improving to be a better business owner! I really do think that if you thrive in life your business thrives as well.
If I could give one piece of advice to another entrepreneur it would be:
You have to have faith in yourself! Celebrate others’ successes & cheer them on but know what success looks like to you and don’t be afraid to chase after it no matter what everyone else is up to!
In 2020, I’m most excited about these things in my business:
I just recently launched mentoring for photographers in their first three years of business!! I’m looking to host my second workshop & I’m eager to implement a TON of things I learned from the first one!
Since joining the Creative at Heart family, this has happened in my business:
Man where do I even start?! I attended Round 8 about a month before I went full time with my photography business and was lucky enough to win a website template from With Grace & Gold! I also took PAGES of notes of how I could better improve my photography client experience and after implementing that & building up a new website, it really did help my business thrive and I hit the ground running right after I went full time! Round 9 was a TOTAL heart check for me and got me thinking about how to sustainably build my business and make sure that it was supporting my life & not running it! I started thinking about the impact and the legacy that I wanted my business to have and really the true mission and purpose behind it that breathed longevity into it!
Before Creative at Heart I felt…
I was really anxious and nervous going into running the business full time! I knew I had it within me but I was lacking the exact action steps that I wanted to take with the free time that I would have to further build my business!
Now that I have been to Creative at Heart / am a part of Creative 24/7 I feel …
Creative at Heart does such an impeccable job of not only giving you the tangible steps you need to build your business but also the heart & the support to do so as well!
If I could have coffee with anyone, it would be:
Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes! I watched her speak at Round 8 but I absolutely love her wisdom, knowledge & how she brings her personality into her brand so well!
If someone is on the fence about attending C@H, I’d tell them:
GO! Make it happen!! It’s actually life-changing and such an incredible experience that you’ll never forget and that will completely transform your business and your life!
If someone is on the fence about joining Creative 24/7, I’d tell them:
It is NOISY out there with education nowadays! I love that Creative 24/7 is insanely practical and breaks it down in a very digestible and implementable way. It ensures that I’m constantly working ON my business rather than constantly IN it month to month which is invaluable!