Before moving from Atlanta to New Smyrna Beach in 2010, Cathy Rose Rader, co-founder, designer and publisher of the upcoming coffee table book of photography, Living the Dream New Smyrna Beach, Florida had never even heard of the Southeast Volusia City that so many people have fallen in love with.
“My background is in marketing, advertising and sales,” she said. “I had a contract position in Atlanta that was ending, so I was in search of something new. I connected with a friend who had recently moved from Tampa to New Smyrna Beach. She suggested I come down for a visit, and while there, I discovered the beautiful beach, locally-owned restaurants and shops, friendly people, lack of Atlanta traffic and immediately knew where my next home would be, and moved two months later.”
After the move, she got a job running the office for a real estate company on Flagler Avenue. They primarily dealt with renting vacation homes to people from up north. When it was time for their clients to leave the beach and head home, many mentioned as they departed that they had nothing to take home with them, other than photos they had taken with their own phones. There were history books and surfing books but, at the time, no one had captured New Smyrna Beach in the form of a large format photography book. The idea ignited a passion within Rader and, in March of 2016, she took action.
"Everyone uses their phones for pictures these days," she said. "But unfortunately, most of those pictures end up staying on your phone. A photography book is something people could take home with them or flip through while visiting. And with a Resource section in the back, we are promoting local businesses. I came up with the general concept, started with a list of things I wanted in the book and set out to find the right photographer. A long-time resident of NSB and friend, Ruby Christensen, recommended Jason Obenauer, a professional surf photographer and a local. After looking at his photography on his website, www.surfsupwolf.com, I was so impressed and immediately contacted him."
Rader and Obenauer teamed up and came up with a schedule. They spent two years taking photos of first responders, artists, musicians, NSB’s legendary surfing, Flagler Ave and Canal Street, festivals and more. They signed up sponsors, got the word out and documented all things New Smyrna Beach. After narrowing it down from 10,000+ photographs, Rader and Obenauer are in the process of finalizing the photography and working on the layout. These steps will be followed by production, printing and, by early Spring, they should be ready to release the final product.
“Having the final book in my hand is what excites me the most,” Rader said. “We're planning a private launch party with first responders and everyone else in the book that helped us along the way. A lot of people get credit for what we've done. It truly takes a village."
Looking ahead, Rader and Obenauer have plans that include more than just a coffee table book. They're also planning on introducing a line of Living the Dream merchandise and will allow customers to order certain prints from the book as canvas wraps and more. Aside from ordering on their website, customers will be able to purchase the book at well-known destinations in New Smyrna Beach including The Marine Discovery Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, the New Smyrna Beach Museum and local shops, to name a few.
What advice does Rader have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Entrepreneurs just have something special in them,” she said. “You give up money, a consistent paycheck and your weekends don't matter anymore. There will be days when you'll think about getting a steady job. However, it's important to know that you're not alone in your goals. There are a lot of resources and other people willing to help you along the way."
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