kendra and sarah interview

Happy Birthday Clickin Moms!  CM is now 5 and the birthday week celebrations have begun (head over to the forum to participate)!  And what better way to kick off Birthday Week here on the blog than to interview founder Kendra Okolita and CEO Sarah Wilkerson?! They are both brilliant photographers, masterminds behind CM, incredibly hard workers, and genuinely two of the greatest and nicest people you will ever meet.  CM would not be what it is if it weren’t for these two beautiful women.  Kendra and Sarah, thank you for your dedication to CM – we all love you!

an interview with kendra and sarah

kendra and sarah interview photo

One of the most common questions asked in regards to Clickin Moms is how/why it became to be.  Kendra, would you share with us why you started CM?

KO: When I was first starting out, I read books from cover to cover and combed the internet for information on how to use my fancy new DSLR. I managed to teach myself the basics like exposure triangle, shooting in manual, and basic composition. I was left feeling like I wanted so much more. I yearned to connect with peers, but with 4 small children at home, in-person classes weren’t really an option for me.

Clickin Moms was born as a private, online forum, mostly so that my photographer friends and I could explore and learn together. It was a safe place for us to ask each other questions, offer critique and inspiration, and
push ourselves to be the best we could be. Over the past five years, our small circle has grown into something miraculous. I am still surrounded by the most genuine, sweet, and giving photographers on the planet, but now
there are whole lot more of them! They continue to inspire and push me every single day.

Kendra, did you ever imagine that CM would grow to be the online community it is today?

KO: Oh goodness no!  CM has truly taken on a life of it’s own and has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for.  That is truly because of all of the amazing photographers who continue to share, inspire, and give back.

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Kendra Okolita

Sarah, you joined the forum during the first year of its life.  What drew you in to CM?

SW: I had gotten to the point in my journey when photography felt all consuming; I thought about it all the time and practiced as much as I could, but it was a pretty lonely hobby. A friend told me about CM, and it was just what I needed. I found myself amidst a friendly and enthusiastic group of women who understood the desire to talk about photography all day long and the hunger to consume every bit of information I could find. I felt understood and at home.

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Sarah Wilkerson

How has CM changed your life over the course of the last five years?

KO: Aside from helping me on my photographic journey, It has given me an outlet that is all my own.  It’s so awesome to be able to check in with all of these incredible women who share similar interests and face similar struggles.  I have met some of my best friends here – something I never imagined possible!  It has also given me the opportunity to work from home and be near my children, while doing something that I love.  I am so incredibly grateful.

SW: Oh goodness. I’m not even sure where to begin. CM has enriched almost every aspect of my life. I have met some of my very best friends here (and as a military wife, the continuity of online friendships has been particularly invaluable!); the women I have met through CM – and come to know well in “real life” as well – have given love, support, and advice during some of the most critical personal milestones in my life these last few years, including my husband’s yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. And, of course, I work from home in an extraordinary job that is enormously satisfying professionally, socially, personally, and intellectually; I can build a lego tower with my two year old during a teleconference about new educational programs and have the freedom to take on my own academic, artistic, or philanthropic initiatives with the support of a boss and colleagues that I truly respect and admire. Who could ask for more?

How has CM changed your photography over the course of the last five years?

KO: I wouldn’t even know how to change a lens if it weren’t for CM.  I have learned so much from the incredible women around me.  I am still very much on my journey, and I am thankful for the encouragement, inspiration, guidance that I continue to receive here.

SW: I credit my technical and artistic development entirely to CM and the information, inspiration, motivation, and opportunities it imparts; the personal and artistic support from amazingly talented photographers on CM and the CMpro Daily Project have really driven my artistic journey.  Teaching CM workshops has also played a huge role in my growth; my students consistently challenge me with their questions and inspire me with their skill, vision, and commitment. Writing student critiques is also an extremely intensive exercise and really helps me to develop my own eye and advance my exploration of the way photographers communicate story and messages.

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Kendra Okolita

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Sarah Wilkerson

Other than the physical appearance of the forum, how has CM changed and developed in the last 5 years?

SW: When Kendra founded the forum in 2008, it had 103 members; there are now over 15,000 Clickin Moms members, and they have enriched the forum with 3.5 million posts that include images, tutorials, business discussions, critiques, and lively conversation among photographers. We also serve more than 2,000 students each month with our photography workshops and breakout sessions, offer eLearning and gifts for photographers in the CMstore, bring together hundreds of very advanced photographers through CMpro, have two extraordinarily popular blogs (the main CMblog and CMpro Daily Project), hold several major events throughout the year, and publish a beautiful bimonthly print magazine. Whew!

