Firstly thank you for all your amazing comments on the new collection, truly flattered so thank you so much. Also a big thank you to Elle Decoration magazine for picking us as one of the highlights of Maison Objet and everyone else on social who has written such lovely things about our stand and our collection. To think a year ago none of this had happened and was just a seed of an idea goes to show I think one thing that I am living 2015 by…
Do. Don’t Think!
Perfect sentence for our business day of posts don’t you think? What stops us so many times in business and life is procrastinating but when you get off that fence and actually start making stuff happen rather than thinking about it, it lights this fire that you just can’t put out!
So lets get down to it. The thing I love about our Biz Story feature is that we cover all businesses, from start up’s to ones that have been in existence for a while, from interior designers, retailers to photographers. I am delighted to introduce you this morning to Petra Reger a German native and photographer living close to the German alps.
Petra’s stoy is an interesting when. When she turned eighteen she got married and started her young adult life learning the occupation of a dental assistant.“ I had little knowledge where my gifts were and my parents didn’t give any input to what I should study. So after working a couple of years in that profession I was becoming a young mother at 22 and moved with my husband and baby to Canada. Soon our family grew to five members and I dedicated many years in raising my children and supporting my husband while trying to manage living in a foreign country”
Fast forward 8 years and Petra moved to France due to her husband’s work and in 2006 back to Germany. The kids entered school and she started a little store called Wertvoll (transl. precious). I’ll let Petra tell you the rest: “Finally I was doing something for me. After weeks of renovations I opened my tiny store where I poured all my creativity in it. A year later my husband’s business travel and work load was so much, that we considered either moving to the US or having him go back and forth a lot. We stayed in Germany but decided to close the store again. It was not possible for me to do it all by myself (in Germany school ends at noon) and the constant feeling of not giving enough to my business or the family was draining. After closing I felt sad and discouraged, you see, you just don’t start and stop a business in our city without facing some scrutiny. I tried to ignore what people were saying behind my back. After searching for a new job, I started as a secretary in a marketing company. My jobs were plenty, making coffee for customers and taking care of accounting and my boss. I was grateful for my job, but being surrounded by creative people and being the only one not doing anything creative it didn’t feel like I arrived. So I saved money and bought a camera. In my store I often decorated the window with picture of my children, so people were starting to ask if I could take their picture as well. I never ever imagined being a photographer, but feeling so unfulfilled I started to take pictures and posted them on a blog. Little by little people were starting to hire me and even my boss at the agency gave me jobs. I had a harsh sett back a few month later, with an emergency back surgery due to a severely slipped disc and was gone from home for five weeks and out of my job for many more. All my inquires were gone and potential customers looked else where. I started to learn walking properly again and a long physical recovery was ahead of me. I kept on posting pics here and there again and found myself slowly back in business. Now a year later I am working very happily as a photographer and can’t believe my blessings. Every new job gives me immense joy and confidence and I am so proud of my self”
Amazing hey. I whizzed over some more questions to Petra to drill down further into her business journey:
How do you get your work seen by customers or galleries? I blog regularly or post pictures on social media. If work gets published or printed I ask clients to mention me. Word of mouth has been important for me, too.
Do you have any tips to having your own business? Find out who you are, I am an introverted person, my pictures mirror me. Knowing that also helps me to take periods of rest to fuel up again. Don’t look at to many other people’s work, you want your style to be unique and not a copy of a current trend. Listen to yourself, I only give out pictures that make my heart jump a little (literally). Ask for feedback, I have a handful of people who’s opinion I really value. Right now I am having a magazine printed for inquiring customers, my best friends looked over it first. There is a time for everything, I spent many years raising three children, the benefit now is that I can handle stress very well. Above all customer service makes the difference.
What has been the most difficult? Conquering fear. I used to have sleepless nights before shootings. I realised that I needed my sleep and worry never get’s you anywhere. Fear can be a great catalyst, if handled.
For people starting out or thinking of launching their own business what’s your best advice? Although this sounds cheesy, I would encourage others to believe in themselves. Don’t sell yourself short, you might have to give away shootings for free in the beginning, but make sure you pick who you want to give it to. Bring patience and learn your craft well. Starting your own business takes a lot of time, prepare yourself for long nights. The biggest part of my time goes into editing and communications. Always reply fast to emails and customer phone calls. You can’t rush people, for some it takes a while to feel comfortable. Also what I have in mind might not be what my customer has in mind. Communication is very important, I like to work with mood boards to understand what my client wants.
What has been most successful about the business? I’m glad I never picked a niche. I shoot now commercial projects, campaigns and weddings. The mix keeps it interesting and fresh for me. I believe in the concept of sowing and reaping, giving my customers great care led to a high referral rate.
Thank you so much Petra for taking the time to answer all my questions, your journey is a fascinating and inspiring one.
If you fancy telling me about your business and want it featured across my social media channels email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Back later with my biz column and 6 ways to grow your business.