Bad A** Mom, Master Photographer, Fempreneur w/ Mia Coelho-Barnes - The RAS Project 059
On this episode of The RAS Project, I sat down with bad a** mom, master photographer, fempreneur, mompreneur Mia Coelho-Barnes. She is an award-winning photographer and entrepreneur. She is also a photography coach and mentor, teaching 100’s of women how to launch successful photography companies all over the country.
Also, a single mom to 4 children and deeply involved in giving back to her community and leading women.
The RAS Project is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. You can also watch in video on my YouTube channel and Facebook Watch.
Ivan Temelkov [00:15]
What’s up everyone? You’re listening to The RAS Project. My name is Ivan Temelkov. I’m your host. On this podcast we discuss entrepreneurship, personal development, family, tech and marketing. Why should you listen to this podcast? This podcast is for those of you who are looking for life-changing advice, and ways to thrive digitally with your business.
As always, all content is 100% real, raw and unfiltered. On this episode, I’m really excited to bring a fempreneur. I think that’s the right term that I’ve been following on social media for quite a while. Her name is Mia Coelho-Barnes who is an award-winning photographer and entrepreneur. She’s also a photography coach and mentor teaching 100s of women how to launch successful photography companies all over the country.
Also, a single mom to 4 children and deeply involved in giving back to her community and leading women. That’s amazing. Hi, Mia. Welcome to the show!
Mia Coelho-Barnes [01:14]
Ivan Temelkov [01:16]
So we were, you know, I’ve been following you for quite a while on social media. And I finally you know, we’ve had several conversations and finally wanted you to come on the podcast because. First of all, let’s start with your story. You know, let’s let’s, let’s spend a couple minutes. Tell the audience about your story because I think it’s absolutely fucking fascinating that you came out on the other end.
Mia Coelho-Barnes [01:40]
Right, I know. Okay, so I…like where do I begin? Well, one, I’m an identical twin. I was raised by a single mom. I’m one of 4 children also. So full circle here. Also a single mom now to 4 kids. Um, but I was married for. I was super conservative and married. for 17 years, and I say that because divorce was not okay.
And in my world and small town, Texas and so, and after 15 years of marriage and having four children, our youngest was really sick. And that led to some issues in our marriage with substance abuse, and on the part of my partner and so we divorced after 17 years, which led me to being a single mom. And at that point, I had had a successful photography career for about seven years and was the only breadwinner.
He was unemployed for the last two years, and so I was the only one working and raising kids and kind of holding it together. I thought that divorce would help me kind of stop babysitting another adult and it would be easier. And it actually ended up not being true. It was good. It was a good choice for me. But then moving out of that, and I’ve never dated, I got married at 19 I had my first baby at 21.
So all I do was running businesses being a wife and being a mom and that’s all I knew about the world. I was super in a bubble bear. I was the women’s ministry leader, the small church in Texas. So and I was raised in California, so I was very, I went through a season of like losing all of my friends because divorce was not okay.
And, and still running a business and dating someone who’s very toxic, and ended up having to have like, there’s still court cases going on with that situation. So and Matt like radically changed the way I view people. I had major trust issues after that relationship, and went right into the next one also had major issues.
And so about a year and a half ago, I hit the pause button was on my own for kids, and really started evaluating, like, who I was surrounding myself with why I really thought the whole manifesting New Agey shit after being from Nanaia used to guess. But all of that was bullshit. Like, I just thought, like, you just needed Jesus. And that was it and good people.
And I found out that good people are imperfect people. As much as they’re great people, and they have good hearts, they’re imperfect. And when something like that happens, that doesn’t fit into their mold of who you’re supposed to be. It is very easy for people to shift you out. And all of a sudden, I was alone, and I had four kids looking at me for direction and I was a mess.
And so I started working a lot on on the healing, like the parts of me that were calling in those things that I truly had those things were not my fault. I didn’t ask for those things to happen to me to be a victim of abuse to be a victim of an alcoholic to be a person who was like someone that I trusted tried to talk me into killing myself so you could get my life insurance policy like it was bad.
Ivan Temelkov [04:55]
That’s fucked up!
