Sarah Caton of Space, Place & Southern Grace has accomplished more as a 24-year-old than some people manage to accomplish during their entire lives. She works as an IT Specialist during the day but outside of her full-time job she manages a blog, runs a photography business, teaches community workshops for Lexington business owners and has already published a book.
Born and bred here in Lexington, Sarah started her blog (Space, Place & Southern Grace) in 2011 for a school project. It was originally written in Spanish but as a college student at The University of Kentucky she renamed and rebranded it. Today, it’s primarily a lifestyle blog where she addresses what’s going on in the world, her life and in the lives of small business owners.
Sarah published her first book, “Lessons We Paid For & Other Stories from a Feminist Undergraduate” shortly after graduating from UK with degrees in Gender & Women’s Studies and Spanish.
” Writing the book felt so necessary at what felt like a turning point in my life,” she explained. The book covers a range of topics related to successful decision-making in college in regards to classes, social experiences and relationships. Although publishing a tangible book was really important to her, she wanted to leverage her internet presence as well so she started treating her blog like a business in 2015. This transition is what led her to start exploring the world of photography.
“Photography was definitely a hobby that I just happened upon,” she said. “I wasn’t thrilled with the cell phone photos I was using to build my brand so I bought a pretty baseline DSLR camera and started practicing.” Today, Sarah offers portrait sessions and branding photography for companies like Lexington Design Co. and Kentucky Darling Meats.
With the exception of a few workshops and online classes, Sarah is mostly self-taught and cites YouTube as an amazing resource since she is the first to admit that she is not a natural-born creative.
“I’m a big researcher,” she explained. “I always do my homework for any project I take on or any goal I want to achieve.” She believes that industry colleagues are one’s biggest asset and encourages people to learn all they can by listening to those around them. Sarah herself has been teaching community classes since the fall of 2017.
“I had been doing one-on-one consulting for a while but I realized there was a strong interest for learning these skills in group settings that served as inexpensive networking events,” she said. “Workshops have been one of the primary ways I connect with new and existing business owners in Lexington and it’s an absolute dream to earn money talking about the things I love most.”
Her workshops typically focusing on branding, blogging, making your way as an entrepreneur, social media and self-care for young adults.
In addition to all of her side gigs, Sarah spends her days as an IT Specialists at the University of Kentucky working on computers and troubleshooting issues. However, she is also able to channel her creative side by she managing a Digital Media Lab and internship program, running social media accounts and developing marketing materials for her units. She truly loves working for UK and appreciates the stability a day job provides. Clearly, though, Sarah Caton has her hands full.
Although all of her jobs align in the sense that she’s always doing something digital or technical, she admits she does get overwhelmed sometimes.
“I had some pretty serious health issues in 2017 and since then my body’s ability to handle stress has been hindered,” she explained. “I’ve struggled with pretty severe panic attacks and some of the things I do regularly now take a lot more effort to work through because my body can’t cope with stress in the ways it used to.”
Her advice? Utilize both your passions and your strengths if you’re pursuing multiple streams of income because the more they can work together, they more useful your overall skill set becomes.
Keep reading for a quick Q&A with Sarah:
Where do you love to eat & shop in Lexington?
Hands down my favorite places to eat in Lexington are part of the Bluegrass Hospitality Group (i.e. Harry’s Malone’s OBC Kitchen and Drake’s). I also thrive because of some of the local Mexican restaurants like Mi Pequeña Hacienda, Farm Market and El Rancho Tapatio. In Winchester, I love Engine House and Thirty Nine Maine. Surprisingly, I’m not a big shopper and I’m pretty frugal. Most of my clothes are purchased from Target or second-hand. I love Clothes Mentor and Sugar Belle’s is one of my favorite affordable boutiques here.
How did you grow your social media following?
My following took a lot of trial and error and patience to grow. It started with my website and grew outward to social media platforms. I engage regularly with Instagram but spend much more of my time on creating content for my website and making it as user-friendly as possible. The more transparent I am online, the more I’ve seen my following change for the better. People who follow me can expect to see the good and the bad so I hope they feel like they’re experiencing life with me as I learn and grow. Social media isn’t the complete picture so it’s been valuable and humbling to engage with people in these digital spaces.
How do you remain so positive & motivated?
People tell me all the time they see me as positive and motivational but most days I feel like a pessimist. I’m a little too hard on myself at times but I do think my drive has helped me reach my goals. Online and in real life I try to be as inclusive as possible and create content that can speak to all people. I don’t want anyone to feel as though they aren’t represented or welcome on my platforms. I wrote a whole post on maintaining motivation earlier this year. You can read it here.
To stay up-to-date on all things Sarah, check out her blog & follow her on social media!