Local business owner reveals her new boutique and 2018 plans

Rachel Thompson, Staff Writer

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She has rocked the streets of Milford for almost two decades now. Amber Stanley, owner of Amber Lights Photography and Boutique opens up about her life as a full-time mom and business owner.

“I find passion and inspiration in making people feel good about themselves,” Stanley stated when talking about what inspired her to be a photographer. “It gives people their own permission to be daring.”

She loves to see the shock on people’s faces when they see how beautiful they are when she lays down the final product in front of them. She’s even had a few experiences where the client will let loose a couple tears of joy.

Before she was married or began having kids, Stanley was working for Guess Jeans as a liaison between buyers and guest representatives in Los Angeles and New York.

While at it, she also was working full time for a corporate job in local Detroit, as well as working part time for a photographer that also dealt with fashion. Her boss here had no idea he was predicting her future when he told her that she had surpassed his own abilities and should make this her career.

Before she knew it, Stanley took a chance and quit all three jobs and began her own business out of her condo in 1999. She made sales, held appointments and had photoshoots all in her living room.

About a year later, she had her first baby, Jaden, who’s now the beautiful girl you’ll see in some of her mom’s pictures.

At this time, Stanley was most known for her wedding photos and high-end baby pictures, and by 2002 was beginning  to build a house along with having her second child, Simone in 2003, another stunning face you’ll see in the halls.

She would later continue to work out of the comfort of her own home, but now she was able to create the settings she desired for these shoots in her own basement and backyard.

As her business grew, people began to ask her if she would do senior pictures, and in the beginning she didn’t want to because she thought they were boring. After a lot of pestering, she began another journey; however, she wanted it done her way. She picked the outfits for the models along with the location, and was allegedly the original photographer to start professionally taking senior photos in downtown Milford.

Through this journey, she built a lot of relationships with other business owners on Main Street as she’d use their stores as a setting for her photoshoots.

However, as the idea of taking pictures downtown became more loveable, other photographers began to copy her, but it just gave her the fire to go even further, “I want my work to be original and unique, so it pushed me to find new spots to go take pictures, and each time it got better,” Stanley stated.

Stanley held nine photoshoots in her first year taking senior photos. That turned into 50 her second year, and 102 by her third, because everyone loved her work and spread the word.

During these shoots, she realized how much she loved the styling aspect. At the beginning, girls would bring a couple outfits themselves, but she would see how much an outfit affected the entire picture, so she began using her own closet as their wardrobe to choose from so that she could tie location, style and color all together.

Soon after she began personal shopping for her clients so that she could remain in control of the final product.

“When it’s in your mind, trust yourself, and go,” is her motto when it comes to deciding what will look best. “I understand people having their input on what their vision is, but whenever I go through with my own vision, my clients always end up more pleased than ever.”

After a while, Stanley decided to start having her own wardrobe that her clients could just look through, so she went to a huge fashion market in Los Angeles to piece together some modern looks. “It was a little intimidating because I’m just a small photographer from Milford walking past these ‘big names,’ and not knowing if I’m allowed in a showroom or private room,” she  reminisced about her experience.

While she was there, a woman complimented the leggings she was wearing that day and wanted to buy them from her, “It was surreal to experience someone wanting to purchase something from my store,” and she ended up selling that pair to three women while in Los Angeles.

Quite a few years down the road in 2013, things became rocky in her personal life, and halfway through setting up her boutique in downtown, Stanley and her husband got a divorce, which was finalized in 2015.

Now that she had to restructure her life, she felt it necessary to downsize because the bigger everything got, the thinner she felt spread. One of the most important things she feels about owning her business is having that one-on-one time with her customers and clients, but with her trying to be everywhere all the time, she found more customers missing her.

Now how does she do it all? Balancing the two businesses and her kids? Well, Stanley emphasizes that, “when you’re good at something, it just comes natural.” This mindset helps her when she absolutely has to multitask, although she tries to discipline herself not to because then she knows she isn’t giving one task her full attention.

Stanley talks about how it isn’t worth it to be stressed, so it’s necessary to cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Her personal relaxation activities are yoga, running and just having fun with her two girls whether it’s laughing, dancing, being silly, or just watching some TV, Above everything else, being a mom comes first in her eyes.

As future advice to anyone, Amber Stanley says to, “Trust in yourself, take your time, give more than you take, and do everything from a good place, and the business will fall into place on its own.”

Amber Lights is located at 435 N Main St, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm.

 

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