Interview with Jennifer Fermaint

Jennifer and her husband, Daniel Fermaint, own Fermaint Photography, a photography portrait studio in Plano, Texas. 

What inspired you to start your photography business?

Jennifer: Honestly, our business started because we found that we were really great at something we loved doing, and Daniel plans to leave Corporate America once we are debt free (house included). What inspires us to keep it going is that we possess the ability to create heirloom quality portraits that our client’s great grandchildren will look at and remember their ancestors by.

What do you believe are the necessary qualities for an entrepreneur in the arts to possess or develop?

Jennifer: Well, this could be a very full answer – while the necessary qualities of talent, passion, and drive are probably the most important qualities to start your business, doing the business legally and ethically will make your business steady and prosperous. What this means is that you must go and set up your business legally by obtaining your D.B.A. and getting your tax ID, and plan to pay taxes on your income. If a person says they have a business in the arts, but aren’t paying taxes for it, then it is just a hobby.

Time management is probably the biggest thing I struggle with in running our own business, and these skills do not come naturally to an artist. However, if you do not utilize time management skills from the very beginning, when you become successful more rapidly than expected, you will never feel like you can catch up. We have to realize that the art comes from within us and is our passion, but business is business. Passion will not pay the bills, but business knowledge will. Our art that we offer is not free. We cannot treat it as such. Classical education and training will ALWAYS improve your art. You will never stop learning or growing, but learn the classic techniques so that you know what you are expanding away from.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered, and how did you overcome them?

Jennifer: Challenges – working together as a team with two completely different artists’ points of view. Believing in our value and quality while others around us think, “cheap” and “free” is good enough. Time management and learning to let go of some control of what are not our strengths so that we can focus on our strengths. I am not sure we have overcome these challenges yet, but being aware of them is the most important step!

What has been the biggest reward?

Jennifer: Creating a product that a family will cherish for generations to come. Capturing the memory of a moment in time that will never happen again.

What three pieces of advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who are entering the market?

Jennifer: Take business classes if you plan on making a living with your art. Do NOT go into debt to start your business in the arts. Outsource the elements which are not your strengths (financial planner, editing, blogging, etc.). Don’t spend all of your time trying to reinvent the wheel… learn from those who invented it, and then redesign it your own way. Read “Worth Every Penny” by Sarah Petty, and “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. Also – “The Total Money Makeover” and “EntreLeadership” by Dave Ramsey.

Interview by Emily Bernet, SMU student.

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