Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Brittany Overton of Positive Emissions

Sharing is caring!

Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Brittany Overton of Positive Emissions

Brittany Overton has built a successful business creating documentaries focused on parents’ and grandparents’ life stories. One of her biggest takeaways from doing so is that “community is so dang important.” 

“Even with the technology we have today, it will never replace the face-to-face interactions and conversations we have with friends, family, and community members,” she said. “Who we surround ourselves with is so beneficial for not only ourselves but our kiddos as well.”

Des Moines Parent connected with Brittany to learn more about her and her journey.  

Give us a little background on yourself. 

Until I was close to 12 years old, I lived in a suburb of San Diego, California, with my parents and two younger sisters. Most of my extended family lives in Iowa, so at the end of sixth grade, we moved from San Diego to Traer, Iowa, (in the middle of winter!) to be close to family. It was quite a culture shock, but it was a welcoming community.  

I graduated high school from North Tama in Traer and went on to college to become a radiation therapist. I discovered this field through my course of radiation treatments to treat a tumor on the optic nerve of my left eye. I was allowed to learn/train under the therapists and doctors who treated me when I was younger at the University of Iowa. So, it came full circle! My parents still live in Traer. One of my sisters lives in North Liberty while the other one lives in Montezuma. I would say we’re a very close family and still love to get together as much as we can. 

My husband, Blake, and I have been married for a little over 15 years. We lived in Cedar Rapids before moving to the Clive/Waukee community about 8 years ago. Blake works as a mortgage lender at Gershman Mortgage. We have loved living in the metro and have met so many amazing people here. We have two daughters, one son, and two dogs. Our house can get a little chaotic at times, but we wouldn’t change it for the world. Paisley is in middle school (which makes me feel old!), Maddyn is in first grade, and Maxwell is four years old. We have loved being parents and are so proud of our kiddos! They teach us new things each day and also help us “build our character.” Our nights typically consist of either sports or church activities. We belong to Valley Church in West Des Moines and have met some incredible people there.

Could you give us an overview of your business and what inspired it?

I own a business called Positive Emissions where I specialize in filmed life documentaries focusing on capturing parent/grandparent’s life stories, experiences, and adventures. So instead of having loved ones write their stories in a journal, they can tell them firsthand and turn them into a real documentary! My path to owning my business and what I currently do has been a journey with each experience creating a steppingstone to the next. 

Before filming life documentaries, I spent over 15 years treating cancer as a radiation therapist.  During my time serving patients and their families, I saw how life can change so quickly and when we least expect it to. I have treated patients of all ages, ranging from infancy to patients in their 90s. During my time working as a radiation therapist, I also started a photography business where I shot weddings, family sessions, newborn sessions, etc.  

It wasn’t until I had two of my own personal “aha” moments that I realized how important and valuable our loved one’s life stories are. My first moment was in 2019 when my husband got seriously ill with a rare blood disorder called HLH and almost passed away (Googling HLH was overwhelming, to say the least). He was in his mid-30s with no history of illness. Once diagnosed (which was a miracle in itself and a pretty amazing story) he promptly started on an eight-week course of chemotherapy to shock his immune system into normalcy. During all of this, our son was just three months old, and I had just gone back to work in the cancer clinic after maternity leave. Our life was turned upside down overnight! 

The second “aha” moment was in 2020 when my grandpa passed away. He had stage IV bladder cancer, and when it got to be toward the end of his life, I asked him a few specific questions to ensure I would always have them in his voice not only for myself to listen to, but to also share with my kids someday when they are older. At the time, all I had was my cell phone, so I only got an audio recording, but today I am so thankful to have that recording. It was at this moment that I realized how powerful our loved one’s life stories are and how much our future generations can learn/benefit from them. At the end of the day, what truly matters are our stories, experiences, and connections. I believe as a culture we can lose sight of this easily by trying to keep up with the latest trends and material goods constantly being advertised to us. Our opportunity to ask, learn, and celebrate our loved ones, no matter their age or health status, is NOW. From life experiences, I know how quickly life can change from one moment to the next!

After years of working in the cancer field and encountering my own experiences, I decided to take a leap of faith and jump completely into my business, Positive Emissions, to capture life documentaries of parents, grandparents, and close loved ones. I have learned EVERYONE has a story to tell, and it’s important to capture them while we still get to it.  It has been an incredible experience, to say the least. I have heard so many amazing life stories and experiences and have enjoyed watching families learn more about each other while creating deeper bonds.  

I film all documentary sessions in my client’s homes to make the process easy and comfortable for them. Once I set up cameras, lighting, and professional audio equipment, I sit down with clients and interview them about their life adventures ranging from childhood, school days, marriage, and raising a family to the wisdom gained over their journey so far. I like to think of the interview as a casual, no-pressure conversation and a fun trip down memory lane. The documentary consists of the interview footage as well as the client’s own vintage personal photos, extra video footage of them, historical footage (if applicable), and cinematic music. I offer two types of documentary sessions — a Love Story Documentary session, which focuses on the story of a couple’s relationship/marriage, and a Life Documentary, which focuses on a single person’s life journey so far. It’s a great experience for not only the person being interviewed, but for the whole family as well.

What are your favorite parts of your business?

Since becoming a small business owner, I have had the privilege of meeting so many kind and talented people in the metro. It has opened my eyes to how truly amazing our community is!

My favorite experiences so far since starting this endeavor have been watching my clients discover their forgotten memories. One important aspect of these documentaries is the inclusion of their photos. When someone looks back through their photos and albums, their facial expressions change, and they get this glimmer of hope and accomplishment in their eyes. It’s honestly some of the most magical experiences I’ve had.

How do you juggle your parenting responsibilities with your business responsibilities? 

The saying “It takes a village to raise children” is cliche but also so true! I would give my husband huge props when it comes to this. We both work together to get the kids where they need to be and work as a team. I am also so lucky to have my in-laws close, and they have helped us out numerous times. I try to get my work done when the kids are either at school or are asleep for the night. I do tend to have mom guilt when taking our four-year-old to daycare during the day, so there are occasional days I keep him home and he has a “work day with mom.” I’ve learned it’s okay to ask for help, although this is something I continue to work on. As a mom and woman, I think many of us tend to pack a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders and think we can do them all on our own.

What are some of your favorite things to do with your family around the metro? 

The Valley Community Center has so many fun family events and activities they offer. We also love the Blank Park Zoo and the d

ifferent parks around the metro. Jester Park is one of our favorite places to spend time outside.

What’s your ideal parent day or night out? 

Oh goodness, we probably don’t get out as a couple as much as we should! Some of my favorite dates are getting coffee and either going for a walk outside or browsing through vintage stores.  The Picker Knows and The Brass Armadillo are our favorites — I could spend hours looking through the old postcards and reading the notes sent to each other. Wow, that makes me sound old — ha! We also enjoy the Waukee Palms Theater, which is pretty convenient to where we live.

What’s your number one parenting tip?

With each stage in life, I think we learn something new. I would say more important than telling our kids to do things or how to behave (which we still have to do at times) is to lead by example. Kids pick up on manners, kindness, skills, etc. from watching us as their parents more than anything. The personality traits we wish to see in our children should be things we work on as well. 

Follow her! 





Lindsey Giardino

Lindsey Giardino

Lindsey Giardino is a freelance writer based in the Des Moines metro. She's also a new mom and learning as she goes. When she's not working on her business or watching her little guy explore this big new world, she loves to cook, read and enjoy the outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *