“The Entrepreneurial Center had three interns working with about seven small businesses. We built websites, designed business cards, and helped with social media,” says Jade. “After doing that I thought: I could probably do this for myself.”
Her internship experience planted the seed for her to start her own company. With a background in modeling and a longtime interest in taking photographs, photography seemed to be the right fit.
“When I model, I like being in front of the camera—but it can be tedious,” notes Jade. “I decided to do my own photo shoots. I had always been interested in photography, but I had never really taken it seriously. I started taking photos of my modeling friends.”
It was a rocky beginning, but Jade persisted. “My photos weren’t that great at first,” she admits. “But I studied tutorials on YouTube and did a lot of practicing. Also, I was able to ask questions when someone was taking photos of me. So, I learned a lot through observation.”
MAKING CONNECTIONS & LAUNCHING THE STARTUP
Photography was still a hobby for Jade—until her modeling agency agent offered to make some connections. She knew of models who were looking to have their photos taken and offered to post flyers for Jade.
“Up until then, I hadn’t really thought of making a profit from doing photography. If my agent hadn’t given me that opportunity, I don’t think I would’ve gone forward with it. At least not right now,” says Jade. “But I didn’t want to let her down. I thought: Okay, I’m going to get serious about this. I’m going to put it together.”
With regard to creating the startup, Jade plans to continue to engage with the Entrepreneurial Center, noting that, “It’s a great resource and it’s free to very affordable.”
ENTREPRENEUR AT HEART
When asked if she’s always known she wanted to start her own company, Jade says, “Definitely. I like to have independence and be able to follow my own interests. I’ve always thought that whatever I do in the future, I don’t want to be working for someone else. I want to be working for myself. So, I have always wanted to do something like this.”
She adds, “When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re accountable for your future. It’s all on your shoulders. And your savings, your family, and everything are tied into that. Your business becomes your baby—it’s something you really care about and fear you’re doing wrong. So often, insecurities can get in the way and you start thinking: Who would want to pay me for this?”
What motivates Jade to push through that negativity?
“I think about when I don’t want to go to an audition or reach out someone. My gut feeling is: They’re probably going to say no. But then I think: What if they say yes?”
She continues, “Also, I think of what else I could be doing. I could be going to work for someone else. So, if I want to work for myself, I have to push through. I kind of scare myself into it.”
LAUNCHING THE STARTUP
Jade created a website and a social media presence, got business cards, and began to work on getting clients. Her niche is portraiture and fashion photography.
“With portraits, my goal is catch people in their natural state and help them see their own beauty,” she explains.
Jade was fortunate to have tie ins from her acting and modeling experience. She used her personal social media network to direct people to her photography profile.
Currently, most of Jade’s clientele is in the Greater Hartford area. She has worked with some local models who are building their modeling portfolios.
DEFINING SUCCESS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
When it comes to defining success, Jade admits it’s hard to specify.
“On the one hand, you can say it’s being fulfilled and peaceful. On the other hand, you can say it’s about earning a lot of money. I think it’s finding a balance between those two,” she says. “It’s more important to me to enjoy taking the photos than to focus on making a lot of profit becoming a big business. It’s just something that I enjoy doing,” she explains.