Text and Interview by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2021
Riza Oliva: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs
We are one year into a devastating pandemic in this country, and everything is changing. Instead of doing my own recap I decided to start promoting women empowerment. Not meaning being a feminist; In waking up to your true potential and building together. When we collaborate, anything is possible.
We have a woman vice president! Your opinion if she should be there is irrelevant. The drive, determination, and hustle were there. No one can deny her of that! The day of the mean girl, and attacking others you are jealous of; is over. I cannot tell you how unattractive and embarrassing that is to watch. If you are that girl work out your insecurities and stop worrying about everyone else. Trust me, you just might start to like yourself.
More and more I am noticing the rise in female entrepreneurs who are going away from the traditional 9-5, or even dating for that matter. Prioritizing themselves over just claiming ownership of their partners/previous employers’ status.
Social media has become a place to network and build your community. It is where I have found many of the interesting people I have interviewed. Instagram, Tik Tok, and Club House are all excellent avenues in the day of distance.
This time I happened to come across a woman named Riza Oliva. She is a highly creative photographer and brings whatever concept she comes up with to life. Not only does she manage being a woman in business, but she is also a mother & partner as well. Riza seems to be balancing it all while never giving up on her dreams!
You can have it all when you structure your life for your goals.
The photo that caught my attention was Alice in Wonderland themed. If you know me, it is my thing. That landed me on her Instagram page only to find photo after photo of fierce women in well thought out outfits with themed back drops.
Riza’s range is why I see her being able to scale the way she is with multiple studios. From glamour maternity, baby’s first birthday, couples, erotic, music video recording/editing, and gorgeous women of color.
She just so happened to have one of her studios in my parent’s area in Delaware County, and soon to be a second in Ohio.
Before I messaged Riza I watched her stories to see what she was putting out there. I noticed she was posting a lot of things about women supporting women, and that is what sparked me to ask for the interview.
Building a community of likeminded woman hustlers doing alternative things.
There are many empowering women groups in the area. They can be great, but a lot of them that are your cookie cutter wellness based, or self-improvement sort of talks. I want to see the women going against the grain. Break the cycle of thinking you belong in one category and take it all on. Riza does that in almost everything she does.
I hope some of her life will inspire more females to take on their dreams despite other opinions.
Name: Riza Oliva
Industry name: Riza
Hometown: Cebu, Philippines
Current city: Philadelphia, PA
KK– Were your career choices accepted as you got older having an alternative to a 9-5?
RO– No, unfortunately not. Not too many people were supportive when I decided to get into modeling. It was outside of the “norm” for my family and it went against my family values.
KK– Has that been easy to overcome?
RO– It was hard at first. When you do not have many people supporting your goals and ambitions, it almost makes you feel alone in the journey. It made me stronger as a person and the value of believing in yourself.
KK– Are you single or involved? Is your partner supportive of your lifestyle if so?
RO– I am involved, my partner is a photographer, so he is incredibly supportive in everything that I do. He has taught me many things in the photography world and we both have grown together in our careers.
KK– Do you have children?
OR– Yes, I have one son.
KK– Were you ever judged for working a lot and being a mother?
OR– Yes, I had my son during the end of my senior year of high school. I walked at my graduation ceremony just a week after giving birth. Growing up with a child and trying to find yourself at the same time was very hard. I worked a lot but also was lost at times trying to figure out who I was as a person. I tried my best to be the greatest mother I could be. People who did not understand judged me a lot. I think people did not understand until they had to grow up and go through the situations I went through.
KK– How can we change that zone of heavy judgment?
OR– I think people need to be more open minded. Women are expected to do a lot, become providers while being a mom along with going through life’s challenges. It is hard and I believe people are judgmental because they have never gone through it. We must stop judging one another and instead, praise one another for what we have accomplished.
KK– What are your hobbies outside of your job?
OR- I enjoy playing flag football, watching movies/shows, and traveling. My work feels like a hobby at times
KK– Did you attend college?
OR– Yes, I graduated from Temple University.
KK– What was your degree in?
OR– I have a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management.
KK– Do you have any other certifications, or academic achievements that helped you along the way?
OR– Cosmetology license, Honors Society: Phi Theta Kappa
KK– How old were you when you discovered your talent for photography and editing?
OR– I grew up in the AIM/AOL era. I would say around 13 years old. I loved being on my computer 24/7 and would use photoshop to edit background/templates for personal pages and other people’s pages. My dad is really into technology and he purchased this Sony camera which I started borrowing. I would take pictures of myself, my family members and then my friends. They wanted photos for their myspace profiles so they would ask me to take them. I ended up purchasing my own camera and would bring it everywhere. I would be the “event” photographer to many of my family events. I still have these photos uploaded on my Facebook and I believe I still have my first camera that I owned somewhere at home.
