A Cali Girl turned Midwest Transplant Brings Conscious Living to her Parenting, Photography, and Community
"A lot of moms make the decision to freelance because it allows more flexibility and time to juggle being a parent. To that I say find support and find a community. And, let me connect you to all the people!"
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Remarkable Women - Mom Edition
WRITTEN BY: KELLY BROWN | @KE1BROWN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHLOEE COMET PHOTOGRAPHY | @CHLOEECOMET
Meeting Chantal Pasag is like taking a breath of fresh air on the first (real) day of spring - it’s revitalizing and surprising. Chantal has the cool girl attitude of a San Diego native with the honey sung sweetness of a Midwest gal. When you talk, she leans in and listens close, always following up whatever you say with a question and a smile - a sign of true, genuine interest in whoever she is around.
Chantal is a connector of humans and thrives off interactions with new people. She started her career as a contract, and then full-time photo studio project manager for Envoy, a B2B ecommerce and content development company located in Grand Rapids, MI. Originally from San Diego, Chantal moved to West Michigan to be with her furniture designing husband, Jason. After a few years grinding the 9-5, Chantal and Jason both decided to commit to their true passions and became full-time freelancers.
“It felt good to step away but I work better as a team with collaboration. So, I’ve been doing contract photography work as well. Now, post-baby, there is the conversation of being a women in the workplace and the stress of assuming a big role and managing people but then being excused for 15 to 20 minutes to go pump. Luckily, my bosses graciously encouraged me to take on a position as a contractor and have been very supportive.”
Photography has always been Chantal’s main passion. “I worked 9-5 and side hustled, stayed up late, working on nights and weekends. But now, photography is my full-time job!” And, Chantal balances that new full-time job with her other new job as a mom to her 6-month old daughter.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a mom. In fact, for awhile while we were in San Diego, working 80 hours a week, didn’t need a car, walked everywhere, doing big production stuff...I thought, you know I don’t think I can imagine us having kids. I wanted to be the cool aunt and uncle traveling the world. And we were already a fur parent to our 150lb dog. But, then we moved to Grand Rapids and I drank the water and got wifed up and babied up and housed up,” Chantal says laughing. “We kind of did one of those “we’ve never not tried getting pregnant” and here we are. I think we’re a 1 and done family for now, though.”
Anyone who has been a working mother knows the difficulties of being pregnant and trying to get through your 5 day work week. But, a physically demanding job while pregnant, especially one with high commitments like weddings, is another story. “I shot my last wedding at 37 weeks pregnant. The couple was amazing. It was the best way to end my season. When I got pregnant, a lot went through my mind as an entrepreneur. Are my clients going to turn me away? I hated that I thought that because it was unfair to me. But, thankfully, all of my clients were totally okay with it and very supportive.”
Mom Brain, a partnership between Chantal and Sparrows owner/long time friend Lori, started out of a need for distraction. “Once I went full-time freelance I think I just needed another distraction because I was used to working those late nights and weekends. But I also needed to have a back up. Mom Brain kind of stemmed from that. When you’re an actual mother there are so many olive branches of support out there. So many moms reach out with their experience. I think as women we support each other but there’s this whole other level that you tap into, like coining up in Mario, when you become a mother.”
“My goal with Mom Brain is for it to not be a space for people to complain about how difficult being a working mom can be but rather an opportunity to express frustrations and find solutions. If I put up a post where I say I’m feeling down or it’s a bad day I try to sandwich that negative voice by ending on a positive note. If you’re going to admit your failures, that’s fine, but there needs to be a production conversation that comes out of it. There’s a healthy amount of complaining and letting it out but then navigate the conversation towards finding a solution. I’m really proud of the women in the group.”
When Chantal isn’t working on of your many side hustles, at a photoshoot or taking care of her daughter, you can probably find her eating delicious food somewhere. “I love eating. I love food. I’m not snotty like it has to be all marble and brass fixates in a restaurant with a fancy brussel sprout dish. If you take me down an ally and there’s a grandma cooking in the back I get just as excited as if you took me to a Michelin star restaurant.”
Her passion for food can be attributed to her Filipino heritage. Chantal’s family loved to eat and family gatherings were usually based around loads of food - as in tables and tables of food. “It’s a right of passage to see how much you can eat and if you eat everything that is being served to you. My husband is a great cook. My best friend is a food blogger and amazing cook as well. There are so many Asian spots on 28th st in Grand Rapids that make me feel like I’m at home in La or San Diego.”
Chantal’s final advice for any moms returning to work or going full-time freelance...come to Mom Brain. “That’s the short answer. If you’re thinking about going full-time freelance, then you need that community and support. A lot of moms make the decision to freelance because it allows more flexibility and time to juggle being a parent. To that I say find support and find a community. And, let me connect you to all the people!”
"We Are the Women" Shirt, "Seek Adventure" onesie (and headband) by our friends at Treetops Collective
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Kelly Brown - WriterWebsite | Instagram (@ke1brown)
Kelly is a seasoned, published writer and founder of Writers Under 30 in Grand Rapids, MI. She's also a fitness instructor at Beer City Barre, competitive cheer coach, and avid egg eater. Most of all, she's a beautiful, kind soul, trying to live a conscious lifestyle.