Mia Coelho-Barnes [04:56]
It is fucked up. It is 100% but that’s where I was at and so I’m And that’s the last thing I left before I decided, I’m out like, this is not okay, what am I doing? And instead of being like, I’m the victim, everything’s happening to me, I began to look at, like, who have I become that I am allowing these things to go on? And why do people think that this is okay to do to me?
And how can I take my power back and being from the west coast and being like an outspoken woman, I’m an identical twin. I don’t I I’ve always been like, I don’t take shit from anyone, but I’ll tell my husband Tell me what I can can’t do and, and I’ll fit into this bubble. And so I’ve had to like really step into my like badassery in the last like year and a half and be like, this is who I am. I’m going to be unapologetic.
I’m going to fight for what I think is right. I’m going to seek justice. I’m going to live for truth, I’m going to be whole and if you don’t like it, like that’s, I’m good with that. And my life since then, has been pretty radically different in the best ways possible. You know, there were a couple of things that you were taught. So the reason I one of the main reasons I wanted you to come on the show is because I think fam printers don’t get enough credit in, in an entrepreneurial world that’s predominantly male-driven.
And that’s probably one of the biggest fucking problems and most of all, is single mother going through, you know, a terrible divorce for kids. They’re looking for guidance toward you, like most women will break down, get depressed and probably never unravel from the chaos of bullshit. It that’s just the reality of it. And so the fact that, like you were when we were talking about it, and you said, You know, I would say that I don’t take any shit from anybody, but then I will tell my ex husband like what to do.
So it was like, like, like a change where it was like, you always had it in yourself to be resilient, but I think it was a lack of self belief. like saying, You know what, I am strong enough, I am intelligent enough, I need to believe more in myself and just execute more. And that’s exactly what you just said that you know about a year ago when all this shit kind of piped down a little bit more with everything that was going on with your relationships, that your life took a radical shift for the better.
You started seeing, you know better relationships, you were surrounding yourself with more successful people, people don’t more like-minded people who accepted you for who you are people who supported you for what you did not and not judge you based on your flaws, because you’re absolutely right. This fucked up society that we live in. A lot of people will judge you on your flaws.
You know what, because it’s easy to attack someone when they’re weak. Right? to look down upon them and say, you know, you. They think they’re weak because I’m not.
Ivan Temelkov [07:53]
Exactly, exactly just like the true week. And that’s another thing is the society will misconstrue you so You know, you’ve done I mean, the fact that you’ve been able to find the strength, the inner strength to emerge from the chaos is just mesmerizing in itself, because most women just can’t do that. So you know, I applaud you for that they’ve been able to do it and being able to keep it together with four kids, because I know before we jumped on, you know, to hit record, you were also talking about homeschooling and managing a couple of businesses and like all this and I’m like.
What, am I wearing? The fuck? Do you find the time to do this? Like, do you drink at all? Are you, are you sober most of the time? Like, that’s a lot to do. Because all these things are full-time jobs. You know, kids are full-time jobs. So you have four kids. So you technically have four full-time jobs as is because you have to attend to each kid and I’m speaking as a fellow father, because I have two kids.
And I know what it’s like to be able to attend to give them the time because a lot of people will say, Oh, yeah, kids, you know And it can be manageable. It’s like, you don’t have kids, and you have kids, you understand how it’s different. Because when you’re sitting down on your computer and you’re trying to do work, and your son or daughter, you know, is like Daddy, Daddy, they want your attention. What are you gonna do? Right?
So like the ability to multitask to do all of that. So, let’s go back to you know, I just wanted to touch upon those things in your story because I know a lot of the listeners, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that listen to the show, and I don’t think I’ve had enough females on the show, such as yourself that’s exactly that’s why I’m having you on is because you’re having an amazing story.
You know, it’s it’s, it’s some people compared it to rags, rags to riches because you’ve gone from terrible relationship, you know, struggling with self esteem, to just you know, skyrocketing to running successful businesses and And, you know, making sure that your kids are taking care of it. One thing that I want to ask you though, if you could remember back to those struggles and challenges, you know, like, you know, with your ex-husband and the court shit that was going on, like, what’s the one thing that spoke to you? That you were like, you know what, I’m stronger than that? Was there one thing that you can think of? That was kind of like, you know what I can do better?
