By Olga FROMENTIN
Arcy Benincosa is one of those people who believe all things are possible.
She started her career in a job that was making her feel miserable every single day for 10 years until she took the ultimate decision to stop being unhappy. She decided to stop “living plan B” and quit her stable full-time job to follow her dream to become a high-profile wedding photographer.
A year later, D’Arcy’s side-hustle project skyrocketed into an over 6-figure business!
Today she is living the dream life she has always wanted to have: traveling the world, taking photos and helping new entrepreneurs succeed with their business.
D’Arcy was in her beautiful apartment in New York when we chatted on Skype about her transformation, about running multiple successful businesses, the Art of Decision Taking, the Women’s March in Washington, her views on women’s success.
D’Arcy, please tell us about yourself and your projects.
I currently own and operate three different businesses.
Let’s start with my photography business. I shoot destinations weddings and do families.
I also do business coaching. I often coach creative people who want to learn how to develop their business. I know what challenges they may face, so I teach them to take the right steps to realize their goals.
Besides, I co-own a beauty salon in the Downtown Salt Lake City. My sister is a hairdresser and an entrepreneur. She was included on the list of the best “Forty Under 40” entrepreneurs by Utah Business. We opened this place together.
In addition, as crazy as it may sound, I am involved in something different: I co-founded a photo stock app. It is still at its very early development stage but we are planning to launch it a bit later this year.
How did you get started doing wedding photography?
I have always been interested in art and creativity, and I love storytelling. I believe most of the photographers do.
However, I realized that I was not making
money with my creative activities, that is why 7 years ago I started taking business courses. I did some business classes, and then I started implementing things. It helped me to see how to make my business work.
How did you get from “living plan B” to living out your dreams?
I was doing a school teacher job which was making me feel very unhappy and unappreciated. I couldn’t express my creativity the way I wanted. I felt that nothing I did was ever good enough. And I also realized that I wouldn’t get rich with that job. It was a government job, no matter how good you were, you would never break a certain income – everybody got paid the same.
I wanted to earn much more money, I wanted to be my own boss and most of all, I wanted to travel!
I quit my full-time job and concentrated on my photography business. I invested over $30,000 studying with the top entrepreneurs of our time while learning and implementing the best practices for small business owners. I took my small photography business from making $16,000 to doing over six figures in just 12 months. I learned to work smarter, using the strategies, taking the best from the top entrepreneurs in the business and applying it to my own life.
I know from your blog that you learned the Art of Decision Making. Is it easy for you to take decisions?
Well, I was 19 when I quit school and moved to Paris because that was what I really wanted to do.
Talking about the art of decision,
I just do things.
We may feel fear when we make decisions, but it just takes some practice to conquer it.
I moved to Paris, I went to those business courses, I have lived in New York for a while, moved away and decided to come back. And I realized, that when I was saying that I wanted to live in New York again, that decision had already been made in my mind.
You are involved in so many things, how do you manage to do all of them?
I have been doing just my photography business for a really long time. It always takes so much work to start a business. A huge amount of efforts, long hours, you have to get everything in place, like all contracts, understand how you’re going to shoot, how to handle everything.
It was different when I started doing coaching and offering my workshops. It came much more naturally to me because I’d already done all the preparation work.
I think, once you launched one successful business, it becomes a lot easier to launch another one, it is a much faster process.
Besides, it comes to working with the right people. My both partners of the Hair salon I co-own are absolutely brilliant in their areas. Each of us is responsible for what we are really good at, like, I don’t wanna deal with scheduling, but I do all the marketing, branding, media. Basically, I bring the customers into the salon, and my partners take care of the rest.
I also don’t watch much TV, and I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram, I try to use my time very wisely.
But you are using Facebook and Instagram to share your work. How do you find time to do it?
There is a difference between sharing your work, which takes about 5 minutes and getting hooked for an hour, scrolling through all news feeds.
I just really plan some of my things. For example, for my hair salon, every Monday I arrange 2 hours to schedule Instagram updates for 2 weeks. I really enjoy my Instagram but I spend ot it about 5 minutes a day, I always know how I wanna say something.
