What do you do as a business when your current dreams are bigger than what you originally set out to create?
2014 ended with resounding triumph. We had had our best year in sales as a business, and our best year in the type of work we were creating. We were able to be a part of some amazing weddings and some fantastic organizations. We bought a house. We found out in early 2015 that Ashleigh was pregnant. There didn’t seem to be a place where God wasn’t at work in the ways that we typically think of God being at work. I began associating God’s blessing with favorable outcomes. We had a slower January which allowed space to create a more functional website. Bright-eyed and amazed, I knew that 2015 could only surpass 2014. We were only going to grow, and the new website was only the beginning. 2014 felt consistently busy; every month I was blown away again and again at what The Lord was doing.
In 2015 things were much, much slower. If I can be honest – this was really frustrating and I often found myself burdened by the excessive expectations that I had put on the future, on the business, on my own abilities. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had one of those seasons – where God just prunes back layer after layer after layer, where new levels of your heart are bare before your eyes and you just don’t know where to go.
I truly can’t even put into words how difficult it was to put so much time and energy into something to see it only progress ever so slightly. It’s like when you scrape your skin and instead of allowing the wound to heal you keep scratching at it. My relationship with The Lord felt very rocky. There were days on end where I didn’t know what to say to Him. I felt abandoned; like He had led me all these years only to stop speaking. I would tell Him how I felt, I would be open and honest, I asked anyone I could for prayer, I would sit and try to hear what He was saying. Yet nothing seemed to change.
It eventually hit me. I wanted to be God. I thought I was a better god than God. I knew what was best for me. Why couldn’t God catch up to my vision? It was this complete arrogance that God began to, over the next several months, pummel out of me.
It wasn’t until November of 2015 that I began to view the year for what it really was; a year for dreaming and thinking differently about the future. The Lord was providing enough income each month we needed it, and He was providing enough space to think clearly and differently. During this year, with the downtime that we had, I started looking at our work with a more focused eye and noticed that while 2014 was a busier year.. we could grow even more in our craft than we had been in those busier times. In the midst of all the busyness I had forgotten the most important part of having a business – glorifying and trusting God, and loving people. We could have allowed a lot more conversation with our Clients. We could have taken things slower and more intentionally. So in 2015 we began asking ourselves “How can we take this particular Film or project to the next level? How can we tell better stories? How can each project become an opportunity to grow and push ourselves?” While these questions were pivotal to the individual projects they also played a huge role in our overall direction as an organization.
The Original Vision
When we first began our business, back in 2011, the name Kent Mast Photo & Video aptly described it. Remember or not, we actually started primarily as a wedding photography company, along with portraits. That was the original purpose. Wedding Films, and video in general, were really not at the forefront of my mind in the beginning. However as the years passed our Wedding Films began taking a very distinct personality and brand in and of themselves. People began getting very excited about our Wedding Films; and again, this really wasn’t something I expected. This drew me into the film and video arena, and in 2014 our sights began to hone in on the opportunity for working with organizations using commercial video. And I absolutely fell in love. I love getting to tell stories, I love getting to craft pieces that are representative of brands. We began wrestling with how we can take our commercial pieces up to the next level creatively.
The Expanding Vision
But four years later from when we began, right in the middle of 2015, we found ourselves in an identity crisis. Who are we? What is our purpose? What type of work are we looking for? Are we a wedding film company? Are we wedding photographers? Are we portrait photographers? Are we film makers?
These were important and frustrating questions. A lot of wrestling went down internally. All those things were once a piece of what we had been. It was through this wrestling that we concluded that we had outgrown what we had begun as. And truth be told I didn’t even like the name “Kent Mast Photo & Video” anymore! I was often embarrassed when I mentioned our business name because it no longer described us. It may have described us four years ago but it didn’t accurately represent us anymore. And our new website, that just months earlier I had loved, I now saw for what it was; vanilla, bland, lacking direction. I loved the work that we have featured there, and I love that we took a step in the right direction, but the truth is we were trying to fit Wedding Photography, Wedding Film, Portraiture, Commercial Photography and Commercial Film all under the name of one business – a name that was no longer representative of us to begin with! The website, and our brand, was not able to make a strong statement in terms of style, direction, verbiage. We were trying to talk to too many different prospective clients at the same time, and it caused a lack of focus. We were trying to cater to everyone.
After many team meetings with Ashleigh and Andrei, and quizzing our accountant and attorney, it was clear the decision we needed to make. We needed to begin by separating our Wedding work from our Commercial work in order to clearly articulate who we are in each. This would help us cater to both kinds of clients more effectively, and create more compelling visions for each. This will also give us more artistic freedom and room for growth. In order to create better stories we needed to create a better story ourselves.
So in 2016 we are setting out to do just that. We will be establishing two distinct brands with separate websites, business cards, and visions. I would have never imagined when we first set out to create a business that we would be making these decisions. But it has become evident to me that we need to make these decisions in order to continue to grow as creators, artists, problem solvers, and people. If we refuse to make these changes we will be living in fear and complacency and risk becoming irrelevant, inauthentic, and stagnant with the gifts The Lord has given us.
So the big question – what does this change for you and for future Clients?
This will change how things are visually. We will have two separate brands; one for our Commercial & Creative work, and one for our Wedding work. Since each website will be more specific we will be able to clarify more. At this point we are working on creating a landing page in the mean time for http://www.kentmastphotoandvideo.com so that you will be able to choose to go to our Wedding website, or our Commercial website. Our Wedding and Commercial website will have their own URL’s and be completely independent of each other other than the landing page which will catch people who were unaware of this change.
These two new brands (new names, new websites, new logos, etc) are currently in the works. We have decided on the business names but we will hold off on announcing them for now as we are still getting them legally worked out. We are working hard at creating the brands but there are several things that we need to do in order to get there. We would love if you could pray for us in this transition. There are many days where it feels evident that God is leading in this direction – but for any creative problem solvers out there, you know how difficult and long the journey can be from idea to launch.
Behind the scenes things will remain largely the same. We will remain a team ferociously dedicated to telling the best story for each project we are working on. We are thrilled to be at this point in the process, and we are so thankful that The Lord has been so patient and gracious to us through it. We will be be rolling out with the new brands in the next several months. In the mean time please stay tuned and continue to pray for us, specifically that we would not be discouraged in the process.
Thank you for your support on this journey! We would not exist if it were not for the faithful support of our Clients, family and friends encouraging us.