Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Natalie Van Schaik, Owner of Studio Nagita Photography, located in Beaverton, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am Natalie, a portrait & lifestyle photographer at Studio Nagita Photography, which offers a range of photography sessions for families, newborns, couples, seniors, maternity, and headshots.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and raised in South Africa and lived in the Netherlands, and been living in the U.S. in Oregon since 2014. I studied Fashion Design in South Africa and freelanced as a bridal and evening wear designer and custom-made dresses/garments for clients. While living in the Netherlands, there wasn't much of a market for that industry which led me to where I am today. I have always had a passion for photography; I used to take landscape photos, especially while going away on vacations and while living in Europe. I was asked by friends within the ex-pat community to take photos of their families and their children, and that's where portrait photography began to blossom. I began to fall more and more in love with the art of photography and bringing images to life through my lens. I moved to the U.S., and after the birth of my second child, I realized I wanted to pursue a career in photography. I exhibited nature and landscape photography at my local coffee shop with photos from a trip to South Africa, and with that, I registered my business name end of 2019, and it all grew from there. "Studio Nagita" Nagita is a combination of my name, Natalie Gita. I love a creative challenge, and when I get a client who is looking for something different, that motivates me even more. It brings out more of my style, the born creative inside of me, I am a very creative person, and I love details, especially in portraits. I love bringing life into my portraits, and my clients motivate me; I enjoy working with them, and every client is different and unique. Some clients may feel they aren't photogenic or don't feel comfortable taking a photo, and I help guide them, and they are always amazed at the final edits, but most of all, they all love the experience, and that is what it is about.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is that I started a business with minimal, never gave up, and I am still evolving as a photographer; we never stop learning anything we set our minds to. I just went for it, and if you never try, you'll never know. I am a born entrepreneur and love being self-employed; you are your own boss; it's your own schedule. Every business, you will have your "hi and you lows"; these challenges help you to learn and grow in your business. My number one is always to treat my clients the way I would like to be treated, be relatable and warm, listen to them, and guide them through the process. During the early days of COVID and shutdowns, I participated in the "Front Step Project" and created a go-fund-me for donations to help small business owners. I got a few donations, I was still new as a business owner, but I managed to support a few small businesses with donations. I was featured in a blog and on social media as part of the "Front Step Project movement." Many photographers were part of this throughout the U.S. capturing families at a "social distance" in one of the most historic times in our life. Families keep it real outside their homes, outside the front door/front porch, and creating a memorable moment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Never give up when going through a challenge, whichever challenge it may be, and learn from it. Being self-disciplined because you are the boss, the employee, and the business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Depending on the business you want to start, you can start with the following:
- Low start-up costs and patience is key, and business takes time to grow.
- Ask for guidance, help, or support from someone you know in the industry, and ask questions. Ask how they started, what they found worked, and what they would do differently if they could, spend a day with them to see if it's the right fit. Connecting, networking, and collaborating will help grow your business.
- Finding tools/resources to help you grow your skills, there are many out there that don't cost much or are free, especially the social network. The majority of creative business owners have their own style; we are all artists and have a vision; finding your style is what will stand out, and never give up. Find what you enjoy most in what you do and focus on that; I know for myself, portraits and creative outdoor settings.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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