You seem to be very organized. Have you always been this way, or did you learn it in the courses?
It has never been my habit. I wasn’t great with time management. But
When you have a really big dream and you want it to come true, you get really organized.
I’m very motivated by what I want in life, that’s why I find a way to make it, giving that a priority.
Did anyone support you in your desire to be different earlier in your life?
Not really. I grew up in the community where everybody had the same religion.
I decided to leave my religion, and that was hard because it felt like everybody was pointing out at me when I did that. So it was really hard, but I left.
And now I know I couldn’t have become what I am now without this experience.
For my parents it was not easy either – I didn’t become what they expected, I didn’t stay in their religion, I broke all the rules and left. My parents had to change some of their ideas on how I should be. It helped them to understand me better. Maybe in a way, it is kind of good for my parents to have a daughter who turned out to be different from what they wanted her to be. They get to see some things differently.
Is it easier to be successful for a man, or for a woman?
Well, it’s been a male-dominated world for a long time but I believe, we are very lucky now because it is shifting a lot, and
It is not just getting easier for women to be successful, it is also about men who are absolutely OK with women who succeed.
There still can be a struggle, but it comes up to who you surround yourself with. There is a really awesome man in my life who is really supportive of my success.
Most men around me see my ambition and my drive, and they find it is great, it is very normal for a woman.
In New York now, it is very much about both, women and men, becoming very successful.
Things are a little bit different down there in Utah. There, it is about a community where a lot of women are mothers. They don’t go to work, they have really traditional families.
They still put pressure on women to get married and have children.
I don’t get asked in New York the “when will you get married?” question, but in Utah, it’s constantly brought up to me, maybe it’s a good example of how women are seen over there.
However, on a positive note, I’ve been on shoots where I was the lead and all men working with me, were absolutely fine about that. So things are changing for the better, and a woman can truly have whatever she wants today.
Still, women get under pressure from the media and spend a lot of time thinking about marriage.
While women get themselves too busy thinking about marriage, men concentrate on thinking about how to make their business work. It is still happening. You can see it in women’s magazines, it’s always about a skinny, perfect looking woman on the cover and then you see
many men’ magazines that are more about functionality, learning and growing.
If women just gave up their obsession of getting married and focused on finding their own peace, it would help.
Being a wedding photographer, I have to mention that I witness a lot of beautiful marriages. I see
People get married because they love each other, and not because of social pressure.
I know that you participated in the Women’s March in Washington DC in January 2017. Can you tell about your experience?
Well, America is moving and because of this move, some things became too hard to ignore. Many people are realizing that they have to act and they have got the power all along. And this is what the Women’s March is about.
It is not only about politics, in all other things in life,
It is all about showing up.
When I decided to do the Women’s March, I knew that I wanted to be in the heart of it in Washington DC, so I bought my bus ticket immediately.
People probably idealized the Women’s March, right?
The reality wasn’t perfect. My friend and I got stuck in the middle, surrounded by people for hours. We even didn’t drink because we wanted to avoid going to the bathroom. It was rainy. But for everybody who was there, the point was:
I showed up!
And then, it was uncomfortable in the bus, our bus was in traffic and it crashed at the end, it was a crazy time and I had to sleep on a couch… but
it was incredible to stand up for something I believe in.
I believe, I am absolutely the type of a person to do this, I believe into taking action, and to me, this is truly how the change is made:
You stand up and don’t ignore things.
So inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.
Getting back to discussing success. Let’s talk success and money – is money an important measure of success?
To begin with, we all have got our own definition of success. To me
The more money I have, the more financially independent I am, the more I can help.
That is why making money is an important part of my success. I want to help to build schools to support girls’ education around the world. I also want to be able to support my nieces, to help them to avoid taking enormous student loans, the kind of I had. I want to be able to help
my parents retiring. I have a lot of reasons why I want to make more money.
Money can help when you are very clear why you want it.
If I have a strong reason, like “I really want to own a house in France”, it means to want to have something that would really enrich my life because I love speaking French, I love the French culture, I love the old streets, I just love the way of life there. That’s something that really drives me.
