Solving Problems with Confidence & Vulnerability with Jenifer Daniels of Colorstock
Jenifer Daniels started as a PR strategist and brand storyteller, and worked in that career for 15 years. It was there that Jenifer came face to face with the issue that would lead her to launch Colorstock. She recalled, “My clients were really unique in their customer base and they needed imagery that reflected that customer base. If you go to look for images that are ethnically different, you get very homogenous images, and it’s hard to tell your customer that you’re talking to them when they can’t see themselves in your pictures.”
For years, Jenifer assumed that the market would fix itself. With conversations getting serious about diversity and people taking action on those issues, she assumed businesses would get things together. During an interview that focused on startups and women, Jenifer was inspired. “They said, ‘If you have an idea, do it. Don’t worry about not being able to know the technical part because you can learn that. Just go for it.’ That gave me the courage that I needed to learn how to code, learn as much as I could about photography, and plan and prep for a good year in advance to launch the company.”
The upcoming founder did everything she could to learn about startups, coding, and photography all which were at the intersection of her industry. The technology aspect of Colorstock in particular was something that Jenifer didn’t want to leave to anyone else. “I remembered in school when people would say, ‘Oh well I don’t like math, and if you don’t know math, your accountant can help you.’ I always thought about that, and I cannot not learn how to code, because I can’t leave that to someone else. If something breaks and they’re not there, and I don’t know how to fix it, I’m leading myself off there. It’s hard to say, ‘Ok, now I’m going to learn something totally different from what I went to school for.’ It’s not in a school setting and there’s no one hovering over your shoulder. You have to be responsible for your education.” In the long run, Jenifer’s time spent studying was highly valuable. She attained skill sets that have helped her make Colorstock successful.
Learning Who You Are in Business
Images available on Colorstock
The Colorstock Co-Founder sees the ethnically diverse image marketplace growing and becoming a vital niche segment of the stock photo market. “Our intention is not necessarily to compete, but to be a complement to the places that already exist,” Jenifer added. From where the company is now, Jenifer dreams of being able to expand work on their social purpose. “Stock photography and visual storytelling is low hanging fruit. What would it look like if children in communities that are not represented in art and storytelling had access to classes and equipment for photography?” The cofounder asked, thinking of what Colorstock might be able to offer in the future.
Through the pursuit of this mission and the creation of Colorstock, Jenifer has had several major lessons, the biggest of which was learning about her own capacity to perform as a business owner. “I’ve always been in tune with social issues and people, working in public relations, but I didn’t realize how much I can handle tangible resources, legal stuff, and all the business things you don’t think you’d have access to without a MBA,” Jenifer said, “I’ve been finding more about myself, my limits, and identifying those limits and how to overcome them. It’s been an awesome experience learning more about who I am as a person and what my capabilities are.”
What Jenifer’s learned as a woman entering the tech field is the importance of your own brand. She related, “We have information and insight. Information is data and research that is telling us that there aren’t a lot of women in tech and companies are trying to do better to solve this problem. My insight is a little different. I already had a strong brand before I entered the tech space. People didn’t have to worry if I was capable or not. People already knew I was capable of success because I lived success out loud. I’ve had an easier transition into tech because of that. Having a strong brand and having visible success before you get to the tech space makes it a lot easier.”
Being Vulnerable to Be Heard
With Colorstock, Jenifer has made it her mission to help companies represent cultures and tell diverse stories. The key to doing that yourself, Jenifer shared, is to show up and be your authentic self. She elaborated, “It sounds odd because being authentic means being vulnerable. Being vulnerable is scary, but if nothing else, you never have to worry about pretending and putting on a different face when you walk into the room. If you’re authentic at all times and you use your voice to tell your story, people will hear you.”
For new entrepreneurs, Jenifer emphasized the importance of a team. She advised, “You have to have a really good team around you especially when you’re starting out on your own. If you’re a mom or a wife, your family is a part of your team. They need to know that you’re serious about what you’re doing, so they can understand some sacrifices may be made, but there is a greater good. Your team may be people you choose to work with. Those people need to be smart and in different areas than you are. Like attracts like, so it’s really easy to hire people who are like you, but that doesn’t make for a good team in a startup. You have to hire people who understand your vision and the steps it takes to get there, and they are smart in a way that you aren’t. The only way you can have a good team is if you are a good leader.”
“The biggest thing that I think women can bring to the tech space is that we’re already solution-based in our thought process,” Jenifer shared, “What we need is a little bit more confidence and a little bit more skill, so whatever problem we identify, we’re confident enough to solve it. We’re going to do awesome in this space because people are seeking solutions.” Jenifer Daniels is an inspiration as she creates her own solution. Keep up with her on Twitter and browse what Colorstock has to offer online.
What steps can you take to create a technical solution to a problem you don’t see going away? What’s stopping you from launching your startup? Let us know in the comments below.