Hey girl! New around here? This series focuses on Real Life Girl Bosses – women in creative fields making their own damn way. I ask them to share their stories, so that we can A) all uplift and support their endeavors, B) learn and try to emulate some of their tools and tricks of the trade, and C) simply be inspired. Because that’s who they all are. Inspiring.
Each month I interview someone from a different, less traditional field. Whether she’s a comedian, fashion editor, filmmaker, productivity guru, or photo producer, each and every one of these ladies is serving up a healthy dose of originality, motivation, and general kick ass vibes.
Without further ado, here is Hannah Pobar, a creative and entrepreneur who has found success as a photographer, graphic designer, shop owner, and founder of Home Studio, a community marketplace for photographers.
Since you’ve pursued so many passions, let’s start with the basics. What is your educational background? Have you undergone specific training for both your photography and graphic design skill sets?
Honestly, the INTERNET. Haha! I’ve learned everything I really know through the Internet. In college I studied data science and entrepreneurship, but I’ve learned way more by just trying things on my own. While I was in college, I started dabbling with ideas and starting little businesses, which all kind of led the path to what I’m doing and interested in now.
So, you’re self-taught? What editing software and equipment do you use? Have any favorite photo editing apps or filters?
I guess so, pretty much! I’m a self taught photographer and designer. I’ve had a lot of little businesses since I was a kid. My go-to’s are Photoshop/Lightroom [for photo editing] and Squarespace for web stuff. I love VSCO [app] + Mastin Labs presets. I shoot Nikon, but I’ve also really gotten into shooting disposable cameras in the past year, too.
You began your foray into photography by shooting weddings – how did that start? How did you then make the transition into other forms of photography (i.e. home photography)?
I got really into photography through blogging – and naturally fell into shooting for other people, which just kind of happened over time. I was a sophomore in college and on a whim decided to drop out of classes for a while. At the time it felt like the right decision, but a few days later I felt scrambled trying to figure out how I was going to pay rent. That inspired me to kick off shooting high school seniors and weddings. The business went on to exceed every expectation I ever had of it – without any formal training, just a lot of heart and hard work. I occasionally shoot for brands now, but mostly I just use photography to complement Home Studio [more about this further into the interview] or other design projects.
You also own an online shop – Pretty Techie. I love the simplicity in your art, your relevant branding, and your transparency with your products. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Thank you. 🙂 I started Pretty Techie mostly out of a selfish desire to create a company of products that I did not need to necessarily hold inventory of. The context there is that I started a company before, which really demanded capital upfront to cover inventory – of which I had no idea if it would actually sell. So, I scrapped that idea and wanted to try something that was more “order on demand”. I draw a lot of inspiration from living and working in San Francisco, this insane tech Mecca. Typography is my pattern of choice! The company is really just an extension of me, so I like incorporating some personality into each of the pieces.
You’ve provided a lot of accessibility by offering both prints and downloads – why did you make this conscious decision?
I actually started Pretty Techie as a download only company; the idea was to sell downloadable prints and mock-ups. It wasn’t until I was completely done with the site and experience that I decided to offer a printing service as well! A nice last minute touch. I changed my mind when I realized that most of my friends and family wouldn’t actually know what the heck to do with a mock-up or download, and there was opportunity on the table. 😉
Mock-ups – such a unique and simple idea! What software do you need to utilize these?
Thank you! I searched endlessly for beautiful, realistic mock-ups of things like Polaroids, frames, photographs…but never found anything I really liked that didn’t look cheesy and fake. So, I made my own! I style and photograph the scenes, and then I create the editable file in Photoshop. You can shop them here.
Another one of your endeavors is Home Studio, which I think is a genius idea, especially in this age of “everyone is a photographer”. Brands are collaborating with bloggers and creatives instead of having to produce all of their own original content. Having a convenient and accessible resource for photo locations is amazing. Can you tell us a little more about this effort?
