From a stay-at-home mom to a model to forming her own casting agency, Cast Vegas, she’s proof that it is possible to have it all. I’m joined today by the lovely Crystal Thurman.

Amanda: What I love about your story is that you did the family thing, you were a stay-at-home mom for 17-ish years, and you did the model thing, and then you brought it all together by forming a casting agency, where you’re now helping others succeed in their careers while also thriving in your own. A lot of people think you have to choose between family and business, but clearly that hasn’t been the case for you. What has this journey been like?

Crystal: Oh, my gosh, amazing. I would say you definitely don’t have to choose between them both. I was a stay home mom. I loved being a mom. I loved it. I was room mom, cooking, all that kind of stuff. It was absolutely amazing for me, and I did modeling on the side. I was model in Los Angeles before I got married. And then we moved to Las Vegas, and then obviously my family took all priority. So I did a little bit on the side. And then once I got divorced, which was… I mean, we were together for almost 17 years… I kind of just had to reinvent myself and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And so I just kind of took what I loved as a passion and tried to grow it into a career.

Amanda: At what point, beyond being a model yourself, did you think, “Well, I want to expand. I want to become an agency.” Was it an idea that you had? Or did your business partner at the time, who’s a photographer, did he help encourage that? I don’t really know how the formation came about.

I thought, where can I put this all together and make it my dream job?

Crystal: When I left my marriage, and when I had the kids, I was figuring okay, now it’s like a new start. And what does my new start look like? So I kind of took a step back and I looked at what my passion was. My passion was I love the model and talent industry. I mean, I love it. And I love helping people, like I’ve been very involved with Ronald McDonald House, like it’s just kind of my niche. And I thought, where can I put this all together and make it like my dream job? I mean, in essence, I was a new beginning like, where could I go with this? So I came up with the idea of starting my own agency. I had worked for a lot of agencies out here, and I just didn’t see the caliber that I was used to in Los Angeles. And I had made a lot of friends out here, and there were a lot of complaints. I just saw a growth. I saw a vision for a growth.

I actually approached my business partner in the beginning. I approached him and said, “Listen, I want to start my own agency. I’d like to rent space from you here.” And that’s kind of it. He said, “Okay, let’s have lunch.” And then when we met for lunch he was like, “I want in.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So that’s kind of how it came to fruition. I had the vision, but he definitely had the other side of things that I needed. Like I had the creative. I knew where we needed to go, how we needed to do it. But he definitely had a little bit more of the business side, with a successful career, that kind of helped me. I always say don’t reinvent the wheel. Find people that have done it right and follow them. And that’s exactly what I did.

Amanda: That’s a great technique to do that. Because Eric, your previous partner, is definitely very knowledgeable in business.

Crystal: Very.

Amanda: He had that part covered, which allowed you the freedom to stick with what you were passionate about, which was actually getting the agency going. You’ve always been very easy to work with, which is always important when you’re casting. But, like you said, you came from LA and you weren’t seeing the caliber of talent in Vegas. We know it’s here, you just weren’t seeing it. And then also, the modeling industry in general has this way of phasing people out when you hit a certain age that is nowhere near old. But it’s such a youthful industry. And there are plenty of times when I’ve been working on a project and casting and we need an older age base. And most of the agencies in Vegas are like yeah, we don’t have that. And you find the right talent of all ages, of all genders, of all cultures. It’s a very diverse group of talent that’s not being discriminated as “you have to look like the typical Vegas girl.” Because Vegas is so much more than that.

I wanted a difference. I wanted to be an actual agent for them.

Crystal: One thing I want to say is there is extraordinary talent here. A lot of the agencies didn’t take the time to get to know everyone, and love everyone, and boost their career. And it’s no fault to them. It’s just not the way that Vegas was run. So they’re running it exactly how it was always been run. I wanted a difference. I wanted to be an actual agent for them, and push them, and move them, meet everyone in person and grow them, and get them into wherever they want to be. And yes, Vegas is an open market. I mean, I have talent from three years old to 85, and I’ve booked them all.

