In all the craziness of the past 6 months (and my nearly 3 month hiatus stuck floating in the middle of the Caribbean Sea), I have fallen off the wagon with our Real Women Interviews. These interviews were set up to create a platform for real women, like you and I, who work hard, juggle a gazillion priorities and still try to be the best human beings we can possibly be. These interviews are about keeping it real, being honest in our successes (and our failures), and learning from one another without judgement, and WITH open ears and open hearts.
With that said, I am SO pumped to get back on the wagon with none other than the super talented and multi-passionate creative entrepreneur, Taya Reid. If you are someone who has a number of hobbies and talents, but aren't sure how you can turn them into something that can pay your bills, then this will be a great read for you. Taya juggles single motherhood, a full time job, and a creative hub business that works with people all over the world encompassing event styling + consulting, documentary photography, writing and more! Talk about a powerhouse woman! I can't wait for you to meet her!
Taya, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I’m a writer, documentary photographer and creative consultant based in Perth, Western Australia, but have been fortunate enough to get involved in projects all over the world. My background is in hospitality, food + beverage, hotels, styling and events.
I’m a serial industry hopper and have worked in everything from weddings to power generation, but I’ve finally realised that I can and should focus on my creative pursuits and that it’s legitimate to treat those as a career.
I also have a five-year-old daughter and I work full time as an Executive Assistant for a busy tech Company of all things!
What is the biggest personal risk you have taken and how did you arrive at the decision to take the leap?
Many of my career decisions have been forced by my personal circumstances, so I take every risk I possibly can to create opportunities. Daily I’m talking to my daughter about why I have so many jobs and work so much, which is tough. When I weigh up the actual returns in dollars or exposure they don’t always make good business sense, but I have to take the risk that eventually there’ll be fruit on the tree and she will see it was all worth it to follow your passions.
You are someone who has many passions and hobbies, some of which you have now turned into legitimate businesses. What advice do you have for multi-passionate people on how to decide what you want to do and then make space for everything?
I am fascinated and annoyed by the fixation we have on niche, the perceived urgency to specialise and find your sweet spot. I just don’t buy it. I understand the merits, but I’m fortunate enough to be good at a bunch of things I enjoy, so why not attempt a little of the Renaissance (Wo)man approach, pursue them equally and see what falls out? This depends on your personality to a large degree, but, for me, provided I can make all those services sing together and be useful to each other, I don’t see the issue.
I used to class my inability to “decide” on a career as a weakness, but I’m making it work by skimming the cream in each discipline. Yes, I’ll style your event if it’s a brief I am going to relish and the budget is practical for your vision. Yes, I’ll take those photos because that subject matter is authentic and interesting to me. Yes, I’ll write that article because that topic captures me.
You can absolutely engage across many fields, but only do what serves you emotionally and/or pays you well. Stick to the core of your identity and brand in whatever you’re doing and that becomes your niche rather than one skill or service offering.
How do you stay motivated and how do you work out what you want to achieve in your life?
My own expensive taste in food and wine and wanting to live the good life is fairly good motivation. A genuine love for the things I do takes care of the rest. I follow my natural interests to avoid getting bored. I love telling stories, so anything that allows me to do that – writing, photography, creative concepts - hardly seems like work.
I understand now that if I’m stagnant I should make a small connection, e.g. reach out to a colleague from a past life to see what’s happening, or find a new, sideways method of promoting myself. If I’m ever feeling slow or stuck I just send a random message to someone or instigate a new conversation that might seem unlikely or absurd. Doors always fly open after that.
What does “success” mean to you? What is your unique definition of it?
Making enough money to live a good life doing something you authentically love to do in a way that has a positive impact and is ethically sound.
***BOOM*** Love this Taya!
Have you ever experienced Imposter Syndrome or a time where have felt like you weren’t good enough, smart enough, experienced enough etc? How did you deal with this? What advice would you have for other women who struggle with self-doubt and low confidence?
I am a photography imposter in my own mind. I have no idea what half the settings I’m touching really do and I’ve never had a lesson in my life. I accept that people like what I do and want to pay me for it, therefore it’s real, but it’s taken a long time to know that’s okay.
One thing that helps for me is to vocalise it. I tell people, I’m not a technical photographer and I’m not a studio photographer and I’m not going to turn up with a bunch of gadgets and lights, but I am willing to get absolutely saturated, so if you want to go for a run in the surf and see what we get, that’s great! For you that might be, I’m only just learning about XYZ aspects of this industry, but my time doing ABC is really enhancing my understanding of it in a unique way.
The Eating your Cake too philosophy talks a lot about getting the f*ck out of your own head and your own way. Can you tell us about a time where YOU were the one getting in your own way, how did you realise it and what did you do about it?
I’ve been in my own way for 20 years! Writing has always been my primary strength and interest. In school, with grades and awards, then later through various work environments I was always handed the written tasks, drafting correspondence and publicity, creating copy, even writing apology letters to customers. For whatever reason, I never considered it a serious way to make a living. That was a dream.
During the pandemic I started writing in a way that felt instinctive and unforced, without the usual distractions and temptations. I worked on my novel (same one from 1995), entered and won an international flash fiction competition and signed up for a course. Suddenly I was churning this idea over in my head that of course I can be a writer. Why can’t I?
I accidentally got out of my own way as a cure for pandemic boredom, but it does come down to changing behaviour and going to a new place in your mind for the universe to recognise you want to progress. Shift your thinking and everything else follows.
What do you think the top 3 skills are that women need to have in a professional sense to be successful?
Intuition, emotional intelligence and tenacity. Women are great at seeing what’s not yet built and hearing what’s unsaid, then utilising that insight to achieve above average outcomes. We are experts at visualising potential beyond the facts and data and then having the discipline and grace to make it stick.
What do you think often prevents women from asking for what they want, and what advice do you have for the EYCT community to help them build confidence?
I think we’re afraid that the answer will be no, but also that it might be yes. What if you get that job or client and it means less time with the kids or moving everyone overseas or not having time to cook Christmas lunch from scratch? We are almost hoping for a half-success sometimes, so that we can maintain the other weights in our mental load.
If you’re in need of a kick or a very stern pep talk about how f*cking great you are, tell your female friends you require a cheer squad, and they will give you one. Surround yourself with excellent women who love you and you’ll have won half the confidence battle.
What is a quote that you live by?
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” Jack Kerouac
Have you got a story to tell and some lessons to share? Of course you do! If you would like to be one of our next 'Real Women' interviewees, click here and send me an email with the header "I want to share my story with other women!".