4. Woke Beauty@wokebeauty
A Conversation with Riley Blanks creator of Woke Beauty. Woke Beauty is a photographic experience designed to uplift women through photography.Photos taken at the Miranda Bennett Studio in front of the Manifest exhbition.
What made you start your own business rather than just like pursuing freelance photography?
I didn't find photography to be super sustainable as a freelancer. I didn't have a niche. I wasn't progressing in a specific industry. When I sort of hit rock bottom with my career, I say rock bottom because from my perspective, I was just like over my career status, which was uncertain, confusing and very freelancer ish. I was working in the service industry and thinking about jobs and freelance photographing for everything. Like all and any work that came to me. I've always had this like deep desire to have an effect on society that was altruistic, that had to do with something larger than myself, which I think is a very millennial. In that time frame was when I developed the idea for Woke Beauty. It was spearheaded by my relationship with my mom and how photography has brought us closer together. I have felt that when I've really gotten through to her about her worth, it's been a beautiful mixture of words of affirmation and photographs. The thought was, what if I can provide that to all women? It progressed when I started a membership program and that's when it became a business because it had a foundation and it gave consistent fuel instead of this sort of like up and down curve that a lot of people experience with freelance.
Tell me about your exhbition “Manifest”:
In some ways it is a memoir , or a manifesto. It's really sort of a marriage between me sifting through my own identity and me painting the picture of what women of color, as a collective experience throughout their lives. I really wanted to show that we can claim space outside in Austin. In a way that's enjoyable in a way that's peaceful and serene and free. In a way that doesn't feel like we're being constantly judged or analyzed. It was definitely an effort to address this racial tension that exists in gentrified cities, Austin specifically. But I'm hopeful that it can be a reflection of what America is going through. It also became honestly accidentally this process of diving deep inwards, kind of like silently and alone, but in a way that wasn't alone. It was just weird. In most of those spaces I was by myself, but I felt very much connected. I think that's cool cause I think that we as women of color can have that experience. We just have to claim it for ourselves.