And that’s one thing, too, is you have to know your market so well. We have a lot of healthcare, home builders. There’s a lot of people, too, that have such a great look to them and they’ve always wanted to get into this. And for me, it’s so exciting to bring them on board and book them on their shoots. And younger – I just had someone on a shoot this past week, it was his first shoot at 17, a commercial, and he was on cloud nine. There’s just nothing better than that. But yes, I definitely tried to figure out our demographics, our clients, add a little bit more family and customer service to it, where I felt like that was lacking here. It was very much lacking here.

Amanda: Sometimes you have to break that mold. On the one side, you’re saying don’t reinvent the wheel and if somebody is really good at something, let them do it. But on the other side of that, you also have to know when the thing that everyone is doing isn’t working. Your customer service has to be prominent. You have to care about the people. If you’re in it just to take your 10% or 20% and don’t really care, that leads to a lot of issues on set, off set, reputation-wise around an entire city. And I mean, you take it that step above to where you will physically show up on your sets. You’re not the talent on that, but you want to make sure that they are taken care of and also that they are doing a good job. You want to make sure the client is okay. You want to make sure your talent is okay. And I think a lot of people tend to be one-sided on that. They only care about the client or they only care about the talent. Both are equally important. I think about it in terms of when I’m producing on set, the crew and the client are equally important, but a lot of times people will neglect the crew. When I get on set, the first thing that I’m doing is looking through the schedule and making sure they have a lunch break, because you have to keep people fed to keep them happy. That’s me.

Crystal: You are magic on set. Don’t get me wrong, you are absolute pure magic. So that is definitely your gift. Yes.

Amanda: Thank you. You care about it so much. A common theme on this podcast has been the importance of loving what you do. I know you feel strongly about that. Why do you think it’s such a necessary component of success to love what you do? Some people say, oh, that’s a pipe dream, you can’t always make a living doing what you love. I don’t think that’s the way it is, though.

When you have drive and passion behind your dream, there is absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish.

Crystal: I don’t think that is the way it is either. I think if you love what you do, you shine twice as bright. Here’s a perfect example. Yesterday, we had a last-minute photoshoot for the Wynn. Instant, quick, had to be done in no time at all. I literally called talent – I didn’t take one commission off of that – and sent them all in there. Because I wanted to make sure the Wynn was happy, my client was happy, and my talent was happy because they were coming in last minute for me. So when you ask me, like you can’t do what you love… for me, walking on set and seeing everybody all put together, pull, and we did it in a few hours. That’s my happy. So you can do what you love. When you have drive and passion behind your dream, there is absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish. You will work 12-14 hours a day, but it’s a joyous working.

I always tell people that are miserable in their jobs and they‘ve got this… I have a few talent that have called me and they’ve got some new venues they’re trying to move forward but they’re afraid to take the job. I say to them, “Listen, would you rather be working 12 hours a day doing what you love, where it’s not work?” I really don’t feel like this is work. Honestly, I’m super happy being at my desk. I am super happy being out with the talent. I am super happy being with my clients. I don’t feel it’s work. Housework is work. Paying the bills, that’s work. This is extraordinarily amazing to me. And that’s what I always tell them. If you love something, just jump in and do it. I mean, I will say there are days and nights I have no idea how I’m going to make it happen, or how it’s gonna work. But it does. It always does. Because if you love something, it will happen. I’m a testament to that. Honestly, I dove into this with a little dream that’s become a big dream. And that was really it. I knew my vision, and I just stuck with it. Put my vision board up, and I knew it was gonna happen. I did. I looked at it every single day, every aspect of how I was going to get to where I wanted to be. And thankfully I am where I want to be.

Amanda: You are also willing to do the work. You weren’t just thinking, I want this. Why isn’t it happening for me? You were like, no, I want this, so I’m going to work and make it happen for me, which is a big component of this. You mentioned people who sometimes are scared to do it. So I want to talk a little bit about fear, because so many people want to take the leap into self-employment, but they’re afraid to do it for a number of reasons. Many are perfectly valid. Some think the corporate world offers more in terms of security and stability. I don’t agree with that, but that’s what I hear a lot. Some people are scared to fail. Some people, I think, are scared to succeed. And it can be really hard to put yourself out there and have that faith in yourself that you can do it. So how have those types of fears factored into your decisions, if you had them? Did they hold you back at all? Or did they motivate you? Because sometimes fear can be a great motivator.

