I do a lot of different things and stay pretty busy. Recently someone asked me, "what's your favorite thing about what you do?" Without hesitation I answered, "I love to connect people".
I like it because it is such a simple thing to do and it is fun to see how a new relationship can grow, create, make change and develop into something truly beautiful.
That is exactly what my new partnership with Bumble is all about. As I mentioned in my previous post, Bumble is SO MUCH MORE than a dating app. It is a company with integrity, that values community, togetherness and creates an environment to meet new people and grow relationships. BumbleBFF is the bees knees.<---(I'm very clever)
I recently hosted a launch party on the rooftop of 700 Central and invited a bunch of inspiring, creative, entrepreneurial, kind-spirited women over to chat. (with beer from our friends at Fair State Brewing Coop)
We did the usual, "Hi, how are you? What do you do?", etc., but the magic really happened when we went around in the group and stated what we do and something WE NEED HELP WITH. Because we all need a little help. There were a ton of laughs, tears, vulnerability and real relationships that grew out of it. I followed up with people to see what they thought and I was genuinely so pleasantly SHOCKED by some of the feedback that I decided to dedicate this blog post to it. So download BumbleBFF if your'e looking for someone that might make you react like THIS:
// ATHENA & KELSEY'S STORY //
Athena is a photographer, storyteller, do-it-aller, whiskey drinker, FEMINIST and honestly just so much more. She can inspire the hell out of you within minutes. Someone should just pay her to go around the world and inspire people. She is a staple in the Minneapolis community for her ability to always show up and pour her heart into whatever is in front of her. It really is incredible.
Kelsey. (I could write a very similar thing for Kelsey but they are also very different.) Kelsey has THE BEST INSTAGRAM BIO EVER. Children with disabilities, crop tops, exercise, cold beer on rooftops and humanity in general are scarily close to equal in regards to things Kelsey is passionate about. She is a Minneapolis yoga teacher with a twist - she's missing half of her left arm. Years of bullying for said lucky fin have made her passionate about disability, body image and making people laugh. She's a strong believer in the notion that the minute you laugh is the minute you win because you're able to let down your walls and love others better.
This is what Athena said after meeting Kelsey:
"I knew the second Kelsey started talking that this girl was my spirit animal. She's witty and irreverent with a huge heart that beats to help and uplift others, and truly just an effervescent human. That night we exchanged numbers via Instagram and hung out two days later. We talk daily - sharing our emotional struggles as well as life's highlights (and how burgers are HANDS DOWN better than hot dogs in EVERY DAMN WAY) and I truly feel like I found a deep kinship and lifelong friend in her (despite feeling like I'm maybe old enough to be her (unfortunately young) mother (I age well. It's deceptive, I know)). In the short time I've known her Kelsey has already inspired and motivated me to do better and more for my community and those around me. She encourages open and honest vulnerability in real life as well as on social media, and authentic real-life voices like hers - and hopefully mine, as well - are soooooo needed in this age of curated and cultivated social sharing. She motivates anyone who comes near her - in real life or digitally - to push past whatever limitations they have and live their best lives (as their best selves). And, she points out, you can't spell "disability" without LIT. Which will hopefully be a collaborative effort tee shirt coming to you soon.
I cannot wait to get into all kinds of shenanigans with this girl - while also trying to save the world. Even if it's only a small piece of it. "
And this is what Kelsey said about Athena:
"Meeting Athena was basically like the scene from a movie that you hoped you'd always have with your significant other that turns spouse. While I'm currently swiping right (and primarily left) to try to find a life partner, meeting Athena was no joke - I saw her rocking a white pixie cut and a white tee that read "BADASS FEMINIST" sans bra and knew that she was 1. a little spitfire 2. a kindred spirit and 3. going to challenge me and rock my world.
