OTTUMWA — Jessica Blanchard is from England. Her husband Austin is from Iowa. They met in Australia.
Then Austin left Australia. After living more than 4,711 miles apart they reconnected, got married and started their own videography and photography business two years ago in Ottumwa.
Jessica quit her job six months ago to help her husband full time. She has loved helping the business grow.
“It’s amazing here; we love the doors of opportunity that have opened,” Jessica said, “and we’re super happy here.”
“There’s so much potential in this community. That’s what we love about it,” Austin said.
While living in Australia, Austin was pursuing videography and photography full time. After going back to America, he wanted to start his own business. He hasn’t looked back since.
“Over [the two years] we have just seen, like, things really skyrocket in the sense of people,” Austin said. “People want quality and that’s what we desire is to, like, provide quality marketing and material for people.”
The relationships they’ve established with clients has helped their business.
“Relationships within business is the key to it,” Austin said.
“We want to meet you face to face,” Jessica said. “We want clients to feel comfortable with us, like they’re a good fit for us, we’re a good fit for them. We don’t want to walk up to a job or photo shoot and people feel like we’re strangers trying to capture them. We want their to be a relationship that was established and we can be friends and comfortable to us.”
The work and knowledge they’ve gained has also helped them thrive.
“We’re growing as our business grows,” Austin said.
“I think also just believing in ourselves that what we have to offer is what brings value to people,” Jessica said, “is worth it and we will benefit their business and a little bit for me at least personally it’s a mental game of what we offer is quality and good and beneficial to this community.”
The couple take on different tasks. Austin handles videography. Jessica does photography and handles paperwork. Having their own business, they said, has its own perks. They can wake up whenever and establish their own schedule. There is no typical day.
“Every day is so different, to be honest,” Austin said, “I think that’s why I love what we do. I mean, one day we might be out filming for a video. The next day we might be editing that video. Next day we could be building a website for someone or creating a logo for somebody. Every day is just so different.”
“The projects and the clients that we take on — it’s such a variety,” Jessica said. “From taking head shots to the hospital, filming weddings to family photos in the evening.”
Every project also includes challenges and learning. “There’s just so much stress with running your own business,” Austin said. “I would say overall we have been blessed to have no crazy challenges that are like ‘I don’t know if I can do this, kind of a thing’ it’s much more growing pains — learning.”
Part of expanding their startup is to bring other people in. They’re contacting others to help with their workload. They are also looking for more clients. Other goals include expanding space and living up to their start-up name.
“We want a space where we can call ours,” Austin said. “We want it to be a studio for us as videographers and photographers, but also for other people to use. The reason we are called ‘The Creative’ is because we don’t want it to just be us, we really want to create something — almost like a network of people, that’s the creative hub for Southeast Iowa … Every business has a story. I just want to see us [graphic designers, startups] work at the same location or just network with each other and share projects.”
“[We] just [want] a collaborative space where creatives can be creative together,” Jessica said.