Natalie Perez is a Cinematographer/Filmmaker and a #1 International Bestselling Author who is an expert in telling untold and inspiring stories through stunning video content. She focuses on helping women and minorities to elevate their voices through documentary, narrative, and branded commercial content. In this interview, Natalie shares her inspiring journey, success secrets and key actions that you can learn from.
Izdihar: How did you start your Entrepreneurship journey?
Natalie: I started my Entrepreneurship journey in the Wedding Videography business back in 2010. At the time, I was in high school and I was attending my very first wedding. It was my older, absolutely gorgeous cousin that I looked up to so much. Coincidentally, I had purchased a state-of-the-art Sony HDCam from one of my classmates the week prior. I asked my cousin if it would be alright if I took some videos at her wedding. She agreed immediately, and I challenged myself to get the most creative shots I could during the event.
That was the first day that my entire family witnessed me perform a service that would soon be my career and passion! Pretty cool! After the video was complete, I sat down with my family and showed the video. We all cried at how beautiful the day was and how nice of a time-capsule experience it was to watch the video— even now, twelve years later.
Afterwards, I began filming weddings for friends, family, and then friends of friends and people I didn’t know— my network grew. I created a fun company title “Cake for Breakfast Media” because “for us, making wedding films is as fun as eating cake for breakfast!” I didn’t know that all this was called “Entrepreneurship”. But the flame ignited within me to become an entrepreneur.
Izdihar: Who inspired you to start your business?
Natalie: My current business, She TV Media LLC, was inspired by my business partner, Meredith Yinger. We met at Loyola Marymount University, and grew as producing partners together through the Documentary-Intensive Study Abroad program that the Film School offered. After we graduated, we went our separate ways for the first few years, ultimately coming back together and brainstorming how we could make a career together in this industry.
In late 2017, Meredith sat me down with a PowerPoint presentation and pitched the company to me. I said “Yes!” immediately, and we started learning business from the ground up. Our business’s mission is to help tell empowering stories of women through professional, high-quality and brand-specific video content. We help businesses grow with video.
She TV Media has been a delightful outlet for us to be artistic, creative, and challenge ourselves with the best storytelling techniques for each unique client. Our business has grown exponentially since its inception, and we’ve learned more than we ever imagined about business, our communities, and the importance of raising up women and minority voices.
Izdihar: What is the best part of being an Entrepreneur?
Natalie: The best part of being an Entrepreneur is being your own boss. There is a gift of empowerment that comes with being the boss. When your company wins, it’s a feeling like none other. However, the level of responsibility and discipline you need to be your own boss is major. If you can find a good work/life/sleep balance and still maintain the passion and energy for your company, then you’ve got it.
Izdihar: What is the most challenging part about being an Entrepreneur?
Natalie: The most challenging part about being an Entrepreneur is being your own boss. (See what I did there?) I mentioned above that it requires lots of responsibility and discipline. It’s so easy to let your business take over your life for the first few years because you’re in hustle mode. But it’s dangerous. I’ve experienced burnout myself and it is rough. It’s a big bruise that no one— not even you— can see. In my opinion, it’s very important to have someone to talk through your business wins, struggles, and everything in between with so that you can be aware of your stress levels and avoid burnout.
Izdihar: What are your biggest lessons about being an Entrepreneur?
Natalie: The biggest lesson I’ve learned as an Entrepreneur is that I know much more than I think I know. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other businesses— to see how successful they are, or how many employees they have, etc. But I am reminded constantly that everyone is in the same boat. We’re all just trying to figure it out and keep our business alive for the next five years. Knowing this has given me the hope and confidence to keep my business running with the same morals, values, and principles that I began it with. It has also given me the courage to help other business grow alongside mine as much as I can. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats, and that couldn’t be more true than in the business world.
Izdihar: How are you different from other Entrepreneurs in the same industry?
Natalie: Every Entrepreneur is completely different. For example, even though other Entrepreneurs in my industry may have gone to my same Film School and received the same training and education, our lives are vastly different. And we bring our unique experiences and motivations to the work that we do. Everything that motivates and inspires me is very different from my colleague’s motivation and inspiration. I see the world differently than those around me, and that’s what influences my Cinematography and Filmmaking.
Izdihar: What are your top 3 advice to other Entrepreneurs/your niche?
Natalie: My top 3 pieces of advice are the following: 1.) Ask for help!! 2.) Keep a business journal with your successes, failures, and lessons learned. 3.) Write your to-do list down. No point in trying to keep a mental list when you have a thousand other things to think about.
Izdihar: What’s your secret to balancing your family, business and ME time?
Natalie: Oh, this is a tough one. I’m not sure I have figured it out 100%, but here is one big thing that I’ve learned along the way that has stuck with me: Create a work schedule. Even though you are able to work until 8pm, or in your bed, or on vacations… don’t. Set a schedule like Monday-Friday 8am-4pm from your office. Nothing outside that time frame. “Clock out” and take your weekends and days off. In my experience, if you tell your clients that you’re not working on the weekends, or after a certain time on weekdays, they will give you praise for that! And they might even choose to do the same! I have never experienced backlash when I have set boundaries for my work.