Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristina Kasparian, Owner of Veni Etiam Photography, located in Montreal, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Veni Etiam Photography is a home decor shop for dreamers and color lovers. I create wall art and home decor accessories out of my travel photography. My style is something I like to call "picture poetry." My photography is an act of mindfulness, a way of celebrating tiny moments and big feelings through observation. The collection is vast and versatile, so there is something for every kind of decor and every kind of dreamer. My customers are located all around the world! When they buy something from my online shop or from Etsy, I print, package and ship my pieces to them with love from Montreal, Canada.
"Veni Etiam" is a Latin phrase that means "come again." I named my shop Veni Etiam because I have always been inspired by places, how they change, and how we do. I love returning to meaningful places and being drawn to the exact same details, yet noticing completely new angles. Places have a funny way of speaking to us and revealing things about ourselves!
Tell us about yourself
My art shop is a reflection of my personality. I love vibrant colors and the way that places can pull on our heartstrings. I started "playing" with photography in my twenties while studying abroad. I am completely self-taught. I learned by practicing and experimenting! I actually started my shop during my Ph.D., quite possibly to distract myself as a survival tactic!
I was motivated by friends who kept complimenting my travel photos and how I had a special way of seeing my surroundings. I didn't initially realize that launching an online shop was "starting a business" or that being an entrepreneur would be such an enthralling experience! I started participating in art fairs and investing more in my brand, watching it grow. It unexpectedly taught me a lot about managing risk, telling stories, saying no, and listening.
Photography also helped me through an extremely difficult part of my life when I was gravely struggling with my health and with loss. Not only did it become a daily exercise of mindfulness and observation for me, but it also helped me physically become more attuned to my posture, breathing, and muscle tension. As time went on, I realized that entrepreneurship was a huge gift for me, and I dove all in full-time!
What motivates me every morning is gratitude. Every day, I am immensely grateful that I had the courage to create this life for myself and that my direction was confirmed with all the big and tiny doors that opened up for me along the way. I feel so grateful to be "allowed" to set my own schedule and to create in a way that feels right for me on so many levels and to feel an authentic connection with the people who find me and choose to shop from me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I actually own two businesses, my shop (Veni Etiam Photography) and a service-based business where I offer consulting, copywriting, and translation services. I am self-employed full-time and also spend a lot of time organizing art fairs in the community, being a health advocate, and being a freelance creative writer.
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner or freelancer, I think, is honoring myself in every facet of my business(es). Sometimes, that means going against the grain, going against the trend. It makes me uneasy about making decisions that may seem untrendy or unpopular, but ultimately I know that trends can flip overnight and that staying true to my instincts is always a winning solution. I am proud to have followed my instincts over the years and to have not lost my joy of creating (because I create in a way that is aligned with myself, first and foremost).
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is the constant decision-making and constant pivoting! By 8 p.m., my brain usually can't make a single decision. Every yes, every no, every "this isn't working for me anymore," every recalibration of my goals...it all can feel quite taxing, and if you're a solopreneur like me, it can feel a little isolating! Being a business owner would be WAY easier if we had our own little crystal ball to help mitigate some of the risks and take away some of the uncertainty.
A lot of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur are the direct flipside of all the best things. For example, your super-flexible schedule can also be a source of anxiety when you aren't sure how your income will fluctuate throughout the year. It's challenging to grow as a business owner while you are also growing as a human and to find a way to navigate the decisions that come with that evolution.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- When you start, but also seasonally, reflect on your ideal lifestyle, your ideal client, and what you equate with "success." It doesn't have to be daunting, like for a whole 5-year period. I usually do this every quarter of the year. Reflecting on your values, goals, and priorities really helps you stay aligned with your "WHY" and ensures you are weeding out the experiences (or people) that are not taking your business (and your life) in the direction you want. Don't be afraid to say no, to stop doing something, and to recalibrate often.
- Invest in your business, even if it's scary. I mean that both in terms of finances and time. Invest in professional development regularly. Carve out time in your schedule once a week or once a month to learn something new, improve a skill, or implement a change in your process. Investing also means not being able to outsource something you HATE to someone who doesn’t hate it! Getting rid of the tasks that bog you down can be so liberating once you get rid of your guilt about being bad at the said task! Investing in yourself and your business can be a huge boost of confidence and progress because you are saying YES to yourself. If you don't say YES to your business, your clients surely won't!
- Rest. Please rest! The hustle is so overrated. Creativity needs to be nourished and replenished. A step back is often the best step forward! These sound like clichés, but I swear they're true. Please don't let trends, urgency, rejection, and the daily grind make you forget about the creativity that lit your flame, to begin with! Burnout is real, and it's bad for business. It's also bad for the body! Rest and cut out the noise (social media, I'm lookin' at you) to reconnect with your essence and your own voice. There's no better way to keep loving what you do and doing what you love!
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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