Shine Theory, Baby

Like many women, I began to question my career choices after having my first child. After a lifetime of announcing that I would always put my career ambitions before anything else, I gazed down at this new human and knew that everything had changed. I wanted a job that would allow me to spend as much time with this little creature as possible. I wanted to enjoy his giggles and discoveries while still retaining some of my adult identity and interests. I began to transition my photography hobby into a profession and was delighted by the autonomy and freedom that this option provided.

Picnic, by Lis Troyler

At the time, my biggest struggle in freelancing was finding clients. My friend Ashley Collins, owner of Emerald Doulas, began recommending photography clients to me. When I thanked her profusely, her response was, “Shine Theory, baby, making the world brighter!”

I’ve since done some research on Shine Theory and discovered that the term was initially coined by Ann Friedman. The original concept suggested that, instead of being competitive with other women, we should befriend the powerful, successful, beautiful women we encounter, essentially letting their light illuminate us and improving our own success. Make these women allies instead of threats!

While I appreciate the idea of reducing envy and competition with amazing women, I preferred the way that Ashley approached it. Rather than basking in the light of women with more success, this beautiful and talented woman was utilizing her own success to build other women up. According to Ashley, “When you shine your light on other women, you don’t lose anything. You just make the world a brighter place.”

This concept was groundbreaking to me. Rather than see other small businesses, photographers, designers, and entrepreneurs as competition, Ashley helped me see that there was always enough work to go around. This light isn’t a finite resource. In fact, the more you use it, the brighter it gets. I see this embodied in the way that Detail and Design operates as well, and I’m honored to be part of the team.