At the Bumble BFF launch we all went around and started saying the basic things about ourselves along with some prompted vulnerability from Sarah - "What is one thing you need?" she asked, because we all need something. Answers varied, but my home girl Athena's response was so real and vulnerable - anyone who doesn't mind crying in front of 20+ strangers while bearing their true self and struggles is basically on my life squad whether they want to be or not. In less than 24 hours I was at her house, this time we were both braless and were unloading about the deepest parts of our stories - at 10 AM on a Wednesday and zero alcohol. AMEN.
Moving back to Minnesota after living in South Africa was the hardest experience of my life. I had no friends, I had no support structure and I was lonely all of the time. Even when I was around people, I never felt an instantaneous authenticity like I found in Athena. I don't care who you are, what you're going through or what you've been through - if you are relentlessly authentic I will love you and support you forever. I wish I knew Athena back then. Now we text and snap on a regular basis, share life's joys and shit holes and I often feel my heart twinge wishing we had known each other before. I'm still waiting for a badass picture of us to which I will caption "Thanks a lot to everyone who knows us both and didn't introduce us sooner. Bumble dating success story."
I love Athena because of the way that she speaks life and truth into my and everyone's world. As a creative writer and passionate human being it's so easy for me to get tossed around by my emotions but Athena can take one look at my life and say "NOPE. That's not what that is," and make things that seem catastrophic in my brain tolerable. She gives me great creative insight and advice, and is such an incredible role model of the mom/entrepreneur/creative/
Dunno if you can put that Trump line in there, but it's v true." (I left that Trump part in there)
// KATIE & MANDY'S STORY //
Katie is the owner + visionary behind Steller Hair Company. As a young, female [successful] entrepreneur Katie is also extremely compassionate and also super open and vulnerable. Sometimes it is hard to find a balance with those things OR someone who can share the same struggles.
Enter Mandy of MySister.org.
Mandy is the CEO...CEO of MySister.org. MY SISTER's mission is to prevent sex trafficking, educate communities, empower the population, provide after-care for survivors and offer growth opportunities to at-risk women through the sales of statement-making, ethically-sourced apparel and accessories. SHOP HERE. Mandy is a visionary, a leader, making a BIG difference in the world. That doesn't mean she has days where she questions her decisions or has moments of doubt. It is important for her to have someone to talk with about these things that can relate.
This is what Katie said in regard to meeting Mandy:
"Mandy has been someone who I have had a entrepreneur/human-advocate crush on ever since I became aware of her and her passion to create change in the dark world of sex-trafficking. When I finally had the chance to meet and connect with her in person, I could sense we were going to do great things together. Not only do we relate on a female-business-owner level (which can honestly feel pretty lonely at times. It is so comforting to talk to someone who "gets it" and can remind you why it's worth it), we both have a determination to use the life we have as an opportunity to create impactful change in the world (within our communities, and beyond).
I have realized how much of my immediate community I only know through social media. Having the chance to meet Mandy in person was a gift. We can do good things on the inter-webs, and I believe that great things happen when we show up and look someone in the eyeballs and *actually* connect."
This is what Mandy said about Katie:
"I was immediately intrigued by the idea of BUMBLEBIZZ and BUMBLE BFF because, as a business owner, there are oftentimes days and situations where you just need a fellow business owner friend to vent to, bounce things off of, or just know that you’re not alone - but we may not know how or have the bandwidth to seek them out. As we introduced ourselves at Sarah's gathering and I shared that I’ve been wanting to find some business owner pals, Katie lit up with a “ME TOO!”. And from there, it felt like long-time friends reconnecting. We quickly started texting and setting up some get togethers. Katie has since participated in one of my company’s creative focus groups, which truly helped us break through some idea barriers. It was so great to have a supportive friend there and a fellow community business owner who has the same dreams to help her business, team and community thrive and grow. That’s the thing - even running two completely different types of businesses - we share the same hope and drive to better the community and offer opportunities and a loving place for people that need it. That’s pretty awesome to, so quickly, find in a new friend. From there, I visited Katie’s salon for some self-care. During our hair session, we shared SO many feelings, thoughts and experiences, many of which are similar. I have found a new soul sister. And I may have never connected with Katie had it not been prompted by the business-mixed-with-friendship mission of the evening. I’m so grateful I got to experience the absolute best of what BUMBLEBIZZ can bring!"
