Gabriel Nivera
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Pictures & Conversations

A collection of images and the stories behind their creation.

Lady Hayes - An Unintentional Entrepreneur

"What's the best part of your job?"  I get asked that question a lot.  Coming up with an answer isn't as easy as you think.  Traveling to exotic locations and being given access to incredibly fun activities is definitely a  highlight, but it can also be very tiring.  At the end of the day the thing that makes my job most rewarding is meeting interesting people and having them share their lives with me.  It may just be few minutes for a quick portrait and anecdote or the better part of a day when I am doing an in-depth profile where I am treated to a full-on story.

I spent a wonderful morning shadowing Shelly Hayes documenting how to make one of her signature flower crowns.  We visited her favourite suppliers, she showed me her amazing studio workspace, gave me a run through of the creative process and showed me step by step how to build a crown.  As all this was happening, I also learned how she became an unintentional entrepreneur after changing paths mid-career as a musician.

Shelley made her living as a musician; she wrote music like crazy, recorded numerous albums, toured across Canada and the United States.  She was grinding it out and hustling! "I was working my ass off. Finally, I had the team, the tunes and the money to record the album of my dreams. I called the project Honor Angeles and was just about to drop my debut, Little War."  When she had life altering news that would put her music career on hold.  Shelley found out she was pregnant with her first daughter Goldie.  After releasing her album and giving birth, Shelley pressed pause on her music career and fully embraced motherhood.  Although Shelley found motherhood was an incredibly rewarding experience, she still felt she "needed a creative outlet since music was hard to write for me at the time."

While accompanying her husband Matt Barnes (a very talented photographer) on one of his photoshoots with then 6 month-old Goldie in tow, the idea for Shelley's business was born.  The AirBNB they were staying at had a garden with an abundance of bougainvillea. Matt was shooting a model at a hippie commune and Shelley said to Matt, “Hey, I could prob make you a flower crown! We put the photo online (of the final shot) and I started getting inquiries immediately. I began making crowns, and then I had a business! It was a great creative outlet for me, and I could produce them mostly during (Goldie's) naps at the time. I found happiness in motherhood, working with beautiful materials, taking pics of my babes, and growing a beautiful brand."

The response to the crowns has been tremendous and Shelley's business has taken off!  The crowns have been featured in several fashion and bridal magazines, commercial advertisements (Betsey Johnson), and been worn by musicians like Lights & Ariana Grande. 

Shelley's transparency with her techniques and designs along with her active social media presence has led to more opportunities for her brands growth.  She recently added a line of floral confetti, called "Petal Pop", she hosts a gardening inspired instructional web-series with greenhouse Terra and is a contributing writer for CBC Lifestyle where she creates step-by-step tutorials for creative home decor projects.  She also found the time do all this while welcoming Coco, her second daughter into the world.

So back to the original question..."What's the best part of your job?"  Easy, it's hanging out with creative, driven, inspiring people like Shelley and learning about their personal journey that is the best part of of my job.  

Check out her website and follow her on instagram @ladyhayes