I recently had a chat with Julissa Shrewsbury who has been running her own fashion photography business for approximately a year. The great thing about Julissa’s story is that she is a great representation of what passion combine with persistence and hard work can achieve. Her business has only recently started generating a sustainable cash flow and is only the beginning of what she wants to achieve. I think this is a great change of pace to showcase someone that is going through the initial challenges of being an entrepreneur rather than someone who has already “made it”. Hope you enjoy!!
Julissa Shrewsbury is an entrepreneur who is juggling her photography business with her creative writing studies at University and also a part time job to pay the bills. She has recently made the transition from part-time to full-time for her business and it has been approximately 1 year since she started her business.
Before Julissa decided to pursue her passion in photography, she was a primary school teacher teaching children of several different year levels for 7 years. “I loved kids and I loved working with kids, but it got to a point where I needed a career change and I wanted to do something creative and I decided the best way for me to do that was to go back to Uni to do another Bachelor’s degree.”
When asked about when she developed an interest in photography, Julissa replied “when my parents first gave me a film camera when I was 11.” Halfway throughout her studies in photography and creative writing, Julissa decided that she did not want to work for somebody else and wanted to run her own business. From there she started to experiment by doing photography with studio lights on a couple of parties and a few parties with themed nights, Julissa then discovered that this was the path she wanted to take in life and started thinking of ideas on how to integrate it into a business.
|Themed party photos from Julissa’s Facebook Fan page|
“I did a lot of reading, particularly about women who were leaders in business or had started businesses on their own and that inspired me. The book Secrets of Inspiring Women Exposed and the Secrets Exposed series was a great starting point for me because it has a lot of inspiring stories about everyday people and how they changed their lives doing something for themselves.” Julissa also attributed a lot of her motivation and inspiration to the encouragement and advise that she received from her family and friends.
“I got the initial confidence from doing structured units and from there I went off on my own tangent and did a lot of reading about business structures and marketing.” Julissa started off doing a lot of research about the business and industry and mentioned that joining linkedIn was one of the biggest steps for her because it allowed her to get in contact with networks that were relevant and beneficial to her. “I got to a networking almost weekly and find that it is a great way for people to get to know me face to face and I got a lot of business that way.” Julissa advises that entrepreneurs starting up need to find a good balance in being proactive and confident and not becoming annoying or spamming other people.
“I use the blog a lot for describing different kinds of that shoots I do, so that people are informed about the work that I do. Also from a female’s perspective particularly, a lot of women want a personal shoot but a little bit scared and don’t know what to expect so I write stories on there to give them a description of what other people have experienced and I encourage other people to comment on there as well.” This is how Julissa uses social media to interact with her customers to build a relationship and educate her customers outside taking photos. Julissa also warns about offering free service and advises photographers to be very selective when choosing clients to do free shoots to develop a portfolio. She mentions that doing “too many free shoots” can lead to people not valuing your work and be seen as an expectation. “I only do free shoots if I find that doing it will benefit my business or if I find the cause of the business very interesting.” Julissa has provided support to the Global Good Foundation.
Currently Julissa is still working part-time for financial requirements. However, ever since the University semester ended, Julissa has found more time to promote her business and finds that she is receiving more work. “If this continues, I will be able to leave my part-time job and focus fully on my business and studies.” In the coming months she is looking to be able to systemise the tasks that are very time consuming for her business and also getting other photographers on board her business.
Julissa advise for upcoming entrepreneurs (especially those in the arts segment) to really think about whether they want to start their own business when they are still studying or only after they finish, find a good support source (both financially and emotionally) and finding your niche because that is where they will differentiate themselves and doing a lot of research before jumping into it.