We had the good fortune of connecting with Jai Mayhew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jai, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Every opportunity I’ve been given has come with risk. Your chances don’t wait until you’re ready for them.
My career’s been built on chances I could’ve easily missed. I’ve shot for magazines when I didn’t feel my technical skills were quite ready. I’ve photographed public figures while screaming inside that my lighting was wrong, wrong, wrong (it was beautiful). Then, of course, there have been opportunities that didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked. But in the end, each risk has always paid out with rewards.
In the beginning of my career, I turned down too many jobs that didn’t have a guaranteed chance of success in the name of ‘perfectionism.’ As a result, I missed out on opportunities, networking, and advancement. Half of life is literally just showing up and performing your best (even if you’re screaming inside). Doing just that has built my career. So I now I may go in over-prepared (remember to breathe), but I will always go in. It’s worth the risk.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a frustrated painter and piano player who really needed a creative outlet. I ended up with a camera. I actually started on the fashion side of the industry and I fell completely in love with the creativity and romance of editorial work. There is no truth in fashion. Whatever you envision, you create. Portraiture, of course, has a more factual basis, but I keep that fantasy element with me, it helps to elevate my portraiture. I love that my clients trust me to add that editorial edge to their sessions.
When I started the portrait side of my business 5 years ago, much of what I tried was an experiment. I knew I wanted to create a luxury experience for women, but it took time to gain clarity on exactly what this would look like. I’m so proud of how branded the studio has become, how unique the experience is, and how our business is word of mouth, yet we have clients flying in from across the country to visit us. I’m truly honored, and it’s exciting to see others recognizing that what we offer here is so very different.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Your biggest strength as a business owner is the thing that makes you unique. What are you passionate about? What thing that sets you apart? When we’re younger, we all want to blend in, but to make it in business, you need a hook, something that makes you stand out.
Let me tell you mine. I photograph beautiful portraits of women looking like models. Beauty is my currency. I give them a gorgeous experience to go with editorial, Vogue ready portraits. My whole brand is women’s empowerment.
But I am so unbelievably passionate about this because I was the invisible teenager who wanted to be pretty. A hurt plus a decade of eating disorders created a lot of pain. I grew up watching old Hollywood movies and seeing all that gorgeous glamour and I wanted a piece of that to feel like a goddess for a day.
Today my life is in a beautiful, much healthier place, but I remember the pain of what it feels like to want to be seen, and to want to be more. And I want to give every woman who comes to my studio a chance to celebrate herself and feel beautiful. No matter what that means to her. I don’t tell clients my story, but my story fuels my purpose, my brand, my business.
What will make your business successful is something personal, something only you can bring to it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I only recently moved to Dallas, but let’s test my tour guide skills so far.
Massages & Day Spa at the Joule
Shopping & lunch at Highland Park Village
Cocktails – Toulouse Cafe and Bar (best French 76 martinis!)
Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens – such a beautiful walk
Legacy Hall – live music concerts (the Free Britney concert was so much fun)
Dallas Museum of Art
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Sydney Bass – my best friend since age 12 (keeper of all my secrets) and an incredible style entrepreneur in Richmond, VA (https://www.chicstripes.com/)