Loooooooong story short. Download Bumble. :)
I'm THRILLED to share that I have partnered with Bumble as their "Queen Bee". I've found that I share a lot of the same values with Bumble such as kindness, equality, positivity and hustle!
Don't know what Bumble is yet? No worries, let me explain!
Bumble is your digital destination to meet your next significant other [Bumble Honey], best friend [Bumble BFF], or most valuable business connection [Bumble Bizz - coming this fall!]. Bumble is about creating an empowering, safe place for members of modern society to meet the important people in their lives. Connecting! Online and with this new Queen Bee ambassador program, IRL (in real life!)
I'm excited to expand my network on a national level through the Bumble platform and make new friends.
I will be throwing local events and partnering with non-profits, local businesses, and creatives to create fun, community events that enable us to build new relationships.
I will also be looking for a few "Local Bees" for the team! Interested? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you use Bumble? What do you like about it? Success story? I'd love to hear about your experiences.
If you are a local business looking for some extra buzzzzzzzz (this will not be my last joke), shoot me a message! From fitness studios, restaurants, animal shelters, non-profits, we want to create cool events and hang out with you!
I have been wanting to do an interview on Corey Tenold & Ash Walker for a long time. I had the opportunity of collaborating with them on shoots in the past and Corey was in my very first I AM MPLS! show years ago.
Flash forward to their insanely successful careers. Corey being one of the only photographers allowed backstage to shoot the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and a private dinner in the home of....Anna Wintour. Meanwhile Ash Walker has been in every major magazine and on every major runway. Sometimes I'm following them on social media and I'm like "HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I KNOW YOU!"
You could probably call them a "power couple" but they are humble AF so they wouldn't like that label.
Us "Millennials" use the word "hustle" a lot. A lot. These two have evolved that sentiment in a way that seems a little more peaceful and unique. Do they work super hard and create beauty everywhere they go? Yeah. But they are very in tune with the idea that the future is unknown and have found a healthy and relatable balance to the noise of the creative industry.
My hope for this blog interview is to inspire you. To know that you can be a young kid from Tennessee working the third shift stock at Lowe's and some day be in the private home of THE NAME IN FASHION (Anna Wintour)
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Corey: I'm Corey. I do a lot of things. Most of my creative focus is in photography. So yeah, I'm a photographer.
[Photo of Ash taken by Corey for W Magazine]
Ash: I'm Ash. I'm an international model.
[Ash Walker on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Magazine]
2. Ash-How did your modeling career start?
Ash: I was into acting and modeling. I went with modeling at the time and went to my mother's agent (Vision Model Management MPLS) model search.
3. Corey-How did you first get interested in photography?
Corey: I'm not exactly sure. I do love the ability to freeze time though, and I can do this through photography. I live through memories.
[Photo of DVF and her models backstage taken by Corey Tenold]
4. Corey & Ash- What was the first job you ever had?
Corey: Third shift stock boy at Lowe's. It was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had, probably because we just messed around and there was literally zero stress. And I got to sleep all day and stay up all night. This was right out of high school.
[Photo by Corey Tenold at the Marc Jacobs show]
Ash: I think the first job I ever had was a hair spread for Maureen Anaulf for NAHA in MN. Maureen Anaulh was so talented and truly an amazing woman.
5. Corey & Ash-Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college? What did you study?
Corey: Born and raised in Tennessee. I went to Clemson University in South Carolina for like a year, and dropped out. I was undeclared but taking classes focused in engineering and computer science. I later continued studies in Computer Science in Minnesota. Photography wasn't anywhere in my curriculum.
Ash: I grew up in a small town south of Minneapolis. I didn't go to college after high school. When I was in high school I was out for modeling a lot. It was turning into a full-time job. So I decided to sign with an agency in New York.
