Chicago area entrepreneurs plant seeds in photography, fashion

Wake up at 5 a.m. Shower, eat a small breakfast (if there’s time), then drive to O’hare International Airport to start a 7:30 a.m. shift. Clock out at 2 p.m., drive home for shower number two then change clothes and head to Verizon Wireless. Work a few hours, clock out and go to class. Get home by 11 p.m. Sleep. Repeat.

For Brian Flynn, 32, this is a typical Monday. A part-time digital photography student at Harrington College of Design (where he also works in the equipment cage), Flynn juggles three part-time jobs, school and his true passion, capturing images.

Photo Credit: Brian Flynn, B Flynn Photography
Photo Credit: Brian Flynn, B Flynn Photography

“[The challenge is] having enough energy to keep up with doing everything that I do, said Flynn in a phone interview. “I’m probably a very crazy individual at this point because I do so much, and there’s simply not enough time in the day to accomplish everything.”

If he has the weekend off from his ramp services job at United Airlines, Flynn starts his Saturday around 9 a.m. with a photo shoot or editing in his shared studio space. In his last semester at Harrington, Flynn said he is ready to focus more on his company, B Flynn Photography. Still, he is nervous about putting himself out there as a full-time photographer.

“It’s a little scary because there are so many ups and downs between how often I have paying clients,” he said. “I still need to work, still need a steady paycheck.”

Laid off from Blue Cross Blue Shield last November, Kylisha Alsberry, aspiring fashion designer and creator of online boutique Haute Sheek, knows this fear all too well. Though given the option to stay at her company, she said she opted for a severance package and invested nearly $5,000 in her own business.

“When I finally decided to step out and call my own shots…there’s nothing like it,” Alsberry said. “I was meant to be a boss; I have to be a boss.”

Sporting closely cropped magenta hair that stands out against her light brown complexion, Alsberry, who is 27, says she has always had a weird sense of fashion. She started out by styling her friends and family, taking their pictures and posting them on sites such as Model Mayhem. Models noticed her work, she said, and began inquiring about working with her.

Photo courtesy of Haute Sheek (styling and photography by Haute Sheek)
Photo courtesy of Haute Sheek (styling and photography by Haute Sheek)

“I have to get up, I have to move and make things happen,” Alsberry said.

28-year-old Marcus Turner recently opened his photography studio, Marcus Turner Movements in Aurora. Self-taught, he has a degree in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University. Turner says one of the greatest challenges for a rising businessperson is letting people know you exist.

“My best advice is to work on developing relationships,” Turner said. “Your business doesn’t actually come from the relationships you built this year, it comes from the relationships you built last year.”

Photo Credit: Marcus Turner, Marcus Turner Movements
Photo Credit: Marcus Turner, Marcus Turner Movements

Turner, who specializes in sports portraits, said he is partnering with the city of Aurora for a Christmas shoot, as part of the city’s rebranding campaign. He is also developing an online marketing company and lifestyle blog featuring health and wellness issues. Turner says he always wanted to have his own business and enjoys the process of creating something and witnessing its growth.

“You have to think like a farmer, you have to plant your seed and cultivate it,” he said.


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