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Meet Trailblazer Hannah Siddiqui

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Siddiqui.

Hannah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an East Bay girl who’s always had huge dreams. I’ve been an incredibly passionate and curious person since birth, so I inevitably grew up exploring a lot of different avenues – all of which I loved. My first of these loves was dance, and I trained as a ballerina on-and-off for twelve years. I spent high school training with the intent of one day going professional, however, after an injury and a change of heart during my junior year, I was left wondering what I would do. I dove headfirst into writing – something I had done since I was eleven – and wrote my first novel by the age of 16. While it gained quite a bit of traction online, it failed to sell to a publisher, and I was once again left dejected and wondering what I would do.

When I turned 18, I took a leap of faith and started a style blog, which was the first iteration of “The Road to Hannah”. It was something I had always wanted to do, as a personal style was another passion of mine, alongside writing. I had been posting outfit photos on my Instagram for a few years and was gaining a following from it, so I made the decision to take it to the next level by working full-time on the blog. From there, the blog led me into freelance writing for other blogs, modeling in national ad campaigns (something I had always wanted to do), social media marketing (something I still do), and yes, photography.

However, there came a point, after a year, where blogging wasn’t feeling as satisfying, and I knew it was time to change direction. During my stint as a blogger, I had the incredible opportunity of working with amazing photographers from around the globe, many of whom are some of my good friends. And me being as curious as I was, I always asked them questions about their craft. I ended up learning so much about photography before ever picking up a camera – so when I finally did pick up a camera for the first time, it was something that came on rather naturally for me. I ended up gaining regular clients fairly quickly, and about a year-and-a-half later, I now do photography full-time.

The one thing that I’ve come to accept my story, is that none of it was linear- and that is okay. Even today, as I learn to balance the duality between being both a writer AND a photographer, there are still ebbs and flows, There are times when the path is a steady climb up, and a tumbling crash down – and that is absolutely okay. It’s those moments where I’m falling down that I try to remind myself that I’m a human being, trying to find my way as a creative entrepreneur, and there’s nothing about that journey that has to be perfect.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road (no pun intended…) was not smooth, to say the least. There were many bumps along the way, and many times where I didn’t think I would “make it”. And while I still don’t think I’ve “made it”, in my personal definition of the term, I think that I’ve gotten to a place where I can now see how every obstacle in my life brought me to a place of higher consciousness.

I was bullied quite a bit, growing up. Girls were horribly mean to me, and there so many times where I left school crying my eyes out, or sitting by myself during lunch because nobody wanted to be friends with me. I was different – in everything from the way I looked, to the way I dressed, the things I ate and the activities I was into – and many girls took it as a way to ostracize me. I felt alone, depressed, and scared, especially towards the tail-end of my high school years. I wondered if I would ever find a loving and supportive community outside of my family unit. And even worse, I wondered if any of the nasty things they said about me were true.

Despite still having moments where I let this doubt and negative energy creep back up to the surface, I’ve been able to overcome and heal from a lot of what I went through by cultivating a sense of self-love and forgiveness. Now, this has been a gradual journey and something that has taken me years to develop. But it’s one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves. Having the ability to look yourself in the mirror, and acknowledge what you’ve been holding on to (anger, resentment, hurt, etc.) is such a powerful eye-opener. But it’s only the first part. The second part of that is letting it go. And whether that means calling up the person who hurt you and telling them, “I forgive you” or emotionally letting go through a guided meditation, surrendering your hurt is what creates the space for healing. It creates the space for miracles. And it creates the space for love.

So, I guess if I were to were to give young women any piece of advice, it would be that: focus on yourself and your healing. Forgive others who have done you wrong. Let go of any tension or stress you’ve been holding on to. You may not see it now, but when you begin to take care of yourself, your business will begin to take care of you.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Road to Hannah – what should we know?
The Road to Hannah (or TRTH, as it is lovingly referred to) is a lifestyle brand with an ethos centered around conscious and intuitive storytelling. I began TRTH as a teen, and originally as a blog, but it unintentionally expanded beyond my wildest dreams. Today, we have grown to fill two unique avenues. First, we provide photography services worldwide, specializing in portraits and live music. Getting into photography was a complete “happy accident” for me, but has completely changed my life for the better, and I couldn’t imagine not doing it.

Secondly, we place an emphasis on our written content. Our latest project is our series of daily affirmations- dubbed “Daily TRTHs”- which go live on our Instagram every single day. These were yet another “happy accident”, and quickly developed a cult-like following within the short span of a few months. Looking ahead to the future, we have several projects in the works (one may or may not be a book) that we hope to release very soon.

I think what makes us unique is that we keep a sense of intention behind all of the work we do. In photography, we aim to build long-lasting relationships with a select amount of clients. And in writing, we aim to keep our thoughts honest, and our content pure, positive, and helpful. However, with all of that said, I think, personally, that is the way we’ve been able to bridge these two worlds together – by tying together our visual storytelling with its written counterpart – that has enabled us to reach the place that we have. Each medium brings a certain amount of depth to the other, and that, alongside our candor and upliftment, is what has set us apart from other creators in our field(s).

And in terms of what I’m most proud of as a business owner? That would hands-down be our sense of community. I’m extremely proud and grateful for the fact that we’ve been able to build such an inclusive and positive community, across social media and beyond. We’ve created a safe space where people of all demographics feel comfortable to tell their stories along with us, and I feel a tremendous amount of honor (and responsibility) to uphold that.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
Absolutely. I feel like a lot of what I went through, both good and bad, set me up for the success that I’m experiencing today.

To start with the positive, I think the way my parents raised me really helped me to develop a work ethic and gain a sense of strong independence. My dad always pushed me really hard in school, and my mom always rewarded me for doing well. While this may just seem like a typical parenting tactic to get your kid to do what you want, it taught me the importance of balancing working hard with taking care of yourself. So many times, we forget that the simple acts of buying yourself a latte or a manicure or a new leather jacket are just as important as business meetings and brand deals and signing contracts. My mom is and was my constant reminder to step back and take care of myself, and have a little fun. Even now, as my work life gets crazier, she still reminds me on a near-daily basis to kick off my shoes and take a bubble bath after a long day. My dad, on the other hand, is always pushing me to grow my business and expand into new ventures. He helps me read over contracts and ask for more pay – the hard things that go along with owning a business. I’m super grateful for the fact that they both support me in totally different ways.

And while I touched on some of the more negative topics earlier in our conversation, I think that every negative comes with a positive, and the positive from my experience with bullying and self-doubt and hurt would be that it all lit a fire under my ass. Hearing people tell me I couldn’t/wouldn’t succeed for one reason or another made me want to work harder to prove them wrong. And, ultimately, without experiencing that hurt, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have learned the lesson that made my skin thick and my bones tough. So, ultimately, in some weird, twisted way, I would totally attribute it to part of my success.

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Image Credit:

Mt. Eddy (@mt_eddy), 924 Gilman (@924gilmanstreet), Vi Mayugba (@violetmayugba), Olivia Hayward (@manemessage), Anisa Young (@bbyhurricane), Syd Hicks (@sydhx), Megan Welker (@megs_marvels)

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