Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
I formed a photography business called ‘Abitoffthemapp Photography’ and set out to sell my images at fairs and markets – it was a way to test public opinion about my work. It went very well and I soon realized that I wanted to formally exhibit my work. After doing some research, it became apparent that this was difficult unless you knew someone who owned a gallery or had connections in the industry. On the back of this, I decided to set up the London Photo Festival to enable new and emerging photographers to exhibit their work free from evaluation and to bypass the formal Gallery route. In August of this year, we set up a pop-up Gallery in Richmond called the ‘London Photo Gallery’ and we are in the process of securing new pop-up sites for 2014 and to have a presence at international art fairs.
What inspired you to launch your business idea?
The decision was made for me, but I had been thinking about doing something else in the run up to the redundancy. I did see a life coach and I found this an invaluable experience and it enabled me to have the courage to set up my business ventures.
My job was made redundant in May 2009 and I decided to have a career break and went travelling on and off for a year. Upon my return and hundreds of rejected job applications later, I became very despondent and a friend suggested I see a career’s coach to help me find my direction and purpose. This was the best thing I could have done, because it helped me reignite my dormant passion for photography and I ended up meeting my now business partner on a photography course.
With the aid of the career’s coaching, I was taught patience and how to use my time wisely! I was lucky in that I received a good redundancy payout and I also managed to get a temporary assignment which enabled me to simultaneously earn some money but progress with my business.
What problem does your business or organization solve?
We enable photographers to exhibit in a relaxed, gallery environment in which to showcase and sell their images as well as access to our thriving network of photographers. This exhibition/gallery model is not used anywhere else in the world and we have been instrumental in encouraging people to become successful, professional photographers.
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
It can be lonely and because you are transitioning, a lot people do not know how to ‘categorize’ you (it took me a while to be able to answer the question: ‘what do you do?’) And you can fall off the radar because you are working from home or researching things in non-conventional hours and thus, it is easy to diminish your support network. But don’t give up, all your hard work will pay off and your confidence will return to you.
Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I love the invaluable pieces of information and advice it provides for women in my situation – if you are having a ‘moment, it can be really uplifting to read a tweet/blog post which really resonates with you and inspires you to keep moving forward.
Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
You are never too late to start-up: there’s room in the industry for everyone (when I first started out someone told me I was ’20 years too late’)
Company: London Photo Festival
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London Photo Festival
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