Angela Popplewell is a founder and the Chief Storyteller for 100cameras, a non-profit organization that teaches students to share their perspectives through photography and then sells their images, empowering them to become change makers by providing educational and medical supplies for their community. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Ty, and their adorable son, Theodore Brooks.
Growing up I really wanted to be
A broadcast journalist.
My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Regular coffee with half & half.
I don’t know how I ever lived without
Google calendar. Seriously, I was so forgetful.
One thing people don’t know about me is
I can twirl multiple fire batons at once.
My real life heroes are
My parents taught us the value of character, determination, and perseverance.
My father was quirkily committed to teaching us the value of a dollar. After a piano recital or sports competition, our parents would ask if we wanted to go to Baskin Robbins. When it was time to pay, my father would bring out his spare change and count out 100 pennies for every dollar owed. My sister and I fell for it every time thinking he wouldn’t possibly count 800 pennies yet again to prove his point. People in line would offer quarters to help, and my father would kindly reply, “No thank you, my girls are just learning that every penny in life counts.”
We would roll our eyes and then relish every bite. But we learned to value our pennies, our minutes, our actions, our thoughts, our failures and accomplishments.
What I love about my work is
Seeing kids’ reactions when they realize that people across the world will see their photographs and hear their stories — and that they can provide the tools needed for change because people will buy their images. There is nothing like that moment; it drives every thing I do.
The hardest thing about my work is
Fundraising. Simply put — I am not great at it. I am learning to boldly invite others to come alongside us and ask for support on behalf of our work.
How I got started with my current career
In my early 20s I did work in Romania and India that forever changed how I saw the world, and how I perceived those living in poverty. I became passionate about helping to create an empowerment model that created an opportunity for kids to fund their own tangible needs for medical or educational supplies. It was also important to me to equip them with the tools to tell their own stories.
The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I thought I had to land my dream job straight out of college. So I turned down an amazing gig at a large non-profit that provided teachable opportunities, a salary I could live on in NYC, and health benefits. They wanted to bring me under their wing and teach me. But I told them I wasn’t “passionate enough” about their cause (who actually says that!). I still learned skill sets similar to that opportunity, but it took multiple other jobs and probably a few years longer to do so.
I used to think success meant
How big something I built could get — publicity, budget, impact, size of team.
My current definition of success is
A mission in life and work that is built on love, grace, dedication, joy, and genuine care and concern for others.
An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
Most recently, motherhood was a fear of mine. I was afraid I would lose myself and my individuality as a wife, daughter, sister, friend, teammate, and community member. But I see now that all those pieces of me are still thriving alongside the new joys given by motherhood.
I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I used to sacrifice my own self-care because I worked 16 hours a day needlessly and still wouldn’t want to miss out on any events. Now I can tell something is out of sync whenever fear of missing out starts running the show — it means something is out of whack in my overall balance. When this happens, I take some time to unplug. I then try to reprioritize, recalibrate, and renew what had become off kilter.
The last time I created something I was proud of was
Growing a baby and the birth of our son, Theodore Brooks.
I wish I could tell my younger self
Remove the toxins. Whether they’re unhealthy relationships, insecurities and lies, disappointments or rejections, focusing on missed opportunities or regrets — all of it! Don’t hesitate to remove anything that generates toxicity within yourself or your company. For years I lived in extreme people-pleasing mode, and would entertain toxic things for way too long. It would eat away at me, removing my ability to make decisions in work, to write freely in my personal time, to live without worrying what people thought. I would go back and tell my younger self to remove it with gracefulness and kindness — but with boldness and swiftness.
The legacy I hope to leave is
I want to be remembered as being kind, graceful, and bold. A helper who lived fully in love. I want to live in rhythm with all of those around me.