Mia Coelho-Barnes [10:29]
I think that like, honestly, my mom was a single mom and my mom, like had four kids and she put herself back to school and she became a partner CPA firm. And I think that like look like when I like when I was in my early 20s. My mom and I just we don’t have a ton in common and so we’re not super close. We don’t have any issues, but we’re not super close.
And I just I always felt like she tolerated being a mom, but she thrived and being a businesswoman, and I always respected that about her. But I think that she and she wasn’t looking their tree cutter. person she was a very she’s always been very direct. Yeah. She told us as kids when I remember being in high school and her telling us if you are not successful, it is your own fault because it’s not because you’re not capable.
It’s because you’re choosing to be lazy. And if we got bad grades, that’s what she would tell us and I and so and I think being an identical twin helps to with the competence. I’ve never had a I wouldn’t say I would, I would can’t look back and ever say I have had a confidence issue.
It’s that I’ve had a an issue with being okay with my power, if that makes sense. Yeah. So, so it’s never been an issue of Can I do this? It’s always been an issue is, is it okay with others if I do this,
Ivan Temelkov [11:43]
So, so right there. What you said is that you weren’t in part looking for acceptance from others. You were looking for validation from others because you just said that, you know, is it How are others gonna view me if I do something different? That is maybe consider abnormal because let’s face it, our society is very normal and very stagnant also. So when you do something that’s polarizing, so was that probably one of your biggest struggles is like, seeking validation.
Mia Coelho-Barnes [12:15]
I think that the part when the light bulb went off for me was just stopping caring, like, so I’ve always wanted people to be proud of me. I’ve always wanted him. So fitting, especially in Southern Baptists, Texas culture, I’ve been here a lot of my adult life. And I think that like, I don’t fit here. And I’ve tried to fit here when I got married, my mom said.
Do not ever let a man tell you what to do, do not do it. And I remember thinking, like, How sad that she said that like, if my husband, Jesus, and I loved whatever, whatever this the, you know, whatever the headship is in your home, if he’s a respectable loving person.
Why wouldn’t I want to submit myself under his authority, like and I remember really, truly heartfelt like believe Not thinking that was such an honorable thing. And as I’ve become like more independent than competent on my own, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But why do we have to be under the headship of anybody? Like if one has if I’m whoever’s partner, like it should be a partnership.
I shouldn’t have to place myself under somebody else. Who’s honestly less powerful than I am, like the guy who was married to has never been driven. He’s never been passionate about one thing and his entire damn life ever. Yeah. And he was married to someone who was passionate and driven and wanted more. And it was never going to be enough. Not the material stuff, but just what I’m capable of. I was never going to settle for, for mediocre, like mediocrity is not something I can get passionate about ever.
And that’s all he was about. And it was always like, when is it ever going to be enough? And it was always like this, like, when is it ever going to be enough? What are you going to be satisfied? And I’m just like, when I’m dead. I don’t know. Like, I don’t know what else to tell you. But there’s not going to be a limit where I’m just like, okay, I ever read like You know, like I have. Now I have four kids, and I’m always doing something.
And it’s because I know I’m capable of so much more. And it would be a shame to waste it. And I don’t want to see me waste it. You’re absolutely right. You know, one thing that you said right there that I want to touch upon is weak people. People that are not driven, will try to control others, simply because they feel like that’s the only way that they can steer direction. and control is about direction is the ability to steer an outcome to to manifest an outcome. So that’s exactly I think what was happening with your ex husband and and there’s a lot of that also in business.
I’m sure, as you know, is weak people, people who haven’t achieved things that they’re they’re preaching to others, you know, they’re trying to gain control because they know when they gain control, they can manifest and they can steer direction of outcomes. They’re in favor to them. And that’s exactly what i think you know, was happening, you know, with your actions husband is this is that he wasn’t motivated, he wasn’t driven, you know, he wasn’t aspired to, to do anything great.
He was just kind of going with the flow. And he knew that the only way to get you under his wing was to try and control you. And by controlling you is the side that would, that would determine the outcomes of the things that you would be doing. And, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s really, really, really degrading to a person, because you’re limiting someone’s potential in doing that. And, you know, as someone who, you know, I’ve been married once before, and I had a similar situation, you know, an ex wife who really wasn’t wasn’t as driven.
