OTTUMWA — Ever since Shounam Ches was 13 years old, he knew he wanted to have his own photography and videography business. Later on, his brother, Jey, developed the same passion.
Together they formed Ches Brothers, LLC, back in July 2019. Getting there, they said, wasn’t easy. Every year, since Shounam was 13, he would research tips to better his craft and learn how to start his business.
The brothers said they got their ambition and motivation from their parents, who moved to America after experiencing genocide in Cambodia. Both of them worked in a factory and always told Jey and Shounam to make something of themselves and be better than they were.
The brothers used their parents’ story as motivation and worked side by side to figure out the business’s direction.
Jey once struggled to find his calling, but since he partnered with his brother, he said there isn’t anything he would rather do. He was thankful Shounam got him into photography and videography.
“He kind of helped me find that joy,” he said. “He was already doing photography and videography and was like ‘yo, try it.’ And I tried it myself and I find that I love to be a creative and create content of my own and moments I can create for the rest of my life and helping others grow.”
The brothers said they are helping as many businesses and people as possible.
“I like creating a product that pretty much gets people more exposure, more business, more clients and gets people to notice a business with a specific brand,” Shounam said. “It’s the fact of creating an idea in your head that no one else can see. When you try to bring other people into it, they see how valuable you are as an individual that they’ll actually bring you into their dream.”
Along with their business, both are staff members on No Opportunity Wasted, N.O.W, a consulting business in Ottumwa, where they work with clients on videography and photography. Currently, they are helping Brian Morgan with advertising for Morgan’s Corner.
Shounam said building connections with the community can help, but at the same time can be challenging to rely on others to help with the business’s growth.
“Everyone’s desperate for growth,” Shounam said, “if you are a valuable asset that has the skills that can help that individual to get to the next step in life — they’ll bring you into their dream, which brings your farther away into building your own business … the issue that I’ve encountered with [is] just coming to people and trying to get them to see what’s in my head.”
There are other challenges like finding enough clients to sustain them and “creating a sustainable environment.”
Jey enjoys working with his brother and fulfilling the dreams they have for the business. He likes building on his craft, which he said he is pursuing by taking business and interactive media classes at Indian Hills.
“I’ve been doing research on my own and learning from different people online and improving on my craft — it’s more about going out and just trying it yourself and figuring out the process, but also planning ahead trying to figure out what fits together,” Jey said. “I do love being able to travel and being able to see more of the world.”
As the brothers take on more projects, they want the community to take notice on how they differ from other media businesses and startups.
“We’re open minded to try out new concepts and new things,” Jey said, “just because it’s a generation for experimenting. When they hear of someone having a business they don’t think of ‘oh I’m 20 and he’s 21 [Shounam].’ For us, since we’re young we’re always around new technologies that we can bring to the table that other businesses didn’t think of.”
“What makes us different from our competition is the fact that we’re brothers that love doing the same thing,” Shounam said. “Not often do you find siblings that love to do almost everything together. We’ve fought many battles that have almost ended ties with each other, but that’s the thing. We’re not like the others. That’s what makes us different. We’ve fought the battles and have forged a bond like no other, which in turn helps us to care more for the relationships we build with others. “