I interviewed and secured my first post-collegiate position as an unpaid intern at a media company in Chicago. At first, I was ecstatic. I was finally doing what I loved, making films. A table of professionals were all eager to help me succeed and maybe even secure a seat as a professional myself. I hinged myself on their opinions, their advice, their feedback. I tore myself apart trying to be the best artist I could.
I acquired debt. You see, the thing about unpaid internships is that they take a LOT of your time and energy, with no monetary reward for your work. Sure, I gained experience. I learned more lessons than I anticipated in this position, but gained nothing financially. I started burning out. Financial obligations grew, I was getting better, but my work wasn’t being valued any higher. Once I completed the required unpaid hours, the team gave me an evaluation, and I was to return as a team member — an independent contractor…that means someone who gets paychecks.
I evolved. My status had changed from “amateur” to “valid.” I deserved to get paid for my work. I was naive.
I finally did get paid, and this satisfied me for awhile. It was never much, just a small percentage of the overall amount charged to the client, but at least I was making money. I was getting better at editing and contributing better to the creative environment I was in. Yet, for the longest time I blamed myself for being broke. I thought I wasn’t talented enough to make a living wage, I believed I didn’t deserve more because I was young, inexperienced, etc.
The question people ask me most frequently is “How did you start your own business?” The answer is very simple, because I can pinpoint it to a very specific moment in time.
Try and picture it. Our office was downtown, and the company owner and I are walking down the stairs, onto the sidewalk, around the corner to my car. We are exchanging defensive comments.
He is a 50 year old, white, heterosexual man. Now we’re screaming. The high-rises reflect the early summer sun’s hazy glow. I am a 22 year old 5'0" queer girl. We’re screaming in each others’ faces on a sidewalk in Chicago. I’m crying because I’m so frustrated, and I get more frustrated because I’m crying, and think that makes me look weak. The air is hot and thick, and I feel something boiling from underneath my sternum.
In this moment, he is every societal subtlety that conditioned me to believe this is where I belong - at the disposal of others. He is the embodiment of the masculine favored world, created to keep me in my place. And suddenly, I am not just me anymore. I am every female that has felt like this before. I am every millennial being screamed at by a greedy, rich dude, guiltlessly taking more than his fair share and leaving me unable to pay rent, eat real meals, live. I am every marginalized human who has been told “you do not deserve the space of leadership, business, and wealth.” I am not going to take it anymore.
Since the age of three years old I have been convinced I am a superhero. Not superhuman in any way. In fact, supremely and fully human with the knowledge that this is my greatest power.
I believe in creating a world where young, queer, female, creative, marginalized and non-traditional entrepreneurs and business owners are normalized, successful, and valued (with money). I believe in creating a world where media and marketing represents the true spectrum of humans; where socially aware, impact driven, and authentic businesses control the market.
About a year and a half into my entrepreneurial journey I felt defeated. I was not prepared or equipped with the tools nor the resources, my financial situation hadn’t really improved, I was working part-time jobs while making mistakes in my own business, costing me time, energy, and courage. Too often I heard phrases like, “Well it takes money to make money.” “Why don’t you just get a real job in the meantime?” “You can give me the family and friends discount and I’ll give you experience and exposure!” Even the people closest to me doubted my vision, my mission. I did not blame them, androcentrism and privilege are canyons that run deep in our subconscious. I was even ready to believe them.
Then I met Justice. Walking through a street festival in a northside neighborhood, Justice was tucked between booths with their artwork for sale. “1 for $0.50, 3 for $1.00” tacked above the glorious Sorring Sword Master. Without hesitation, I fished for the money. Justice was androgynous, young (probably 8 years old), and illuminated with joy at my purchase. The simple act of valuing their artwork, seeing them, and encouraging them triggered my mirror neurons.
I am not just me anymore. I am every marginalized human who has been told “you do not deserve the space of leadership, business, and wealth.” I am Justice. I am not going to take it anymore.
The people I work with are the tools I use to transform the world. Little Shoe Studios values artists and the creative entrepreneur. Our mission is to ensure that our artists are valued in a very real and monetary way in addition to creating a space for their best work and visions to materialize. We operate from an abundance mindset, meaning we believe there is enough work and success for all of our artists to make living wages and do what they love. In short, we take on clients who value our work and express such by paying rates our work is worth. In turn, Little Shoe Studios pays the artists their worth, valuing them and their contribution.
There is enough for all of us, and all of us are enough.
Little Shoe Studios consists of creative entrepreneurs at the top of their industries, we strive to re-inject the human element into the digital world. Branding, content, and online presence determine business perception and therefore, success in this digital age. We offer full branding from logo design, web design, social media account creation and management, photography, video, to copywriting, event planning, and more. Services are available a la carte, to include everyone from starting businesses to those with an established brand looking to blend their analog and digital entities.
Through blending authenticity, digital content, and artistry we are able to maintain the client’s true voice as our top priority. Our content creators and strategists develop a relationship with the brand and mission. Through creative solutions we make sure the online presence feels as real as the humans behind the technology. Little Shoe Studios strives to re-inject the human element into the digital world by maintaining businesses’ authentic voices and exemplifying transparency while utilizing technology to tell clients’ stories.
We want to inspire authenticity and transparency in a digitally driven culture; to celebrate the human experience using digital content; to support and assist in the success of socially aware businesses.
Much like the network of artists we work with, we want businesses like us to reclaim the monetary wealth in the world, rather than ones who have told us we don’t belong. Our clients’ success is our success, and, the world’s success.
When clients first come to Little Shoe Studios they often feel overwhelmed, unsure, and powerless. The exponential transformation of social media and digital culture can be terrifying. The world seems to be preparing for a war against AI and evolving technologies. The line between sentience and algorithm taunts our consciences, and as a result, businesses are lost on where to go next, which innovations will advance humankind, and which could be our demise. The weight is heavy, and we feel the risk in media and marketing.
Little Shoe Studios’ mission extends to anticipate, embrace, and utilize the future to spread humanity. While we constantly extend our skillset and offer new things like Virtual Reality, we carefully craft everything we create to emphasize the human element. In the robot negotiations, we join forces, we compromise, we evolve. In the world we are creating, the leaders and business owners are superheroes themselves. We are developing digital and online identities for businesses that inspire positive change and align the digital world with analog, human values. This is the human-first movement.
As for me, the ambitious, young, millennial, female queerpreneur orchestrating this business and plan to transform the world, my vision continues to expand. While I am willing to travel world wide for business, I put down roots in Denver, CO in late 2017.
For every marginalized human who has been told “you do not deserve the space of leadership, business, and wealth,” I am not going to take it anymore; now I am not going to let you take it anymore, either. Together we can turn to confidence, clarity, direction, and empowerment. Together we can claim our places as leaders in business, and proclaim to the world that we are the only wealth there is. You can call me Andy Schu, and I’m excited for our future.