The Kolus

Building a Business

Andre Stepanov's career in photography

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Building a Business

Photo courtesy of Andre Stepanov

Photo courtesy of Andre Stepanov

Photo courtesy of Andre Stepanov

Matthew Wilcox, Section Editor

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It’s a dream for many teens alike to be able to run their own business and make money on their own time doing what they love. However, the process of starting your own business is daunting, and leaves most discouraged from following through with a business idea. Occasionally, though, a high schooler will be able to press forward and turn the dream into a reality. One such high schooler is Andre Stepanov, a senior at Shorewood who runs a photography business.

 

“I started doing weddings when I was fifteen and a half, I want to say. So I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now,” says Andre. “I spend like forty hours on photography, like an actual work week.” His hard work has paid off, however, as he can rake in up to $2,000 a week by his own estimation, certainly an impressive figure for a high school student.

 

“When I was younger, my dad was, well he still is a wedding videographer and I would go along with him, kind of as his little helper,” said Stepanov when asked about how he got his start. “I’d pick up his camera every once in a while and take some pictures, and eventually they started turning out well, and I kind of liked that, so based off that I kind of started my own photography business using his help.”

 

Stepanov elaborated on the help he received from his father, saying “He helped me by giving me my initial loan of $4,000-5,000 to get equipment… and overall he kind of just helped me understand what I needed to learn before I could start doing weddings, which is what I primarily do.”

 

And even though it’s Stepanov’s business, working in tandem with his father’s videography business certainly gives him a leg up in the industry. “I get referrals from my dad since he still does videography… He says ‘Hey, we work as a team, I have a photographer that can work with you too, so if you want, you guys can hire my photographer too and we can work together for a discount.” This business relationship aids Stepanov immensely, especially since he gets most of his customers through referrals from his dad and past customers.

 

Stepanov also has become involved in investing, primarily in cryptocurrencies. “Whatever money I make off of photography I use to invest,” he said. “Cryptocurrencies are doing very well currently, so yeah, I use that and it helps me out.” Stepanov estimates that he spends around 40 hours investing in addition to the 40 hours of work he does for his photography business.

 

What advice does Stepanov have for the rest of us who want to start our own business? “Make sure you wanna follow through with it. Make sure you wanna keep yourself motivated.”

 

He admits that sometimes it’s difficult to balance a business with school and a social life, saying “It’s hard because most weddings are on Saturdays, and so my friends are all hanging out like Friday night… I can’t stay out late because it starts at 6 so I have to be home early to go to bed.” Stepanov pushes through this, however, and perhaps the mentality he’s achieved is best expressed through  the following anecdote said by Stepanov as he stared at his stock rising on his laptop screen: “I just made a lot of money but I’ve still gotta make more.”

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