Jenna Qualsett - January Fierce Female
I'm super excited to feature my very first FIERCE FEMALE - the amazing Jenna Qualsett! Jenna is a student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She will graduate in May with a degree in advertising and public relations.
Jenna is also the owner of Jenna Qualsett Photography and I'm honored to call her my photographer and friend! I would like to give Jenna a huge shout out for capturing the perfect images for my new website, which provided inspiration for my brand.
Jenna is super grateful for her business venture thus far, "I’m really thankful to have been able to do photography on the side throughout my college career, and am so happy to have met so many great people because of it!"
Let's get to know Jenna a little bit better and learn how this FIERCE FEMALE created a thriving business out of one of her passions.
Marissa: Please tell us a little bit about your business, Jenna Qualsett Photography.
Jenna: My business is small but mighty. I started taking photos in high school for the school’s newspaper, but really my business started in 2015 when I began doing work with portrait photography! That first year was really intimidating. I started with a few of my friend’s senior photos (and your wedding ☺), not really knowing my camera too well or how to pose people. By the next year I had 11 seniors and a handful of weddings and families. Since then I’ve been trying to push myself technically and socially to become more and more comfortable with my camera, editing and with people. I’m so thankful for the all the people who had faith and me back then.. and now!
Marissa: Did you always dream of owning your own business or did it develop from one of your hobbies or passions?
Jenna: Although becoming a full-time photographer always appealed to me, it wasn’t something I was specifically perusing. It definitely started as a hobby and turned into what it is today, which is so exciting. Not many people can say their hobby turned into a job ☺
Marissa: What is your plan after you graduate from UNL in May? Do you plan to pursue entrepreneurship full-time?
Jenna: As of right now, I’m pursuing a full-time job in advertising, hopefully at an agency, but with intentions to keep growing my business on the side. I do plan to keep reevaluating a few times a year to determine whether or not I would like to turn photography into my full-time job.
At this point nothing would surprise me. I am definitely open to the idea of Jenna Qualsett Photography becoming a full-time gig, but I also love advertising and will keep playing everything by ear until I feel at peace about a decision. It’s nice to have flexible options.
Marissa: What is your favorite part of entrepreneurship or owning your own business?
Jenna: As a totally type A, first-born, control freak, I love how I have total authority over how I do things. Everything from scheduling to how I choose to edit to what I post on social media is in my own hands. The feeling of being flexible and unhinged is really freeing and has given me a lot of confidence.
In the creative field, everyone has an opinion and an ambiguous way of doing things. For example, when I was working in an agency last semester, it was hard to adapt my editing and photographing style towards clients style - whereas with Jenna Qualsett Photography I have free reign to brand myself the way I feel is best.
Marissa: What is the biggest challenge that you face in your business?
Jenna: I have always struggled knowing how to price my services. Especially in the creative world there aren’t a lot of tangible factors dictating how to price photography. It’s always been hard finding a balance between overpricing and potentially losing business and undercharging and getting taken advantage of. It’s been hard learning to value my work enough to charge what I think is fair.
Marissa: How do you manage being a full-time student and owning your own business? Do you have any tips or tricks?
Jenna: Managing so many different things has been the ultimate test of time management. Last semester between my photography and my job as a graphic designer I worked about 40 hours a week on top of school. There are times when my sleep schedule is pretty out of wack, but the more I do this, the faster I get at everything. I would say I can edit a shoot in about half the time I could a year ago, which is really nice.
I recommend not procrastinating, and making the most of the time you have whether that's an hour between classes or early on a Saturday morning.
Marissa: What is the biggest lesson that you have learned about business or about yourself since you started Jenna Qualsett Photography?
Jenna: I think my photography journey has taught me how to truly work hard at something, especially in a world where most of my friends had half the workload. It was hard to stay motivated, and to have the integrity to get my work back to clients in a timely manner.
Marissa: Are you working on anything right now that you are super excited about?
Jenna: Currently I’m taking a little break. In the winter I intentionally take a break to catch my breath a little, but am really excited about the three weddings I have booked for this summer!
Overall, I’m really excited for what this year has to offer, and the people I hope to meet through my photo work!
Marissa: What advice do you have for other young people who are thinking about entrepreneurship?
Jenna: Just go for it! Too much talent is wasted on hesitation. If I could go back I would be more confident and fearless. I think people are at their best when they move forward knowing they are capable!
How awesome are Jenna's words of advice?!?! Don't hesitate and be more confident and fearless. I absolutely love it! Thanks for all of the inspiration and insight, Jenna! I'm excited to see where your passion takes you after your graduation in May. There are big things on the horizon for you!
You can follow our FIERCE FEMALE, Jenna, on Instagram @jennaqualsett and on Facebook @jennaqualsett.photography. Check out Jenna's business page http://jennaqualsett.com/