Empowering the Women of America with Zsa’nee Gaines
Who Is Kymora Jaxson?
This is the number one question of all time for my business. Kymora Jaxson exists because of two amazing young women in my life. The name is a combination of both of my daughters’ names. Kymora is my oldest artistic creative daughter and Jaxson is my gifted athletic baby. So many people ask me “why do you not use your name?” An amazing friend of mine who is also a female entrepreneur in the beauty industry asked me “why do you do what you do?”
I answered: Because of my girls. I want to show them that life is what you make it. Just because you are female does not mean you are not good enough or that you cannot follow your passion. You alone are special and good enough just being you. That was the moment I decided my business name would represent the reason why I hustle and push forward every day. I never want my girls to feel that their name, their ethnicity, or their gender will hold them back. It is important for me to give my girls a sense of strength and accomplishment as they become active members of society. Instilling responsibility and encouragement are things I greatly stand for when raising my girls. I want them to know they can conquer anything they put their mind and energy towards and that women are utterly amazing.
What Am I?
I am a mother, a wife, a boss, a mentor, a female, an entrepreneur and so many other things. Work, life, and balance I take to heart. As a mother, I’m expected to be at every event, game, field trip, and so forth. As a wife, the expectation is to be supportive of my husband. As an entrepreneur and a business owner, I am expected to be available 24 hours a day seven days a week to meet my clients’ every need. As a female, you tend to feel that you bring less to the table because you have these other responsibilities that need just as much as your time. Sometimes your clients hesitate to hire you for certain projects. They may not always say it, but some do think: “Are you available to take this job? Do you need to situate your kids first? Can you travel to this place next week?” As if a man, a husband, a father is not expected to do these things before saying yes. Are male entrepreneurs more flexible than women?
So here we find this tug of war, what’s more important, how do I answer this without leaving them with doubt? I tell myself to smile, breathe, and say, “I’d love to work with you on this project, please allow me to look over my calendar and move some clients around.” No one needs to know your full life schedule. Answer just as firmly and positive as a man would. Then work out the details later. Use your support system. Being female is not a handicap.
I love the moment during a conversation with someone I just met and they ask “what do you do for work?” I reply, “I am a photographer.” That of course leads into the next three questions: “Do you do that full-time? Who do you work for? Do you photograph families and babies?” My thought is “why, because I’m a girl?” Why is it so strange for a female to own her own business and work for herself? I think it’s simply amazing that a woman can wear a million different hats and succeed in all. Why do we have to be limited to specific roles in different industries? Inspiration to our peers and the next generation should be our focus. I believe everyone was born with a gift and a talent. Your perception doesn’t have to be the same as the former. Limiting yourself because of your gender only hurts those coming up after you. The world itself is so complex. There are so many ways to see things, to do things, and to make things happen. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur.
We know that women are not thought of as equals in most industries. It doesn’t stop at the door of photography either. Are we not as creative, or are our character and mentality not strong enough to meet the demands of this business or any business? Why are we thought of as too sensitive or constantly approached inappropriately?
A few years back I was on set of a commercial shoot to photograph a celebrity for a high-end product. I walked up to the beautiful celebrity and before I could introduce myself she said, “Hi, I am [so and so], you’re very pretty, are you here to help?” I replied, “Oh thank you so much, I’m excited to work with you on this project, I’m the photographer.” She and her glam squad were shocked. The remainder of that long 10-hour day was beyond what I expected. She was thrilled I was female. She continuously asked me personal girlfriend questions that the male creative director couldn’t understand. What I learned that day set my mind in motion. How many other women feel this way? There is a need, a want, and comfort that only a female photographer can give certain clients. Never count yourself out. You have the ability and talent to bring to the table what others cannot in any industry. The platform and measure of reach you have are more than enough. You are strong, passionate, caring, powerful, and brilliant. Don’t be afraid to show them what you’re about.
Know Your True Value
This might be one of the most thought-provoking personal questions one could ask themselves. With all the other things going on in a female’s brain, valuing themselves is one for the books. Society tells us we’re not equal to men. Although we’ve come far from the past in what our mothers and grandmothers experienced in their work industry, we’re still not there. How do we get there? By having faith and believing in ourselves. Mastering your skill as well as continual growth is important. But there will come a time when you have to dig your heels (in my case, sneakers) into the ground and say, “I’m worth it. I’m worth every dollar, every project, every effort, and every opportunity.” It’s not meant to be easy and it doesn’t come without a fight. A good friend once told me “all money isn’t good money,” so I had to learn what was for me and what was not for me. Not every client is my client, not every style, theme, or technique is for me. However, remember the fight is in your mentality. Stay the course and you will eventually persevere.
In the end, we are who we are, we love what we love, we do what we do, and that is sufficient. Being female in America is a journey. Embrace the skin, the gender, the size, the role, and everything that makes you, You. This no doubt is what your client initially sought you for. Stay in the fight and continue to reach. Your talent and skill are what others see.