Updated: Sep 24, 2020
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: Teesha Hall
Brand Name: Teesha Hall 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.
I started taking photos probably about 10 years ago. I kinda started a business part-time roughly about 6 years ago, but the last 2 years I’ve been kicking it up to more full-time and going forward a lot more seriously as a business. I offer all sorts of services from boudoir to family to weddings, but I would basically say my focus would be family, lifestyle and boudoir. They’re my main passions!
2. How did you come up with the concept?
I’ve always been a creative person and doing photography has been the one steadfast, constant creative outlet that I have just never lost sight of. Every year that I work with more people I learn more, I improve my skills, I hone in on my craft, and I’m just super passionate about it!
3. What was your mission when you started?
My mission when I started…I actually didn’t have one because I started it very lightly several years ago. It was basically just for me to be able to be creative and create and capture memories for people. Where I am now, is definitely more in alignment with creating an experience for people within photography that is different, and fun and kinda takes away the stigma of being uncomfortable and having to sit there awkwardly. I want it to be a comfortable experience. I want to open up people’s eyes to photography, for themselves too, and you know creating an environment that helps boost their confidence, rather than making them uncomfortable. And that applies to both my boudoir photography as well as family. I think that kids should be able to have fun and not feel so pressured to sit and smile. And then boudoir, you should be able to just have fun and feel comfortable and I really try to make people laugh, even if it’s at my own expense! I guess in a really long round about answer, my mission now would be to empower, to have fun and to really just capture people and experiences authentically and beautifully, and be able to give that to them to have for years to come and to look back at and just really feel, feel the feelings that were there at that time too.
4. Do you have a personal brand, a business brand, or both? What are the benefits?
My brand has definitely become a lot more prominent as I’ve been learning more and developing as a business. I would say that my brand has definitely helped me because I’ve created a more consistent editing style, which for photography has been huge and very important because you need to have a consistent “look” for most of your photography in order to be able to show clients what you’re able to provide to them. If your editing style is kind of all over the place, people won’t fully know what they’re getting. So, creating a brand and a look that is reflective of whatever you’re able to provide has actually very much supported my business. Not to say I can’t do different styles, I just, it’s consistency! Consistency is key, especially with branding. I would say my branding style has been warm tones, very natural, wholesome and comforting vibes.
5. An elevator pitch is a very important part of your brand strategy, how would you describe what you do in 30 seconds or less?
I believe that my photography is different in the sense of the experience I provide during the session. I really want people to feel comfortable and be able to be themselves and really have a fun time while they’re doing it, especially with boudoir. Empowering them to see the beauty that I’m seeing behind the camera and allow them to feel, you know, beautiful and sensual. And I think that really makes me different, that people can feel really safe and comfortable around me.
6. What message do you want your brand to convey, how do you want people to feel?
I would like my brand to convey comfort and warmth, earthiness, like I love nature and I feel like that reflects in a lot of my photography. It’s very natural, more homey, more comforting, more earthy. It allows people I work with to feel that sense of comfort and to relax into what feels comfortable to them.
7. What makes your business unique from others in the same industry?
I’ve kind of answered this question in the other ones, I feel like the experience and just who I am as a person makes me different from others in the industry. I like the photos to reflect them as people and their real experiences, especially in family and in lifestyle, I can really get down to who they are as people, capturing their real smiles and joy from behind the camera. And with boudoir, I feel like I am able to provide a lot more encouragement and support to these women to, you know, take something that is uncomfortable for them, and come out of it feeling very empowered and feeling beautiful.
8. When starting your business, who was your target market and has it evolved over the years?
When I first started, I didn’t really have a target market, I just started taking photos and was going to see what was going to happen. As it evolved over the years, I noticed I was working with lots of women, mostly for boudoir, but as well as for family. Being able to empower them and support them, I just truly love my clients and they just loved to have fun and capture something beautiful. A lot of my clients are very creative people too, who just want to have someone to be able to capture what they have in mind and I feel like I’ve been able to deliver that!
9. How do you communicate with your audience and how do you build credibility with them?
I feel like I communicate very openly and very honestly with my audience, through social media and, you know, in person as well. I’m a very open person with my own experiences and what I share about myself, and the things I’m nervous about. I feel like just being a real person speaks volumes when you are wanting to work with clients who are also just, you know, being real, being themselves, and I just think that has reflected hugely over time in just really being raw and true to who I am and my experiences.
