Interview with career change mum - Clare Murthy
Today I interview Clare Murthy, Clare is a photographer based on the Surrey / London border. she lives with her husband and one year old daughter.
Prior to starting her business, she worked in the retail industry for 14 years - originally she started out as a pharmacist working for Boots, but soon after moved into different leadership roles. From there she went to Apple where she worked in talent and learning.
She started my photography business last year, whilst on maternity leave with her daughter.
1. What gave you the idea to start up your business?
This business was actually bubbling under the surface for a long time. I bought my first camera and learned photography about ten years ago. Since then I’ve loved following other baby and family photographers online - first on Pinterest, then on Instagram, and often thought “what if.” But I enjoyed my job, and I guess I was happy enough not to make a change. When my daughter was born, I realised that I wanted the flexibility to be at home with her more than my job would allow and decided to take the plunge.
At first I thought my business would be all about baby and family photography, but found that lots of the mums I worked with were starting their own businesses too, and wanted me to take photographs for their websites, headshots or press photos. I really enjoyed doing that and decided to make it a part of my business too.
2. What did you do to prepare to start up your business?
I started by up-skilling in different areas of photography, taking courses and spending time building a portfolio of work to show what I could do. I created my website and wrote a business plan. Writing a business plan was helpful from a financial perspective, as it meant all my costs were clear, but I quickly found that the reality of running a business was much different to my expectations, so it’s evolved a lot since.
3. Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?
When I first started out I felt quite confident in the business side of things, so decided to invest in my skill as a photographer. I went to summer school at Central St Martins and took a course with a leading newborn photographer - both were invaluable in helping me refine my craft and giving me confidence in my abilities.
Soon after starting I realised I needed to learn (a lot!) about marketing. I started by taking an online course in SEO, and then reading books. I’m still learning every day, and I think it’s one of those areas where there will always be something else to learn.
4. Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client
I’m a photographer specialising in newborn and family photography. My style is very natural - I don’t put babies into baskets or buckets - my goal is to capture them just as they are, and to capture love, fun and connection between families.
This is the most important thing to my clients - they’re looking for natural, but beautiful photographs of their children that they can treasure and have printed so they can enjoy them every day. I’m really passionate about making sure my clients have beautiful ways to enjoy their photographs and work with some amazing suppliers who make stunning prints, albums and wall art for them.
The other clients I work with are small business owners, mostly mums, but also some family-run businesses. I love to work with them to create photographs that showcase them, their work and their story.
5. What’s the most rewarding thing about having your own business?
It’s definitely the satisfaction of happy clients! The feeling of knowing that a client is walking away with photos they love is wonderful.
I also love the fact that I have total flexibility to make my business and home life work together. I sometimes work at weekends, or in the evening, but I also have my daughter at home with me every afternoon. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.
6. What has been the biggest challenge?
It has to be mindset - when I started a business I didn’t imagine how big a part mindset plays, but when you’re working on your own it’s everything! Recently I’ve found that having good routines and looking after myself is incredibly helpful to staying positive and strong. It’s also important to talk to people in the same position - being part of Facebook groups like Ruth’s, and knowing other mums running their own business is so valuable.
7. If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?
I would tell myself to just get started. I took a while to decide whether I was going to go back to work or not, and didn’t start planning my business until I’d made a firm decision and told my employer that I wasn’t coming back. Then I prepared my business plan, portfolio and website. Once I launched though I realised that you can prepare all you like, but there’s nothing like actually running a business to teach you what will work and what won’t. Now if I have something new to do I try to resist the urge to over-think or over-plan and just do it!
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