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Meet Lena Samford of Columbia, Missouri

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lena Samford.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I was born in the Bootheel of Missouri and have always had the drive to forge my path and not accept the standard or what was in front of me – to dream bigger. After receiving my Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Missouri (Mizzou), I moved back to my hometown and ran for political office. At the time, I didn’t realize that what I was doing was a form of activism more than anything. I grew up surrounded by poverty and thought representing the 150th district would be a way for me to implement real change. I wanted the story to be one of overcoming adversity and improving the well-being of all people who lived there.

However, I lost the race and learned that my story still had a few twists and turns. I took a job with the Missouri Democratic Party to try to help other rural candidates across the state tell their own stories and connect with people in their communities. As we know, politics can be demanding. So I put myself first and took a typical “9 to 5” job in Columbia, MO. I soon realized that my creative spirit and dreams were not being fulfilled. I completed my Master of Education in Information Science and Learning Technologies with an emphasis on Online Education to learn more about the evolving digital world we live in and how I can truly reach people through a screen.

I had the tools in my backpack to forge a new path again:
– A passion for connecting with others.
– A love of storytelling.
– A drive to help others.
– College degrees that helped me navigate the world of business in the digital space.

So where would I go?
I seemed to always have a camera in hand from junior high on. I documented and shared my story on social media for years and knew that community could be built there. I started freelancing photography, videography, and social media management projects across Missouri (and eventually from coast to coast) – telling each person or brand’s unique story. This blossomed into something I was genuinely passionate about. I quit my 9-5 job to work for myself. Now, I work with clients to help them create beautiful pieces of content with uses for social media to help support their brand story and reach their ideal clients. I love shooting videography for food, lifestyle, wellness, weddings, and more!

Even still, the service part of me was unfulfilled. After talking to my dad one day about the struggles that we see in the world and what possible solutions there may be, he asked me, “What are you doing the change the world?” I didn’t have a good answer for this other than, “Millenials will solve our problems!” But I was a millennial, and I couldn’t wait on others to take action. I knew climate change was something that touched the lives of every human on this planet, and so I started doing more research on sustainability and how we can improve our own lives and the lives of all living things simultaneously.

This research led me to change my habits completely. I became a vegan, started practicing mindfulness, and reduced my consumption of things that didn’t truly positively serve me or the planet. So with my background and all of my new knowledge, I did what any other millennial would do – started a podcast! My podcast, Hometown: Earth, shares knowledge and actionable steps, big and small, on how we can start living more sustainably on this planet – while highlighting the amazing stories of brands and environmentalists who are innovating solutions and fighting to reduce climate change. My love for photography and videography supports this mission on social media and has led me to get out and experience the natural world myself so that I can share it with others. You can find the podcast, sustainable living tips, mental health support, and beautiful media of the natural world I’ve explored on my blog and social media channels. I hope to continue down this path for a while, but one thing is certain – I will continue to forge ahead.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
Speaking of forging new paths – the road has not been smooth! I have always struggled with not having a clear vision for my future which caused a lot of turmoil. My story is familiar to most entrepreneurs with many interests and hobbies. However, I realized that I didn’t need the clear vision society told me I needed. (Find a career, buy a home, have children in that order). Not having a clear vision led me to so many opportunities that I would not have opened my eyes had I had a path that I felt was set in stone. I could plan, see what was in front of me, decide where I wanted to go and be ready for change if the path looked different than intended! But along with having no clear road map – entrepreneurs carry many hats trying to navigate such a unique space. Learning from others in similar positions has been invaluable to my growth.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in videography and photography optimized for social media to tell authentic stories and build communities of trust. I am most proud of how far I’ve come and that I’ve never stopped striving to learn more. Learning personally and professionally is one of the greatest things about being a human. We can invent ourselves every day if we choose to! This drive sets me apart from others because I am constantly staying on top of industry trends, practicing my craft, and trying out new techniques, all while learning and shifting as I go.

My favorite saying is, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I am extremely proud of tuning into what I truly want and never settling for something that doesn’t fill my cup every day. Because I’ve been able to do this, I can better serve myself, my family, and my clients. Also, because I work remotely from my computer, I can travel anywhere I choose and find clients along the way, which is an amazing opportunity and freedom that many creatives have taken advantage of in the past few years.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
My family is my biggest supporter. My dad, mom, and sister have been behind me for every life change with 100% support and love, pitching into my crazy ideas whenever I need help. I would not be where I am today without their help. My partner Will, an STL native, has also helped me grow my skills on the videography side of my business, as he is a full-time video producer. We are the perfect team!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Model: Maya Robinson / Dream Club Como

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