As a photographer myself, I was inspired to create the Home Studio platform after witnessing first hand the need and desire to find unique spaces for photo shoots with charm and character. Fast forward a few months later (to now!), and I’ve built out the homestudiolist.com platform so that others with beautiful homes + apartments can list their spaces – in addition to offering photographers, brands, and businesses unique spaces available to rent hourly for their creative productions. The site is currently in Beta in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Denver, Phoenix, and Charlotte + tons more coming soon!
The project is just a few months old, but so far we’ve worked with HGTV, Anthropologie, Saatchi + Saatchi, Rocksbox, Senreve, BloomThat, True & Co, Thirdlove, and more!
How did you form your businesses? Did you turn to anyone for help?
Something that guides me is the idea that you should do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Each of my projects I spun up with really small investments – if you could even call them that (think less than $500 each) – and grew them with the resources I had available.
I’m really big on mentors/mentorship. I would never be living in San Francisco with the career and opportunities I have if it weren’t for the selfless help, support, and guidance from people who have been mentors to me. In return, I am honored to pay it forward and help/connect as many people as I can, too!
For any one of your businesses – how long did it take for you to turn a profit? How do you approach budgeting?
Each of my projects has turned profit within a month and is cash flow positive. I budget anything I do based on ROI (return on investment) and focus my time on things that will have the most immediate impact on sales or acquisition. The prioritization keeps me focused on what truly will drive the business.
You’re based in San Francisco – what are the hurdles you face living there with your business (if any)? The advantages?
It’s REALLY expensive. At the same time, it’s incredible to be surrounded by so many like-minded human beings. Totally worth it.
You have been featured in several magazines – are you contacted about these directly, or do you apply for these features?
I’m really lucky to have some insanely talented and inspiring friends, who have really helped a girl out! Sometimes people find my work through Instagram or Facebook groups and reach out on there too. I think really putting yourself out there opens up a lot of doors.
On a related note, how do you build relationships for future collaborations? Are you a part of any groups or online organizations?
Another vote for Facebook groups! I am in tons of community groups, and I love the community they provide. By participating, you can really learn from other people, and I also love sharing my knowledge too! I would say that referrals are huge for Home Studio.
I love your passion for entrepreneurship and female creatives. What makes you the most excited about where women are today? What makes you feel the most disheartened?
I love seeing so many incredible, inspiring women in tech in San Francisco. That is totally not the norm at most companies, and it is wildly refreshing. Honestly, I’m mostly inspired – not to say disparity doesn’t exist, but at the same time I don’t focus on it.
You do it all – graphics, photography, print designs, even video producing! When do you find time to breath?!
I love making things, and that is truly what relaxes and energizes me. My favorite kind of Saturday is sitting at a coffee shop working on a new project. It’s truly my version of fun, and it does not feel like “work”.
If you weren’t pursuing the career(s) you have now, what would you be doing?
Oh man, that’s a hard question. Maybe something in data or analytics!
- Morning or night? Morning.
- Favorite city you’ve visited? Boston.
- Any hobbies or guilty pleasures? Disposable cameras.
- Favorite book? Movie? TV Show?
- Book: Hillbilly Elegy
- Movie: The Truman Show
- TV Show: Stranger Things
- Song you’re obsessed with right now? St. James by DYAN.
- Teenage celebrity crush? Current celebrity crush? Zayn Malik. Haha, don’t judge me.
- You can only eat one dessert the rest of your life – what is it? Probably Reese’s peanut butter cups.
Well, there you have it! Someone who doesn’t inhibit herself from following several of her passions (and taking names while doing it!). I hope Hannah has inspired you to take that leap of faith and pursue your creative dreams – to remember it doesn’t take a ton of money or resources to do so, and that hard work and kindness goes a long way.
Make sure to check out…
- Hannah’s portfolio: http://www.hannahpobar.com/
- Hannah’s shop: http://www.prettytechieshop.com/
- Home Studio: https://www.homestudiolist.com/