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Life & Work with Jess Baker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Baker.

Jess, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
So my story kind of started in a completely different direction than where I am currently. I was a newlywed; my husband was months into the military at the time and I was back home working and trying to find something to pass the time until we moved together in Washington DC. I have always considered myself to be a creative person so you could say I was looking for a hobby or creative outlet. I bought my first camera in 2009. That was the start of my path. I took photos for fun! I had no idea what I was doing. I had this giant camera and no idea how to use it. I was using auto mode and, this is really going to blow your mind in a nostalgic way, an editing website called Picnik to edit my photos. Eventually, I started to teach myself through books and material I found online and became comfortable with manual mode. I then started taking on clients and before I knew it, I was booking photo sessions daily by 2011.

Mid 2011, I was pregnant and decided to start a photoblog to document all the milestones of my pregnancy for my family back home since we were now over 1,000 miles away for each other. This was when I got my first taste of the blogging world. 2012 I started my IG. I believe my first photos are of my hospital wreaths I made for my baby girl and captioned it with something along the lines of how ready I was to meet her and the photo had the most obnoxious default IG filter. Instagram soon became my place for easy fast photo documenting for my life. Short and sweet with a photo. By early 2014 I was moving more into the direction of fashion and started to get a little more creative with my Instagram posts. I started to see my account grow and incorporated my photography skills into my Instagram making my posts a little more intentional.

Like I said before, I have a need for a creative outlet and soon found that my creativity is sparked through self-expression, fashion, photography, and writing. I received one of my first collaboration opportunities and realized this little hobby of mine could potentially grow into something bigger, maybe even a steady income. This is when I decided to get serious about a blog and start a new brand for myself. That is where The Chic Blonde came from. A military wife, stay at home mom, entrepreneur, two babies under two, wanting to share clothes, confidence, and inspiration. Now it is 2021 and here we are…

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Not going to sugarcoat anything here. It has not been all rainbows and butterflies on this social media journey. Being a military family has its own difficulties in itself. Deployments, the moving constantly, crazy duty hours my husband would work, zero family nearby, and friends that would come and go. I think that is why I leaned into the social media scene, you could connect and stay connected with everyone, meet new people instantly, and grow these virtual friendships. Back to the struggles… On the subject of military at one point, we were stationed overseas in Bahrain which made it EXTREMELY difficult to take part in marketing campaigns with brands because I was in another country. Then there was the issue of timing when it was morning for me everyone back home in the US was asleep. I definitely saw my engagement and following drop so much during that time and if I am being completely honest, it still hasn’t fully recovered from that. Then there are the everyday real-life struggles of LIFE! You know having a presence online all day everyday can be so draining mentally especially when you have made it your job and have children to pour into at home while you are doing this.

I struggled so much with finding a perfect balance. Many, many, MANY times, I thought of calling a quit with it all. I couldn’t handle the guilt I was feeling trying to divide my time between my babies and “my job” social media. It was bring me to tears, thinking I was just wasting time sitting on the internet entertainment complete strangers. Several times I have had to take a step back and put things into perspective and revaluate my priorities which is my family. Over the years, I have learned to slow down, let go, and be present for the season I am in. If I have the time to devote to social media then great if not, no worries maybe next week. My posts went from 2-3 times a day to once a day and now to whenever I have something with purpose or just FEEL like sharing. Zero pressure! Now as far as the photography goes, I still do it. I miss doing it full time but like I mentioned, this military life makes things almost impossible at times. We move so much I am constantly rebuilding and rebuilding my clientele. I have moments where I am extremely busy and I love it to times where I don’t get to pick up my camera for a week or several months unless I’m taking photos of my own family.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a social media influencer and digital creator by day, mom of four all of the time, and on the weekends I am a photographer. As an influencer, I work with different brands and affiliate programs creating social media content. These sponsored posts are like an advertisement you could say. I love this side of social media marketing. It gives me the opportunity to share things I genuinely love with my friends and followers and also learn about new brands and products. I initially started out sharing a lot of fashion, but overtime it become a little bit of everything from fashion to home decor, parenting, pets, and health and lifestyle. What am I known for? That question makes me a little nervous lol I am not sure to be honest. I wish I could ask someone of the other side of this what they think. I will say when I do questionnaires on my Stories one of the main answers I get when I ask, “why do you follow me?” is Funny content (mainly in my stories) and shares good deals and sales. I am all for a good find and a sale so I will agree with that. I am most proud that I never gave up. There were so many times I became overwhelmed and wanted to stop the marketing scene but I get so much joy, inspiration, creativity from it and it has become a big part of who I am so I am very proud that I kept pushing forward.

As a photographer well, I take photos of people and animals. I specialize in portrait photography ranging from Family, Engagement, Wedding, Birth, Newborn, Babies, Birthdays, Children, Seniors, Homecomings, Pets, and MORE! I absolutely love newborn photography and first birthdays sessions. I am known for my vibrant colorful stylized shoots. A passion of mine is stylized sessions. I team up with the client to brainstorm a theme and from there, I build it for them bringing their vision to life to keep forever in photograph. I think what I am most proud of is once again not giving up! It’s so important to follow your dreams and even when things get hard….really freaking hard and you just can’t find a reason to keep going because you aren’t feeling good enough KEEP GOING! Try again and again.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Too many favorites to choose but I did just finish “Then She was Gone” it was pretty good!

Lightroom app, Canva, Instagram, TikTok, LiketoKnowit, Tezza app.

I only just started getting into podcasts so I am a newbie. Crime Junkies podcasts are very interesting!

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Jess Baker, Jessica B Photography

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