Melissa Atle | She Ran: Stories From Women Who Found Their Own Way

Welcome to She Ran, a series of short interviews with inspirational business owners and artists. I believe in the power of example. If She can run with her dreams, so can you.

Meet the darling and talented Melissa Atle. Photographer, mama, and multi-business entreprenuer making it work in the Pacific Northwest.


Melissa Atle keeps it real. I've loved watching her journey into motherhood over the past couple of years. She seems to balance work and family with ease, but always lets her followers know when the momming gets tough, which I really appreciate. — Rachel


What do you do and how did you come to do it?
First and foremost, I’m a wedding, elopement, and lifestyle photographer. I began photographing weddings about 4 years ago and fell in love with capturing people’s stories. The big stories, the little stories, the messy, and the untold stories.

In 2014, my very creative husband, brother, and sister-in-law decided to join forces and create a company to ease some of the struggles we saw brides and grooms facing when having to piece together vendors for their big day. Hiring a bunch of people who've never worked together before can lead to a lot of confusion and unnecessary stress.

We founded a wedding collective called Northfern (formerly known as Weddings by Sunnyside) and offer photography, videography, and DJ services all over California and the Pacific Northwest.

What’s your mission?
With Northfern, we aim to lighten the burden that so many couples feel when planning their wedding. It can be such a nightmare to pull together a bunch of different people and personalities to collaborate on your most special day. Our clients enjoy working with a family of vendors that know each other and work together seamlessly.

With my own personal brand, I aim to capture people in their lives RIGHT NOW. Not next year, not 20 lbs from now, but in this moment in their lives. I love to follow families and couples around through their homes or their favorite places to escape to so I can capture their daily activities from my perspective. The moments that are so easily forgotten are now frozen in time for them to enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Who inspires you?
My dad was an entrepreneur who taught me the magic of being your own boss. He was constantly telling me the beauty of life is working for yourself while reminding me that it takes so much work to make that a reality.

My brother is also such an inspiration to me because he dreams BIG. As the oldest sibling, I tend to stick to the path and plan each move carefully, whereas my younger brother has always had big, crazy, grandiose ideas come to him naturally. I’ve always been pretty envious of him in that regard, but together we make up a perfect team and I’m so lucky I get to do this life thing with him as one of my business partners.

What is the greatest part about building your own business that you want other women to know?
After working so many shitty jobs, I can honestly say that being your own boss, as exhausting as it is, is the most incredible and self-satisfying thing I’ve ever experienced. I make my own rules and I get to make my own dreams come true. I’m no longer relying on anyone else except myself to help me do that. Talk about power!

What are some of the hidden challenges of working for yourself that no one talks about?
Time management and staying on task is a real beast, especially because I also have a toddler at home with me most days. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband who knows what I need and when I need it! If that means putting 40+ hours a week in on weddings during the height of wedding season or filling up several Saturdays in a row to shoot or booking myself a workshop for 3 days, he’s right there by my side every step of the way. I couldn't do what I do without him.

It’s also really difficult to remind myself that in the midst of being a mom, a wife, a woman, and an entrepreneur, I need to make time for myself. It’s so easy to fall into a bad pattern and before you know it, you’re losing your mind because you haven’t given yourself any time to do you and the things you love outside of your career and family.

What's your favorite social media platform and why?
I love Instagram! It has really become challenging recently with all the algorithm changes, but you just have to keep on trucking through, finding new ways to grow your audience, and share your voice.

Instagram has allowed me to meet so many people and brands and has really changed my life in so many great ways. I will say, though, I have to push myself to remember that it’s just a social media platform and that it doesn’t need to suck up my life!