We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Whitt Belch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, what do you attribute your success to?
This is a great question! Honestly, failure. I dont think this business would have gotten as far as it did without going through failure. I know alot of people are scared of failure, which is understandable. However, failure made me work harder, and it helped me figure out systems to create a more telling and thought out plan. Without those failures, I dont think I would have tried as hard as I did and currently still do.
Any time that I failed at something, like a launch of a new type of photo session–it just made me sit down and think more about the why and how. When I came back from that fail, my new launches were big successes.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a wedding photographer based in Durham, NC, but travel all over the east coast to document beautiful soirees. I am happy to say that it is not only myself, but a team of photographers who adore documenting love and are genuinely excited to share the results with our couples.
I have to admit, getting to where we are today was not easy. To be honest, I am not sure that any successful business ever got there by an easy route. There are many ups and downs, especially in the beginning when it was just myself booking sessions. I had to really make a game plan for how to grow the company–as in, I knew I wanted partner photographers because this would be a fabulous way to expand and connect with more couples.
A big lesson that I learned early on–when starting your business and you are chatting with many people about it, make sure to not take advice from everyone. Let me explain this further because I feel as though that may sound a bit harsh. If someone is a business owner (or, not even a business owner) and they are just really burned out and not feeling as great about where they are–listen to them, but take their advice with a grain of salt. There is a reason they are burned out, and you should be weary of where your energy is being depleted from.
I want the world to know that Fancy This Photography is not in the business of creating images for themselves. We are in the business of creating art for our couples. As in, we are not here to “build our portfolio”–we are here to show you the magic of your love story. And this magic is completely different for each couple, so we go in to each wedding looking to document the type of love our couples share.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would absolutely stay in Durham! Gah, I love Durham and its people!
We would stay at 21C – the Museum Hotel. Not only do they have amazing massage therapists on staff, but the rooms are amazing (and that top room–so nice!!). To feel a little artsy, we could even go and view the artwork on the first couple of floors.
We would go to a Durham Bulls game, of course.
Watch the sun set on one of the parking decks overlooking the American Tobacco Campus.
Oh! And we would lounge around American Tobacco Campus because that place is absolutely gorgeous!
For hikes/exercise we would go to the Eno (maybe even take a swim in the river).
And end some of our nights bar hopping in downtown. The Durham Hotel has a fabulous city view, and Alley 26 has those amazing cocktails with twinkly lights outside. Its a vibe.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents, sister, and my husband deserve a lot of credit and recognition in my story.
My sister, Jennifer, was the first person to really believe in me. She, herself, is an entrepreneur and I was always amazed at her story. She came out of our small town in North Carolina (like, super small) and was the first person in our family to graduate college. After working in the corporate world for many years, she decided to start her own business and go full time. I loved seeing her shine and make that company something worth while. It was from her encouragement that I decided to go forth and pursue my dream–which was to be a wedding photographer.
From a young age I was in the presence of my parents in the heaps of highs and lows of their own business. They own a salvage yard in Eastern, NC. I saw how taxes were done, how to keep the files organized, and how to run a business. I was brought up knowing that I, myself, could be my own boss if I wanted to.
And lastly, my husband, Jason. He has been such a great cheerleader. He knew from the first date we went on that this business of mine (at the time, I was getting ready to move to Asheboro to attend Photography School) was something that I dreamed about for many years. Like many young couples, we struggled for many years financially to support us while I was still in photography school. He worked full time and I worked about 3-4 jobs on the weekends (yes, 3-4 jobs on the weekends in Raleigh) to cover my expenses of photography school, as well as rent, food, bills, etc. I do not think I could have came out alive after those years without him. Later, he was my saving grace in finally convincing me that I was worthy enough to go out on my own (at the time, I was managing a premier bridal salon in Durham [I adored working here, btw!]). It was because of him that I gained the courage to quit my job and to go and be my own boss. I dont think I would have had the courage without him.
All photos were taken by Fancy This Photography