Bay of Plenty-based Rose McMahon is the 14-year-old behind photography business Little Miss Rose.
How did you get started in business?
I started photography about two-and-a-half years ago when a good friend of mine lent me a manual camera. I found it an amazing way to express myself through art, but when she needed the camera back and I realised it had a $5000 price tag I was distraught. So then I got together all the money I could to buy a second hand camera I'd found on Trade Me, but I still didn't have enough so I phoned up the guy who was selling it and told him what I was doing; he was quite touched by the story, and sold it to me for all I had.
But after that I still wanted a better camera, so I thought I could use photography to earn some more money to get more equipment. I started talking to some photographers, and followed them around; I was a sponge soaking up all the information I could. Then I approached a corporate company that was having a Christmas party and I said 'I'd really like to photograph your guys' event for free'. I did it and they were amazed at my photography, and to this day I still do all their event work.
I also volunteered as a photographer for the Little Big Markets in Mt Maunganui, which led to a lot of product photography work for stall holders and it grew and grew. I also got my first three wedding photography jobs from contacts made at that first corporate company.
What does your business entail now?
My business has lots of different branches. I do portraits, commercial events, product launches, product shots for websites and magazines, and weddings. I was also the official stills photographer on a feature film, called The Z-Nail Gang. Actually, I do all kinds of things; I'm photographing a book launch tonight and last night I photographed Nadia Lim at an event for a charity I support, the Cambodia Charitable Trust. And I also do charity work for another group I support - the Rotoehu Ecological Trust.
How do you balance all this work with everything else going on in a 14-year-old's life?
My business is my passion; if I wasn't doing photography as a business I'd still be doing it every single day. I'm homeschooled, and my business is actually complementary to my schooling because I'm covering things like accounting, or English when I write my blog posts, and of course art through my photography.
How has being so young helped you in business?
People are always wanting to help me because of my age. For example, I'm going to be photographing the wedding of a lady from New York who herself exhibited in an art gallery when she was nine years old. She got great connections from that experience and wanted to help me because someone had helped her follow something she loved. Also my age and ability has made a great story, and I've been on the front page of newspapers, and interviewed for magazines like D-Photo and NZ Women's Weekly, as well as wedding magazines and blogs.
What about the downside?
One of the challenges is I always need to exceed expectations because of my age. I've needed to be really good so that my age didn't matter so much to people and they would trust me. But being so good that people can't ignore you is a great thing, even if you're 14.
What would you like to achieve in future in business?
I want to be the youngest director of photography on a big Hollywood movie, so Peter Jackson I hope you're reading this! I've started to get myself there by filming wedding videos, corporate events, and I've just been booked to film some live cooking demonstrations with some big name chefs, which is really cool, and also some corporate videos.
What advice do you have for other aspiring teen entrepreneurs?
• Put your work out in public. When I was really young I started a Facebook page and put photos up there to get my name out there and gain feedback.
• Find successful people in your field, offer to work for them for free and learn as much from them as possible.
• Practice every day. I have to do something creative every single day - take a photo, make something, do a drawing - or I feel terrible. There's a quote I love that says 'if you dare nothing, at the end of the day nothing is what you would have gained'.
• Believe in yourself. There's nothing you can't do if you really want it.