We had the good fortune of connecting with Robin Enright Salcido and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robin, how does your business help the community?
Just shy of my 60th birthday, in the midst of frustration with my own physical changes, I realized that spending the rest of my life lamenting the loss of my youthful body instead of approaching this new life chapter fully embracing the wisdom of my life experience was a waste of precious time. Just because the media thrusts upon the older population an ageist perspective does not mean any of us needs to buy into it! I knew I had much more to offer both in my professional and personal life and wanted to make a positive impact.
This is how Our Stories Today was born.
Our Stories Today is a community of women over 50 who share the goal of abandoning negative cultural, generational and societal definitions of beauty, relevance and value. We do this by sharing our authentic selves. This website does not talk about maintaining a bikini bod or how to ‘defeat aging,’ but instead shares perspectives on the real things many women over 50 are thinking about.
The OST community shares stories through interviews and photos of ordinary women over 50 that are impacting our communities every day. OST brings visibility to the aging process in a way that empowers women everywhere and creates meaningful and supportive conversation. One of the most surprising things I have discovered through this work is that ageism cannot be dealt with until we, those of us over 50, face our OWN perspectives on aging and stop buying into what others believe we are ‘supposed to be’ in this life chapter.
My photographs of women are lightly edited for exposure, color, etc and do not hide the signs of age. This is how I celebrate and challenge the question of what is beautiful. Every woman I have worked with is brave, and has inspired me with her story, and her life experience. When I witness these women begin to see what I see, which is true beauty, I am overjoyed.
In the three years since I launched this website, my following has grown beyond Colorado and now has a national audience. I will be taking my interviews and portrait work on the road later this year to include a greater variety of voices.
I am under no illusion that I will change all ageist perspectives, but if I can help any woman over 50 explore her next life chapter feeling empowered and relevant and SEEN, then I am grateful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a little girl, I loved art, but was not complimented on my work by my art teachers, so believed I just wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be an English major in college, but my high school guidance counselor advised me against it saying, “Only the best make it as writers,” so I believed I wasn’t good enough. Both of these experiences were discouraging and I abandoned my dream.
But as any creative individual will tell you, one cannot abandon it forever. I think in words and photographs and to deny myself this potential outlet because I was afraid of not being good enough was absurd!
Getting to 60 then, was a gift because with each year, the need to create could not be shaken. I wanted to share my stories so others knew they were not alone. It wasn’t about being perfect. I knew I had a lot to learn (and still do) but what the hell was I going to do, keep quiet until I thought I was good enough? No. I want anyone out there to know that we all start somewhere and much of the work people see from talented artists, photographers and writers is the final product. So many drafts, mistakes and imperfections occur along the way.
The world of creativity, of art, is open to anyone who is willing to try, who is willing to make mistakes, learn from others and laugh a lot along the way! Art should be joyous!
My mistakes have been my greatest teacher. If I send out a newsletter with a typo, I don’t indulge in self flagellation. I just decide to do better the next time. I learn.
In my early 40’s, after giving up art and writing for so many years, I had to try again. I offered to write a free feature story for my local paper which resulted in an offer (paid) to write a regular local column which began over eight years of work as a stringer being assigned feature stories and writing op-ed. I began my first blog a few years later and shared it with my friends. I worked as a merchandising editor for a trade publication and then as travel editor for a women’s travel magazine. I applied for and was awarded an artist in residency at Rocky Mountain National Park. My work as a photographer began after an intense photography workshop in Santa Fe and I spent some time offering to photograph women for free before taking the leap to paid work. Eventually I began Our Stories Today and RES Photography. Every professional and personal life experience brought me where I am today.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is to know when to pivot and try something new.
In all honesty, this has not been easy. It’s hard to do work that you believe in without knowing how it will be received. But you have to learn to trust your instincts. I spent many years letting others provide the mirror for my value. I have learned that I know far more than I ever gave myself credit for.
I took classes, lots and lots of classes. I surrounded myself with other creatives and was careful with who I shared my early work. I found my people, the ones who want to see me succeed.
One of my unique offerings in my writing and portrait photography work is that I am genuinely curious. I am not driven by money or recognition although, of course, I love those things. I am driven by the gift I want to give to others, by seeing, really seeing them.
Our culture has a tendency to attempt to put older people on the shelf of life. I have been granted an opportunity to keep that from happening.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first thing I do with visitors is bring them into the mountains, to a hiking trail that is primarily known to locals. Sharing my love of nature with others is a huge priority. A forest has always had my heart and those that know me well would expect at least one hike. Thought I am near Rocky Mountain National Park, I tend to invite friends to places where there are fewer people. I don’t like to be surrounded by people while in the wild–it’s the solitude. Whether we stay close to home and hike in the foothills or drive for an hour, I can guarantee beautiful scenery and quiet trails.
Cycling is also a favorite activity and if my visitors are willing, I’ll lend them one of my bikes and we’ll go for a ride! My husband and I have a tandem so friends get to use my road or gravel bike when we all go together.
Margaritas down the street at Pica’s or a beer at Crystal Springs Brewery followed by ice cream at Sweet Cow are all on the agenda with company too! We are in walking distance to these favorite haunts in Louisville, Colorado.
Of course, no trip to us is complete without a walk along Pearl Street in Boulder or a visit to Chautauqua.
In the summer, we would spend hot afternoons at our local pool a block away and in the evening we’d sit around our gas fire pit chatting. Winters would have us cozy at home.
Running out of things to do here is impossible!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband has been the wind beneath my sails. Embarking on my life passion as a writer and photographer was an investment that he pushed me to try. Rob believes in me and my skills, and that has made all the difference.
While I had another business prior to Our Stories Today as visual merchandising consultant, it no longer fed my soul, although it did provide consistent income. Our Stories Today and my photography business, RES Photography, like any new venture, was a financial risk. Rob pushed me to jump in, trusting that I had what it takes. Thanks to him, we were able to build me a small studio in our backyard in which to work since he also works from home and our house is quite small.
In addition to my husband, I have been encouraged by the women who have placed their trust in me, shared their stories and participated in a photo shoot to accompany their interview. Every woman I have photographed is remarkable and I am proud to have been witness to a part of their lives and a vessel for their voices to be heard.
Many of the women I have interviewed and photographed have told me that the work I do has made a difference in their lives. What they may not know, is that they have made all the difference in mine.
Linkedin: Robin Enright Salcido