Marji Guyler-Alaniz, an Urbandale woman who was neither raised on a farm nor a farmer herself, found her passion in photographing women in agriculture. Now, she's turning it into a profitable business.
Guyler-Alaniz, 34, is the founder and sole proprietor ofFarmHer, a website dedicated to showing images of female farmers at work.
After quitting a job she'd had with a crop insurance company for 11 years, Guyler-Alaniz had a middle-of-the-night epiphany about what she should do next.
"I woke up my husband and said, 'I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to update the image of women in agriculture. I'm going to take pictures and put them on a website,' " she recalled. She was motivated by the popular Super Bowl 2013 commercial "God Made a Farmer" and the subsequent reaction about the lack of women in that commercial.
So, she created the FarmHer website. "My belief is that a picture becomes reality the more you see it," she said. "Your brain starts to accept the fact that there are women out there doing this."
She spent the better part of a year photographing and writing about Midwest women who farm and ranch. It was only later that she thought about making money. Initially, she had some T-shirts made with the FarmHer logo and women began asking if they could buy them, so she began selling them on the site.
Now she is revamping the website so female farmers can exchange ideas and get more information. The new site will create opportunities for paid sponsorship and advertising, as well as selling FarmHer merchandise. She's also signed a contract to sell some of her images to a stock photo house, which will increase the distribution of images of women in farming, she said.
"I really totally backed into the whole thing as a business, but it is getting there," she said.
Check out her website at www.FarmHer.com, or email her at Marji@FarmHer.com.