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Daily Inspiration: Meet Rachel Rodriguez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Rodriguez.

Rachel, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
In 2011, my oldest daughter who was a senior in high school came to me and said, “mom we need to take my photos for graduation.” I said, “ok I’ll call around and get some pricing so we can schedule something.” I later began calling around and after speaking to many photographers and searching countless websites I found that pricing was incredibly high. My daughter then later came back to me and said, “mom, we really need to schedule my senior photos.” I told her prices were extremely high but that I would take her photos. We waited for a nice sunny day then we headed out to the San Marcos, Texas area and began our photo shoot. At the time, I only had a small digital camera. The good thing is, as my children grew from babies to young adults I had always taken their photos. It was nothing professional, just some good ole simple photos that many moms would take. It was at that moment that I realized how much fun it was to take photos, capture the pure joy that she had on her face and the passion I had for it. Later that day, we went home and uploaded the photos and I did some minor editing and then I was done. My photos may not have been professional but we were pretty satisfied with the results. As time went on, we were taking care of ordering graduation items and planning a graduation party.

We had finally decided on the perfect dance hall to have her event. As I scheduled a time to meet with a sweet lady by the name of Mrs. Antonia Garcia to look at and book the hall, we sat and chatted. One of the many conversations I had with Mrs. Garcia was me curiously asking her how she started her business. I had previously asked other business owners but they were very brief on giving me any information. Mrs. Garcia was the sweetest ever because she took the time to share her story with me. After hearing her story I was in awe. I told her I have always wondered how people would get started and always wanted to start a business of my own, however I did not know how or what to choose for a business. She then went on to ask, “what is it that you like to do? What are your hobbies?” I was slightly taken back but then I remembered the joy that photography gave me so I replied, “I like taking pictures and have always taken pictures of my kids.” Mrs. Garcia then said, “Well, there you go.” I asked her what she meant and she said “buy you a camera and do photography.” I told her, “That is a great idea however, all good cameras are super expensive.” She said, “if you start saving you can invest in one and then start your business.” In my head, I felt like it was impossible. Mrs. Antonia and I had a few more meets so I could make payments towards the hall and we eventually had my daughter’s event. After the event we had to do one final meet to discuss deposit refund. At that point we sat and chatted for a while and Mrs. Garcia slid over an envelope to me and told me to open it. I then opened the envelope and found my deposit refund but not only was she giving me a deposit refund, she was giving me extra funding for my first starter camera. She said, “take this and go buy your camera so you can start your business.” My heart was full and I was so emotional. I thanked her so much and told her I would do just that. All I remember was coming home and crying my eyes out and my husband asking what was wrong. I shared my story and he said, “shouldn’t you be happy?” I said, “yes I am, I’m just emotional from the amount of kindness someone could have.” So, I set aside the money and saved a little more so I could invest in a good starter camera. I eventually bought my camera and started doing my research to learn more about the camera and starting a business.

By April of 2012, I designed our website which took many hours and many days. That same month, I started doing free photo sessions to help build our portfolio. As time went on we were able to set pricing for our sessions. I’m not going to lie; times were slow and I told my husband that I wasn’t sure if it was going to be successful. My husband and my family were extremely positive, supportive, and always reassured me that business would eventually pick up. That’s exactly what happened, our business took off in no time at all. With all of the success that photography brought us, it later allowed us to purchase our very own video camera to fulfill customer requests for large events so we could then offer photo and video bundles. In April of 2018, we decided to expand our small business into the world of custom shirts, cups, hoodies, blankets, decals, marketing products, invitations, restorations, woodworks, and so much more. In December of 2020, we officially rebranded our business to Triple Elevation Custom Creations and have been overjoyed with the amount of love and positive feedback from our friends, family, and awesome customers!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
When people tell you to start a business, they don’t necessarily tell you how hard things are going to be to get it started and keep it running. I spent countless hours researching and youtubing how to use certain settings on a camera, how to create a website from the ground up, how to get color just right on a photograph, how to use different programs to create a custom design, etc. There were days when we had over 500 shirt orders come in, one heat press, two people aligning designs, two to three people weeding decals, and we had to process all of them within a certain time frame. So my family and I would wake up at 6 a.m. and would not go to bed until midnight or later. We were not nearly prepared for the chaos and we had shirts covering our dining room table and boxes of shirts along the walls. Eventually we cleared out our game room and turned it into a workshop.

We were finally up and running and doing extremely well… until we got hit with the Pandemic of 2020. A lot of our work comes from schools since we do a lot of their school uniforms, so when they shut everything down we really had to take a step back from pushing sales because we didn’t want to put others in a financial struggle and that’s when we took an even bigger hit. We really had to get creative and come up with new ways to not only help the community feel some type of “normality” but also keep our business up and running. Till this day, we are still learning the ropes of having a small business. From trying to figure out our next move to learning how to expand and grow. We know this road will continue to throw us a few curveballs along the way, but those curveballs are what teach us to do better and be better.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I had always worked a full-time job since 1994 up until 2018. I launched our business part-time in 2012, then I went full-time with our small business in April of 2018. It was a bit scary not knowing what the outcome would be. I was taking a big jump resigning from a full-time job that would give me a consistent and steady income. The real question was, would I be making the right decision? Would we be successful? The answer was…yes! It has been the best decision I have made and we will stop at nothing to be successful because one day I hope to leave this business to my three kids and have them run it so they never have to worry about working for someone other than themselves. Our work with Triple Elevation Custom Creations consists of creating designs that will bring life to our customer requests and making sure that they are 100%+ satisfied with their products which includes photography, video, custom shirts, cups, hoodies, blankets, decals, marketing products, invitations, restorations, woodworks, and so much more. The work that I am most proud of is that I had to start our business from the ground up with very little help and guidance from others so it gives me a little more appreciation for the amount of hard work and dedication that it took for us to get to this point. It keeps my family and I very humble and allows us to help others when they need it because life has not always been easy. I feel like what sets us apart from others is our ability to have a connection with our customers that makes us feel like family and sometimes we even get to watch their families grow into even bigger families. That truly makes us feel special knowing that they keep coming back and allowing us to be a part of their lives.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
My advice for those starting out would be to find out what your passion is and do it. If you don’t know what that is, figure out what hobbies you enjoy, what makes you happy, and brings you the most joy. Always ask questions and you will find a humble individual who will be happy to share their story. I know I will always share ours and appreciate any individual that is willing to give advice and guidance along the way. Always be positive. Do not ever get discouraged even when times get tough. Stay motivated and you will be successful. Most importantly know where you came from and always, always stay true to that. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our story.

Featured 1st place in 4 categories they are as follows:
Best of North Hays for 2020
Best Clothing Store
Most Helpful Employees
Best Photographer
Best Wedding Photographer

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Triple Elevation Custom Creations

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