We’re starting a new interview series here at Immensely Social on side hustles to inspire you to start and grow your own. Sure the main function of your side hustle can be to make some extra money or to grow a new full-time venture. But its function could also be to help you develop and channel your creative passions or heart causes in a way you just don’t get to with your full-time job.
Our guest today, Praise Santos, has a successful photography career that is still going strong but started a side project when she felt unsettled by the drastic contrast of two different worlds.
Praise was working with artisans in the slums of Kenya as a photojournalist when she then transitioned to photographing elaborate weddings. Remembering the artisans and realizing that elaborate weddings come at a high-cost of waste and often inhumane practices, Praise started the Ethical Weddings movement. Now, she consults couples on every aspect of their wedding to minimize its impact and refocus its energy into something truly beautiful just like a wedding is supposed to be.
River, Repurposed Dress, and Flower Crown
I adore this idea as my husband and I had a very simple wedding of our own here in Ecuador. I bought a $10 thrift store dress that my mom helped me repurpose to have a Bohemian feel. I wore a rose flower crown that supported a local vendor and we had the ceremony outside. It was lovely and I would not have had my wedding any other way.
I love the tagline over at Ethical Weddings,
“ It’s a good day to do good.”
*Praise’s responses are in italics
Welcome to Immensely Social Praise Santos. I know your best friend’s name is Faith and you get teased about that. I aim to live my life in Faith and Praise so I love those names!
I aim to do life the same, haha, it’s aspirational for sure!
Millennials often get a bad rap but in many ways, we are changing the capitalist culture by putting purchasing power behind those who behave well by our planet. Why do you think now especially is the time for ethical business?
Our generation sees and is experiencing the effect that self-serving choices has had on our world. We want to be part of something beyond ourselves. Opportunistic businesses should see that need and meet it. Further, all businesses should make practical steps in their responsibility to our cities and communities.
So true. I know your experiences in Kenya brought you greater awareness. I was in Kenya many years ago and it was life-changing for me too. But what makes you so passionate about ethical business and especially weddings?
Yay for being a fellow Kenyan traveller! I was in Nairobi in 2014 when it was a risky time to travel but I was into the color and excitement. My time there deeply influenced my passion for social entrepreneurship because I saw the power of business to do lasting change. Coming from the non-profit sector, I had seen models of giving someone direct aid or money, but in Kenya, I was experiencing a model where an infrastructure is given instead for a business to thrive. Through that, the artisans I was working within Nairobi were able to employ their family and neighbors and thus help multiple people thrive.
Our culture’s view of a wedding is in need of a paradigm shift too. By inspiring couples to use their wedding for social change, the $36,000 milestone becomes less about a couples’ consumption and more of a philanthropic platform. It’s an opportunity to turn a celebration into a catalyst for change. The goal with Ethical Weddings is to make that infrastructure of doing good more accessible for every bride.
An “infrastructure of doing good.” I love that! What’s the process like when a couple comes to Ethical Weddings? How do you help couples create their dream day while protecting the planet?
On our website, we have resources written by some of the best movers and makers in the eco-ethical wedding business to inspire brides to see how impactful the wedding day could be (our recent post, Ethical Gifts for Your Bridesmaid is one of my faves). And If you’re getting married in the Bay Area, I’ve partnered with a local sustainable planner to offer Ethical Wedding Planning & Photography packages.
We come alongside you as fellow dreamers to make sure we recommend and bring on vendors who minimize waste, make your event carbon neutral, and invest in local businesses and organizations that do good. We also have in the works a way to mobilize the eco-ethical wedding industry’s efforts together to invest some of our profits towards girls learning about social entrepreneurship in Mozambique.
Awesome. You saw a problem. But here’s the thing, many people see a problem but then they just move on. You didn’t do that. What advice would you give someone who has an idea to make the world a better place but feels too overwhelmed to take action?
My mom says that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time (disclaimer: Mama Santos is not saying to eat elephants because btw, have you seen the videos of them in Thailand painting?! They are incredible creatures!) Just take one step and see where it takes you. Ethical Weddings is a passion project turned business. And it was birthed out of my gut telling me it was the right thing to do. Your intuition knows what’s up. I carry this project with open hands though knowing it may not be mine to lead for forever. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the project.
Your next step will lead to the next and will lead to the next. Also, you don’t have to lead something to be part of something. It’s really freeing that as you talk about the change you want to see more, you’ll find your tribe of people excited about the same thing.
I have an eco-ethical wedding mastermind with a planner in Vancouver and a planner in New York (hi Natasha and Ellen!) It makes me breathe a sigh of relief knowing positive change isn’t resting just on one pair of shoulders.
Ethical Weddings is a passion project turned business. And it was birthed out of my gut telling me it was the right thing to do. Your intuition knows what’s up.Click To Tweet
So much wisdom there. And yes, elephants are amazing creatures!What have you learned about managing more than one business/career that you wish you had known in the beginning?
Be organized. I just started using HoneyBook as a business management platform a little under two years ago and it would have saved me. So. Much. Time. if I had known about it earlier! I remember being mentally weighed down and flustered sending out invoices and tracking down emails for 10 projects but now I’m able to manage close to 50 projects with ease. Also, a lesson I’m currently learning is how to delegate. I wish I understood the good investment it is to ask for help earlier.
My interns and associate photographers have been great but I often need to remind myself that there are superstars out there that can do some of this stuff (using WordPress and Planoly and Pinterest sucks my energy – shout out to the Immensely Social family if anyone is looking for a remote assistant gig!) better than me.
You heard the lady IS fam! I know there are some great assistants our there. Why is asking for help so hard?! It takes most of us biz owners way too long to start delegating. 5 ways to Delegate content to yourself but for later.
If you could share one tip for managing your day while running your own company what would it be?
Pour into yourself first. My first few years, I was working immediately when I first woke up and was running on fumes. Now, I have a morning routine where I read and journal, work out, eat breakfast, and then work. I start work really jazzed (and with endorphins!) Also SleepSleepSleep is a free, easy access way to keep yourself nourished.
So true. Self-care is not selfish but essential. I even wrote a book about it. You can’t give if you’re empty!
What are the best business and life advice you have ever received?
If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your first product, you’ve launched too late. ClickToTweet
That’s powerful. If you don’t put something out there, you don’t have anything to adjust and improve on and you stay stuck. How can couples get started with you for an ethical wedding or a photography session?
Check out ethical-weddings.com for all things wedding day and www.comeplum.com if you’re a go-getter woman impacting the world and are in need of some photos. My personal Instagram @praaaise is also a fun way to see how many puns I can make into captions.
Until next time Immensely Social Fam, Live With <3