Originally CM was simply a private forum but has now expanded to a blog, store, university hosting workshops, and most recently a photography magazine.  What was the purpose for expanding CM to multiple divisions?

SW: Quite honestly, virtually all of our development has been a response to the needs and requests of our members. We are thankful to have a very engaged membership base that communicates with us thoughtfully and openly. Sometimes they directly express to us particular programs or events that they’re looking for (such as CMpro, our mentoring program, and ClickinWalk), and other times we’re able to develop innovative programming for them (such as our workshop structure, breakout sessions, the Glimpse project, and numerous forums) based on more general conversation and activities we observe.

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Kendra Okolita

CM has an incredible staff over over 30 team members.  Why is there a need for such a large team and how has having this team changed CM?

SW: The CM team brings extraordinary energy and innovation to their work behind the scenes at Clickin Moms. The amount of time and coordination that it takes to keep running CM smoothly, generating new content, and developing new programming is intense. We’ve expanded our team steadily to meet our growing needs, most recently expanding in the area of publications, sales, and marketing. We are thankful every day to have such talented, intelligent, and hardworking people who truly believe in our members and our mission.

When discussing CM, what are you the most proud of?

KO:  The people.  I can’t really take credit for our amazing members, mentors, instructors, and staff, but I really am proud of the vibe they create here at CM.  I love watching the beginning photographer develop into a skilled photographer – especially when they turn right back around to guide and inspire more newbies.

SW: That’s a big question! At the end of the day, I can’t pick a particular product or program, because what really makes me most proud is the kindness, enthusiasm, and commitment that has come to define our membership. Forum moderation is minimal, growth to date has been almost fully organic thanks to word of mouth recommendations by our members, and program development has stemmed greatly from the thoughtful feedback and ideas that our members have contributed simply because they view CM as home and are endlessly invested in making that home something even more lovely and fulfilling today than it was the day before. In short, our members are genuinely part of our team, and there is a mutual affection between us; nothing makes me prouder than the relationship that we have with them.

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Sarah Wilkerson

Where do you see CM in 10-20 years?

SW: I know that we will continue to grow in membership and subscribers, and that alone will greatly enrich our community with new perspectives, styles, and conversations. Continuing to expand our educational programming is certainly a priority, as the exchange of information and desire to learn and progress will always be at the heart of what our membership come to us for here at CM. I’d like to think that owning a DSLR and valuing beautiful photography will have become much more pervasive among the global community of women, and we’ll be right there to embrace those women, whether they are just beginning their journeys as photographers or have been on the road with us since the beginning (or even predating us!). As to numbers or greater specifics, though, I think it’s almost impossible to say – by then our team will undoubtedly be much larger, and with that will come lots of new ideas and possibilities. I truly believe there are no limits here!!

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Kendra Okolita

kendra and sarah interview photo
*image by Sarah Wilkerson

Thank you for the great interview ladies and for all you do and have done for CM!

Would you like to join us in the Birthday Week festivities?  Head over to the photography forum now to participate in the games, contests, and perhaps grab a prize while doing so!  Not yet a member?  Use the code CMIS5 and get a trial membership for free here!  And to top it off, we’ll be choosing one random blog commenter a day to receive a surprise prize.  So make sure and leave some comments throughout the week and we’ll announce each days winner on Friday!

Read all photography interviews here.

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240 Responses to “kendra and sarah interview”

  1. cblayloc
    Mar 20 2013 at 7:05 am #

    thanks so much for sharing!! Beautiful images.

  2. Erica F.
    Mar 20 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Great interview! Congrats on five years!

  3. Lucy K.
    Mar 20 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Happy Birthday CM! It’s been an amazing journey!

  4. Katie Lacer
    Mar 20 2013 at 9:49 am #

    WTG on 5 years! Awesome!

  5. Brandy
    Mar 20 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Happy birthday to a wonderful site! It has been an incredible step in my photography journey to join your site and benefit from all the amazing information. Thank you for creating this great place!

  6. Mar 20 2013 at 10:28 am #

    LOVED reading this interview with these two amazing women! So inspiring! Happy Birthday CM :)

  7. Jennifer Vititoe
    Mar 20 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Great interview, nice to learn a bit more about inspired the creation of CM.

