Melissa Ohlendt Photography
Melissa Oholendt is a new mom, photographer and a lover of hugs. As an instructor of our Photography LAB’s, she uses her incredible skill set to show others how they can capture photos that create lifelong memories. Her style captures the light and the love that is behind each photo. Keep reading to find out how she continues to successfully run her business as a mom and one of the world’s best photographers.
Can you tell us a bit about your business and how it got started?
Melissa Oholendt Photography was originally born out of a hobby and need for a creative outlet while working in the finance world. Ten truly spectacular years of entrepreneurship later, we find ourselves here! I was recently named one of the Best Photographers in the World by BRIDES Magazine and have been published in countless magazines and blogs but the best thing I get to do is to serve & photograph some of the most incredible people in the Twin Cities & beyond on one of the happiest days of their lives and then continue to be allowed to be a part of their lives as they grow their families.
LAB is founded on three key values: connect, create and collaborate. What are your three values?
Creating Beauty. Sharing Delight. Leaving a Legacy.
How do you think living in the Twin Cities has shaped you?
We moved to Minneapolis while I was in my early twenties, very much still figuring out who I was and who I wanted to be, so in that way, I credit the Twin Cities for helping me to find myself. But more than that, it has given me a ride-or-die group of friends, a creative community that is second to none and, even bigger than all of that, our daughter through the miracle of adoption.
What is one of the most pivotal decisions you have made for your business?
To create a sustainable business through strategic branding and a pricing model that allowed me to attract the right clientele and be able to define how I wanted to run a business vs. being driven by the next opportunity.
How and where do you see growth for your business?
In my younger years, I viewed growth in direct relation to the amount of “hustle” I put into the business. The truth is, as I’ve gotten older and had major priority shifts that have made me reevaluate where I am and where I want to be, I’ve found myself wanting more space and far less “hustle”.
Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and give my all to deliver work I am proud of. But I’ve also figured out (and am re-figuring out, every year) how to work smarter. How to create systems to eliminate repetitive tasks. How to outsource to allow for more space to either future plan or to spend being a mom. How to say no to work that doesn’t inspire and yes to the work that does.
To me, and possibly me alone, that is more growth than any hustle could give.
If you had one piece of advice for someone starting a business, what would it be?
It’s crucial to understand the type of life you want to live outside of your business. It sounds counterintuitive to think of life before business but I truly believe that defining what you want life to look like helps to define what kind of business you want to run and creating a business that sustains through the years.
Do you want to have the majority of your nights and weekends to yourself? Create boundaries in your business that allow you to have that freedom. Do you want to be able to travel and have a reason to expense it? Brand your business as a destination focused brand. Do you want to have the ability to say yes or no to business opportunities based on your personal calendar instead of a need for income? Create a brand and pricing structure where you can say no and where your choices aren’t driven by monetary reasons.
What is the favorite thing about your workspace?
I recently moved my office from a studio space to a home office and I LOVE that answering emails is just a short jaunt down the stairs into my office.
When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
I absolutely, 100%, thought I was going to be an orthopedic surgeon but a high school biology dissection day stopped that dream right in its tracks.
What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
A morning to myself and a slow walk through the Impressionists wing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
What do you think is the best kept secret in business tools or resources?
CleanMyMac is honestly the best, easiest, most hands-off tool/app I use to keep my computers running smoothly. It runs routine scans to see to remove dead computer weight but also gives me a view into the health of my computers at a glance.
GoalDigger Podcast is one of my favorites for many reasons but one being that between both interviews with powerful & inspiring businesswomen and the episodes where Jenna gives in-depth info on her processes and thoughts, there is opportunity and inspiration to improve on both micro and macro business topics alike.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Interior Design, hands down.
Three Instagram accounts you love to see in your feed.
@jennakutcher // always empowering and inspiring
@tiffanykokal // her photography work is some of my favorite in all of the Twin Cities
@kindredblooms // not only are they the funniest sister-duo in the biz but their creations are absolute eye candy
Yes Please: Bravo TV Guilty Pleasures.
No Thanks: Mom-Shaming.
Secret Skill: Wrapping Christmas Presents.
Favorite Word: Hygge.
Believes in: The Power of Love, Humor & Kindness.
Embraces: Home Renovation Projects with Glee.