S2E9: Finances & Entrepreneurship For Creatives

S2E9: Finances & Entrepreneurship For Creatives

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Ever thought about turning that creative passion into a profitable business and don’t know where to start? In this episode, we have Amanda Pinto & Jake Nathanson of SUB/URBAN Photography, and Jennifer Malenke & Leanne Gadow of Broadway Babysitters. They are joining us to talk about starting their entrepreneurial endeavors as artists and creatives, and maneuvering the financial hurdles of early-stage passions-gone-start-up.

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This episode was produced by Global Thinking Foundation USA and Hangar Studios.

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View Transcript

Austin: (00:45)
Hi money people! Welcome back to your world, your money. This is Austin, and I will be guest hosting this episode with Mary. Today, we'll continue to dive into our entrepreneurship series and I'm super excited to talk about finance and entrepreneurship for creatives. In this episode, we have the amazing Amanda Pinto & Jake Nathanson of SUB/URBAN Photography, and Jennifer Malenke & Leanne Gadow of Broadway Babysitters, joining us to talk about starting their entrepreneurial endeavors as artists and creatives. Broadway Babysitters provides world-class childcare for New York City families, including for artists. Their referral-only babysitters are Broadway performers, singers, dancers, actors, artists, stage managers, stagehands, and more. They don't just watch your kids. They specialize in creating individualized, artistic experiences through childcare and can give children an enriching experience that can include many artistic lessons. Jennifer Malenke - owner of Broadway Babysitters is a singer/actor whose career has run the gamut from Broadway to a reality show with Josh Groban, session singing with people like Alan Menken in LA, being a judge on a competition show on ABC with Nick Lachey, and concerts with celebrities across the country.

Austin: (01:54)
She also has been a voice/piano teacher and a babysitter for many years. She is passionate about children and the arts, and also about her fellow actors. She is also a member of Broadway Inspirational Voices. The theatre community is comprised of some of the best people she knows, and she has seen a need for Broadway Babysitters for a long time; the need for helping out actors with employment in between shows, helping actor parents with affordable childcare, and providing parents outside of the biz with creative, wonderful, trustworthy sitters to enrich their children’s lives. Leanne is a New York-based actor, singer voiceover artist, entrepreneur, and producer. Originally from Chicago. She graduated from NYU with a BFA in theater and a minor in business and has been working ever since in all of her areas of expertise from running the childcare agency, Broadway Babysitters and acting and short films to producing for YouTube channels and lending her voice to children's characters.

Mary: (02:48)
Thank you so much, Austin. And we also have along with Broadway babysitters, Amanda and Jake from Sub Urban photography. Amanda Pinto and Jake Nathanson are New York City-based photographers, After taking film photography classes together in high school, they moved to New York City to attend NYU. What began as a way to help actor friends in need of affordable headshots became an opportunity to create a sustainable life for themselves after graduation. In addition to being photographers and business owners, Amanda is an actor, director, and choreographer. And Jake is a filmmaker. They are both passionate visual storytellers, and find that their work outside of the photo studio allows them a unique perspective while capturing their subjects. Other passions include dogs, wine, and cooking for a crowd. SUB/URBAN Photography’s approach to headshots is simple: to make you look and feel your best. If you are feeling great and having fun, it's going to show through in every photo. They are committed to keeping the prices low, quality high, and clients one hundred percent satisfied with their experience and results. And actually both of your hosts today have worked with Sub Urban photography because they're really kind of great. So these people all sound so incredibly fun. So I want to welcome Amanda, Jake, Jennifer, and Leanne. I feel like we're actually just going to be having a party.

Austin: (04:14)
Hello everyone. What a crowd we have here. I am so excited to have this conversation with y'all. So let us jump in with some elevator pitches, give us the 26 floors of who you are and what your business is.

Amanda & Jake: (04:27)
Hello. My name is Amanda Pinto and I'm Jake Nathanson, and we are the co-owners of Sub/Urban photography, a New York City-based photography business. We focus primarily on actor headshots as well as portraits and Commercial work. Yeah, and then we also do video work together as collaborators. We are filmmakers and storytellers and all that fun stuff, but our main focus is photography and visual storytelling.

