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Monday, June 10, 2013

She's Becoming Gold: Meet Andrea

I'm thrilled to be back with the second installment of She's Becoming Gold, a series of posts I'm doing about four amazing women whose stories of transformation I hope will inspire you on your own journey. If you missed the first installment of brunch, cocktails, and girl talk you can find Leslie's story here.

Today I'm so excited to introduce you to Andrea! When she agreed to participate in this project I kind of had to pinch myself. I've been an admirer of her photography and websites {Bella Eats and Beyond the Flavor} for a long time. There is an integrity and thoughtfulness to her work that is so inspiring. Take it away Andrea!

Meet Andrea

Creative Shift: Architect to Photographer, Blogger, Entrepreneur and Food Enthusiast 


1. When you were a little girl what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wavered between the options of becoming a vet, a marine biologist and an environmental engineer (I thought I could save the world) until the age of 11. At that point I was introduced to a visiting architect in one of my 6th grade classes. She brought the coolest tools with her to show us how she drew house plans by hand and I was hooked! From then until I left for college at 18 I was sketching plans of my future dream home when I was bored in class. Photography was a hobby of mine throughout this time period and while I told everybody that my dream job was to become a National Geographic photographer I felt it was more practical to pursue architecture as a career.

2. What expectations were placed on you growing up regarding your eventual professional and personal life? In retrospect, did they inspire or stifle you?

My parents were always very supportive, telling me that I could do anything I wanted to do....except to make a living as a photographer. I recognized myself that the chances of achieving that coveted position with National Geographic were slim, and in all fairness at the time and in the place I grew up it was not possible to support oneself as a full-time professional photographer. My parents did encourage me to pursue photography as a wonderful, artistic hobby and never discouraged that passion. And off to college I went to become an architect.

3. Describe your mentors and how they have affected you?

I am very lucky in Charlottesville to have been surrounded by an amazing group of young entrepreneurs. Even before I started my company I was drawn to the businesses in town owned and operated by locals close to my own age. When I first made the decision to branch out on my own, I was amazed at the support and encouragement that came from not only those same business owners but others that could have been perceived as direct competition. With and openness and generosity I couldn't have imagined, they took the time to have a coffee, to answer my questions and to offer advice. I've learned that there is enough room for each of us and that it is important to have a unique perspective on your craft that makes you stand out as an artist and business. 

4. What was your first "grown up job" that you landed after college and what did it teach you?

I worked for a design-build company as a home designer. I was the new girl in a previously one-man design shop and brought with me a lot of new ideas and technology. While change was welcomed and accepted by the men within the firm, there was one particular female co-worker that blocked each of my ideas. It was a frustrating year, but taught me so much about fighting for what I believe is right and separating a hostile work environment from the rest of my life. It also taught me to seek out future jobs with supportive, like-minded people. Life is way too short to be miserable for 40+ hours a week!

5. What was your worst job and what did it teach you?

Ha! See above:)

New Directions

6. You decided to forge a new path by taking a different direction in your career and creative life. Describe the moment you knew you were going to pursue your passion and why?

I was working for a wonderful architecture firm in town that just didn't have enough work to keep me busy. So I began teaching architecture at UVA while working part-time for the firm and taking photography jobs on the side. At some point a few months into this crazy new schedule I was up was too late, exhausted and crying behind my computer. I was so overwhelmed by everything that I'd piled on my plate. Something had to give, and the thought of giving up my photography projects made me cry even more. I realized then that I wanted to give a career in photography an honest chance, without all of the other distractions. That was nearly three years ago!

7. Tell us about your new venture.

Well, Andrea Hubbell Photography has been around for nearly three years now. In the beginning I took every job that came across my plate; weddings, portraits, architecture, food and product photography. Last summer I realized that the projects I was most passionate about were interiors and food, and chose to move my business in that direction fully. It was scary giving up a portion of my business that was responsible for about 30% of my income, but it was an important move to ensure my continued excitement and passion for what I was doing every day.

In that same time frame my newest project, Beyond the Flavor (which is a partnership between myself and Sarah Cramer Shields), was three months old and growing steadily. BTF is an online food resource in Charlottesville that seeks to support and enrich our community's connection to the food grown and raised in its fields, pastures, gardens and backyards. To do this we reach beyond the flavor to capture the stories behind the meals shared at the tables of local chefs, farmers, growers, bakers, craftspeople and food enthusiasts, because we believe that recipes are richer than the ingredients used to prepare them. We share the stories we're told and the skills we're shown with our readers, so they can better utilize the vast local food resources our community has to offer.

I plan to eventually have BTF encompass about 50% of my working time, with AHP making up the other 50%. We are launching our first publication this fall, which is very exciting!

8. Any new step is a risk. How do you stay motivated during the difficult moments?

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture is really helpful for me. It can be so easy to be dragged down by daily issues such as a difficult client or worry over the amount of work that is coming in. But somehow, everything always works out. I look at where I am versus three years ago and am amazed by how much both companies have grown. It's incredible! If I were told five years ago that I would be doing what I am doing now I never would have believed it. Truly, I love what I do and can't believe I've been able to carve this little niche out for myself in which I am so very happy. That feeling trumps the daily frustration every time.

The Fun Stuff

9. Coffee or Tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon/evening.

10. What do you do to unwind after a hard day?

When I'm not pregnant, as I am currently, I have a glass of wine with my husband. Now I am making do with creative mocktails that he is concocting for me as we sit on our back deck and debrief. Also, I love taking long baths with a really good fiction book.

11. If you could have dinner with any woman throughout history who would it be?

I would LOVE to have dinner with Ruth Reichl. I've read her memoirs multiple times and would beg to hear the stories that didn't make those pages. And talk about an amazing palette! To sit with her as she deciphers a bit of food or a restaurant experience....what a dream.

12. If you could give any piece of advice to yourself at 20 what would it be?

Let loose a little more in college! Take summers off and travel! I was so determined to get ahead, find the perfect internship, spend my spare time studying to become an architect. And now I'm not an architect! I wouldn't trade my education for anything- it truly is a perfect base for what I am doing now- but I think I would have found my passion for food culture and photography much sooner if I'd exposed myself to a bit more leisurely of a lifestyle. Learning doesn't always happen in a classroom or a library. LIVE!

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