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Life & Work with Adriel Joy Thurston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adriel Joy Thurston.

Hi Adriel, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My story is kind of like me, all over the place. Since as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer; so, I have accomplished that and will continue to strive towards my other goals. For a career, I started out wanting to be a profiler to catch serial killers, leading me towards a degree in psychology. Somehow over time, I managed to keep freelance copywriting in my toolbelt, adding on more and more creative skills along the way. Thirteen years ago, a few people on Facebook wanted to purchase copies of pictures I had taken. A Joy Studios was born, and I have been helping people capture moments and memories ever since. I lean more into doing sports photography with my MLB credentials than weddings these days but being able to show up and with a flash, capture a special moment for people is why I love photography. This led me into Marketing. I had no idea what marketing was when I got into the industry, but I took to it very well, eventually starting my own business. It took me a few years, getting over a some serious imposter syndrome and a bunch of support from people who love me to realize that I am a [creative] person who thrives in an environment where I get to create. From writing to consulting on social media strategies, I love being able to make things happen; either for myself or someone else.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Even when roads look smooth, they never are. Dirt, rocks, glass, trash, and all sorts of life end up in roads throughout its existence. Every obstacle and struggle along my path have made me a stronger, more empathetic, wiser, and calmer individual. At this stage in life, I am used to the struggle’s life brings and know there will also be an opportunity to grow through them forever. The most recent struggle that I have had to overcome was Covid; I have never experienced hardship like what this virus has left behind in my body. After fighting to stay alive for over six months, my heart and lungs have severe damage to them that I am still working to overcome and get used to. Having to adjust how I live, how I react to my constant health struggles and the pain that has surrounded my life since getting Covid in 2020 has changed everything in my life. As much as all that sounds not great, it has been such a humbling and incredibly motivating experience. I value myself, my life, my work, and my time like I never have before. This awful ordeal has made me a stronger, wiser, and more hope-filled person. Despite the aftermath it is looking like I will likely deal with for the remainder of my life, this “bad thing” made me better and I would not change anything about it at all. You cannot have flowers without rain and since the downpour, I have been blooming like I did not even know was possible and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I feel like I specialize in people. That probably sounds weird, but truly hearing what my clients are looking for helps lead me towards success with each project. No matter if it is a photoshoot, website design, blog content creation, or social media consulting, being able to get to the heart of what is needed by the people you are serving makes all the difference. It’s easy to try and force your designs or tastes on others as a creative person; we all have our own style. But at the end of the day, it’s not about us, it’s about them. I think I am most proud of my ability to thrive under pressure and having always been able to stay loyal to who I am as a person. It can be easy to lose your moral footing in this world, especially when you start gaining success [in your field]. Being able to stay grounded in my beliefs no matter the situation or the environment around me has been difficult, but always worth it. People and companies present themselves as all sorts of things these days. To me, standing out because I have integrity, am honest, and trustworthy is goals.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
There are so many incredible people out in the world, full of wisdom they may not even realize they have for you. So, my advice? Talk to people. Don’t be afraid of strangers! Ask questions. Watch all the tutorials and take every class you can. Slide into the DMs of someone you look up to. I’m not even joking. You would be surprised how many people who have achieved greatness are willing to help someone else do the same. Join networking events or clubs that are relevant to what you want to do and where you want to go (your circle matters). And always, above all else, listen when people speak as they can usually teach you something. I used to be the worst at receiving edits or criticism because I took it personally and got offended. Then I realized that it was personal. There were nuggets of wisdom being tossed at me to help me grow and develop but my ego was stopping me from receiving them. I had to learn to get over myself a bit and now I enjoy feedback as it makes me better at serving my client.

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