Jennifer: (04:52)
My name is Jennifer Malenke. I own Broadway Babysitters and we are an artist-based childcare agency. We hire artists to care for people's children. It's a trust-based company. Our main goals include providing discounted childcare for artists whose income can be uncertain even pre-pandemic, as well as providing a source of income for artists babysitters in between jobs. We provide childcare for artists and regular families alike.

Leanne: (05:20)
And Jen pretty much covered it, but my name's Leanne Gadow and I'm the director of operations for Broadway Babysitters. I just like Jen, I'm an actor, singer, voiceover artist, and the list goes on, but at Broadway Babysitters, I'm focusing a lot on the business development, the administration, and getting us where we need, especially during this pandemic.

Mary: (05:39)
Thank you for the elevator pitches for the business, but what are the elevator pitches for each of you? If you had to give me 26 floors and I needed to know exactly who you were as a human being, what are you guys gonna tell me? I'm so curious already.

Leanne: (05:53)
I went to school at NYU for musical theater, but I also got a in business. So once I graduated, I continue doing acting, singing voiceover, but my minor business is a big part of me. And I love, I love organization. It's a weird passion and I can't, I can't get over it. So because of that, because of that passion, I fell right into doing business with Broadway Babysitters and doing a whole lot of other stuff. I like to call myself the organized actor because I have the creative side of my brain, but I also have that type A, that is really, that's really in there.

Mary: (06:28)
I'm going to color code highlighters with you. We're just going to line them up.

Jake: (06:35)
One of the most enjoyable parts of NYU and just my experience growing up in the city as a young adult was being able to explore so many different things that I didn't know that I was necessarily interested in. When I came to NYU, I was a psychology major and I was going very heavily into the liberal arts education of at all, but being able to meet so many other artists and figure out, Oh, this is what has always been important to me. Having a camera has been something that I've been passionate about for such a long time, and that has helped spur so many lovely friendships and my experience in the city and how I've been able to work on a lot of different projects with some lovely people. But I guess that's mostly in relation to my work. Otherwise, I'm a foodie. I'm a wino. And a dog dad.

Amanda: (07:21)
A recent dog dad. We actually just got our dog at the beginning of January. So we're still fully obsessed with the dog and the dog life. Okay. So my 26 floors - born and raised in Ohio, as of Jake, moved to New York City to attend NYU, Leanne and I actually were in the same program. We both went to the new studio on Broadway at NYU. While I was there, struck up a bit of a passion for photography, Jake and I both came to New York City with cameras and became the friends who could take pictures on St Mark's place if you needed a headshot for the audition the next day. And so that sort of became our little fun thing we did on the side. As I continued to pursue drama, graduated with a drama degree, have continued to act as well as, uh, recently have become a bit of a director of a choreographer here in the city. And just being able to incorporate my passion for performance and just visual storytelling like Jake said, and these experiences that we've had now being professional photographers for what's going on seven years just has been really rewarding to be able to incorporate all of my passions sort of into one. And we don't even really call it a survival job anymore. It's really like a robust second career for us that we're both equally passionate about. Our photography and our other pursuits outside of those as well.

Jennifer: (08:34)
I grew up in little rock Arkansas. I am a singer-actor. I went to Millikin University was in Chicago for a bit, came to New York to do Broadway shows, went to LA for about eight years, and then came back to New York. And I was just on tour with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year. Well, two years ago, not pandemic year. And I am passionate about children and yeah, that's basically me.

Mary: (08:57)
Thank you all so much. And just so our listeners know that the 26th floors was entirely arbitrary. I just really wanted it to be more than 10. That was really it. So let's jump into the business stuff and into the entrepreneurship side of all of your lives and how that's developed. So there are many people that we talk to that are also in the world that want to turn that creative passions into profitable businesses, but for a lot of very realistic and fair reasons, they're very hesitant about it. And there's a lot of fear around it. And from taking like the big leap or those first steps or, you know, whatever it is for each person. So why don't each of you share just like kicking off how you started your entrepreneurship journey. Did you even think of yourself as an entrepreneur at that time? Or did you just see it as like this side hustle that was gonna help you get closer to this other passion? How did all of that journey start for you?