6. What was the first moment in your career that gave you the feels as "yeah, this is what I want to do?"
Corey: I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but this is what I want to do right now. Some days I want to quite everything and move to the country and live on a farm. I think social media makes people think everyone else's lives are perfect and all figured out, when in reality everyone is struggling in some way. If there was a moment though, it would probably be when I realized that photography gave me the ability to capture beautiful moments that would live forever.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I loved that everyday I went to work, there was something different. I would watch Chanel and Dior shows and see these strong women walk so beautifully and these amazing sets and beautiful editorials and that's when I really wanted to start taking it seriously. When I walked for Chanel it was like a dream come true. And then Dior was icing on the cake.
[Ash Walker walking for Dior]
7. What has been the most challenging part of your career path?
Corey: A big challenge is the fact that I'm my own worst critic. I always find myself saying "you can do better." It's weird and it sucks. I'm always trying to look at my work and see it through someone else's eyes. This makes it hard to find closure in a project. I find myself finishing the project saying I could have done this or that better. Then there are the usual things: the stress, getting your foot in the door, etc.
Ash: The most challenging parts of my career were being gone from Corey/family/home for a long amount of time and having to maintain a size 00, which the industry expected up until now.
[Photo of Corey Tenold & Ash Walker] See, they do get to relax! :)
8. Where do you find inspiration?
Corey: I find a lot of inspiration through music. I grew up on hip-hop, and just keeping up with new artists and releases keeps me pumped up. I also believe that change sparks creativity. I moved around a lot as a kid. I went to like three different middle schools and three different high schools. I think changes in your life awaken sleeping neurons in your brain. So, I also find a lot of inspiration when I travel. Also, there's nothing more inspiring than seeing other people in your same career path doing cool shit.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I find inspiration from everything. Anything and everything.
9. What are your favorite clothing brands right now?
Corey: I'm kind of on this vintage kick at the moment. I'm really starting to realize how damaging fast fashion is and how many people it negatively effects. So I do a lot of shopping lately at vintage stores. I like vintage Levi's, vintage Champion, and vintage designer when I can find it. I also like to keep my eye on the streetwear scene. I'm currently into retro Jordan's and I love seeing what newer brands like AntiSocialSocialClub are doing.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I will always be a Dior fan. I'm a big believer in accessories being my statement pieces. Vintage is a big interest right now for me.
10. Style icon. (dead or alive)
Corey: This one is tough. I get inspiration from everywhere, so it's hard to pinpoint one person who I really look to as a style icon. I guess the first person that popped into my head was Pharrell. He always seems to be on the edge and does it with confidence. I think it also ties back to my hip-hop roots.
Ash: Hmmm, that's a hard one. I've really looked up to anyone for style. I've always just went with whatever I thought was cool from that seasons trends and past trends.
11. What has been your career highlight thus far?
Corey: Probably being the only photographer invited to an intimate dinner at Anna Wintour's house to take photos of guests, which included icons like DVF, Naomi Campbell, and Bruce Weber.
[Naomi Campbell photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
[Dinner setting photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
Ash: Well shooting for the September issue of Vogue was amazing. But also walking for Dior and Chanel were highlights.
12. Corey-you recently shot backstage for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Paris? How crazy was that?
Corey: Yes! It was very cool to have that opportunity. I was very excited to get that call, but also very nervous. Everything was like fashion week but on steroids. Security was beefed up and production was intense. It also felt cool being one of very few photographers allowed backstage. All in all, it was an amazing experience that I'm very grateful for.
Ash: I am so happy and proud of him!
[Photo of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner backstage at the Victoria's Secret Fashion show taken by Corey Tenold]
[Photo of Kendall Jenner backstage at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show taken by Corey Tenold]
13. What's next for you two?
Corey: Next for me is to keep growing. Keep learning. Keep traveling. But it's best when you don't know what's next. It keeps you on your toes with your mind open.
[Photo of Corey Tenold]
Ash: I have decided to be more body positive with modeling and I'm very excited about it! Being the real me feels great and refreshing. Excited to see where it takes me.
[Photo of Ash Walker]