Jennifer and I have been crossing paths for a while. She's gone through almost as many transitions in life as I have, and is currently going through a major rebranding and exploring things like having an associate brand. This is big stuff and the best time to talk about what you're learning, is when the experience is fresh. She comes from a background in the business world, but at heart, is an artist. When she submitted a guest post to Photo Lovecat... we put her through the WRINGER! We roughed her up a lot and yet she still remained zen about it all - now THAT is the sign of a true warrior- which also let me know that she'd be a great fit for our feisty Photo Lovecat group. She has been through a lot and she is at a point of unlimited potential. I can't wait for her to share her expertise and a bit of her journey here on Photo Lovecat. Enough from me - let's hear from Jennifer!
Name: Jennifer Grant
Business Name: Jennifer Grant Photo, The Virtue Sessions (boudoir) and VividSpark (for emerging photographers) [.... formerly Kate Linden Studios]
old photography site: http://www.katelindenstudios.com
Location: Almont, MI (aka Northern Metro Detroit)
When did you start your business? Summer 2001
What services do you offer? Wedding, Lifestyle Portrait and Boudoir Photography
What products do you offer? WHCC prints + Canvases, Finao Albums, and soon Wild Magnolia Albums (eco friendly!)
Are you home or studio based? I do my editing work from home, and I hope to soon have a office/studio space where I can meet with clients and photograph Boudoir sessions. For now, I meet with clients via skype for long distance conversations and in their neighborhood coffeehouse when they are close.
What do you enjoy about working from home? I love working from home because it means I can get more done! No drive time means no wasted time in traffic. Plus I can squeeze in household things when my computer is busy processing. Not to mention I always have a very sweet lap buddy-my fuzzy cat Sir Isaac Newton. :)
What have been the challenges of working from home? My single biggest challenge working from home is that I often forget to quit working! Besides that, it's often isolating so I have to work hard at reaching out and maintaining relationships. I often rely on social media to make sure I don't become a hermit!
Do you have any employees? I don't have any employees currently but I do take on interns every season and I expect to start growing a permanent staff very soon!
What do you outsource and to who? I tried outsourcing last year but wasn't thrilled with the results-I ended up paying $600+ to do what I could have done in a day so it wasn't worth it at all. I look forward to training someone to do all our processing and being in house-I really love the idea of having a job for someone local and supporting the local economy through my hiring.
How did you acquire your photo skills? I got started by second shooting for a local photographer (at her request) and eventually, she told me that I would "go farther and do more" so I need to open my own studio. Since then, I've been dedicated to shooting shooting shooting and always improving. I've only taken 2 workshops so I'd say my skills are from continually pursuing excellence, really dissecting my own work and applying what I learn from my mistakes (big and small). I'm continually learning every day!
How did you acquire your business skills? I actually have a bachelors of business administration with an emphasis in marketing so much of what I know comes from what I studied in college. I also read a ton and like to study big businesses for things they're doing that can be applied to small business.
What do you wish you would have known starting out? I wish I would have known that it was important to network. I always believed that I would simply be 'discovered' by the quality of my work but there is definitely an element of who you know. I know that if I'd been building relationships with people in the wedding industry, my business would have grown much faster.
What has made the biggest difference in your business? Relationships. Actually building relationships with other photographers and other industry professionals has really helped me grow my business and helped save me from pitfalls that I might not have seen fast enough. Having support as well as people who will be honest is so critical.
What do you want for the future of your business? I want to grow and support the local economy through hiring all while giving my clients an amazing experience. I also am excited to help other photographers bring their dreams into reality and I can't wait until I can do that more. Eventually, I hope to have a gorgeous studio where clients can feel special and indulged.
What do you want for your personal future? To travel more, to love more, to grow more. I need to continually work at balancing life and work.
What are you passionate about other than photography? Small business! I can't get enough of helping other entrepreneurs succeed. Oftentimes we get stuck in a place and we can't fully see the picture. I love coming in and opening their eyes to where improvements can be made and watching growth happen.
Share a little about your home life: I am married to my best friend and soul mate Dan. Highschool sweethearts, he proposed to me in front of the football team after school one day with all my friends surrounding us. We've been together forever it seems (in a wonderful way). We live in a tiny town (2,500 residents) on the edge of the Metro Detroit area (literally 42 miles directly north of Detroit) with our 2 cats; Sir Isaac Newton and Chewbecca (she's a girl). Our families live just miles away but we are ready to adventure on so I sense a move is in our future!
My favorite quote is:
Just one?! It's not really a quote but a phrase: "Scientia potentia est" (Latin for "Knowledge is Power") because I believe it's true. But beyond that, I live by "you are beloved" and the idea that my existence is about being love, personified.
Tell us a funny story about one of your experiences:
A funny story...I truly have the best clients and they are all a ton of fun so recalling a single funny event is actually kind of hard. I'm sure this isn't the funniest story I have but this summer, while we were doing portraits of the bridal party, one of the groomsmen who is a rock climber, decided to try and scale the side of the stone church! It was kinda crazy seeing him just cling to the wall and make it up 8 feet or so before it was time to leave. I'm sure he would have gone farther if given the time!