Jake: (09:52)
I think that the arts entrepreneurship thing, especially as a self-employed person is a wild journey that starts with nothing but fear. So if you're scared that is a hundred percent okay. Acceptable and also probably will help to fuel a lot of really great choices that you will eventually make. But as far as starting off it for us, I think it was really a slow burn as far as it was - it's dinner money in college, and now we're leaving college and we don't want to be working these other jobs that we feel like are sucking time away from doing anything else. And we really love doing this and it feels creative. And then, okay, let's invest a little more time into it. And then, okay, like this is now happening. It's moving forward. We can officially call this a business and then just kind of continuing to say yes to the directions that it was naturally taking us.

Amanda: (10:44)
I think we both have entrepreneurial instincts. Photography is just like one example of an entrepreneurial endeavor that we've had and that we want to have in our lives. And just to go into a little bit more detail, we truly began the business in 2014 after graduating from college. And the first two years out were hands down the absolute most difficult years of starting the business, trying to figure out how to balance work and life, how to make steps forward in the business. On our end, for example, getting new equipment, finding a space, finding hair and makeup artists, finding all those types of things, that took so much time and so much effort. But over time, those decisions start to pay off in other ways.

Jake: (11:28)
Yeah. Autopilot comes in at a strange time when you're least expecting it was like, Oh, all the things that we've assembled and put together are now just kind of moving. And now we're doing upkeep as opposed to frantically trying to keep up with what is happening and progressing, which is all wonderful problems to have. So I think that it's just supposed to, like I said earlier, just a natural journey forward for us.

Jennifer: (11:54)
So this all started when I came back to New York from LA, I needed a job here. I didn't want to wait tables ever again in my life. And I was on a text chain with a friend and her group of friends. And it was a text chain with a lot of parents and a lot of babysitters and they would all trade-off who can watch so-and-so tonight, blah, blah, blah. I can't, I can't blah, blah, blah. And I told her, I was like, you need to put this together into something, make it into something and organize it. And she goes, I can't. And I was like, can I? She's like, yeah, do it. So the biggest thing that I saw in that is that it's flexible for artists and also it's trustworthy. So I did a lot of market research when I was first starting this whole thing.

Jennifer: (12:33)
And the thing that was across the board a hundred percent for parents was referrals. And they said, if they're, it doesn't matter if they went to college, it doesn't matter background checks. Yes. That matters. But if their friend recommends a sitter and says, our sitter's amazing, they're going to use them a hundred percent. So that was the basis of this. And I saw this, I don't think I, I saw this as a huge business when I first started it, but I saw it as something that was just necessary for me to make some money and I could leave and do a gig and come back to it. And then I saw it as that for other people, as well as for my friends, I saw it as a side hustle to get me going and to keep me going. And if the acting career didn't work out to progress me into the future, but now I see it as my main source of income.

Leanne: (13:21)
Jen started it and I came in two and a half years ago now. And really Jen putting it together, we kind of worked together from that two and a half year Mark two and half years ago to say, okay, we have the base, but how do you move forward? And how do we make this sustainable for both of us? Because we're both still actors and singers and pursuing those careers. So how do you streamline things? How do you cut out the process of sending emails or reminders or things like that in order to be able to continue doing it? And I think that's really important. Any entrepreneurial endeavor is to say, okay, once we have those assets, we have those, those bases. How do we make it sustainable long-term?

Jake: (13:57)
Yeah. I remember one of the most pivotal things that ever happened to our wellbeing was when we finally decided to switch to an online scheduling platform, as opposed to for email, I don't know.

Amanda: (14:08)
I gained back hours of my life.

Austin: (14:22)
So I'm going to pop in here with kind of my like mental health advocate hat because I'm hearing a lot of like work-life balance. And he goes, they're touching on it with like streamlining, but I just want to note that in the work of entrepreneurship, we often see this, right, like a mental and physical health imbalance, they start to arise. So I know you guys are touching on it now, but I'm curious to dive deeper into how that came up for each of you and your own journeys and how you were able to find that work-life wellness balance while both creating and running your own business.