  8. Mar 20 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Love you both so much!! You are such an inspiration <3 <3

  9. Jennifer Tait
    Mar 20 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Awesome interview! 5 years and full steam ahead. I am so happy I found the forum. Thank you for all your great work!

  10. Mar 20 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Clickin Moms has been such a fantastic place for me to grow in my photography over the last 9 months and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the upcoming years. Thanks!

  11. Mar 20 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    What an amazing accomplishment! It is really hard to believe how much CM has grown in only 5 short years. That is so inspiring and leaves me wondering where my business might be 5 years from now. ;)

  12. Lindsey
    Mar 20 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you, ClickinMoms! You guys are awesome!

  13. Jill
    Mar 20 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Love clickinmoms! It is such a positive experience! Love how everyone is so willing to help each other.

  14. Mar 20 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    im so glad they exist :)

  15. Terri Collins
    Mar 20 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Happy Birthday, CM!! And thanks to Kendra and Sarah for putting together such an amazing community!!

  16. Mar 20 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Wanted article. I love your creating style – I am trying to start a blog me personally, I do believe I may read via all your articles for some suggestions! Thanks once more. läs mera http://replayability.com/index.php?title=Special:RecentChanges&feed=rss

  17. Mar 20 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Congrats on five years! I love the interviews about how you came together.

  18. seija
    Mar 20 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    So cool to read where the roots of CM started!

  19. Mar 20 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    Great history lesson. Thanks Kendra and Sarah for making CM such a wonderful “home”!!

  20. Mar 20 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    Happy birthday, Clickin Moms! I have been a member for 2 years and I would be so lost without the CM community. I can’t even count all the ways I’ve benefited from my membership. :)

  21. Mara
    Mar 21 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Thank you Sarah and Kendra for giving us CM! I am so grateful to you both.

  22. Miranda
    Mar 21 2013 at 10:05 am #

    As always I am so inspired by you ladies! Thank you so much for all you’ve done to help me along in my journey! Happy Birthday CM!

  23. Jodi Williams
    Mar 21 2013 at 10:10 am #

    So inspiring. Thank you.

  24. Sara B
    Mar 21 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    What a great story! Happy Birthday CM and I am so happy to be apart of it! I have learned so much from CM and I am thankful to have found it! Thank you ladies for everything you have done and what you continue to do!!!!!

  25. Kelly K
    Mar 21 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Happy Birthday CM!!

  26. Mar 21 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Happy Birthday ClickinMoms! I’m so lucky to be a part of this amazing community! Thanks Kendra and Sarah for all you do!!! <3

  27. Mar 21 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    I can’t wait to see how Clickin Moms gets even better in the years to come! I love that she started it to connect w/her friends to learn more and had it become what it is!

    So happy to be a part of this great group of women. :)

  28. Mar 21 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Happy birthday CM! Loved reading about how CM came to be, and so glad it did! Love this community!

  29. Gayle Shrader
    Mar 21 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    Happy birthday ClickinMoms! Great article!

  30. Mar 22 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Happy Birthday CM!

  31. nicole
    Mar 22 2013 at 11:38 am #

    So inspiring! Happy Birthday!

  32. Mar 22 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Loved reading this! Thankyou so much for CM…it has and will continue to change my life <3

  33. Mar 22 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Thank you ladies for making CM so special.

    I can’t imagine where I would be without this forum

  34. Mar 22 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Amazing ladies- thank you so much for all that you do to make CM so fabulous!

  35. Tammy Loveless
    Mar 22 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Love you Guys!

  36. Mar 23 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Happy Birthday CM! My photography journey has been so more rich thanks to you! I love that you consider members part of the team…go team!

  37. Mar 26 2013 at 11:16 am #

    CM is definitely the most inspiring site! :)

  38. Lindsey G
    Oct 03 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Happy 5th! So excited to be a part of this wonderful community and looking forward to jumping in further!!

  39. Jul 15 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Great article/good interview. Great photography. Beautiful ladies.

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  1. words of appreciate to Kendra and Sarah from the Clickin Moms team - Mar 22 2013

    […] link clicked",{"Title":"Sarah Wilkerson","Page":"dear kendra and sarah"}]); are the masterminds behind Clickin Moms_kmq.push(["trackClickOnOutboundLink","link_514c6afe201b7","Article link […]

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