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Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Every month, we are showing our support to an Entrepreneur that inspires us by spotlighting them and their brands. We want to know their successes, their struggles, how they got started and how they tackle it all.

Entrepreneur: Chelsea Francisco

Brand Name: Chunky Photography

First, let’s talk about your business:

1. Tell us about your business, how long you’ve been building it and what you offer.

My business is lifestyle photography. I made my Instagram account when I was in my second year of nursing school to finally have a separate way to showcase my work. I believe this was in 2016 or so. I offer different kinds of photography such as family photos, boudoir shoots, wedding photography, and etc.

2. How did you get started?

I have always loved taking photos and it was a hobby for me since I was a kid. I worked at Walmart Portrait Studios after I graduated from high school and really enjoyed doing photos portraits there. After this I got hired at Future Shop and sold cameras. I eventually got my hands on one of the demo camera’s and it was my first official SLR. I would take photos of family and friends for fun and really got into it. Then I took an intro class one time a week for few weeks to better understand the basics of my camera as prior to this I was really just guessing. The more I did it the more people started to ask me to take photos. Eventually people asked me how much for certain shoots and the rest is history!

3. What is your mission, and how has it evolved over time?

I actually do not know my mission and should have thought about this more. I’d say that my mission is to make my clients feel comfortable and to allow them to have fun while capturing certain milestones in their lives. This can be an actual milestone like a wedding or even just updating family photos. I think I mainly aim to make sure that each client feels at ease while I do my best to capture the moment in time for them to reflect back on for the rest of their lives. I hope that makes sense, haha!

4. What are some goals for the business? Where do you want to see it in 5 years?

Goals for my business are to grow as I am aiming to move to another province. I’d like to have the freedom to be successful not only in Manitoba and where I am planning to move, but to be able to travel for photography. I’d eventually like to mentor or teach other people. I would like to own my own space one day as well that would be used as a studio for my own use and for others, that would be a great goal in 5 years.

5. There are so many types of photography, do you focus on a few or do you shoot anything?

There are sooooo many. Time and time again, people have told me to choose ONE thing and be the best at it. Honestly that’s not for me. Although I do more family shoots, I enjoy doing all kinds of photography. I think it keeps it exciting and allows me to grow my photography skills by doing different things.

6. When you began, what was your target market? Has it changed over the years?

My initial target market was friends and family because of course that is more comfortable. Now, I meet new people often and love this. I have people who refer me or end up finding out about me through social media. Of course, I still have friends and family that I work with and would be no where without!

7. As a photographer, what do you find is the best way to communicate with your audience and build credibility with them?

I think that the best way to communicate with my audience to build credibility with them is by being myself. Many people do not feel comfortable in front of a camera and I think it is so important for the client to be able to let loose and make sure they are able to connect with their photography. I guess another way I do this is by being flexible and laid back. Life happens and sometimes people need to switch things around or need more times because of their kiddos and I am totally okay with that. I think this reduces stress for my clients and helps build rapport.

8. As a service provider, it can be hard to price your services, and some will complain no matter what price you set it as. Have you dealt with people questioning your prices and if so, how do you deal with that pushback?

When I first started, I hated dealing with pricing and talking money. As time has gone on, I have realized my worth and my price is my price. It’s important to know your worth and how much work you put into what you offer. If people do not like my price, I politely thank them and wish them well in finding someone within their budget.

9. When starting out, what would you say was the most important thing you did to grow your business?

The most important thing would probably be to post often and take photos often. Doing free shoots for those around me to showcase my work really helped as well.

10. What are some of the mistakes you wish you could have avoided in the beginning?

Being afraid of everything and taking things personally. I also asked a lot people for advice and at the beginning could have been more selective on who I asked for guidance or with which advice to actually take.

11. Have you ever turned down working with a client or partner? How did you do it and why?

Yes, I have had people I had to turn down if I was already booked or if they did not like the price I offered. Best thing to do is be polite and straight to the point.

12. On a more positive note, what has been your favourite client or partnership experience so far?

Honestly too many to choose from. I am really grateful for my clients. I have many that have captured so many special moments within their families with me and they all have a place in my heart.

13. Do you have a personal brand, as well as a business brand? What influenced your decision?

I don't know if I have either one. hahahah.. again something I should work on. I guess my personal Instagram is @chunkychelsita and that’s how I got the name for Chunky Photography. I just wanted to be myself and carry it over into doing photography.

14. How do you want your brand to make people feel? What's your message?

I want them to feel comfortable, and excited. I want the photos I create to allow my clients to look back and remember a certain time in their life. As cheesy as it sounds each moment will never happen again and it’s kind of cool to capture a moment with photography. My message is that I’d love to do my best at creating memories for you.

15. Lastly, an elevator pitch is a very important part of your brand strategy, how would you describe your brand in 30 seconds or less?

Ahhhhhh…. I would describe Chunky Photography as a photography service that allows you to capture genuine feelings and memories all while making sure you feel comfortable.

Man in his 20's on a park bench lacing up black hockey skates wearing a Team Issued outfit including a blue hoody, black sweatpants, and a grey toque

Now, let’s focus on you as an Entrepreneur:

16. Is the business we’ve been talking about your only venture?

I am also a nurse and am having fun on the side with a personal podcast.

17. Do you still hold another job, or do you focus on the business full time?

I also am also a nurse. I have dropped down to a casual position just over a month ago to shift my focus to photography.

18. What made you decide to become an Entrepreneur, or have you always had that passion?

I didn’t know it was going to happen, it sort of just happened from doing a hobby that I love to do.

19. What would you say your favourite part of Entrepreneurship is?

Being my own boss and controlling when I do things.

20. What do you attribute your success to and how do you tackle adversity?

By doing something I actually love to do.

21. What would a "day-in-the-life" be life for you? What habits help you succeed daily?

Every day for me is totally different. I don’t know if that’s good thing. It will all depend on when shoots are for that day, which deadlines I need to meet in terms of editing. Or how I feel. I also like to get in a work out a few times a week and love to eat and cook. So my days are sort of scattered all over. I need to work on this, hahah!

22. What is the biggest struggle you've had to overcome as an Entrepreneur? How do you get through it?

Comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate. I got through this by using it as fuel to make me work harder and to not be so hard on myself. There are always going to be many photographers out there. I learned to realize that I am still talented regardless if there are other people who are too. There’s an abundance of talent and clients to go around so there’s no point to have a pity party and it’s better to work at being better instead.

And lastly:

23. What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone wanting to start a business?

  1. Stop waiting and just do it already!!

  2. It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it.

  3. If it is something that you are super passionate about, keep reminding yourself of why you’re doing it when you’re feeling low and it can help motivate you.

Entrepreneurs are hard working, multi-talented individuals, pouring their heart and souls into their businesses. So, who better to support as a customer and learn from as you start your own entrepreneurial journey?

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