Amanda: (14:52)
Absolutely. I think that a lot of our journey was learning through experience and learning through error, inevitably. Beginning of business, like I mentioned prior those first few years, we really put our heads down and worked incredibly hard to get our business off the ground. And during those years, I mean, those were years where we lost touch with some friends. We spent a lot of time inside. There's a lot of work that goes into creating a business and creating a brand to get it off the ground. And then I would say after those first two or three years, we've been able to strike what I would consider a very healthy balance between our work and our life. But yes, definitely the hardest part being the beginning. And I think that something that learning through experience, trying to set boundaries for yourself as much as possible if we wanted to, we could truly work 24 hours a day. We could constantly be, you know, reaching out to new clients. You can constantly be editing anything like that. There's always work to be done. So I think finding those opportunities to say, okay, it's six o'clock, I'm closing my computer. I'll answer these emails tomorrow. And the world will continue spinning was a very important lesson to learn it also, you know, being young entrepreneurs I think is also presents its own set of challenges that, you know, it's like you're in your early twenties and you know, you should be hungry. You should be showing people that you're really out there hustling, but that hustling doesn't necessarily translate to health. One of those things, you can only learn through experience, no matter how many times people tell you, Hey, you're really, you know, you should take a break. It doesn't really translate until you experience it yourself.

Jake: (16:27)
And I think that so much of, what's probably going to pop up for Jen and Leanne and for the two of us is just like, when you are finally able to understand that like you can ask for help in small ways from new people. Um, that, that is an acceptable way to release just a little bit of control and help have your moment to take some mental health days or to just sort of release that extra pressure that you're feeling. I think that for us, it felt like the most unbelievable concept. The first time we asked someone, Hey, could we pay you for a day to come and like, prove through a session we're really behind. Wow. Like it's suddenly that's work that just got done that we didn't have to do today. That's really wonderful. Thank you for helping us. And I think that those things start to come a little bit deeper into the journey. Unfortunately, I don't know if anyone's going to have a smooth start mentally, as far as balancing stress, any sort of mental health things that come up during those beginning years, but being as safe with yourself as you can be and knowing yourself and your limits early on, I do think is very important.

Jennifer: (17:37)
I mean, um, being a young entrepreneur in my twenties as well...I am not in my twenties, but they're absolutely right about asking for help. I tried to learn as much as I could by myself about LLCs, about being a for-profit non-profit, you know, setting up our business license, our everything like that. And I wish that I would have asked for help more. I wish I would have asked more business-minded people. I mean, I did ask a lot of people, but it wasn't enough. But asking for help is probably one of the best things I've done for my own self, with mental health and work-life balance. Because at the beginning it was just me and I was fielding and it's really hard with parents and kids. And you know, when things pop up right away or emergencies happen and kids run away from sitters and there's just things that happen all the time. So I was always on, always on. And even like, while I was, well, I actually did start working at a restaurant again. But, um, I had to fund the company. So while I was starting this business, I was working in a restaurant because I needed money to fund the company. Yes, I did the crowdfunding, which was great. But you know, you have to build a website, you have to do this, you have to do that. So I was working at that job to fund the company, but also being the one that was on. So I had to like, Oh gosh, run to the bathroom and see if there was a sitter for so-and-so and blah, blah, blah. So that was a lot. And that was very overwhelming. And then when we got interns, we got Leanne as an intern first actually, and a couple other people were on our team, our admin team as interns and, or part-time, it was like, I could actually like go work out without having to worry that something is happening and I wasn't there to take care of it. Do you know what I mean? And especially when I went on tour, it was, I needed that. And now we're probably to a point now where Leanne, well, we are to a point where we're gonna need another intern because we're getting too big, which is fantastic. Leanne, I think you can speak to that mental health spot too.

Leanne: (19:39)
Yeah. I mean, this is something that we all continue to. Every day's a different day. Every struggle is a different struggle. And you know, this is something that we continue to talk about as a company internally, as well as how do we continue to put ourselves first? Because we are people we're not just a business. And as a small business, sometimes people see our website and they see the professional look of it and they think they must have so many employees. They must have people on the clock, 24 hours a day. And it's me. And whoever else is on that day. Right? So like my biggest thing that I would say is, and has become a big help for me. And I know for Jen and for the whole team has been to say, my day starts on my terms and my day ends on my terms, because if you roll over and the first thing you do is you open up your email to see what's going on. You're already intaking information, you're not outputting. And so the first thing I do is try and do that. And also delegating is hard. I have developed trust issues because sometimes it's hard to say, is this going to get done and, and, you know, overseeing everything, but you do have to trust that sometimes things are going to get done. And then I mirror the like off-hours, get yourself done at seven or eight and know what needs to be done that day. And don't do what doesn't, because sometimes you get to the two, six 30 and you're done at seven you're like, I'll just start this new project. And then it gets to 9:00 PM and 9:30. And now you, you should be done and you're not. So just know what needs to be done and stop when you, when you can. No is my new favorite word, 2021 is the year of no.

