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Meet Trailblazer Amber Matsumoto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Matsumoto.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Born on Maui, I moved to New England when I was an infant. I grew up as a multi-passionate kid and played every kind of sport and musical instrument I could get my hands on. At age 5, I distinctly remember saying that I wanted to be a veterinarian during the day and a ballerina at night when I grew up.

Fast forward to college at UNH, I decided to study Environmental Conservation Studies without really considering where it would lead me career-wise. While I enjoyed everything I learned, as soon as I graduated, I immediately knew I didn’t want to pursue a career in the field.

Back at square one, I struggled with feelings of thinking I had wasted my time in college and still had no idea what I wanted to do. Because I was heavily into researching health and plant-based nutrition, I decided to continue my education with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Coach. While in the year-long program a lot came up for me in terms of dealing with my own health and body image issues. I completed the program but still felt I had plenty of work to do on myself before I could feel qualified to help others. So, once again, I was back at square one.

At the time, I had been practicing Baptiste-inspired heated power yoga for about 5 years and felt like the timing was right to do a yoga teacher training. I had always admired my instructors and their ability to stand so confidently and hold space for others in such an inspiring way. The 6 months of my teacher training was truly transformational and I knew I had really found something I was passionate about sharing with others. Unfortunately, the studio I trained at closed as soon as my training ended and I found myself yoga-homeless. With nowhere to teach or practice, I tried out multiple other studios but none of them had the sense of community and support that I was looking for. I went a year without practicing or teaching until I found THE one.

In the year I wasn’t practicing yoga, I developed a little side hobby of taking photos for a juice bar I was working at. I really enjoyed the creative aspect while still getting to work in a health-conscious environment surrounded by a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables and making them into art. Encouraged by my coworkers and friends, I decided to invest in a nice camera and started getting paid for shoots.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has been far from smooth. There have been setbacks, roadblocks, and many times where I felt confused, lost and fearful of failure. There have been many times where I have gotten down on myself for changing my mind and my direction so many times but looking back I see how each passion I followed led me to the next. Everything happens for a reason.

My advice for other women starting out is to TRUST. Trust yourself and your passions. Even if you don’t know where they are going to lead or you change your mind halfway through. Don’t beat yourself up and just keep going. Get out of your comfort zone and don’t ever settle.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Amber Clair Photography – what should we know?
These days, I teach and manage Soulfire Power Yoga in Greenland, NH. We are a Baptiste Affiliate studio that teaches heated power yoga focused on breath, sweat, and vinyasa flow. I could not be happier to call Soulfire my yoga home. There is such a strong sense of community and connection. Its a place where all are truly welcome to show up exactly as they are.

Additionally, I also run Amber Clair Photography where I focus on wellness, lifestyle, portrait, and food. One of my greatest passions is to help wellness leaders spread their message by providing bright, natural, and authentic images to enhance their brand. I have also begun to dabble in wedding photography which has been an amazing challenge.

I am so grateful for the obstacles and the journey that has led me here.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
Surround yourself with the kinds of people who are doing what you want to be doing. When I was a student in college and couldn’t afford a yoga membership, I used to clean the studio for free classes. Later on, once I was a certified instructor when Soulfire opened up, I got my foot in the door as soon as they opened. They already had a full staff so they didn’t need any more teachers, so I just started out working at the desk. I eventually got the opportunity to sub and received mentorship and coaching from the owners and now I teach 8-12 classes a week! Patience and hard work really do pay off.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Amber Clair Photography

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