How DECA Helped Me Start My Own Business

Ally White | Houston County DECA
Photo courtesy of @allywhitephotography in Instagram.

In December of 2015, I received a DSLR camera from my parents. It was a gift I had wanted for a very long time, and when I first received It, I didn’t touch it for months.

Then one spring day, a close friend and I wanted to spruce up our Instagram feeds and decided to take some pictures of each other on my camera. That day, I fell in love with my camera and photography.

I began taking pictures for close friends who would willingly model for me. I went to downtown areas of my city and churches with nature backgrounds. My friends loved the pictures I was taking, and eventually I started having people ask me how much I charged for a photography session.

Now I know you are thinking, “This girl is only seventeen, how did she start a business?” and the answer is simple: DECA.

At the time, I was a sophomore in high school and a second-year DECA member. Using the skills that I learned in my marketing class, I created a brand and company name, set up social media pages, organized a website and portfolio, and designed and ordered marketing materials (such as business cards) all by myself.

DECA teaches students valuable entrepreneur skills, and I am one of the many success stories that proves that.

Since last year, I have relied on my photography business, Ally White Photography, to be my main source of income. My photography business has helped me in many ways: emotionally, financially, and educationally.

I am responsible for driving myself to shoots, and waking up early on weekends for photoshoots. I am also responsible for purchasing props (such as confetti, which my clients love). I have clients sign a model release form, allowing me to use their pictures in my portfolio online. My photography business has taught me the importance of punctuality, hospitality, client-owner relationships, and it has also held me responsible for many things financially.

DECA taught me the skills that I needed to start my own business. I learned the importance of customer service and hospitality (keeping my clients happy). DECA taught me important marketing strategies, which I use to reel my target market in during important times of the year, such as prom, graduation, and the beginning of the school year.

Since founding Ally White Photography, I strongly believe that I have gained many responsibility and accountability skills that I will be able to use my whole life.

My business would not be where it is today without DECA. I am thankful for DECA and all that I have learned from it. I am very blessed to be a member of such an amazing organization, and I hope this article inspires you to take action and put your DECA skills to good use!

This article was written by Houston County DECA Vice President of Career Development and DECA Direct Online Social Media Correspondent, Ally White. Follow Ally on Twitter @allywhite_deca.

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