Amanda: (21:16)
I think we had 2018 was the year of no, we've had that year. An incredibly important lesson. Yes. And things do truly change. I think when you learn the power of saying no, you know, you hear no and you associate it to be this sort of like negative. No. But from an entrepreneurial perspective, it truly is saying no, to be able to allow yourself the time to A, do your job to the fullest of its ability, and B, have time to live a life. So you can bring yourself to your work in its fullest.

Jake: (21:48)
Absolutely. I mean, I remember the first essential no that was probably right around the time. It was like, we can't no more live events. We cannot photograph from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM break for 30 minutes, travel to a different part of New York City, and photograph for another three hours. It just can't happen. I'm not going to be my best self the next day. I'm not going to be my best self at the live event. And so it was just like, that was like an, like an initial category of, we reserved this for various, very special occasions and people that we know that we like to work with, but we're not just going to come like photograph some show after we've done what we're doing. Cause we're not going to do it as well as we would if that was our focus.

Amanda: (22:27)
So still wonder why we don't shoot weddings. A lot of people ask us like, oh, will you photograph our wedding. We would love to. But we know with our workflow from experience that we have to set aside a certain amount of time to focus on our headshot clients. And that is our passion and that making sure that we don't overbook ourselves has become paramount and keeping ourselves sane.

Mary: (22:46)
And look at how professional that no was. That was a beautifully professional no.

Amanda: (22:51)
You can have a professional no. Yes.

Jennifer: (22:54)
You also need to know your worth too. We don't want to just take any job or any family just because it's money. You know, we need to know that our people are being treated with respect and with professionality and stuff.

Mary: (23:06)
I think that it's so important to share that because as an entrepreneur, you get so accustomed to doing everything. You get so accustomed to being the expert in everything. And when you finally get to the point where you can say no, or you can say, no, I need to focus on this because this is what I'm best at. We always have to kind of give ourselves that permission because we've been in a mindset for what, two years, four years, wherever each of you are, we've been in that mindset of no, I have to do everything because it has to get done. And I have to be the expert in all of it. So I'm very grateful that each of you mentioned that, thank you.

Jennifer: (23:40)
Well, also at the beginning, I felt like it, if I wasn't doing a lot and even now when Leanne is on the clock, sometimes I feel like if I'm not watching the emails and I'm not overseeing what's happening, that I'm not working or I'm not doing my job. But all of this stuff that we had put into motion is allowing me to do other things for myself and pay Leanne. You know what I mean?

Leanne: (24:03)
Sometimes a lot of hours at the upfront pays you down the line when you can have less hours and do less, because you did put in those crazy weeks at the beginning.

Jake: (24:14)
Speaking to what Austin was talking about with mental health, I feel like there's an entire conversation to be had about the comedown of the first two to three years of work of like, when you are fully immersed in it, your blinders are on, you are determined. It's like you're operating at this unbelievable speed and pace and are able to take on so much. And then as you start to release control and start to have alone time, or like time to think about anything other than what it is that you've been doing, I feel like that's where things have occasionally gotten a little spooky for us when we needed to figure out how to transition all of that running, running, running into productive, either calming downtime or like, where can I apply this energy that I still have? And that's also only gotten better as time has gone on.

Amanda: (25:00)
Has also brought up a lot of interesting conversations because of COVID. And I'm sure everybody can relate to this of, we shoot out of our home. We have a home studio in our apartment. So also learning how to set those boundaries of when does work end, when we're constantly all in the same space all day now, like Jen and Leanne, I'm sure you're working from home right now. It's like, how do you deal with the idea of, okay, now it's time to, you know, close the laptop and go on with your day, go to the other part of the house.

Jennifer: (25:28)
Leanne actually has a very healthy way to do that.

Leanne: (25:31)
Yeah. I'm now I'm about to have finally have a home office because hashtag COVID rates for the apartments, but I, for the longest time would roll out of bed. And my desk was three feet away from me and it was a hard time to be like, how do I set boundaries? And my biggest thing was you can always create a designated space. So I had my corner in the corner of my room for my mental health self-time. I had my desk on the other side of my room for work. And my bed was for me time as well. And I would never did work in my bed. I never did personal calls at my desk because once I started mixing them, my head would get confused and I was able to go 10 days without leaving my apartment and stay almost the same. So, so I think that was my biggest win out of all of that is how do I maintain a sense of balance when my balance is all in one room

Amanda: (26:21)
That's impressive.

