We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor Keitt and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Taylor, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Interestingly enough, I actually lost my job (due to the company’s lack of funding) in 2021, just previous to starting my business. Mind you, I had just started this job in 2020 after having worked at Discount Tire for 4 years in management. At the time, life seemed to have been in a really great place. My wife and I had just purchased a house the year before, we were making decent money, and we were expecting our first child. Then in May 2021, my wife lost her job and couldn’t go out to find another due to being 7 months pregnant at that time. And when I lost my job 2 months later, it was literally three days after we got home with our newborn baby.

I was honestly kind of petrified and just sat in my office at home for about 20 minutes. This was completely out of left field and I had not been without a job for about 6 or 7 years, since before my wife and I had met. I spent about a week looking for a “regular job” because you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right? I had a family depending on me. But after that week of searching, I honestly didn’t feel right about it. I had this feeling that I didn’t want my family to ever be at the mercy of someone else’s whim or lack of resources. I decided it was time to trust God at that point and believe that this was the time to start using the gifts that he gave me to provide for my family. Was I scared? Absolutely. Did I really have any idea how to start an actual business? Not really. But God had never failed me up until then and I had a supportive partner in my wife beside me. So in September 2021, Choice Media was born.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Some time ago, my mother asked me, “If I could do anything without having to worry about money, what would it be?” The answer to that question has a lot to do with who I am as a person. I’ve always been the type that loves to give people hope through stories and creativity. I believe that translates into business by giving brands, personalities, and businesses hope to see another day through different creative measures. For one client, that may mean building a team that gives you the technical support needed for your conference. For another client, that may simply be giving creative consult for how to see your vision through.

In today’s society where it seems like everyone is a creative, it can be extremely easy to feel drowned out in a world of noise and creative content. It’s easy to see what other people put out or have already accomplished and feel like you can’t find your place amongst the endless amount of talent out there. It can also feel like you’re already behind, thus making it seem better to settle for something “easy”. But I’ve become a firm believer that no matter what you see, you have to stay true to what you believe.

My journey to this point has not been easy. I’ve been a homeowner, homeless, and slept on friends’ couches. I’ve worked jobs that I accepted simply for survivals sake. I’ve had times where I felt like I was constantly getting looked over for different opportunities. I’ve had plenty of times where I felt like it’d be easier to just settle in life. But I’ve always known I was meant for more and I’ve always believed I could do more. And when times were really hard, it seemed like God always placed the right people in my life to remind me and encourage me to move forward.

I think I really started to build traction professionally when I started working my job at discount tire. Like anyone else who works there, I started as a simple tire technician. But because of my work ethic, I moved up in management extremely quickly. I honestly could’ve continued on to have had an even much more successful career there. Along the way I learned a lot about how to treat customers and people in general. I learned about having a healthy business culture and pouring into the people who come up after you. Honestly, I still view my time at that company as having been a huge opportunity to nurture and hone a lot of what I’ve learned about how to run a business that people want to keep working with. While I was working there I was also doing photoshoots and creating video content as a side hustle. I would work usually an 11 hour shift (sometimes longer) and then get home to edit content. I’d sometimes be at my desk editing for so long that I would look up and it’d be time to go right back to work. I’d even use a lot of weekend time for photoshoots instead of relaxing. I didn’t always get paid a lot (shoot or at all sometimes) but I just knew I liked being able to create for people. I liked telling stories. I liked changing lives and pushing peoples visions and dreams forward.

One day, I was given my biggest opportunity to work full-time for a non-profit organization providing content for there social media and in-house needs. It was technically a pay cut, but what was most important to me at the time was that I’d get to spend a lot more time with my family and I’d get to take my side hustle and apply it to my full-time job. To me it was a no-brainer. So I left my job at Discount Tire in September 2020 to start out on this new venture. That’s right. You read the date right. I left during the global COVID pandemic knowing even more how much of a gamble it was. So when I lost my job almost a year later. I began to question EVERYTHING. I even contemplated going back to Discount Tire. But I wanted to trust God and move forward.

So here we are. Within less than a year, I’ve handled production project management for a conference. I’ve provided photography and video for several weddings, events, real estate, the cover of a published book, and company rebranding campaigns. I’ve styled two authors and had that work published in both a nationally known leadership magazine and both of the authors’ books. I’ve retained contracts for 2 multi-million dollar companies and a sub-contract for a real estate photography company. But most importantly, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family. Even when my wife and I went through the rough journey of our scary, second pregnancy, I was able to still provide and be available when I was needed.

Some practical lessons I’ve learned: 1) Always work on honing your craft, because you never know when opportunity will come knocking. 2) Your time is just as valuable as the work you provide. Even more-so because it’s the one thing you can’t get back and correct. Learn how to charge for it. 3) Healthy, long-term relationships (whether business or personal) are the testament of your integrity and character. Never sacrifice them for monetary gain.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Man, I’m a foodie so definitely JINYA Ramen Bar in Atlanta or Paopao Ramen Factory and Bar in Decatur is definitely a MUST because I love some ramen. I love authentic tacos too (not that “tex-mex” stuff), so there’s this little hole in the wall called Bella Vista in Conyers or La Oaxaquena in Jonesboro, Ga. Some other spots are definitely Capital Grille for steak, Tuk Tuk Thai Loft for…well thai food (hence the name 😂), Stockyard Burgers in Marietta, Nana’s Chicken and Waffles in Conyers, and Barcelona for Spanish tapas. Honestly, I could go on and on with food spots so I’m going to stop there).

If there was a good, live show playing at City Winery we would definitely have to go there. The High Museum is always a dope spot that has revolving exhibits.

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?
Oh wow. There are a lot of people that I would like to recognize, but I’ll try to keep it brief. First and foremost, I would love to thank my God. He’s the one who’s giving me these gifts and created me so uniquely in the first place, so ALL credit is due to Him. Secondly, I’d like to thank my amazing wife, Kristy, who continues to support and challenge me no matter what. Next, I want to thank my children, Nevaeh-Rose and Jack Jack, for teaching me everyday that legacy isn’t so much WHAT you build up, but WHO you raise up. I’d like to thank my parents and all of my family of choice, especially the Doziers, the Benjamins, Robert, and the Krew. My clients, who continue to trust me with their brands and stories. And lastly, I’d like to thank all of the guys I’ve had the humbling opportunity to pour into. You don’t have to be blood to help someone or teach other people along the way.

Website: therealchoicemedia.com or taylorkeitt.mypixieset.com (for personal photography work)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylr.mvde/

Image Credits
Tatyanna Brown (headshot), Carrington Hill (3rd Picture at concert), Choice Media (all others)

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