Success can be achieved through revenue, viewership, the number of clients, the prominence of certain businesses, artwork, and so much more. How we define it is subjective.
In a sea of photographing entrepreneurs, readers often stumble across successful business founders who dove into unknown waters with the purpose of providing a service for those that need it.
Meet Bailey Keller, she’s one of those extraordinary founders. A 26-year-old photographer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota! Bailey Keller covers all of the state, some of Iowa and Nebraska too.
She built her business from nothing but friendly support from her friends and family. Bailey Keller bought her first camera in college to make a little extra money to pay for rent. After college, she started to work as a graphic designer. Two years into that she quit and went full time by herself. In just two years Bailey Keller grew her business into an S-Corp specializing in weddings and boudoir photography.
‘’My brand? Empowering strong women to be their best and keep growing. We’re in it together right?..’’
Tell us about Bailey Keller Photo and Design, what makes it so unique?
Bailey Keller Photo & Design is a photography company focusing on weddings and boudoir. I find us to be so unique because our end goal is not just to provide pretty pictures. We shoot to provide an overall empowering, fun and happy experience.
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
I am most proud of community. Between weddings and boudoir, I have worked with SO many women. Women who have struggled, went through a divorce or break up, changes in their body etc.. Watching these women overcome these life challenges and helping them realize their worth, is why I’m here. The community support from women to women through my business is why I smile every day.
Who are your ideal customers and why?
My ideal customers aren’t always the “ones with a lot of money.” My ideal customer is someone I vibe with. Someone I can go to lunch with and just hang out as friends. I just think this brings better communication to the project which ultimately gives you a better product
How has the business grown to be where it is now? What has contributed to your success?
Support. My family and friends are the reason my business could start and the reason it is still thriving. I don’t need them to book a session with me. All I need are likes/shares and referrals. And that is exactly what they have given me over the years without me even having to ask. I truly owe everything I have to them. They all know who they are!
How do you stay relevant and current and where do you get your inspirations from?
I stay relevant like any other creative does. Finding inspiration through other amazing creatives. Being able to answer and ask questions to other photographers is so helpful. Yes, we are competitors, but we’re also a community of people that have similar passions. I have many photographers, that I follow, who inspire me and I look up to them. They are the first I go to when I’m at a block.
If you could sum up your career in three words, what would they be?
Purpose, fun, empowering.
How did you start?
I started out as a hobby in college to make a little extra cash. I remember using 3 paychecks worth of money to buy my first, refurbished camera and lens. I thought it would be a fun way to pay rent. I started getting referrals from my friends who were local to my college town and from there I slowly grow into what I am now. After college, I started a graphic design job and continued to shoot here and there. I did a few weddings and started to really enjoy myself. I started noticing my thoughts at work became more focused on my independent work outside of the office. Once I gained more confidence I just took off. I was getting to the point where I had too much on my plate with a full-time job and my hobby. I took the jump, a scary jump I might add, and quit my full-time job. If I said everything was flowers and rainbows from there I would be lying. My first year was really tough, income-wise. The second-year I more than tripled my income and bookings. Long story short, I truly started from nothing. No money, no equipment, no training. It took about 5 years for me to get to a confident and competitive level. Most importantly, I would not be where I am today without my friends and family. Having a solid support system is what makes a business successful and I’ve never been so grateful for them.
How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
Don’t get stuck. Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes we forget we are made for more than a pretty body. I feel us women are so worried about making sure everyone else has their stuff together, when we need to start with ourselves.
What has been your key (or keys) to success?
Nobody is going to do it for you, so get up and do the work. Success isn’t served on a platter. It’s worked for. It’s ambition.
Do you believe in destiny or do you think you can control your fate?
I believe you can control your fate. Everything starts with a decision. You have full control over that decision. For me, it was the decision to stay at a dead-end, unfulfilling job or get off my rocker and start putting in the work. Control your destiny.