Mary: (26:23)
I'm absolutely amazed. And I appreciate so much that the come-down reference because we're still in that phase as a foundation. And so people always still kind of look at me funny when I'm like, yeah, I'm still working. It's like 11:30 at night. And I'm like, no, no, no, you have to go to sleep. And I was like, I don't get to yet tell me that like two or three years, then you can come find me, but not yet. As you started out this journey and Leanne, as you came into Broadway babysitters, what were some of the big financial hurdles that you just really weren't expecting that you think maybe other entrepreneurs out there could commiserate with it, you had to face and maybe how you face them or maybe how you ignored them. I don't know what your life was like, but how were those unexpected financial hurdles for you?

Amanda: (27:05)
I think our first biggest financial hurdle we experienced was just tax-related. I think having worked at restaurants previous and having other jobs where we were on W2's and having those taxes withdrawn from paychecks immediately having to really recalibrate in the sense of, we need to be setting aside this amount of money every month that although it is in a bank account can not be touched because that will go towards a quarterly estimate or, you know, whatever balance would be out at the end of the tax year. So the first year where we actually made like a real profit doing what we do, that came as a huge shock. We knew, we were like, okay, we paid some estimates, but the last six months of the year, we just, our sales like increased, you know, like basically two times over and just not A having the resources. We didn't have an accountant at the time. We didn't have the knowledge at the time. So that became a very big financial burden for us. When April rolled around, we're like, oh, oh wow, we owe this much money. How are we going to be able to handle that? And moving forward from there, just becoming more literate in taxes and reaching out finally to an accountant. To be completely honest, last year was the first tax year we used an accountant. We had filed our own taxes up until that point. The year previous, I will say we literally had to go buy a laptop, like a very cheap PC because we had been using QuickBooks.

Jake: (28:32)
We were using QuickBooks online. And then the business software for TurboTax is only compatible with a PC and not a Mac. There's an entire article. Online TurboTax is aware of this and all they do is provide you with a thread to follow about how - cause we thought once we had the PC that would solve the problem and we'd be able to get those rights, but online, like QuickBooks doesn't work with business TurboTax. And so you have to download the online information loaded into the PC, to your taxes, through the PC, and then you spit out a return. It was very fun. I think we laid down for a long time after that week. Um, but yeah, so get an accountant.

Amanda: (29:13)
To talk more about like the financial hurdles of that, I think would be like the largest financial hurdle that we had to deal with. And I mean, again, one of the things you only learn through experience, but you don't have to learn at their experience. If I, I feel like we kind of keep touching on the same themes, but reaching out for help or if you can afford an accountant or if you can afford, like Jen had mentioned, you know, business advisors or business help like that, if you can make those investments, those investments are very worthwhile. Those were things that we didn't really have the money at the beginning of our business to do. But as soon as we did have that income, that expendable income for those kinds of things, it really was incredibly helpful to have those professionals and their insight. And, you know, inevitably if you make those decisions, hopefully that will in turn be seen in your profit margins and, you know, hopefully like increased profits or increase productivity, that kind of thing.

Jennifer: (30:05)
Yeah. I know that our financial hurdles were, first of all, building a website, I actually kind of made a mistake with that because I hired somebody who was a friend of mine, but couldn't really deliver on the scale that we needed for the website. And so our website would break down a lot. And so that was a huge financial thing for us. We actually built a brand new website and then COVID hit. So yeah, but our website is great now and it's so much better than anything I even imagined for this company. It's really lovely. But the thing I think advice on that front I could give would be to just make sure that you vet and you look at what you're hiring, look at who you're hiring and look at the needs of the company. Here's the thing though, without that starter website, we wouldn't be where we are today. So there are things that it's all basically trial and error. You can plan as much as you want, but there are still going to be things that you learn along the way. This is a kind of a labor of love for me still like, well, it is because I still don't pay myself. We're still putting it all back into the business, but we were ready to take that next step. And then COVID so, um, yeah, that's one of the biggest financial burdens for us.

