Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Flytographer Founder, Nicole Smith

Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Flytographer Founder, Nicole Smith | Three Ships
Nicole Smith is the Founder/CEO of Flytographer, a marketplace that connects travellers with hand-picked local photographers for fun vacation photo shoots. Prior to Flytographer, Nicole spent 13 years in marketing at Microsoft.

In six years, Nicole has grown Flytographer into a multi-million dollar business that operates in 300 cities globally and has captured over two million memories. It was ranked as one of the fastest-growing startups in Canada by Canadian Business Magazine, called the “The Future of Travel Photography” by Conde Nast Traveler, appeared on a Netflix show, The New York Times and Oprah.com.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Flytographer?
I was in Paris with my best friend and we wanted to capture a memory that reflected how much joy we were feeling and that captured the beautiful Parisian architecture around us. It proved to be a challenge between terrible selfies where you could only see our heads, and awkward stranger shots that cropped off our heads, or gave us 6 chins! We met a local friend of hers who kindly agreed to take a few photos of us -- but from a distance, so we could capture the beauty of the city while we strolled the cobblestone streets, or crossed a bridge. They turned out to be the best souvenir I brought home, and it made me realize, “how would I accomplish capturing similar memories on a future trip? Thus, the idea for Flytographer began to percolate in my brain.

flytographer founder interview nicole smith

What does your typical day look like?
First, coffee. Then, I love to squeeze in ten minutes of meditation on my couch to set my intentions for the day. Next, I get my two teenage sons breakfast and sorted for school. I usually start my work day around 8am.  We have a 15 minute team scrum at 9am every day, then it’s a mix of meetings, calls, emails and marketing or product planning. In a few weeks we are launching our first ecommerce store, featuring beautiful, modern custom-designed travel merch that will hopefully bring inspiration for future adventures. Tote bags, notebooks, puzzles, mugs and gorgeous city prints!

What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received? 
Growth at all costs! 

flytographer founder interview nicole smith

What does success mean to you?
I think this Maya Angelou quote sums it up:
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it."

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
We all doubt ourselves at some point, and face unexpected challenges. With Covid19, I’ve been faced with the biggest business challenge of my life... having our revenues virtually stop overnight. Having to react quickly and pivot amidst great uncertainty is incredibly difficult. But I try to focus on what I can control, acknowledge what is beyond my control and make the best decisions I can with the info I have at the time, and stay true to my core values. And always remember, this too shall pass. Someone once said, “there will always be big unexpected waves, but it’s just learning how to surf them better over time.”

flytographer founder interview nicole smith

Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
I love to play squash and to kayak. At home, I play ping pong matches with my kids daily. Just short games on our kitchen island. It brings big belly laughs as we get competitive!  Also, I always have a hot bubble bath before bed -- it’s my little reward at the end of a busy day.

Any tips for aspiring photographers? 
If photography calls your soul, answer that call and pursue it. Just keep practicing and learning a bit every single day and you will be amazed at how quickly progress over time. Offer to assist and eventually second shoot for a local photographer you admire. Many of our photographers were lawyers, architects, nurses, diplomats, bankers etc who decided to follow their passion and quit their career to pursue photography. Life is short, so do what brings you joy. 

flytographer founder interview nicole smith

Where can we find you?
Company IG: @flytographer
Personal IG: @flytographerlife
Twitter: @nicole_L_smith

If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Michelle Kennedy, founder of Peanut.


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