Hey there! My name is Jenni Chase and I am the owner and founder of Studio Share Photography. I am a wife, mother, photographer, musician, lover of Christ, lover of people and an entrepreneur all rolled into one. I've been married for 10 years, have 2 daughters (ages 2 and 5), opened my portrait photography business in 2006 and started the Studio Share in 2013.
Why start a Studio Share while pregnant with my second daughter?
Why not? Every entrepreneurial adventure has a little bit of crazy mixed in, doesn't it?
Actually, I was drawn to this idea of a shared space for several reasons. First, I wanted to solve my own problem. I was a young mom.....let me rephrase that....a mom of young children, who had a 12x12 spare room I was shooting out of in my home. Between figuring out what to do with my family during the actual shoot, having to make sure my bathroom was clean and hoping my clients didn't trip over the baby gate as they entered the hallway, it just wasn't working for me. Plus, I literally had to pull props and equipment OUT of the space and into the hall in order to have enough room to shoot, and then put them back in 'storage' when I was done.
Feelin' my pain?
So, the idea of a REAL studio, away from my house, sounded lovely to me. And I was slowly realizing that if I wanted to offer a custom portrait experience and charge substantially for it - then my home was not the best 'first impression.'
BUT - there was no way that I wanted to shoulder the responsibility of a studio rental on my own. I had quit my other full time job to be able to stay home with my kids (mom confession: some days I want to sell them on the street corner) and I didn't want to do photography FULL TIME in order to cover my expenses. It was a both/and for me. I desire to be a stay-at-home mom AND a professional, profitable business owner. I wanted to do both well.
So - I had heard about Indy Studio Share in Indianapolis, owned by a photographer named Connie Phillips. She graciously let me come and spend the day with her, look at her studios and hear how she got started. I paid her for her time, treated her to lunch, drove home, made her concepts/structure my own and dove head first into finding a location, and getting the business off the ground. My awesome husband has a contracting business and is my biggest cheerleader. We made a great team searching for a space, designing the layout and making it come to life.
In September 2013 we opened our doors in Grayslake, with a single member - and called it Grayslake Studio Share.
Throughout that first year, I slowly started gathering photographers and sharing the vision. I learned a lot about the space we had renovated - what really worked for everyone and what didn't. And at the end of year one, after hiring a business coach, we decided to take the 'opt out' of our lease and relocate to Libertyville (and eventually change the name to Studio Share Photography). With more space, our own access, no one below us, our own bathroom and better accessibility to the highway (to name a few), this space was a great decision.
So here we are, 2.5 years into the business and membership is strong! We have opened a new location in Barrington (someday I'll post the renovation pictures for that transformation) I have grown so much in understanding the needs of local photographers and how we can better serve them. We hope to open other locations in the future!
And you know what? I realized there is another 'WHY.' Why do I do this?
Because I care about people. And I love to empower people to BE better and to DO better. I want to build community and be a resource for local photographers - to provide a place in this 'on-line' world to collaborate with real people on the front lines - encouraging one another. Studio Share Illinois is much more than renting space - it's building community and empowering small business owners. And THAT makes it all worth it.
We are still forging new territory and working together with members to make Studio Share Photography a sustainable business. It is a way for photographers to rise above in this saturated industry and make an investment that propels them forward - both in their skill and in their understanding of small business ownership. Go team.