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Business to Business: Sandra Costello, chief hugger and photographer at Sandra Costello Photography in South Hadley

NAME: Sandra Costello

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Chief hugger and photographer, Sandra Costello Photography, South Hadley

WEBSITE: http://sandralovesyou.com

AGE: 42

WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: 2011

WHAT YOU DO: I am a wedding and portrait photographer for people who want authentic photographs of themselves and those they love. I get to live out my passion by capturing people during some of the happiest times of their lives. I celebrate and capture my clients just as they are.

EXPERIENCE: I have been photographing people since high school (which is a ways back), but shooting professionally for over 10 years. I have worked for other photographers, attended New England School of Photography and have a degree in Communications from Simmons College. However, I think most of my experience has come from observing, practice, championing love and opening my heart to the stories of everyone around me.

HOW DO YOU REACH OUT: I connect with current and potential clients through my website and blog, wedding blogs and Facebook. My favorite way to connect is in person, but I haven’t figured out how to clone myself.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? I have worked really hard on the financial side of my business with a trade organization committed to the success of photographers and through various workshops that take a hard look at how I’m running and marketing my business. The success of my business financially is just as important to me as the care I give to my clients. One can’t happen without the other.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Figuring out the reason why I do what I do and conveying that message in an authentic voice that connects me with clients who share the same values and hopes. Just recently, I rebranded my business and built a new website based on love and acceptance. It is truly my pleasure to give my clients beautiful photos of themselves.

CHALLENGES: Keeping up with myself. I love what I do and have lots of ideas. Managing so many aspects of a business and having a personal life can be hard. I have learned to outsource what I can and grow the parts I love and I’m good at. I have a great community of friends and business owners, and I always learn so much from them.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: That living your dream is possible. Having determination, faith a supportive community and being adaptable to that dream morphing into something even better than you imagined.

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: Professional photography organizations, experienced photographers, the staff and members of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce and all the amazing entrepreneurs in my life.

TOP GOALS FOR 2013: Creating beautiful, authentic imagery for all of my amazing clients.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and network with folks who are doing what you want to do, but keep in mind these relationships are not one-way streets. Offer something of value in return for their time and experience. This mutual exchange will gain you great insight but also help with the building of your community. There’s a lot to running a business and being prepared on all levels can make or break you.

PARTING THOUGHT: A goal without a plan is just a wish. Be clear, be true and do it with love.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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