We sat down with September’s Business of the Month, Rebecca Scope of Penny Elizabeth Photography to find out a little bit more about the business…
What does your business do / offer?
Penny Elizabeth Photography offers wide range of photography for families across North Tyneside and surrounding areas. However, it mainly specialises in newborn photography. I give parents the opportunity to capture lifelong memories and portraits that have not only sentimental value but freeze a time in their life they can remember forever.
What made you set up on your own?
I have been out of work since my daughter was born 4 years ago. After becoming a lone parent, I decided I needed to figure out how to work around school and nursery hours as well as do something I loved.
The year running up to her starting full time education was my motivation and I decided to try a few different career routes including teaching assistance however when completing my course I decided it just wasn’t for me and my own business in children’s photography was something that kept playing on my mind. I took a huge risk and decided to start planning if it was something that could be achievable.
I looked at all aspects of starting my own business and began doing free photoshoots for friends and family as well as casting calls I made online. Through the power of social media I began to get a really good response from my work and ever so slowly it built up from there. I found somewhere to have a studio and bought little and often over the months. My family and now current partner were a huge support and they helped me every step of the way, whether it was painting and decorating or buying small props to help get started. Working my own hours has made child care so much easier and spending time with my family as well as earning money.
What have you found the biggest challenge to date?
The biggest challenge to date is the financial part of running your own business. I was working with the Business Factory which put me on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme, this helped so much and I had the most amazing business advisor, Nicky Burke. She helped push and guide me through any downfalls and gave advice when I really needed it.
I have always been that person where I wanted everything to happen tomorrow, so watching my business build very slowly was hard. I remember making my website and not getting a single booking for about two months. It is a slow process and I think it is hard to push yourself through the beginning periods of getting your name out and showing people the service, you can provide. I couldn’t show off my photographs without paying customers, yet I couldn’t give too much away for free, so getting that balance right was essential. I had to plan and think about the work I was doing and what I would be getting in return, maybe not payment or profit but advertising, a customer base and contacts.
What do you find most rewarding about running your business?
Running a business yourself is very stressful, therefore I think it is really important you have rewarding aspects to the business that make you feel like it’s all worth it and your hard work is paying off. For me, there are a few aspects I find really rewarding about my job.
The first part of my business I find really rewarding is the client feedback. When I have mums that come into the studio and compliment their session. They comment how I handle and take of their baby. I sometimes get comments such as “Do you offer baby sitting services too?” as well as “Wow, Rebecca you are the baby whisperer” which has happened twice now! For me that is big signs I am doing my job correctly and new mums feel relaxed and at ease when I am handling and positioning their newborn baby. Parents often fall asleep during the session as they are so relaxed, which I do not mind at all. I always leave them for abit to let them have even just 5 minutes nap.
Secondly, I find my job really rewarding just by doing my job. Little things like doing a newborn twin photoshoot and both twins are sleepy and relaxed all the way through, they barely stir and take amazing photos. I feel confidence in that I am documenting the moment and the memories whilst they are babies and mum will only have them at this age once. I really put myself into the session, my full concentration and full attention. I am caring and gentle as well as maternal and understanding. You have to be, as babies don’t really care when they need to go, they gotta go! And it’s always either on me or the blankets! Haha. But yes, walking away from a session that went well and reading the parents reactions to their galleries, sometimes in tears with pride and joy just makes it all worth it.
What makes North Tyneside a good place to run a business?
Being a mum in North Tyneside myself has made me aware of how big the parent and baby community is. When my daughter was little I ventured out all the time to playgroups across Whitley bay and North shields. The coast has so much to offer to new parents with cafes, baby groups, role play centres and birthing classes etc. popping up all the time! The newest of businesses are doing well when aiming at parents, babies and children.
As well as a great community for my market, the resources available to someone who would like to start up their own business in North Tyneside is amazing. As soon as I had an idea of what I wanted to do, the Job Centre were extremely helpful pointing me in the direction of the Business Factory, North shields. I had got put on the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) scheme which gave me a one to one business advisor to meet regularly and fill out a business plan to submit to Gateshead Council. After passing this I was given weekly payments to help with the start up costs of my business.
This has been essential in the making of Penny Elizabeth Photography as I had never had my own business before and had no idea where to start.
What one piece of advice would you offer to somebody looking to set out in business?
If I could offer you any advice, it is pick wisely. Pick something you love doing and see how you can turn it into a business. There is nothing better waking up in the morning and being excited to go to work or doing that little happy dance when things work out. Turn a hobby or a passion into making yourself money. Work your own hours and decide when you want a day off or when you want to wake up! It can be very satisfying and very rewarding being your own boss. You just need the work ethic to make it happen, it won’t come to you on a plate. Work hard and play hard!
You can find out more about Penny Elizabeth Photography at Rebecca’s website.
Want to nominate yourself or others for North Tyneside Business of the Month? Here’s how…
In no more than 280 characters, let us know about the North Tyneside business you would like to nominate as North Tyneside Business of the Month using the hashtag #NTCBiz. Examples of great reasons a business could win are increased turnover, new employee/s, winning a new contract, taking on new premises, community support, running a successful event or delivering excellent customer service.
The winner will receive a 3 hour Marketing Strategy session, their story added to the Business Factory website to raise their profile and encourage others, a pinned Facebook post on Business Factory Facebook page, tweets about the business by Business Factory Twitter account as well as our other social media platforms.
Nominations can be tweeted to The Business Factory using the #NTCBiz, posted on its Facebook page or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org