How Bree McCool Expanded Her Love of Photography Into a Creative Collective - rachelleslie.co

How Bree McCool Expanded Her Love of Photography Into a Creative Collective

Third time’s a charm. Our interview series, Beyond the Brand, continues with our third installment and first interview of 2022. In case you missed our interviews with entrepreneurs Kristina and Jaclyn you can find them here and here. We had the chance to hear from Bree McCool, the entrepreneur and photographer behind Bree McCool Photography and her new collective, The Artful Archive, and all about her story and how she turned her hobby into a unique creative business.

1. We’re soooo excited to chat with you in this capacity! For those who don’t know you, tell me a bit about who you are and what you do?

Thanks for having me! I create artful, strategic photo libraries for authors, entrepreneurs, and retreats. I am also currently building a membership called The Artful Archive which is an artful membership platform inviting people to reflect, remember and honor their experiences through creative workshops, journal prompts, and community.

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2. We’re suckers for stories here in the studio (as you know!). Can you share a bit about the origins of what drew you to photography and your latest endeavor, The Artful Archive?

Photography always interested me but I never thought it would be my career. I shot on nights and weekends for almost 10 years before starting my own business. In the last six years, I’ve noticed a desire to take enjoying our photos a few steps further. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with the pressure to show up and always be on, I found resolve in reviving a former hobby of scrapbooking and collaging that helped me slow down, reflect, and create something of my own. Today, that hobby has evolved into a unique practice brought to life through The Artful Archive. A collective that invites reflection on moments and memories—from simple to complex—through varied art instruction, creative practices, and journal prompts.

3. We all know how isolating entrepreneurship and building a business can be. How have you found support and community (near and far) as you’ve built your business?

Oh what a timely question! This year I made the move from Los Angeles to Portland OR after 15 years in a city that helped me build my business. It helps that LA is just a flight away and prioritizing my “work-ships” has been integral to feeling supported from afar. Locally in Portland, I’ve reached out to businesses I admire and am curious about. I think a simple, friendly coffee invite or Zoom call these days goes a long way.

4. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, what have been some challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?

I like to think of everything I do in my business as either a win or a moment to reflect and learn from—I don’t always follow that advice! I am a human and as an artist, it is hard to separate personal feelings from the work because I feel so inspired by my everyday life. My current challenge is building community in a new place and the only thing that makes me feel better about that is action and making a commitment to meeting new people and businesses.

5. What about the good stuff, what would be on your entrepreneur highlight reel?

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Seeing my clients SOAR with their photos in magazines, online, and in advertising. I LOVE to see images out in the world, carrying the brand’s message globally. For my Artful Archive members, there is great joy in seeing them celebrate reflection and recollection of moments and memories through various art forms. The idea they’re looking back and carrying that happiness to the present to create an enjoyable future – that’s the best.

6. As you know here at the studio, we’re passionate about working with mission-driven and purpose-focused brands. For those who don’t know you, can you share a bit more about your process and the mission behind what you do?

At the heart of Bree McCool Photography, we are supporting female-founded companies gain financial independence, sharing their talents with the world, and hopefully shifting the wealth in this country to be more diverse and inclusive. For all of my work, we believe in a Triple Bottom Line which is where we:

  • Amplify others through generosity, empathy, fulfillment of needs, and we advocate for the people we believe in.
  • Honor our home, resourcefulness, care, and sustainability.
  • Believe our business can be a remedy to the world we want to live in.
  • Believe in thriving economically while practicing mindfulness and living out our values. We know the current social and economic order is slightly disruptive, and we wish to be thought leaders in change.

7. What do you have coming down the pipeline for your business? What should we be keeping an eye out for?

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Bree McCool Photography continues to engage in projects worldwide in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oaxaca, Antigua, Morocco, and all over the US. The Artful Archive is entering our beta phase to test and improve content and user experience. If you have any interest in knowing when The Artful Archive launches, you can sign up for our newsletter, Happy Mail, here.

8. What is the best advice you’ve received as a business owner and what advice would YOU give to someone looking to make the leap but feeling unsure?

 “Happiness is an inside job.”

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I’ve heard it a million times but it’s so very true in every part of my life especially businesses. The closer I get to engaging in work closest to my passions, the better my life is overall. And you’ll never know if you don’t try! This is exactly how I feel about The Artful Archive membership.

9. We’d love to know, how do you stay inspired and creative as an entrepreneur? If you have any book or music playlists, we’re all ears!

I’m a big fan of The Artist’s Way so I will constantly preach about morning pages, artist dates, and seeking inspiration in other areas of interest. Working within creative prompts or boundaries is always a surefire way to jumpstart a project idea. And I definitely shoot projects that never see the light of day – PLAY is integral to growth. So find a group of business friends that support your play like you do theirs.

10. Lastly, let us know where we can find you and stay connected!

The best way is via our newsletter, Happy Mail. Next up would be following our instagrams, both for Bree McCool Photography and for The Artful Archive

And there you have it!

We loved hearing just a piece of Bree’s story. We know there is so much more to her and the incredible brands she is building. We’re so inspired and it was an honor to feature her on our Beyond the Brand Interview Series. If you know someone who would be a good fit for this series, please email hello@rachelleslie.co! Want to be the first to know when a new interview goes live on the blog? Join us over on our newsletter to stay in the know on all the studio happenings.

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