Leanne: (31:24)
I mean, just to mirror what you said. I think that like once the website was a big investment that Jen and the company made without a working website for what we do as a childcare agency, there was no way to scale and be able to offset the expenses. So that was an investment upfront for the long term. And then as she said, the pandemic hit. And so that was the second, probably most important financial hurdle was the pandemic really. I mean, I'm sure the same thing for you guys. Yeah. And looking at one of the first things we had to do is say, what expenses can be cut here? What do we really need to get through this time? And then of course came the pivot, which as, as any business during this time has had to do was how do we give people what they need during this time as a childcare agency where people don't really want to be hiring childcare. So, so that cutting of expenses, but also, you know, before that saying this expense is worth it, because if we can get X number of families, we can offset the cost of this. And we can now scale to grow in a way that we wouldn't have been able to, without this bigger expense.

Austin: (32:29)
I really appreciate all of you answering with such candor about your own personal experiences there and those lessons that you've learned right. Trial by fire, always. So I super appreciate that. And I want to end there since you have learned those lessons on what is the one-liner, one piece of advice that you would want to give to a creative entrepreneur?

Jennifer: (32:49)
I say, ask for help, do not try to do it all on your own. Don't try to be something that you're not, don't try to be a business professional, know the law, and then also a tax preparer. Don't try to do it all alone. Just don't. Ask for help ask, you know, people that you went to college with, ask parents, ask, ask anybody that can help and can advise and ask for help.

Leanne: (33:12)
Yeah. My one-liner would be know your skills and your assets and know what people need and then decide what you want to do, because you could have skills and assets that are amazing, but if people don't need it, it doesn't really matter. So start with what people need and then apply those things. And you'll, you'll skyrocket because especially if you love doing it, then it makes the job just that much easier.

Amanda: (33:38)
Absolutely. I think we both would agree with us. We've talked about this with other people in the past as well, that if you think you're ready, you're ready. I think for us, like the biggest business decisions we made in our journey were moments that we definitely were afraid. Like we were like, wow, this is going to be a big undertaking. Or this is going to be a big expense, a big change. Like when we first started the business, I was working at a restaurant and Jake was working at a production company in New Jersey, our hair and makeup artist, Alex who is essentially the third member of our business. Who's not here today. Was working at a salon in Midtown. And the three of us all sat down one day and said, I think we're ready to make the jump to quit these other jobs and just focus all of our time on this endeavor from making that decision forward is when everything really became what it is today. So if you feel like you have an idea and that you are ready and that you have the time and the resources to really pursue it, go for it. Absolutely go for it. That's just the one piece of advice that I think we offer.

(34:39)
Absolutely. And then the only other addendum I would say is just because for us, our business has so many more expenses than the average business based off of equipment. I think that those initial purchases of like our photos fundamentally can't look any better unless we buy this thing. Like we have to buy this lens. If we want our photos to look like this, or we have to buy this light. If we want our photos to look like this and figuring out the comfortable ways to make those big leaps financially, whether it's through payment plans, whether it's through 0% interest credit cards, which I don't necessarily recommend, but I do the same time. But just being able to stare down the barrel of what feels like an incredibly intimidating thing and say, if I'm going to do this, I'm doing this, let's do it. And then pull the trigger. And the worst that's going to happen is you have to return it. But that's my addendum to that for photographers.

Jennifer: (35:35)
I mean, I just to put a cap on that, I did not start out, you know, wanting to start a business in my life ever. Like I've always wanted to be on Broadway and be a singer and do the artistic route, you know, but this kind of like fell into my lap and, and it just kind of snowballed from there. And now it's one of the things that I'm the most passionate about. And it's also because children and artists enhance each other's lives so much, you know, both ways. It's just kind of a no-brainer. It's helping a whole lot of people. And I like to help people.

Mary: (36:03)
Thank you so much. This was fantastic.

Everyone: (36:06)
Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Mary: (36:10)
Thank you all so much for joining us today. Next week, we will wrap up our entrepreneurship series and talk about finance taxes and entrepreneurship for small business owners and freelancers. It's going to be so much tax fun.

Austin: (36:24)
Also, don't forget to check out Calling All Voices. This is our open call for papers submitted by you celebrated by us. We want to hear all voices, opinions, walks of life, and unique views on gender, sexuality, identity, and finances from the whole lot of you. Our top picks will be published and the winner will be on our podcast. Chatting with us.

(36:43)
Thank you all and happy money-making.