Drive, faith and fear might be the biggest components of everything.

Crystal: Yeah, I will say fear was a little bit of a motivator for me. Again, as I repeat myself, I had to completely… like, I didn’t have a college education. I was a stay-at-home mom. I mean, I had a great career before I got married and I gave that up to be a mom and a wife, which I was honored and grateful to do. But, you know, not being in the working world for 17 years and then thinking to myself, after being separated and having to start a whole new life, there was fear. I mean, there for sure was a little fear. My daddy is such a huge influence in my life. And I’m sure you’ll hear me talk about him a lot. Just everything I do. He passed away a while ago, but he was one of the greatest human beings ever. And he always said to me, “Your light is so bright. Do what you love.” Like he always would tell me “do what you love.” So in my head, I just thought to myself, what do I love? And this is what I love. And I knew my business side could drive me as well. But you asked did fear kind of push you a little bit? Yes, it did. But I also will say if you’re not uncomfortable in your own skin, almost every day, then you’re not pushing yourself. Because there are mornings I wake up and I am like, okay, how am I going to pull this off today? I have no clue. We have a couple of shoots, the kids have been home with COVID, I mean from college. I mean, there’s so many other aspects. And as I said, I have no idea how to pull it off today. But we’re going to pull it off. Drive, faith and fear might be the biggest components of everything. But you have to have the drive. And if you really want it, you can obtain it. I mean, I’m telling you, you can do it. Honestly, there’s no way I thought that this would be the company that it is. I had a dream, I had a vision, and look where we are now.

Amanda: It is so true. The drive has to be there, and it has to constantly be there. Because every time you get to one goal, there will probably be several more and you want to keep moving forward. And the faith is an important one. I always tell people, yes, things always work out. But I always believe that they will. And I work hard enough to make sure that they do. I’m all about positive attitude and mindset make a difference and all of that, but it has to be coupled with the work. It can’t just be saying out loud, “I want $10,000” and then suddenly it’s going to show up and fall in your lap. You have to work for that $10,000. But being clear on what your vision is… you mentioned vision boards. That goes a long way. You have to have that clarity. Sometimes in the beginning, especially people who are more creative in nature, there are a lot of ideas and it’s hard to pinpoint one. Start with one and move forward. Because then it’s like you kind of halfway work towards 12 different goals, and then you’re not actually doing anything. So you have to be very clear on that initial vision, and then kind of break it down into those little steps to where I’m going to get through today. So there might be a long-term plan, but let’s start with today. What can I do today to move forward?

Crystal: So what I did is I kept my vision board in my office, and I would sit in my office and I would look at it. And on Friday, I would give myself a checkpoint. So I would be like, at the end of the week, I would say, “What did I do to move towards one of those things, or two of those things, or three of those things on my vision board?” So I would look at it and I would say, “Okay, so I took four steps. I called three clients to try to get to where I wanted that. I pushed this.” So I think also putting yourself in check each week was good. No one else is gonna put yourself in check. And you’re right, you can’t have a vision without putting the work in. But I think it’s also good to have that vision in place so you see it every single day. So you’re reminded of where you want to go and how you want to get there. And then pick a day. It could be Saturday if you work full time. Maybe it’s Saturday or Sunday. For me, it was Friday. So it was always Friday morning. I was looking at my vision board and I was thinking, “Where did I go this week that I got to a step towards what I had on my vision?” And I will tell you, I honestly accomplished probably 80% of my vision board in four or five years, so there’s just 20% left, but I still check myself every week how I’m getting there.

Amanda: That’s a pretty good success rate in that many years. So Cast Vegas, you opened that four years ago? Five years ago? Is that what you said?

Everywhere I went, I asked questions like, “What are you lacking? What could be better? What can I do more?”

