Talking Small Business Ownership + Motherhood with Melinda Martin

 Copy by Brittany Van Den Brink // Images: Melinda Martin

Copy by Brittany Van Den Brink // Images: Melinda Martin

Melinda Martin is a mom of two and owner of Oak & Linen, a small business focused on helping entrepreneurs grow their brands through beautifully styled images. She must do a good job of it, since her images were continually appearing in my Instagram 'Search & Explore' feed. I was instantly drawn to them, and knew I wanted to learn more about her. Melinda graciously shares about her family life, how to strives to manage both her inner passions and day-to-day mom life, and her love for caramel macchiatos.

Name: Melinda Martin
Location: Austin, TX
Occupation: Product Stylist, Commercial and Lifestyle Photographer 

Tell us about yourself and your family!
I am the mother to two kiddos, Clark who is 3 and Addison is 7 months old. My husband Ryan and I met in college and have been married almost 4 years now. 

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What does a "typical" day look like in your household?
Each day at out house is a little bit different but often begins with my son running into our room shouting, "MOMMY! IT'S WAKE UP TIME!" From there it's a rush to get the kids dressed, teeth brushed, potty (we're one week into using the big boy potty!) fed, and out the door to daycare by 8:30 am. After a large cup of coffee (or two), I get to work.

My days are busy as I currently balance a home-based position as a nurse educator with my photography work. My days are spent in combination between the two, calling patients and planning out new styled shoots for the stock shop site. I try to go for a jog around 2 pm for a break. I feel that it's such a good way to recharge for the day by getting out of the house and soaking up the sunshine! Once I am back, the afternoon flies by finishing up projects, editing photos and emailing clients. At 5 pm I go back to mommy mode and get the kids, make dinner and play until bath and bed time around 8 pm. Even then, the day is not quite through, as I usually jump back on my computer until 10 pm to brainstorm for upcoming work and plan out blogs or social media posts. 

What inspired you to start your business, Oak and Linen?
Great Question! I love to help others and have a service-driven spirit. I was inspired to start Oak and Linen to help small business owners grow their brands after seeing my mom, a small business owner herself, struggle to gain clients in this modern age of marketing online. There are so many lovely entrepreneurs who have great products or services but are challenged to grow their company. That is where I come in to create stunning visuals that captivate their ideal audience so they can pursue their passions and grow their brands.

How do you help entrepreneurs build their brands? 
I help entrepreneurs grow their brands by creating captivating images for them to market their products or services. This can be working one on one with clients to create custom images for a website, advertisements or product shoot. I also sell styled stock images that are available on my site for individuals to purchase for use in their business. This gives small business owners quality visuals to elevate the look of their brand without the large investment of personalized images. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a small business owner? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect for me as an emerging small business owner is not comparing my starting point to others' finishing line. It's so easy to compare, especially when so much revolves around likes, followers and number of sales, but the important thing is to keep following and trusting in my plan, and reminding myself that passion and consistency will drive success.

Hands down the most rewarding part of being a brand photographer is seeing the success of my clients in growing their dreams! Each of us sets out as a small business owner to make a difference through our unique industry, and it's so fun to be a part of creating their growth and success.

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What is one thing you’re struggling with as a mother right now (if you're comfortable sharing)?
If I am being really vulnerable, a struggle I have is balancing the inner me, that ambitious girl who is constantly dreaming up big plans and ideas, with being a mom and wife. There are only 24 hours in the day and those hours fly by! With only so much time available, it's hard to see where to fit in time for those big dreams. What I have found is that if you truly have a passion for something you can definitely make it happen with hard work and determination. Some days you may only make baby steps rather than giant leaps, but either way it is progress.

What is your favourite activity to do with your kids and family?
We have several things we love to do! We spend a lot of time outdoors going on walks or playing ball outside. Here in Austin, it's already in the 90's most days so the pool is our favourite spot on the weekends! I also love to bake. Clark has quickly taken to being my sous chef, I think mostly because I let him lick the batter off the spoon, but it's a fun activity to do together.

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How do you recharge when you have a moment to yourself?
I love to spoil myself we a caramel macchiato from Starbucks and fresh flowers on Mondays. I'll display them in a cute vase on our table and they brighten my mood each day I see them sitting there and add such a charming touch to our home.

What inspires you right now, be it anything you’ve read lately, someone you’ve met, a hobby you’ve taken up, or anything else?
Lately I have been loving home decor! I am currently designing my daughter's nursery and it's just so fun to dream up a space that is full of colour, playful prints and will fill her imagination for years to come. I can't wait to put it all together and see the vision come to life!

Thank you so much, Melinda! You can visit her website, Oak and Linen or say hi on Instagram @oakandlinen_.