During Women’s History Month, Allegra Anderson of Allegra Anderson Photography spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about being a woman-owned business in the Greater Hartford area.
NAN PRICE: How has your background prepared you for your current role as a business owner?
ALLEGRA ANDERSON: My interest in the arts started early because my parents are both eccentric, art-oriented people who enjoy food and culture. They always encouraged me to explore that side of my personality. So, I knew early on I wanted to go to art school to study photography and filmmaking. I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University where I studied photography. After college, I pursued a career in television and worked at the PBS home-improvement show This Old House. I was there for about five and a half years doing still photography and production work.
I really loved my work there but, at the same time, I was pursuing my own photography on the side. I was working with clients privately doing portraits, commercial photography, and weddings. After spending years doing both, my heart was pulling me to take the skills I’d learned at school and in the production world and work with clients on my own. In 2013 I decided to start my own business.
NAN: What brought you from the Boston area to Hartford area?
ALLEGRA: I grew up in Connecticut and, after going to school and working in Boston, it was a natural decision for me to come back. My roots are here and my husband is from here. When we were deciding where to live, we felt like the Hartford area was definitely where we want to be. Living here means a lot to us. We love the state.
NAN: What does is mean for you to be a successful woman-owned business?
ALLEGRA: For me, community and building meaningful relationships is very important. I think it’s nearly impossible to build a successful business without being involved with the people around you. Having a service-based business, I find it invaluable to get to know people and understand their needs and how I can apply my photography to meet those needs. It really comes down to focusing on my clients first. I strongly believe in mentorship, and I’ve been mentored by incredibly talented and inspiring women. I continue to mentor young women.
I also think it’s essential to have the support of people around you, including your peers. I joined the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and I’m the president of our Connecticut chapter. I found it valuable to join an organization of other creative colleagues, it’s helped me stay current on trends in photography and creativity.
In terms of running a successful business, I think you have to put yourself out there. You can’t expect to sit behind a computer and have the work just come to you. What’s been beneficial for me is getting in front of potential clients and meeting new people.
NAN: How are you meeting people and building clientele? Do you do a lot of local networking?
ALLEGRA: I became a part of several different networking groups when I moved back to Connecticut, starting with Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs (HYPE). That progressed into becoming a strategic partner at the MetroHartford Alliance. Working with the Alliance has opened me up to a whole networking community and helped me meet many other like-minded businesses in the Hartford area.
NAN: Speaking of like-minded businesses, let’s talk about women business owners.
ALLEGRA: Women are extremely ambitious. I do personal branding sessions with many women who are starting their own businesses, whether they’re a consultant, high-level executive, an influencer or blogger, or they own a local shop. It’s a joy to capture portraits for them or do product or lifestyle photography and support other female leaders.
From the business owner standpoint, I find women to be extremely open about sharing knowledge about running a business that can elevate others and help take them to the next level with their businesses.
NAN: With your experience and involvement in the community, I’m sure you’re able to share a lot of knowledge, too.
ALLEGRA: Yes. After being in business for seven years, I’m pretty well-connected with other companies that provide services for business owners, whether it’s a graphic designer, web designer, or a business that does search engine optimization. I’ve found that’s something I’m able to help my clients with if they’re just starting out, making recommendations for other business owners who are quite often female-owned businesses.
A lot goes into running a business. People always ask me: What do you do when you’re not taking photos? It’s a funny question because, as a business owner, you wear a million hats and there’s such a huge learning curve. I’m still constantly learning.
NAN: What do you enjoy most about working in Greater Hartford?
ALLEGRA: In the Hartford area, compared to other cities, I’ve met more women who want to support one another and see their peers succeed. It’s enriching to meet others and chat about our shared experiences trying to get ahead in business.