And I always thought that, you know, what, just because my ex wife kept saying that, you know, you’re no good, you’re not talented, you’ll never amount to anything that, you know, I let that simmer in my head, I let that dictate the course of my decisions and the actions I would take. And so it’s actually you know, fascinating when you develop that self belief and realize that you you’re capable of so much more, that you can do so much more.
Because if you can change the state of your mind in thinking that you know what i can do more, I’m capable of more, you’ll do more. Because you’re extracting the negativity out of your mind. Let’s face it, everything is mind, you know, business owner, know everything is his mindset really is the way you think, you know, is the glass half empty, or half full. Right? So if it’s half empty, you still have more potential. But women in business don’t even have that women in business are like.
Am I allowed to say that that’s a glass like, Am I allowed? Like, I think that that’s the thing I’ve learned so much in the last year and a half, especially as I started leaving so many women is that women don’t even they’re so like the term and I’m just bitch. Like no one was labeled that and so, so we feel like we can’t Well, I’ll speak for myself. I felt like I couldn’t fully step into my power because especially in the south and being from California.
I didn’t want to be labeled as a bitch. Like I’m like I want to be. I want to be a nice quiet woman who’s respectable. But I really felt like that like I was like, I want to fit in and I want to be this like nice, quiet, respectable wife who everyone thinks is great, you know, and you can be a great person and a great wife and a great mom and a great friend and still have power like there’s nothing wrong with it but powerful women are you just bitches and it sucks because especially like men can be you know, they’re a leader and they’re a go getter and women you’re a bitch.
And it’s so frustrating. I think the other thing, and we’ve talked about this before is the whole, like, that’s why women need permission because we don’t want to be called a bitch by the women behind us, or the men across from us. And so we’ve talked about that whole getting the boat thing before but that whole like story of, you know, the entrepreneur field if that’s a lake and there’s a group of men and women and no one’s done this job before and you’re supposed to get in a boat no knows how to rowboat get in the boat.
Get across the lake. What happens if they say go men, like men or a man or five men will fight over it, and they’ll all get in the boat. None of them know what the crap they’re doing. But they don’t want to be the person that gets there, right? They don’t know how to do it any more than we know how to do it.
And the women will sit there, we have to make sure that our responsibilities are taken care of, we have to make sure we’re not gonna step on someone else’s toes, we have to get permission like, do you think I can do it? Or do you think that she could do it better? Like, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.
So you just choose like, none of us take the lead, like, it’s all like, and all of us are like that. And so, by the time we’ve made sure that we’re not going to be called a bitch, that we have validation from others, that we can do it that we think that we’re capable on our own, and that we’re not going to fail in front of a group of women who are then going to make fun of us and is out, but the men are across the damn lake.
And it’s been that way in entrepreneurship forever because of how women are like men are just raised to think, you know, go do it. Go figure it out. You’ll figure it out. You know what I mean? And and You’re raised like that your whole life’s, and it’s just the way our world works. And, and the way that, that women’s gender roles are as it’s like, you know, be nice, you know, he’s like that because, you know, he thinks that you’re cute or, or she needs to be nice to her because you don’t you don’t want other girls to not like you and, you know, run a little slower.
So that boy doesn’t feel bad about himself. We’re told all this stuff while we’re growing up. And so we get into this workforce, or we have these ideas, and we are just conditioned that social conditioning that we all have that Minar Minar like, I better do this because I was told my whole life, I better figure it out. And I’m gonna do it right. And the women are built to think, Oh my gosh, like, oh, like, I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. And so you run your business like that.
And I can tell you when I first moved to Abilene six years ago, yeah, I was a dude in the frickin lake and it pissed everybody off. And it made me think, am I doing something wrong? Because when happened was as I moved here, I had a sick kid, I had a husband that was making Okay, money, but not anything great if we had to save and we were living on one income, right?
I was like, if I’m going to work here, and I’m going to be a photographer in this area, I’m going to jump in, I’m going to be successful and try whatever I can dream up. And if it works, amazing, and if it doesn’t, I didn’t have a business here anyway, so who cares? And so because I had nothing to lose, I didn’t need the money. I mean, obviously, we all need more money for stuff, but I didn’t have anything to lose. So I jumped in and, like, marketed myself as the best photographer in the area, and I’ve won awards, and I’ve done this stuff, and I price myself accordingly.