Crystal: We softly opened the company, probably four years ago. We went public three years ago. And we wanted to open the company quietly so that we could get all of our bearings in place. And all of the things that we promised our talent and our clients, I wanted to make sure, and my business partner at the time wanted to make sure, that we could accommodate that perfectly. Don’t think we didn’t do the work. There were business coaches, there were classes I took. Everywhere I went, I asked questions like, “What are you lacking? What could be better? What can I do more?” The talent side I knew, because I was them. I have a very good relationship with all of them. So that part of the story was pretty easy with me, knowing what they needed.

Amanda: But what I think is great about what you were saying is that you went into it slowly. There’s a tendency to jump full force, and I’m all about it. You’re excited about something, you want to do it and throw caution to the wind and just say, “Yep, I’m in it, I’m going, I’m doing this.” That is great, and that works for some people, and others of us need to be a little more methodical. I think about my own personal thing. I think a lot of people think I just jumped into it. That wasn’t the case. I did stay at my corporate job longer than I should have, but when I got to that point where I knew I was done, it wasn’t “I’m done. I quit.” It was “I’m going to start putting the pieces together.” Then I went back to school, and that really didn’t have anything to do with what I ended up doing, but it helped in a lot of ways because it was a reassurance that I wasn’t going to learn anything new about business that I didn’t already know from having run them for so long. So that kind of was step one. And then it was start talking to people. If I go out on my own, I think I have people who will follow me, but will they? It was having conversations and getting that first client lined up, and then the second job lined up, and then realizing it’s not really practical for me to keep the full-time job because it takes up too much time. And that’s time I could be dedicating towards building my own business. So I’m gonna do that. And so it was slow, but I had to be ready. And I wasn’t in that place. I’m not a giant risk taker, but I do believe in myself. So it’s always balancing those two things. But once I made the decision, it was full steam ahead, don’t look back, and I never have.

I kind of jumped in with that blind faith, knowing that it would come to fruition.

Crystal: I think this is why you and I get along so well, too, is because you are more of like, “Let’s look at the logical side of things, and we’re going to do it, but let’s do it at this pace” where I’m just like “You know what? I’m going in, I’m diving in. I’m doing this and I’m going to make it a success.” So I think there are two different… my way is probably not the best way, but it worked for me. I kind of jumped in with that blind faith, knowing that it would come to fruition. I just had to put in the work. And it is a lot of work.

Your relationships on set, like, you are an incredible person when you’re on set. Everyone gravitates to you. You have it organized. You have this very calm demeanor about you, but things are in line and taken care of and done to a tee. But you do it very calmly and quietly and gracefully. Where not everybody is like that, you know? You make it a very stress-free situation, honestly, and every work experience I’ve had with you has always been like that. You are truly extraordinary at your job, you really are. And you have found your niche. And I am so glad that you are helping other people and talking about this, trying to get them to find theirs. Because I promise you, when people find their niche, they will grow so quickly. And it is so amazing. And I don’t know how to articulate that enough because you’re doing what you love right now. You’re doing what you love, and you’re great at it. You’re absolutely extraordinary at it.

And the one thing I could say is, I can never look back and say “I didn’t try hard enough” or “What if?” For me, the biggest words I will never look back on is “what if I did this?” I, to a fault, put too much into some things before I can let it go and jump on something else. But I would say for people that are looking to start their own business, and their own company, do you ever want to look back and say, “What if?” So what is the worst thing? You don’t succeed at it? But you tried it. You gave it everything you had, and it didn’t quite work? Or you gave it everything you had and now you’re this extraordinary success? But you’re never going to look back and say, “Well, what if I did that? What if I tried this? What if I would have done that?” And I think that is one of the biggest things I live my life through. I mean, I follow that through everything that I do.

Amanda: For a long time, I talked myself out of opening a business. At the time, there were a lot of people that were like, “You’re gonna start a production company.” I’m like, “I don’t want that.” I love production, but at the time, I thought I wanted to get out of it because of some other stuff. And then I was making my plans to do something entirely different. And once I got out, I was able to realize that, no, I do love doing this. I love being that person. So to be able to do that, plus all of these other things that I’m interested in, but not being chained to a place… Because that was the biggest thing. There wasn’t work to do, and then I’m still stuck there wasting time. And I do not like to waste time. Let me get my job done, but let me do it on my own terms.