Yet, it is not just about money. I have a friend who is very successful. She has a great full-time job, she became Senior this year, that’s what she wanted to become, she is traveling a lot doing concerts. She doesn’t have too much money, but she is very well off, she has no debt, she has a lot of freedom, she is signing, which is her passion, so she is able to do what she wants.
It’s really all about your own definition of success, you need to figure out what your ideas of success are because all ideas are different.
There are people who may not want to own three businesses, that might appear too stressful to them. And it’s just fine for me. I like having a couple of different businesses so that if the market is down in one, I still have the 2 others to back me up while I’m figuring things out.
You are popular on Instagram and Facebook, is it a measure of success for you?
I think the word “popular” is tough because it depends on so many things.
For example, my mother doesn’t even have an email address. She’s never emailed anyone in her life, nobody really knows who she is but
She has a great life, she is really loved as a grandma, she loves her grandchildren, she’s such a great mom, she’s popular in our family, she gets all the love that she needs.
So I’m pretty unattached to the popularity. But I believe that people meant to come to my workshops, or couples supposed to book me for a wedding should be able to find me easily. That is why I use social media. It is a tool that helps my businesses grow.
If the amount of “likes” and “followers” we get, makes us happy or sad, depending on what we see, that is really dangerous.
Facebook and Instagram can disappear tomorrow. Who will you be if you stop getting all those “likes”?
It is very important for me to stay away from the outside influence. I don’t want my feelings about myself and what I deserve in life to go up and down.
I really like how I look, and I know I am not the perfect fashion model, but I do not need a bunch of people telling me “You are pretty!” to feel pretty.
And I believe, the more creativity you give, the more good energy comes back, maybe that is also representative of social media. It is all about how you feel about yourself.
What about your daily schedule, do you have any rules? What time do you get up?
I travel so much, and I don’t have children, so I don’t really set out rules, but I try to wake up earlier. I generally wake up at 7 or 8 am. But it also depends on whether I am in New York or in Europe. And every morning I do my “Hour Power”:
And every morning I get to do my “Hour Power”:
- I enable an Airplane Mode on my phone
- I practice what I call transcendental meditation for 20 minutes
- I have my breakfast
- I write my Journal, starting with positive sentences
- I read a book, it can be a business book
- And I plan my day
Do you use any applications for your planning?
I use a calendar, that’s all. I need to see my schedule. I even plan out my meals for the week, just because it makes it so much easier to prepare. I am pretty strict about my
I still use a paper planner, I like to write stuff down.
Does your daily morning meditation help you to feel good?
Yes, it does. Like other creatives, I have a lot of energy. The meditation means going back to my peaceful self, it really gets me connected with that inner sense of myself,
my spirit and my soul, it makes me feel more energized, and
It helps me to get clear about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
D’Arcy, can you give us some advice on how to be successful, how to live out our dreams?
You should be clear every single day about what you want, and then you have to work to get what you want and what you deserve to have.
For example, starting making videos about business changed the story of my business. But I was putting off starting doing them for a really long while because I was thinking:
What if I looked stupid, or what if I looked overweight, or what if people who were better photographers or better in business SAW it and JUDGED me.
I had the whole bunch of reasons not to do that until I finally just said:
Screw it, I’m going to do it anyway!
That’s where the things started to shift. That is to say that we get in our own way a lot, we have our beliefs about what other people are going to think of us, and I think it’s the biggest thing that gets in the way for many women.
Women think too much about what society would think of them, what everybody else would think.
You gonna have to disappoint people to get there, and you have to be OK with that.
To me, women are pleasers, but if they keep wanting to make everybody happy all the time, they will not get where they wanna be.
It may sound selfish to put yourself first, but when you do it, you understand what you need and what you are meant to do on this Earth, and only then you become a better person: a better mother, a better wife, a better professional, a better sister, a better human being.
No one else can tell you what you need to make yourself happy. Be the one who understands where you want to be.
Thank you, D’Arcy. Where can people find you online?
Thanks a lot for your time, D’Arcy!
Images: Courtesy of D’Arcy Benincosa
- Art of Decision Making
- Transcendental Meditation
- Utah Business: Forty-under-40
- D’Arcy about the Women’s March