CEO CHICKS WHO DOMINATE FEATURING AJAI PEOPLES

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Why entrepreneurship? I really love the idea of being my own boss. I would rather invest in myself to build my own empire than to punch the clock and build someone else's... even though I'm still working for someone else to pay for my dream lol

Did entrepreneurship find you or did you find it? Hmm, we found each other lol... I got into photography because my daughter wanted to be a fashion model. I was spending crazy amounts of money on her photo shoots and flying to different agencies until one day I decided to invest some of that money to buy a camera. Once I bought and taught myself the basic camera functions, I decided to start an online boutique where my daughter would be my leading model to get her as much exposure as possible. Once I launched my boutique January 1st, 2015 I decided that I would take pictures of all of my models to save money on a photographer and everyone fell in love with my photos! I was getting asked to do shoots left and right, so I focused on perfecting the art of photography and that's how my photography career took off even though the boutique tanked. That just goes to show you that God's hand is always in everything we're doing because I didn't even see that coming.

As a business leader, what are some of your greatest challenges? Building a team. Most photographers in my area seem to want to be in competition with me which I guess is natural but I'd rather collaborate and work together. I was working with this producer in the area who has a photography studio and he would ask me to come and help him on large shoots until one of his regular models asked me to do her a personal photo shoot. He didn't like that too much lol... next thing you know he stopped calling me asking for my help. But he still gives me props on my work via the internet... but I'm going to keep trying!

When you’re not in business mode, what do you do during your downtime? Spend time with my daughter! She is the funniest human being on the planet!!! I always have so much fun with her :)

As a CEO Chick, how are you dominating your industry? I'm definitely dominating in my area with photography. I'm from a small town called Luverne, AL and they have never seen photography being done the way I do it in that area. For a really nice photo shoot, they would have to travel out of town to get what they were looking for. I live in Phenix City, AL but I decided to open my photography studio in Luverne because I could see a real need for it there and plus I had already built a pretty nice clientele so it just made sense. I am really changing the photography game in that area from weddings, senior portraits, and even helping aspiring models to build their portfolios.

What is your number one advice to a fellow CEO Chick or aspiring business leader? Don't listen to people that try to crush your dreams. When I started my own husband was against me investing so much money into me and our daughter's careers. But now that it's taking off he's tried to make up for it by building my studio from the ground up himself. Sometimes you need to show people who you are and whose you are! He couldn't see the vision that God gave me, but I could see it clear as day :)

What are three things you would tell your younger self in business? 1.Watch the company you keep... everyone that started with you can't always finish with you. Because sometimes you outgrow people and situations and in order for you to continue to grow you have to cut the people that are holding you back. 2. Listen to that inner voice.... the one that screams at you every time you know you're about to do something you shouldn't do or when you're confused about something... that's God looking out for you, LISTEN! 3. Start early! I always knew I wanted to be in the beauty and fashion industry I just didn't know what I wanted to do... I wish I would have started interning for major fashion brands in my early 20's and I believe it would have still led me to photography. I would just like to know the in's and out's of the industry to really get ahead.

What keeps you going creatively in business? My clients! My clients have really kept me going through some really hard times in my life by them telling me how my photos of them or a loved has made them feel and helped them through. I feel like if me taking a simple photo can impact someone's life for the better... I want to keep getting better and be the best I can be at my craft.

What can we expect next from you? Big things! My focus now is working on generating business for my studio, but the way my God is set up who knows where I'll be or what I'll be doing next year... I just know it's gonna be BIG because God has really been showing up and showing out in my life!!!

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