We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalia Robert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
With my photography business, I was looking for a creative outlet after being in a dead-end job. In retrospect, I wasn’t very prepared or organized for the first year, but my focus was just on hustling enough to get by and survive another year! For The Grove Studio, I was laser-focused on creating a resource and safe space for women in interior and architectural photography. The branding, messaging, and community has come together much quicker because of this, and I’m experienced enough now to quickly learn and pivot as the brand grows.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m all about serving others! As an interior photographer, the goal is always to create photos that best serve my clients. If my photos don’t help their business grow and move forward, then I haven’t done my job. Creating real, authentic relationships with my clients is crucial, too. I’d rather slowly create a solid bond with a client and have them along with me for the long haul, than to have a quick buck come through my door and disappear as soon as the shoot ends. You gotta find your people! As an educator and speaker, I’m also all about serving others! For The Grove Studio, though, I’m about serving the architectural photography community. Specifically, I’m there to serve the women of that community. I know how tough it can be to figure things out when it feels like it’s a boys’ club, and my goal is to make it easier for future generations. By providing a safe space to connect with fellow women in our field, creating articles and online courses in a female voice, and showcasing talented women of color in our field, The Grove Studio is all about shifting the representation and resources for women in architectural photography. There are talented ladies out there doing amazing work! My mission is to help them rise to success. Neither of these businesses have been easy, each for different reasons. With my photography, it’s tough to create a brand that stands out from all the competition. With The Grove Studio, it’s tough to create a new niche and start a new conversation in a field. In both cases, it helps to be clear on who I am, what my values are, and what my long term visions are for each brand. If you can block out the noise in our modern world and just focus on YOU, you’ll definitely find success!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love taking people to unexpected places! Most envision palm trees, beaches, and Hollywood when they think of Southern California. To give visitors a different glimpse into our world, I like to go to the desert and mountains. My favorite spots are Salton Sea and Idyllwild. The Salton Sea area is so unique! It’s peaceful, funky, and different with every visit. I always stay at Ray and Carol’s Motel By the Sea, located in Salton City. It’s great to explore the small towns on Western Shores and see the ruins of once-bustling towns. The International Banana Museum is a must-see! If you’re lucky enough to find it open, it’s a spot you’ll never forget. Bombay Beach has become a great spot for seeing unexpected art installations sprinkled throughout the town. The sunsets from the beach are amazing, and the installations are always a little different. For a great pit stop, go to Ski Inn for some simple, delicious food and drinks at fantastic prices. Finally, Salvation Mountain and Slab City are landmarks not to be missed! Be sure to swing by East Jesus in Slab City, and try to return at nighttime to see the yard all lit up. Idyllwild is all about wandering the town. I love renting a little cabin somewhere in the neighborhoods, then driving or walking into the center of town for a stroll. The new park in the center of town is adorable and provides a great spot for people-watching! There are loads of restaurant options and, if you feel like roughing it a bit, the Idyllwild Campground is beautiful and still close to town. For a taste of the beach, I love going to Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula! It feels like a completely different vibe than most of the Southern California coast, and the beach at the end of the peninsula feels super private. For a taste of LA, the Getty Center and Griffith Observatory are a must. If time allows, a stop at Grand Central Market give a taste of DTLA that is hard to beat! Bonus points if we can get there early enough to hit the flower market. For local flavor, I love visiting the Oceanside Harbor. Its small strip of shops and restaurants has views of the docked boats, and the strip of beach there is perfect for late afternoon bonfires.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first year in business would not have been a success without the support of all the amazing women at Hera Hub! Finding a coworking community for female entrepreneurs was a godsend during that first year, not only because of the emotional support but also because many of them became clients! And of course, the support of my family was crucial when times were tough and I needed a pep talk or a roof over my head. Thanks, mom!
Other: The Grove Studio: www.MeetMeAtTheGrove.com
All photos by Natalia Robert