10. How do you advertise your business?
I advertise mostly through social media, primarily my Facebook and Instagram. I get lots of word of mouth clients which is fantastic.
11. What would you say is the most important thing you can do to grow your business?
I would say, over time, the most important thing I’ve learned to do to grow your business is to 1. Just be yourself; people just really want to work with real people and 2. Consistency; in posting and in booking clients. As long as you have posts going up and images representing who you are and what you do. Consistency!
12. What are some of the mistakes you wish you could have avoided in the beginning?
Oh, gosh, mistakes…I could have been a lot more organized. With scheduling, with keeping track of payments, just organization as a whole. I’ve always struggled being, very organized when it comes to that stuff, and having my business has definitely taught me a lot more about organization. I’ve really found like a way that works for me now, where I can keep track of sessions, and just make sure I’m a lot more consistent and organized overall. So, yeah that was definitely something I had to learn, and a few mistakes were made along the way, especially with my forgetfulness, but that’s how you learn, and that’s how you grow, and we just got to keep moving forward.
13. Have you ever turned down working with a client or a partner? How did you do it and why?
YES. So, as I have started to grow my business, I have really started to realize the type of clients that work with me, and I that I would work with them. So there has been a few that have come up that, you know, haven’t really been in alignment with me. You can just feel it, there’s this energy there, and I just believe that that’s huge when working with people, not only for my own sake, but for the client’s sake, that they have a photographer that they feel they can be themselves with. So, I do have a discussion with all my clients prior, it’s in my contract as well, that they feel I am in alignment with what they’re looking for, and the style they want, and vice versa. There have been a few things that have been brought up, or asked of me, session-wise that just aren’t really what I do, like certain events and stuff. I’ve politely turned that down. I just really like to focus on my boudoir and my lifestyle and yeah, I mean it’s never anything personal! I believe you should always handle all clients with love, and kindness and respect, even when declining a job offer. And explain to them, that this is what you are doing in your business, and, you know, I have given recommendations for other photographers that might love that position and be well-suited for it, because my ultimate interest for everyone is that they are able to get what they’re looking for. And if I’m not able to provide that, then I would definitely recommend someone that might be able to serve them and help them in a much better way for what they’re looking for. I just think that’s so important.
14. On a more positive note, what has been your favourite client or partnership experience so far?
By far, my most favourite client experience hasn’t just been one, but its been many, in the sense of my boudoir clients. When I am working with women, doing boudoir, it really just hits home, like this is what I’m meant to do because seeing the transition from women who have never done a boudoir session, who are super nervous, you know, are apologizing for this bone, or this butt, or whatever they’re apologizing for. To see them transition through the session to physically see them relax and start smiling more and having more fun, it is just incredible! And before they even see the pictures there is a night and day difference between who they were when they walked in to who they are when they leave. It is just…it gives me chills. It’s just so important to be able to do that for women and by the time they get their photos, their reactions are just incredible!
15. What are some of your goals for the business? Where do you want to see it in 5 years?
So, my goals for my business have been obviously to grow, to get more clients, to have more clients that are in alignment with what I’ve been doing and just keep attracting those types of people. So, my goal actually from last year to this year was to double my income and I’ve succeeded in that for 2020, which has been incredible even despite the pandemic. I’m just so beyond grateful for my clients!
Over the next 5 years, I would love to see that continue to increase. Obviously, as I am able to take on more bookings and everything, in the next couple years my youngest daughters will be going to school, so I’m hoping to be able to fully launch completely full-time at that time and just, see where it goes!
Now, let’s focus on you as an Entrepreneur:
16. Is the business we’ve been talking about your only venture?
Umm, I do photography as one of many things! My photography is definitely my main business, my main priority and focus, but I’m also an artist, I am a yoga teacher, I’m a mom of 3. I love so many different things, I feel like I can’t be defined by just one. Although, photography is definitely my main passion, I’m also very much so a make up enthusiast! I offer hair and make up with many of my sessions myself. I’m not, you know, certified, but I am very passionate and self-taught and all of my clients have been giving me nothing but positive feedback on my styling skills! So, that is definitely a huge asset with my business to be able to combine those. But yeah, I do a lot of things!