And I was in a situation where I kept telling them, “I’m not happy here, I’m gonna leave, I need to go.” “No, no, stay, please stay, we’ll do this, this and that for you.” And they never followed through on their promises, so I took matters into my own hands and I stopped going in the office. I just thought, okay, you’re not following through on your promises, so I’m still going to do my job but I’m going to do it from home. And I didn’t ask, and I just did it. And after about four months, they finally got tired of that, and then it worked itself out. I was at that point where I had my first retainer client, that was for another production company, Abe Froman Productions, our good friends over there. So it was a three-month retainer that turned into like two years, I think, or it turned into a lot longer than three months. I was also hired for that Presidential Debate, which was a nine-month job. So I was getting to the point where I was going to have to leave because I’d already committed to something else. But really what I was committing to was me, because I was at that point of I’m not being respected here. I’m not being valued here. There were so many things going on, and I would never advise anybody else to put themselves through that. And so even if that means being “unemployed” for the first time in my life, that’s what I had to do.

But I never looked at it as I’m unemployed. I looked at it as I’m self-employed. I’ve said this many times. I don’t like it when people say “Oh, I’m just a freelancer,” especially in the creative space. Because yes, you are a freelancer. That’s fine if that’s what you want to call it. But you’re also a business owner, and you have to have some little smidge of that mindset going into it. Like you said, you did the soft open, and you got everything worked out. You got those systems in place to make sure it was running properly, and that you had all your ducks in a row so that when you did the public opening, you were ready for it. Where some people just start in and just start doing it, and then they get overwhelmed, and then it doesn’t work. And rather than course correcting and making the improvements, they just give up entirely and say, “Well, that doesn’t work.” But you have to try a lot of different things and figure out what will work. There is as much power in figuring out what doesn’t work as there is in figuring out what does work.

There’s actually more power in figuring out what doesn’t work.

Crystal: There’s actually more power in figuring out what doesn’t work. Honestly, there is more power in figuring out that, because then that’s what sets you apart. From production to photography to models to agency to anything anyone is trying to do. If you know what doesn’t work, and you have the tools to make that one thing work, you will rise to the top very quickly. Knowing what doesn’t work is a key, and not reinventing the wheel is a key. I look at people that have been successful, and I take little bits and pieces. There’s not one time that I don’t meet somebody that has a successful company and I ask them, “Why? How?” Kind of exactly what you’re doing with this incredible podcast. Take their little tidbits and put it into your bowl.

Amanda: I remember having many conversations with you pre-pandemic where I was in my comfy clothes, drinking my tea, and you said you would love to do that, because you’re usually fully glammed up and looking the part. This pandemic has given you a taste of the other side, of my side. There was no production for a while, and even now that it’s slowly coming back here, you’re doing more from home and using technology, your favorite thing, to keep everyone safe. How has that transition been for you? Not specifically the pandemic, but the results of work going away and then gradually coming back but being different?

I’m much more balanced in my life than I was before.

Crystal: Before the pandemic hit, I was spinning 150 miles an hour every single day, all day. Yes, dressed to the nines, out meeting clients, on set, interviewing new talent. I mean, I did love it, but I was 12 hours a day. and that’s not an exaggeration. If I wasn’t there, I was home in the office setting up meetings for the following day. When it first hit, I took a step back and I was like, “Ooh! I get a little time off! Like, oh my gosh, everything’s gonna slow down for two weeks.” And it was kind of nice, because I haven’t had that for… and that’s my fault because I’m just so driven. So for me, I don’t slow down. After the two weeks turned into a little bit more, it was a tough transition for me because I’m used to the hustle all day long. But then my son came home from college. I had more time to spend with family, and cook more, and do all the things that I used to love before I was running a full-blown company. Like there was breakfast, lunch and dinner, all gourmet, set out for him every morning. And I did, I really loved it.

