Angelika Weaver of Williamsburg, Kentucky wears many hats in her community. Not only has she been the sole victims advocate serving people in Whitley County who are victims of crime for more than 25 years, but she also runs her own consulting business, supporting individuals and organizations who are ready to navigate difficult discussions on the matters of domestic abuse, sexual assault, bias, and more.
For the last decade, she’s been using the same portrait photo – one she got for purchasing a Mary Kay kit – for all her professional and entrepreneurial marketing materials. Weaver admitted, “It was just never a priority … spending money to have pictures of myself taken? It felt there were other things more important to prioritize.”
This inclination is not limited to Weaver; it’s a prevalent trend among women entrepreneurs. For many, investing in professional headshots can be an added expense, and one that often gets deferred when weighed against other pressing business priorities. Additionally, there’s often a reluctance to “be the face” of one’s business, but successful owners and leaders understand that their expertise will eventually be sought after, necessitating a professional headshot. A great headshot not only serves as a marketing tool but also contributes to the overall brand of the business and builds trust with customers. Everyone, regardless of their profession, needs a good headshot.
“The idea of a photoshoot. It’s one of those things that I always need done but never schedule. This worked beautifully!” – Headshots for Women Attendee
In Eastern Kentucky, we have a vibrant community of female-identifying entrepreneurs and trailblazers, and we, along with our partners, saw the need to create a convenient, low-cost, and fun way for this community to knock something off the bottom of their busy to-do lists.
The idea for this came out of an event in March 2023 after the Mountain Association sponsored a small group of women to attend the “Becoming Unstoppable” conference held in Richmond, KY. After the event, many of the women reflected on how self-image can significantly affect a woman’s entrepreneurial confidence. Conversation consistently circled back to confidence and self-perception, often identified as recurring obstacles for women aspiring to become business owners.
When discussing gender gaps in business, the conversation typically revolves around pay and promotions. However, the observations made by this group of women reflect a global reality. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) found that while women are almost as likely as men to recognize opportunities around them, gender gaps persist in women’s belief in their own capabilities, which include higher levels of fear of failure.
Inspired by the professional headshot room at the conference, Angelika Weaver collaborated with the Mountain Association and Josh Samples, owner of Oak Hill Gardens in London, Kentucky, to offer affordable headshots in a supportive environment for women in the region.
Hailing from Harlan, Laurel, Whitley, Perry, Garrard, Madison, McCreary counties and more, 26 professionals took photos in a variety of poses and settings around the beautiful grounds at Oak Hill Gardens, some for the first time in their life. From restaurateurs to schoolteachers, authors to nonprofit animal rescue directors, attendees enjoyed the serene surroundings, networked with other women, indulged in tasty small bites from a local caterer, and obtained resources and support from table vendors like the National Association of Women Business Owners and New Opportunity School for Women.
Photographer Brandon Turner of Unsung Hero Media received overwhelmingly positive feedback in the post-event survey. His calm and supportive demeanor made a significant difference for attendees who might have been nervous about being in the spotlight.
While getting a professional headshot may not immediately change self-perception gaps, 93% of respondents reported finding the Headshots for Women experience empowering. Events like these serve as a low-investment, high-impact start to bridge the gap.
As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), the Mountain Association is uniquely positioned to uplift entrepreneurs in the region, offering events like these to create a supportive environment for underserved populations, such as female-identifying entrepreneurs, to connect, center themselves, and celebrate the unique gifts they bring to the world through their work. We hope to again offer Headshots for Women in 2024 – this time in Hazard, Kentucky.
“The photographer was great! The food was great! I felt completely at ease. I was welcomed as soon as I got out of the car. It was a great experience!” – Headshots for Women Attendee