Dixie dog has a new buddy.

Sara - my new full-time office manager - has been working here at my home office nearly every day since December. But Dix just can't understand why Sara doesn't play with her constantly. She is, after all, much cuter than the computer screens we stare at all day long.
This is Sara. She's a cutie.
I'm SO thankful to have her on to help me run the business. She is already such an integral part of Melissa Jill Photography and I thought you might want to get to know her a little better. Dixie offered to interview Sara because she had quite a few questions of her own:

1. Where did you come from?
Well, I'm originally from Naperville, IL (a suburb of Chicago) but moved to AZ when I was in grade school. My Mom moved us out here for a job she took, but I go back once or twice a year to see my Dad and other family. I consider both places my home. I love Chicago so very much. I even moved back to live in the city and attended Columbia College, studying photography for a year. But Columbia has a hefty price tag, so due to limited funds I came back to AZ and graduated from ASU with a Human Communication degree. I love photography, but I love people even more, so it was the perfect degree for me!

2. How did you get here?
Fate. Kismet. Serendipity. I like to use all those wonderful words to describe this story. I started my own photography business in April of last year, and after 6 months of trying to stay positive; I was officially broke and had no choice but to take on a part-time job that I couldn't have cared less about. I wasn't miserable, but it definitely wasn't what I wanted. So, I decided to connect with more local photographers, especially ones that I admired, to see what I was doing wrong with my business. I was in some serious need of a mentor. On a whim, I emailed your Mom in November to see if she needed any second shooters or if I could take her out to lunch. Not expecting to even get a reply, I was blown away with her quick response. She wasn't in need of any second shooters, but she agreed to meet me for lunch! I had no idea that that lunch was going to change my life. She was so easy to talk to that I found myself unleashing all of the stresses in my life onto her within the first 10 minutes. She listened calmly to my needs, and thought to herself for a minute. Unbeknownst to me, she was in need of a new part-time Office Manager. The next thing I knew, the lunch turned into a job interview, and by the time the check came, I was hired. On a trial basis, of course. Driving home that day, I couldn't believe what had just happened. The next few weeks, I juggled two part-time jobs, plus my own photography work, refusing to listen to my family try to convince me that I needed a more legit full-time job. I knew I had been given something special, and I wasn't about to let it go for ANY reason. I'm a believer in "what's meant to be will be" and "everything happens for a reason", but you have to stay open-minded and positive at all times. I'm SO thankful that I trusted my gut, because after a month of hard work, your Mom offered me a full-time position!

3. What's that smell?
Hahaha, you probably smell my dog, Abby! You've met her once already. She's the cute, little Chihuahua-Corgi mix that came over one day and played with you in the backyard. I love her dearly. She's my precious little cuddle-bug.
4. What's your favorite toy?
I'd probably consider my camera my favorite "toy". It's not as soft or squeaky as yours, but it does make a pretty awesome sound.

5. What's your favorite treat?
I'm not a big fan of the usual treats, like chocolate bars, cupcakes or cookies, but I love ice cream! I could probably live off of ice cream if it were possible. I also love peanut M&M's, Sour Patch Watermelons, and soda. I know soda is so bad for me, but it's my vice. I can't stand the taste of coffee, so soda is my source of caffeine.

6. Do you have any cool outfits like me?
Hahaha, no way! You have the cutest outfits! But I do love to shop! A lot of my clothes are from Anthropologie, H&M, Urban Outfitters, JCrew, and Gap. The older I get, the more I appreciate well-made, stylish clothes. I never used to have much style, always wearing old high school drama club t-shirts and throwing my hair up in a bun. Total dork. But in college, I fell in love with fashion and started to really develop more of my own style. I still rock the old t-shirts from time to time though.

7. Why won't you play with me all day?
Awww, I would if I could! But working full-time for your Mom means that I'm busy emailing clients, editing images, making DVD's & slideshows, designing albums, shipping products, trying to get her work published, organizing the next two MJ 2 Day workshops, and many other exciting projects that are in the works. But I do promise to run around the backyard with you at least once a day, deal?

8. Deal! I never hear you barking, but what's that other sound you always make?
Haha, that would be my humming and terrible singing that you hear when no one is around. I love all types of music (except techno and screamo), and I can't seem to function during the day without it. It keeps me focused, motivated, and inspired. I love a lot of the singer-songwriter types, lots of indie-rock bands, and hip-hop (anything I can dance to). But I grew up only listening to country, so that's also near and dear to my heart. Right now I'm obsessed with Mumford and Sons, Band of Horses, Dispatch, and Ingrid Michaelson...just to name a few.

9. What do you do when you're not here?
Your Mom is pretty awesome, and she still let's me manage my own portrait and still photography business, but it's very low key. Other than that, I'm usually with my close friends. We have what we call family dinners or "fam fam din din" once a week, alternating who cooks. None of us are married yet, so we pretty much spend all of our free time together watching or attending sporting events, bar-hopping, and going to concerts. We also travel together a lot, which is pretty impressive since there are at least 12-14 people on each trip. We've mastered the art of coordinating schedules.

I'm also an advocate for supporting local artists, so I try to attend as many art exhibits and gallery openings as I can. I love First Fridays, Downtown Scottsdale's Art Walk on Thursdays, and I love seeing local bands play live. And I'm getting more involved in the independent film community, so I'm looking forward to attending more local film screenings. I just love all things art related!

OK. I like you. Please don't ever leave us.
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