Owning My Power: Interview with Karla Melgarejo
1. What has most informed and shaped with you are today?
I’d have to say moving to a different country and having to start all over again has been life changing. I re-launched my business when moving here with literally no contacts, no network and having to pave my way into one of the most competitive and toughest industries, it was incredibly challenging. I was one of the few female fashion photographers, the youngest and to top my list of minorities the only Latina fashion photographer (in Portland, OR where I lived at the time) aiming to own my space in this industry. Having all those challenges along the way certainly made me work harder, taught me to be resilient, to practice courage and understand that patience is key in order to get through as an entrepreneur.
2. Are you surprised at the woman you have become? How have you learned to accept and love her?
I am in awe with the woman I’m today! Looking back I used to be the shyest kid at school, I still remember my hands sweating every time I had to make a presentation or blush when someone would simply ask my name. I was never the go-getter, the leader, and the change-maker. Seeing this awkward girl grow up and own her space, discover her true purpose and speak her truth is really something I’d never imagined happening but I’m so glad it did!
3. What is one thing you would want women to know if you could tell them one thing?
I’d tell them define your purpose, find your calling and speak up! I feel like now we finally live at a time where we are the change-makers, we are no longer just represented by public figures or celebrities we now have platforms where we can speak up and make an impact, so how are you being that change within our industry?
4. Tell us about a time that made you feel most empowered in your body.
This is such a good question! I think for me it was just a matter of growing up and finding the importance of self-love. I was always the skinniest in the room; and I would always hear “you are too skinny, are you ok?” I was and am perfectly fine, I just inherited my mom’s body and genes and that’s who I was, I ate, I eat a lot actually but this is just who I am, there was nothing wrong except society not accepting any body type and a teenager feeling very self-conscious about herself. Today the 30 year old me no longer cares, it’s today where I feel most empowered in my body, I went through all the changes a human body can go through this past two years, from getting pregnant, giving birth to seeing my entire body recover and changing and probably not getting back to my 20 year old figure but I am fine with it. We need to start embracing our bodies just as they are, not let society define beauty and set standards for what we should look like but rather admire the fact that a woman’s body is capable of the impossible and that’s insanely beautiful!
5. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Just reading ten years from know it makes me think of my daughter and how she will be 12 years old, transitioning from being a kid into her early teen years. So, my answer would be, just PRESENT. I don’t know where I will be career wise, I don’t know what my dreams will be 10 years from now, all I can say is I want to be there for my kids, that for me is enough!
6. What would you say to your ten year old self?
I’d tell her, "It's ok you're shy, it's ok you're an introvert, someday you'll find your voice, you'll own your space and you'll speak up."
Karla Melgarejo is a published fashion photographer, marketing strategist, and advocate for Latina makers and entrepreneurs across the U.S. Born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, Karla currently lives in Seattle where she helps women from all over the world scale their businesses through intentional imagery and purposeful marketing strategies. She founded 3 different companies before turning 30 and launched the first digital magazine in Bolivia back in 2013. Karla deeply believes in the power of community and the importance of living an authentic life.