Today, I am tickled pink to be spotlighting a personal friend of mine: the one and only Iman Woods! Iman and I met when she came to the store in search of bras, and we immediately clicked. Both of us love being personal cheerleaders for people, empowering them to see the beauty within themselves and to appreciate their bodies as they are. Meeting Iman was not like meeting a stranger but more like connecting with a friend, and her generosity of spirit is inspiring. She volunteered to loan me the gorgeous pinup paintings—which she did herself by the way—to decorate the store, and she constantly refers clients to the shop. In keeping with her goals of building a supportive community, Iman often hosts “Girls Night Out” parties to introduce her friends to each other, and every single one of them has been a blast with lots of great conversation and laughter. I love when people build each other up and find ways of working together to create something wonderful, and Iman channels this energy into all of her endeavors.
I have been wanting to feature her on the blog for a long time, but both of us have undergone personal issues over the last year which delayed the post. However, I am exceptionally happy that we finally got together to showcase her business, but I am even more excited about the collaborative event we want to do together in the shop! *squeal* We’ll be finalizing details soon, but in the meantime, Iman is offering our readers a special offer on her pinup photography!
Without further adieu, let’s discuss what it is that makes Iman’s pictures and business philosophy so special:
Iman Woods Creative
Can you give our readers a brief synopsis of what you do and who you are?
I offer all kinds of photography services with a specialty in empowering women to see and feel their unique beauty. I started this business 100 pounds ago, photographing myself along the way. I learned posing and lighting through hundreds of self-timed shots. Basically I wanted to learn how to photograph myself to look my best no matter what size I was.
When did you develop your love of photography? And what made you transition this to offering pinup photo shoots? What did you hope to accomplish?
It was at a time in my life when I didn’t feel beautiful. (MANY years ago!) So I used photography as an outlet to document the beauty I found in the world around me. I transitioned to pinup art because I felt like other women must have the same questions about their beauty that I did. “Pinup” is synonymous with “beautiful” so I studied, practiced, lots of trial and error to develop a process that could be tailored to empower any woman. I wanted to be able to show women an image of themselves where they saw their beauty and didn’t focus on their flaws.
Have you been featured in any publications for your work? Did this help your business expand and grow?
Playgirl Magazine, WUNC, and on TV and in newspapers across the country. Yes, it always helps the business grow.
It seems like in the lingerie blogosphere, professional photo shoots, whether pinup, boudoir, or something in between, are becoming more commonplace. The recent collaboration between the Lingerie Addict, Sweet Nothings, and Elisabeth Dale comes to mind as a beautiful exploration of how to encourage visibility and representation while still showcasing gorgeous lingerie in tasteful, classy ways. However, in practice, we both live in a more conservative state. I know you mentioned in the past that some people have viewed what you do as a form of pornography. How have you handled the criticism? Have you changed anyone’s opinion about what you do?
I started my business in Orlando, FL and it grew like wildfire. Then I spent 8 years in Colorado and again it grew. When I first opened my business here, I had some women from the church I attended leave negative reviews comparing my work to porn. Granted, they had never worked with me and had only seen my website but it was a shocking way to be introduced to the area. It did not stop me though. I felt like I needed to defend the women featured because they’re not professional models. They’re moms, sisters, daughters just trying to own the bodies that God gave them. I published more about this in a blog actually: http://www.8womendream.com/
Originally, you opened a retail storefront in downtown Mebane but transitioned away from it for a more traditional marketing job. Have you considered reopening a studio or a storefront? What challenges did you face with your store? Retail in this area is notoriously hard to conquer. Everyone expects to drive to a larger city and bypasses some of the local gems entirely. Do you think that impacted your business?
The business was actually doing well for a storefront that had been opened only a year. But I didn’t do well with being so stationary. My work thrives when I’m challenged and working on location is HARD so I not only do better with that, I push myself to create more unique work. I would consider another retail space if I had a team of photographers and could still do the cutting edge work that pushes me to grow as an artist. But for now, on-location is the perfect fit.
What do you think is the hardest part of running your business? How have you coped with it?
Managing the creative expense and managing the admin/sales/business side simultaneously. I coped by learning to do the things I wasn’t good at.
Where there any moments when you thought of quitting entirely? If so, what kept you moving forward?
Yes, when I closed the store I took a break. But my passion is helping women feel beautiful. I truly believe that a woman’s confidence in herself bleeds over to bless every aspect of her life. Including her partner, her friends, her, and the next generation. So I will do this work for the rest of my life. The testimonials I’ve gotten are what push me forward. Knowing I’ve helped ONE person is immensely gratifying.
With spring on the horizon, what plans do you have for the next year?
Grow my business. Meet more women. Share our stories. Be a community to lift each other up.
Finally, what had the biggest impact, positive and/or negative, on your business so far?
My attitude. If I think, no matter how lofty the goal, I CAN.