Where did your business idea come from?
In 2017 I started my Digital Design degree and that taught me a lot of the fundamentals of photography. When I took portraits of my own children I got an amazing reaction to them. I started researching and developed this idea of photographing children in order to appreciate important moments and called my business Genuine Gratitude, to represent these thankful moments for myself and everyone else. The purpose is to photograph children as a way to empower them and strengthen their sense of identity and self-love.
Since then I’ve been learning as a freelancer how to run a business. I’ve been able to join several different entrepreneur programmes, got some grants to buy equipment and build my portfolio.
What stage is your business at?
At this present moment, there is a lot of juggling between my studies, running my business and being a parent. I am embarking on a Computer Science teacher training course in September to further embrace my passion for helping young people grow and increase their self-esteem. Fortunately, I’m quite organised!
My clients come to me through my web and social media presence and through friends and family.
How has your background and your community influenced your business journey?
Growing up I was just passing time at secondary school. I left school not knowing what to do with myself and it left me in a few bad places in my teen years. I think that a light bulb switched on for me when I got pregnant with my son at 22. That’s when I realised I couldn’t keep playing games with my life anymore. I needed to find myself and a sense of appreciation for all the gifts in my life was what was going to get me forward.
Genuine Gratitude is a response to that experience. It’s not just photography. It’s actually more psychological and a way to support young people, especially children of colour, to show them they are important and beautiful. It captures a moment in their life as a celebration, digitally designed and framed on their wall.
It is for girls, boys and their families. Something that concerns me massively is that young boys are passing away through knife crime, not going to school, not knowing what they want to do and just finding themselves in the streets. I want to try and target that from a younger age, to nurture self-esteem to help them find what they want to do in the future.
What challenges have you faced in your business journey?
My initial challenge was having to accept that I wasn’t in a great place in my teenage years. But encouragement, listening to motivational speakers, accessing support and resources really got me through the negative thoughts and directed me towards solutions. I strongly believe that there’s a solution to every problem.
I would also say running a business has been a challenge for me. I have only got myself with many other responsibilities. I still believe that it is possible because I plan a lot and organise. I literally allocate my hours to be able to do everything.
How did the Stride OneTech programme support you? Did you develop any new skills?
I first heard about the OneTech programme when information was posted in a group that I am in called ‘She connects’ which is linked to a woman’s inspirational group called ‘She is you UK’. I participate in their workshops and really believe in the benefits of being part of these kinds of peer networks. I applied and was so happy to get a place. I enjoyed every session and think it has been life-changing.
What are your dreams and plans for the future?
I’ve got lots of dreams. By the time I finish my teacher training next in July I would like my business to have a good workflow. I’ve already got a strategy in place that helps me consistently produce content, get clients and deliver. In the longer run I also plan to write a book, to go into schools and companies to talk to young people, to empower their growth. I would eventually like to go international, especially to Nigeria, to speak about self-love.
Genuine Gratitude is a response to that experience. It's not just photography. It's actually more psychological and a way to support young people, especially children of colour, to show them they are important and beautiful. It captures a moment in their life as a celebration, digitally designed and framed on their wall.
Are there any entrepreneurs or businesses who have inspired you?
Lisa Nichols is a motivational speaker. She is my role model. I’m always connecting with what she’s speaking about and how she runs her business.
What is your message to inspire other and other underrepresented founders?
You have to decide what you want to do then work towards it. You have many purposes in life but you just have to pick one and keep people around you that can support you and push you towards that goal.
I also think everybody should start a business. It gives a sense of achievement and helps you grow in many ways that you wouldn’t expect because you’re putting yourself out there. It’s incredibly rewarding when your customers enjoy what you create for them.
Finally, mental health and self-care are vital. You can get really busy with all your plans and stuff but if you don’t take care of yourself it won’t work.