Introducing Kayla Grey — A Different Kind of Birth Story
Welcome to what may be my most personal and vulnerable post yet. No, it’s not the birth of someone’s sweet baby, it’s not even the birth of my own baby… this is the story of my own re-birth, as both a woman and as an artist. I’ve eagerly looked forward to this day for many months, but now that it’s here, I’ll be completely honest—it’s fucking scary. I did a big and exciting thing and I thought that I would be ready to share it with the world, but here it is, 6:15pm, and I’ve been talking myself into writing this since the moment I woke up. Time’s up though, I need to rip this metaphorical band-aid off already. I’m here to speak my truth, so let’s get on with it…
“Hi, I’m Kayla Grey.”
No, it's not yet official, but it will be. I'm a mere $298 away from having a new legal identity. This was a very personal rebrand for me. It goes so deep. For a long time, I had no interest in changing my last name after my divorce. It's my kids' name too, after all, and my ex remarried a woman who goes by the name Kayla as well (it is not her given name, but I digress), and that only made it more complicated. The mother of my children is Kayla Gonzales, and so I had a very personal hang-up about changing my name and leaving her with it. An insecurity, to some degree. It wouldn’t be such a big deal perhaps, but my ex-husband and his wife have shown no respect for me as a mother, something I have unquestionably earned, and have absolutely no concept of boundaries. From the day I left, it has been one attempt after another by him to replace me in my children’s eyes with a “new mom.” I have been to hell and back these last four years, but you know what? It takes some serious heat to forge iron into steel. I am strong, I am confident, I am courageous, and I am resilient, and this experience has most certainly contributed to all of those parts of me—I am someone that I’m proud to be. It may have taken me a long time to realize, but there is nothing good except my babies tied to the Gonzales name, and frankly, I don’t want anything to do with it. I am not losing anything. I’m the one that wins.
Dear Mrs. Gonzales: You can have it, it’s my gift to you.
In the beginning, my business started as An Infinite Moment Photography. A bit cliché, I grew out of it rather quickly, and in addition to that, it was directly inspired by a fond memory from the early days of my relationship with my ex-husband. Although I was ready for a change even before then, it was when I left that I finally distanced myself from that name for good. I've wanted to re-brand ever since, and I knew I wanted to use my name, but Kayla Gonzales wasn't really mine and I knew I would not keep it forever. I was stuck in this brandless limbo for such a long time that people even starting calling me Austin Birth Photos, which is not and never was my business name.
As I grew more into my identity as a strong, outspoken, I-do-what-I-want type of woman, the concept of re-marrying into a new name or going back to my maiden name really started to irk me. I don't and never have liked my maiden name (Tucker), and I don't like my partner's name either (Horner), and in addition to that, all of the men who contributed names in both families (my father, my maternal grandfather, my partner’s father) are all stereotypically conservative, white, Christian, and let's just say it—racist—something I wanted to distance myself so, so far away from. I really didn't like the feeling that I didn't have any other choices.
But of course I did. It’s amazing that growing up in a patriarchal society has so many of us believing things that just aren’t based in reality. I can pick my own name, I can be anybody I want to be. For nearly a year I considered all the names I could choose. I thought about it often, pored over lists, I even did genetic ancestry testing to see if that could inspire me into a new name... and still, nothing felt right.
Then one day I was driving around aimlessly with a napping baby. I had just gotten off the phone with Lacey Barratt where I had vented about how frustrating it was to feel held back by something as silly as a name, when it came to me: Grey. It just popped up out of nowhere and settled right in, and it felt so RIGHT. So me. Simple, versatile, minimal, neutral. I wanted a blank slate, and I quite literally chose the color of one. Or maybe, it chose me. What's more, when I told my partner what I was going to do, he said that if we ever did get married, he would take my new name and we could change our kids’ last names as well. Just like that. How’s that for bucking the status quo?! (Since then, I think this has morphed into ‘everyone gets the name regardless’—which I feel good about.)
And so, since I had picked a new name, I was finally ready for a rebrand. I was referred to the most wonderful graphic designer to work with (thanks Dania Lauren!), and now that we’re finished with that process, it feels so personal that I've been afraid to even share it with anyone. What if people think it looks stupid? What if they laugh at the name I chose? What if my ex and his spiteful, vindictive wife feel victorious because I did this? I don't know... I think I'm just now realizing how mentally taxing this process has been for me. I'm really happy to be done with it, but integrating with my new brand and identity suddenly feels scary.
But here’s what I know: there are amazing things waiting on the other side of fear. A new life. A new me. I’m taking my power back as a woman, and I’m refining the face of my business alongside it.
So hi, I'm Kayla Grey, and you're the first to know.