But it also gave me some time to reevaluate the company and see where I could grow more, to put together marketing packages. I will say, I do love workout clothes. I have now become a huge fan. Oh my gosh, I am obsessed with Lululemon. I was like, this is the best thing ever. I get to put this on and put my hair in a ponytail every day. This is fantastic. It is. I do love that. So the transition back into getting dressed every day, it’s been a little tough. I love it. But I do love the workout side. It also made me realize how much I love my job. Like I was so excited when things started. And I mean, things aren’t completely open yet, but we are definitely moving forward in a new capacity with the new COVID codes and the new regulations. It actually, ironically enough, gave me a new love for my job. I know a lot of people were saying like, “Oh, I don’t want to go back to work, and it’s been so nice, and I’m at home and I’m watching movies,” which, do not get me wrong, I did love that the first few weeks because I was like, oh wait, no one’s calling me this week. I can just stay home and make a new recipe, because I’m old school Italian so I like to cook. I’m so excited to be back at work. I am grateful for the glam. Like, it’s back and it’s good.

I did implement, though, I try now on Saturdays and Sundays to kind of decompress like I did, and staying in that Lululemon and not dressed, and not head out, and not knock on doors, and make that a Monday through Friday thing. So it did teach me a lot of balance. I’m much more balanced in my life than I was before. Like, I sleep half the night now instead of barely half.

Amanda: It’s an improvement.

Crystal: This whole pandemic is not a good thing. It is tough. It is rough. It is awful on everybody. But if you just try to find the one little light in it, the one piece of positivity, because that’s really all you can do at this point. If you look at it that way, I truly think everyone can find a blessing in this whole crazy 2020 year. I mean, this year has been insane in so many ways, but it balanced me more. I got more marketing done. I realized where I can grow more, where my new niches need to be. I got to spend three months at home with my 20-year-old son. Like, that never happens. There’s always some silver lining in all this. But yes, it was different for me. At the beginning, I was going through jobs. I was definitely going through… don’t think I didn’t get dressed every day, even in the beginning. I was ready to go. And I’m like there is nowhere to go. And there’s a four-hour line at the grocery store.

Amanda: You mentioned the insanity that was this year, which is funny, because that’s the case where this year was actually last year. It’s been over for a little while, but it was that impactful of a year. And I, like you, am a big fan of finding positivity wherever you can. And I think one of the biggest gifts of the pandemic was exactly what you said. People really got the time to slow down and reevaluate their situation. And many people found out, “I don’t love what I’m doing, so I need to do something different.” What I love about you is you found out, “I am doing what I love doing. I want to do more of it.” But also with that lesson about balance, which I know you’ve heard me talk about before, when you are a driven person, you have to force yourself to slow down sometimes and take that break because you’ll actually do better work when you’ve rested. I guess, in your case, slept half the night versus two hours or whatever the case may be. That balance and being able to make sure that you’re taking care of the “you” that’s outside of work as much as the “you” that’s engulfed in your work is really important. And it’s easy to overlook when you’re just busy, busy, busy all the time. So that gift of forcing everyone to slow down has helped a lot.

I definitely find myself in a much calmer, happier place after this whole pandemic.

Crystal: You know, I used to get up and I would run to my office and I would write notes down. Like I would write things down. I put files in order, like in the middle of the night. And then when things slowed down, I would just roll over and write on a notepad and go right back to sleep. Little balances that… now I don’t get up and walk actually into the office and get myself awake and then. But then I was like, oh, well, it is three o’clock in the morning. Maybe I should check to see if anybody in New York has emailed me yet, and check my messages. So I kind of disconnected there. And now, I’m just going to write it down on this pad. And in the morning, after my cup of coffee, I’m going to go in and I will find I’m more productive. And you’re exactly right. When you start taking care of yourself first and not running yourself so beyond ragged, you’re just as productive as you are running yourself so ragged. That’s one of my new tricks that I definitely took out of that is a pen and paper doesn’t seem to keep me up as a bright light and a computer that tempts me to go look at what more I can do for that hour. And then I’m in my head going okay, we got to get that casting out first thing. I’m going to get up at six. Okay, maybe I should just get up now. Okay, maybe I should go work out. It’s just, it’s a whole mindset. And it does. I definitely find myself in a much calmer, happier place after this whole pandemic.

