How I Went From A 9-5 Career To Starting My Own Business

Working from home. Writing, blogging, and editing photos from wedding photo shoots

My creative career launched in high school when I applied to intern at a local photography studio. I learned the ropes of photo styling through wardrobe and props and eventually stepped up from intern to stylist. My first taste of fashion styling was a branding photoshoot I styled for a jewelry company. As a five year old girl, I proclaimed I would be a fashion designer when I grew up and the thought of spending my day composing outfits sounded like a dream. Through a family connection, I had the opportunity to stay with the head stylist of American Eagle Outfitters in her beautiful Brooklyn apartment. After visiting, I was even more passionate about finding a position as a fashion stylist and sent her an email to see if I could shadow a day on the job. A few days later I was in a meeting with my boss at the photography studio and she happened to ask about my long-term career goals. I honestly responded that I was hoping to be a fashion stylist by the time I was 25. As I walked out of her office that morning, I checked my email and saw that I had a response from the AE stylist - unfortunately job shadowing wasn’t possible.

She needed to hire a full time stylist to join her in NYC.

Saying no wasn’t even an option in my mind as I gave a wholehearted ’Yes!’ Within a month, I found an apartment on the upper west side and moved my few boxes of belongings to the city. I worked the 9-5 office life in New York and jet-set to Pittsburgh every week for photoshoots at AE’s headquarters. This was my first experience as a career professional and I loved adding value in a team of talented experts. I remember the new year coming around and thinking ‘I don’t know what to set as my big goal for the year - I already made it to my big goal.’

It was strange to be living my 25 year old dream as a 19 year old - What would come next? I loved my job but I didn’t feel that climbing the corporate ladder was my end game.

I often listened to podcasts with entrepreneurial women who left their day job to turn their side hustle into their full time gig. As much as I wanted to convince myself that I was ‘living the dream’ in NYC, I still felt like there was something missing. I missed the intimate collaboration of co-workers in a small business. I hated watching people slack when they could get away with it, and perform when the CEO was present. I wanted to build from the ground up and pave a path that didn’t yet exist.

Sketching in a brightly lit home studio
Working to develop creative new content from Emily R. Hess’ home office

When my living situation fell apart and long distance dating was wearing on our relationship, it seemed the doors were closing on my New York life. Yes, I could have fought to push through that heavy door but my heart was telling me it was time to move on. I decided to move back to my hometown in Pennsylvania and told my parents my plan was to finally start my own photography business. I can recall telling my mom on the phone , “I’m not going to work for anyone else!”

The plan suddenly switched when I received a text in the car on a rainy Friday, moving home from NYC. It was the creative director from a company in my hometown. She saw that I was moving back to PA on an instagram post and asked if I could come in for an interview that Monday. I was excited about the position as a content creator and once again gave a quick, ‘Yes!’

About a year later, the entrepreneur itch got stronger and I decided not to fight it any longer. I consulted wise loved ones for their advice and all of them said go for it. I put in my notice at my day job and set up shop under the name Luca Creative Co. - a content marketing company that creates media, websites, and digital products. Luca means ‘bringer of light’ and was the perfect word to define what I hoped my business would become. My vision for the company develops day by day, and has been shaped by the inspiring brands I’ve partnered with. Having your own business is a constant learning curve, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. This September, my husband left his full time job and became my business partner. We’re so excited to grow the company using his skill set.

Drinking tea and working on creative content for blogs and social media

The short version of this story? If you have a dream that’s weighing on your heart, don’t deny it. We sometimes think that everyone would obviously pick to  have the life we dream of if they had the choice. For me, the dream was to have my own creative business, travel the world, and bring hope to every person I encounter. After talking to a few close friends, I realized that wasn’t everyone’s dream. Some of them didn’t have a desire to build a career and travel - they wanted to get married, have babies, and stay close to their fam.

Your dreams matter because they are unique to you. No one will care about your dream as much as you do. It is up to you to own your vision and bring it to life. You have the brilliance within you to do exactly what you were created for.