And I pissed as I stepped on every photographer’s toes in my town. Some of them still don’t like me, and I’m okay with it. Because the thing is that this isn’t a hobby for me. Like, I didn’t know that four years. Three years later, I would be divorced. And I didn’t know a year and a half after that my husband would quit his job and just drink all the time and I would be the breadwinner, like baby God, I jumped in when I did like, I don’t know what I would have done.
But, but I experienced that backlash of women. You know, I was telling you earlier about that idea that I’m going to be launching a podcast soon. But yeah, it’s interesting because those experiences are still still linger, like the other day. So a few weeks ago, there’s I had posted something and, um, it upset I posted about like a house party locally that people were at, and I pissed off another mom, whose kid was there. He’s a celebrity in shawano. And so she was really upset about it.
So she posted her page. Yeah, this local photographers bashing our kids might do their kids are in their 20s But okay, their kids, whatever. Yeah. So this had happened. And I like what someone says, Oh, yeah, like someone’s like, talking all about you on this page. I went on for on this page, who I was apparently friends with her but I’m friends with everybody because I run a business. Right and I went over there.
There was a comment that really sat with me. It sat with me for weeks until yesterday until I decided I was going to do something about it. But the comment was, I bet it’s that bitch Mia. And it really bothered me. And I’m, like, you know, locally, like I’m a member of the Junior League. I’m a single mom, I have the two girls all the time. I’ve never gotten an ounce of child support. I do everything for my kids.
I’m a kick ass Mom, I run for companies. I you know, when this whole thing kicked off, like I went in, I bought little things about the hall and toilet paper and coloring books for kids and like, dropped them off to all my friends who were single moms whose husbands were deployed. Like, I try I really not enough I’m perfect, but I work hard to be a good person to be a member of my community to lead women to to be someone who my kids can look up to.
And someone that did not know me has never met me said I bet it’s that bitch Mia, like cool reputation in the small town. Like I’m really feeling over here because people But it’s because I am that way like I am. I just jump in and I go all in and people don’t like that people that aren’t secure with who they are don’t like women like that. And so I yesterday I was like, it was really bothering me and I was listening to a podcast by Ed Mylett.
Yeah, I just thought you know what what if I did a podcast called “That bitch with a camera”. I just voted or I just podcast and interviewed other bitches like what and I and I reached out to Tony Watley and I said, What if you know, what if I interviewed your wife and she’s that bitch who sells real estate? Like all women who are in business or that bitch who does something someone’s gonna call you a bitch because you’re successful?
And like, you may be that bitch but like, Who are you really like what are you doing? How are you leading women? How are you helping your family? How are you killing in business like what is setting you apart? And we need more women to look up to better that bitch and I’m happy to be I’m happy to be here at this point. But at Well, I mean, I’m almost 40 to be 39 at the end of this month, so,
Ivan Temelkov [24:04]
Well, Mia, you know, I want to leave, I wanted to leave it on that high note because you said so much about the things that you’re doing. And I can tell you’re so passionate about everything you do, I can tell that you’re always trying to put the right foot forward, whether it’s being a good member of your community, being a good human being, helping other women.
And you just keep doing all of that, regardless of what society tells you, you know. And with that being said, You know, I want to make sure that you know, people can connect with you out there in social media.
I mean, what’s the bet especially female entrepreneurs, what’s the best way throw out some social handles some websites, what’s the best way to connect with you?
Mia Coelho-Barnes [24:45]
So on Instagram, I’m @ooxomia. My name is spelled Mia. I run Blissful Lens Photography out of Abilene, Texas. I’m actually. I just launched like a actual fan page, whatever. It’s just my name Mia Coelho-Barnes. It’s about photography, mentoring and coaching. But I’ll be coaching business owners as well. So that’s
Ivan Temelkov [25:09]
Awesome, Mia. Thank you. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You know, I always enjoy our conversations and I appreciate you sharing so much.
Mia Coelho-Barnes [25:17]
Thank you. Thank you for having me. It was fun!