Naz Santiago | Correspondent
College can often be a journey for young entrepreneurs to begin making moves across campus and to begin the process of letting their names be known around the area. Being a young college student entrepreneur can be challenging, especially when trying to keep the business alive and going. Robyn Bess, a fourth-year majoring in communications and a photographer on campus shares her starting point with the camera.
“My father is a photographer, I saw him taking pictures of things in nature, I remember going to the Daniel Stowe Botanical garden and taking pictures of my mom and it came out really nice and that is when my interest in photography started,” Bess said. “But I got my first camera when I was 13 — it was my first DSLR that my dad got for me, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until high school.”
In order for a business to be successful there has to be growth, Bess tells us about her growth as a photographer.
“I am growing in the technical aspects of taking pictures, understanding color, light and angles,” Bess said. “I am also growing as a business person.”
JeLia Russell, a third-year criminology major, shares her experiences as a young college student with a business that caters mainly to Black females who want their hair done.
“I started by watching my mother who had her cosmetology license, she was the one to inspire me,” Russell said. “I started practicing on my own hair then I slowly started doing other people’s hair.”
“I want to be able to provide an affordable hair service to college students because it’s hard out here, and a lot of hairstylists overcharge,” said Russell. “It is extremely time consuming, especially as someone who doesn’t have formal training so it takes longer sometimes,” Russell admits.
Bess expresses the challenge of time consumption that comes with having her own photography business.
“It is time consuming but I went to a workshop where they said you get out what you give in,” Bess said. “If I want to invest in my business I have to put in that time, but I don’t drive myself crazy or stress too much about it.”
While having a side-business as a college student can often be very time consuming, these women relish being able to provide the community with their time and skills.
“I enjoy seeing people be happy after receiving their pictures and building that confidence and relationships with each person who steps in front of my camera because then I get a chance to understand people,” Bess said.
These young women set goals for their businesses in order for them to grow. Russell states what her goals are as a hairstylist.
“One major goal I have is to make myself more accessible and available,” Russell said.
College has allowed Russell’s business to expand around campus and she states that she gets more clients than what she started off with.
Having a business on campus can often be a starter for long term goals, Bess declares what her long term goals are as a photographer.
“My goal is to have my own makerspace studio by 30, working full time as a photographer,” she said.
Students of color that have side businesses tend to cater to college students of color as well, making it important for us to support these businesses.
“For my photography, because I do mainly shoot people of color, I definitely want people to feel like their beauty is naturally there and feeling like I’ve captured the best moments,” Bess said. “I want people of color to feel like they’re naturally beautiful and that I just enhanced it by capturing it in that one moment. Graduation bookings are opening October 1, and Robyn Bess photography is capturing the beauty in its most natural state — come and get the Bess experience.”