KK– When did you decide you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
OR– I have always enjoyed learning and using my skills and what I have learned to create and perfect. I used to create and sell many things like cakes, gift baskets, t-shirts, etc. I didn’t apply my knowledge and my love to create until I started modeling. I realized as a model that I could help grow other businesses including my own. There’s such an importance of being an “influencer” in today’s market and there’s so much potential in helping not just my own brand but other businesses/brands around me. I think I was blessed to meet many people who were on the same path as me in the business aspect who have taught me their world and they really believed in my worth.
KK– What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome to achieve that being a woman in business?
OR– They have that saying that it is a man’s world, well, I grew up always being around men. I was taught that I could not do things my boy cousins were doing because I was a woman, so it has always stuck to me to “prove them wrong”. I did not understand why there were boundaries between me and my cousin, so I made sure to be the over achiever. I never noticed that I was always the “only female” in the group so growing up, I had to make sure the men around me took me seriously. I had to prove my worth as a business woman and make sure my work spoke for itself. Many of my close friends are men and they respect me a lot.
KK– What current Business/ businesses are you involved with?
OR– I currently co-own a studio in Drexel Hill, PA called Lokahi Photography studio and we just opened a 2nd studio in Columbus, OH called Hustle House Studio.
KK– Being in the entertainment industry; what is it like working with mostly men?
OR– Being in the entertainment industry with mostly men means that you have to make sure you set boundaries. You must make sure that they understand that it is all business and not pleasure. I made sure to not work with people who I believe may take advantage of me.
KK– The pressure to be pretty in that world is heavy. Have you had any plastic surgeries and are you happy with them?
OR– Yes, only one but I had it prior to modeling. Yes, I think it gave me some self-confidence.
KK– How can we normalize accepting women’s choices that do so?
OR– I think with this day and age, plastic surgery has become so much more common, in both men and women. It is more accepting and almost normal.
KK– Do you find respect is an easy thing to achieve in your area(s) of work?
OR– No, I think respect always has to be earned no matter what industry you are in.
KK– What do you do to overcome stress?
OR– I usually travel to overcome stress. I call it my refresh button. It helps me reflect outside of my surroundings and gives me a clearer mind.
KK– Do you have a wellness routine?
OR– Yes, I usually go to the gym and drink a lot of water.
KK– Your photos are so creative, how do you come up with concepts for shoots?
OR– I watch a lot of movies, shows and go to museums. Once I think of the idea, I find images and put together a mood board.
KK– Best and worst filming/shooting moments?
OR– My worst moment would be having someone smack my butt. I never worked with the photographer again. I have so many great moments that I don’t think I could choose which one is my best.
KK– What camera and editing programs are you currently using?
OR– I am currently a Canon user and mostly use photoshop for editing.
KK– Are you currently happy with your endeavors?
OR– Yes, but there is always room to grow and achieve other goals.
KK– What are your goals for the future?
OR– To be happy, and to hopefully open more businesses so I can quit my day job. I also want to retire young.
KK– Do you invest in the stock market, crypto, or real estate?
OR– Yes, I recently started investing in stocks during covid.
KK– What tips would you give women just starting on their road to entrepreneurship?
OR- You can achieve whatever your heart desires. I always believe that you are your biggest obstacle so do not ever be afraid to take the leap. Also, you are your biggest motivation and support so do not look to other people for this or you will give up easily. If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, you can go far in life. Also, always plan, brainstorm, and continue learning.
KK– Lastly, how can we spread positivity and support to other women trying to rise-up as well?
OR– I believe we must be there for one another and be able to give advice when we can. Knowledge is power, so helping others grow is always the key. We also have to learn to be happy for each other’s achievements instead of hating on them.
Riza is in the process of acclimating to her Ohio studio, Hustle House. This was something she had not intended to do. One of the investors backed out and Riza saw an opportunity to expand what she was already doing here in a different state and dove right in.
When I sent Riza this long E- mail of questions; I did so because they are the questions holding most women back from starting. I did not expect her answers to be like how I started writing a year and a half ago. Modeling for Tony has led me on my own journey of self-discovery in a world that typically has judged women since the beginning of time. No negative opinions have stopped me. I started here, and now it is taking me places that I was hoping for. Meeting likeminded individuals that want to create and grow together. Until you start talking to new groups of people and understanding them; your circle and life is not going to grow outside of your comfort zone.
Ladies let’s start stepping outside of the box together!
Riza’s contact and social Media Links:
Hustle House 614
4430 Westerville Rd
Columbus, OH 43231
Lokahi Photography Studio
4043 Garrett Rd
Drexel Hill, PA 19026
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached on Instagram @kerlupwithkate
For collaboration e-mail: Kate.email@example.com
To access additional article by Katie Kerl, click here: https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-the-ascension/