17. Do you still hold another job, or do you focus on the business full time?
Like I said, photography is my main focus, but I am home with my 3 daughters. My oldest is just going into grade 1 now, so I am a stay at home mom with them. That takes up a lot of my, you know, energy and focus, and that’s definitely where I want to be. Photography has been something I’ve been able to incorporate on the side while being home with my daughters and as they go to school, I hope to do that full-time, and completely change my business and focus on, you, know, growing it!
18. What made you decide to become an Entrepreneur, or have you always been one?
I don’t think I ever realized it, but I feel like I’ve always been an entrepreneur. Just my creative abilities have always just kinda led me to create things and do things and take on projects independently. I’ve always had bright ideas and loved planning different events and organizations and I’ve brought people together from all sorts of different walks of life to create so many different things in work, and in fun and I just love being creative and I love planning and yeah. This entrepreneurial bone inside me is strong hahaha
19. What do you attribute your success to? What habits make you successful?
I just feel like my honest nature has been really what’s attributed to my success and just my hard work and compassion for people, wanting to really work for them to create something beautiful that they love. As well as just, continually learning has really affected my success. I can see it in my work, it reflects how I’ve improved over the years. I’m continuing to do more research, learn MORE, it’s a never-ending process that I feel like the more I learn, the more I’ll be able to grow my business. So definitely education…and compassion!
20. What would you say your favourite part of Entrepreneurship is?
My favourite part of being an entrepreneur would definitely be being able to make my own schedule. I’m such a creative person, I feel like my life is just lived very abstract to begin with. I’ve never been able to thrive in a 9-5, the same way I am able to working for myself and doing something that I love. The energy and the passion, and, the you know I probably end up working way more than I would, and way harder, because it’s something that I love to do and I can coordinate it when I am able to. So, scheduling for myself is one of my favourite things about working for myself, because then I’m able to do things when I have the mental capacity to, without the pressure of when I’m being forced to…as much!
21. What would you say is the hardest part of Entrepreneurship?
It’s kind of a double standard because my favourite thing about being an entrepreneur, which would be planning my own schedule, is also kind of one of the hardest things as well. It’s discipline and staying consistent, with doing things, also when I’m not always feeling like it, but knowing that that passion is there. I just feel I’m a lot more motivated to get up and go, but you do have to be consistent and disciplined with working if you want the luxury of being able to make your own schedule. So, it’s kind of a give and a take, a like and a hate, all in the same sense.
22. What is the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome as an Entrepreneur? How did you get through it?
I would say that my biggest struggle with being an entrepreneur would be probably my own self-doubt and criticism for my own work. I feel like it’s really easy to look at your own products and always want to provide better. So, that’s been something that I’ve been fighting with, is you know, allowing myself to be where I am, and continuing to learn and just loving what I’m doing along the way, without being so hard on myself. I feel like it’s just really easy to be like, “Oh, my next one will be even better,” and the pressure I put, it’s like an internal self-pressure, so that would probably be my biggest struggle with doing what I do, is just I’m a little hard on myself. And so, learning how to be nicer, and just yeah, learn to love where I’m at when I’m there and to not compare myself to other photographers and where they are in their business.
It’s obviously something that is a continual work in progress because I always want to create and do better and it’s always this internal, like, thing, so I don’t know if it will ever stop, but I’ve been learning a lot more about it, accepting where I am!
23. What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone wanting to start a business?
First and foremost, figure out what you want, and be yourself! The only way to really, truly get the clients that you want to work with are to reflect that outward. So, post the things that YOU love and let it reflect who you are as a person, because that is just going to boomerang right back and you’re going to get those types of people coming to you and into your life and into your business.
Second thing, would be consistency! Be consistent with the type of work you’re creating and your posting and really, just everything you do. Consistency is just key; they say that over and over again!
Lastly, I would say to celebrate and love where you are in your business while you’re there, without being as hard on yourself and putting as much pressure about being further. Goals are important, but not if it’s at the point where it’s causing you stress. So, celebrate the small victories, enjoy the process, and watch your business grow as it’s growing. The less weight you take off your shoulders, the more that’s just going to come back to you. I hope that makes sense!
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?