Amanda: That’s exactly why I have my email on my phone set to manual. Some people have it so it automatically downloads emails, and I can’t do that. Number one, as everyone knows, I can’t handle notifications. That little red circle, it drives me crazy. What would happen, and this was back when I was still working in the corporate world, I would get an email and then I would have to get rid of the notification, so I would check it. Then it was like, oh, I’ll just do this one thing real quick. And then that led to one other thing I’m going to do real quick, and it just kept going. And I was like, no, I’m not on the clock right now. And even when you’re self-employed, I think it’s really important to set your own clock and your own work hours, and stick to it. There’s always going to be a project that comes in that you’ll have to veer from it. But, in general, having those office hours, which I let my clients know. “Hey, I’m going to work until this time. If it’s urgent, text me and let me know, but otherwise I’ll get back to it tomorrow.”

Crystal: You are good at that! You are very good at that.

Amanda: I have to be because I need my downtime, my decompression at the end of the day. And so that’s my thing is on weekends, I don’t touch a computer. I will check my emails on my phone every now and then, but as a sort of rule, I stay away from screens that day. That’s my time. And unless I’m on a project that needs me that day, it can wait. A lot of people, more so in the beginning of their careers, or their launch into self-employment, think they have to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for every client or they’re going to go away. But we forget that human element, that they are people too, and they don’t want to work 24 hours a day. So just being able to communicate with them and make sure you’re on the same page about that.

Like, if there’s one person that can’t send just one text message, he has to send seven in a row. Okay, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to attend to this thing right now. What that means is you’re thinking about it now, you have to get it out of your head. Cool, do that. And then when I’m working, I will get back to you. And it works. But you have to be respectful of everybody’s style being different than your own. But it’s having that communication. And it’s part of the customer service thing that you mentioned, where you have to put your client first, but you also have to put yourself first. So it’s another balancing act. But the way you do that is by having those conversations and making sure that people are clear about what it is. And it makes it really easy to work with people that way.

I’m finding we’re still getting the same results moving just a little calmer.

Crystal: If someone, like, even in production, if they say we need a quote… I mean, today, I just got two people that needed quotes. But my quick customer service is “Absolutely, I would be honored to get you these quotes.” And one other person needed help on pricing. And I said, “I’m glad to help you, but here’s my schedule today. So I can either get it to you after 7pm today, or I’ll touch base with you in the morning.” I think that’s a good thing, too, is communication, because they know that you’re aware, but you’re also busy. And it’s a good thing being busy and not being able to get to something like instant, instant, instant. And then I’m not going to stress myself out and be freaked out that, oh my gosh, I’ve got to get them this quote in two seconds, but yet I’m jumping on with you in five minutes. So that’s why I always say, “I don’t know where you’re at.”

And I’m a people pleaser. So when someone needs something, I’m like, “Okay, hang on a second. Let me get it.” But with the pandemic, everything moved a little slower. And I’m finding we’re still getting the same results moving just a little calmer. I wouldn’t say slower, but maybe calmer. Not stressing myself out. It’s not a stress, but not thinking that if I don’t get this to the client in five minutes, they’re going to be upset. If I let them know that they can have it within an hour, then they’re happy and ready to go with that. Like you said, it’s that communication and setting expectation.

You know, unfortunately with me, I get so many new clients that they want everything yesterday. That’s also why I tried to take the time, like you were saying, like the weekend time. And again, in production, that’s not always a feasible thing. But I’ve also noticed that now I’m trying to do on my lunch, like I take from 12:30 to maybe 1:30, and that’s my workout time. So that’s a blessing from the pandemic. I can actually work out at home now because I have a full gym here, because we couldn’t work out before. And that’s a great stress relief in the middle of all of it that I would have never ever had if we didn’t have a shutdown, because I would have still been going to classes and all that kind of stuff. So I know I keep on coming back to the positives of it. It gave everyone a lot of time to kind of really reevaluate their world and where they truly want to be and what’s really important, like what really is important.

Amanda: You’re able to do castings and things remotely because the lovely use of things like Zoom and other online platforms like Riverside, which we are recording on right now and I love. But you’re able to do some of these things, which frees up a lot of time. Because when you take into consideration the amount of time you spend getting ready, driving to a place, getting there, having all the small talk that inevitably happens before the work actually begins, and then at the end of the day, driving back home, doing all of that stuff. That adds a lot of time to your day that you can now use in more efficient ways. But I’m wondering how much of that… will you continue to do some of these things from home and do them remotely? Or are you just so excited to get back amongst the people, you’d rather go back to doing things in person?

I seriously love my company so much.

Crystal: I realized, during this time, I took to where my true value is in this company. I love talent, I love my friends, like I love my job. I seriously love my company so much. I’m like one of the happiest people in the whole… like, I love my company. Like I love it. I love it. I love it. But I think realizing that we can do things via Zoom, FaceTime, that kind of stuff… Yes, I will continue it that way, and I think it has freed up a lot of my time. I’ve also hired someone on full-time now who now can do the same thing that I was doing, interviewing talent via Zoom, via Skype, via whatever we’re doing. And so it’s made the company actually more efficient, giving me more free time to reach out. I also feel like I can touch more people and reach more people by this way. Like before, it was more in person all the time. And now it’s email and Zoom, and you can drop off a package. Yeah, I’ll implement this in the company, for sure. I think it’s definitely been a positive thing. Well, I mean, I’m taking it as a positive thing. Does that make sense?

Amanda: I’ve said that many times. Everybody knows all the bad stuff. We don’t need to focus on that. Because if you focus on that… in general, not just pandemic… if you focus on negative, that’s what you’re bound to see more of. Or you can turn that around and just focus on the good stuff, because there’s a lot of that too. You just have to be willing and able to find it. If you had one piece of advice for other self-employed creatives out there, what would that be?

There is nothing better than being your own owner and having your company at your heart and doing what you love.

Crystal: Never to look back and say “what if?” That would be my biggest piece of advice. And to always feel uncomfortable in your skin, always feel uncomfortable. And if you have those two things that you can look back and say there’s no what-ifs and you’re uncomfortable and you’re growing, then that’s where your dream and your gift will come in. It is. Because that’s how you know you’re growing. And that’s how you know you’re moving forward. And there is nothing better than being your own owner and having your company at your heart and doing what you love. There’s no greater gift. If the money is a little slow, it will come, and sometimes it’s a balance between the two. Doing what you love. That’s a lot of pieces of advice. I did not do one. Just jump, but jump with a plan. Jump with a plan, and stick to your plan, and know that you may have a few bumps in the beginning but that’s only because it’s growing you to exactly where you need to be. And every bump you hit is because you were supposed to go a little bit left, or you were supposed to go a little bit right, and it’s just getting you to the end result. I mean, I would be so disappointed in myself if I didn’t follow my dream and I’m literally living the best career I could ever ask for. And yes, there are roller coasters. Nothing in life is perfect, but if it was perfect, it would be boring.  And if everything was always on a high, we wouldn’t appreciate… When things hit a low, you don’t appreciate the high, you know? So it’s all a balance, but yeah, no regrets. Just don’t do regrets and jump. Like, literally jump.

Amanda: Where can people find you online and in the social media world?

Crystal: We’re at That’s our website, and then I have a personal Instagram and that kind of stuff @crystal_thurman, @castvegas on Instagram. You can find us there. And I say, too, if anybody ever wants to message me personally and ask questions, or has a vision and I can help in any way, I’d always be glad to. It’s not easy being a female and trying to jump into this world and, in all reality, who knew I was going to be here at this point except for, you know, it was a little girl with a big dream. I mean a very older little girl, but an older girl with a kind of reinventing of myself. And if there’s anything I can do to help anybody in anything, I would I would be more than honored to, and they’re more than welcome to reach out to me and I’d be glad to help.

Amanda: Thank you, Crystal, for your time today. It’s always fun to talk to you.

Crystal: I love spending time with you!

Connect with Crystal @crystal_thurman and @castvegas