An interview with Holly McMurter of Holly McMurter Photographs.
Describe your business.
Holly McMurter Photographs is a photography business! I’m mainly focused on timeless weddings and couples but I also photograph families and small businesses.
What brought you to the region?
I grew up over the bridge in Prince Edward County, but when I was buying my first house I wanted to be somewhere that would be better for my business. In other words, I needed better internet, so I bought a place in Belleville and I’m so glad that I did!
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
First of all, it really is “the beautiful city”. It has been upgraded a tremendous amount since I was in high school; in the way it looks and to the core. There’s always room for improvement, but I’m so impressed and proud to show people around when they come to visit. What I really love about this area is that the small business community is so welcoming and tight knit. I don’t see a lot of the ‘competition’ mentality, everyone is ready to help each other out—there’s so much opportunity. Last but not least, the County is just a hop, skip and a jump away.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
Everything and nothing. I started my business pretty young so I had to grow into it. I did the Summer Company program through the Small Business Centre and it was life changing. I learned more in a couple months than I did in my four years of schooling. I guess what I didn’t realize is that running a business is 20% of completing the actual service and 80% behind the scenes.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
#1: Stick together. Find a mentor or a friend that you trust so you can help each other out if ever you hit a roadblock.
#2: Build trust with the community. If they don’t trust you, they won’t want to support your business. Why would they?
#3: Put your personality and heart into everything. It’s the only real way to stand out.
#4: Get your business online. When a pandemic comes creeping into your life, you will be ready.
#5: Never stop learning and growing.
#6: Do your taxes.
What surprised you about starting a business in a smaller community?
How much more opportunity there is compared to a big city. If I had stayed in the Greater Toronto Area after school, I think I would be struggling to find my place. It seems like everyone wants to move out of the big cities and into smaller communities now. It’s just better in every sense (although, we could use Uber and UberEats… just saying).
How have you changed your operations during the pandemic?
During the lockdown(s) I obviously couldn’t shoot at all, but it gave me a big opportunity to work on the behind-the-scenes stuff that I had been putting off. I had to postpone 80% of my weddings in 2020 which was sad for the couples and most vendors. I’m extremely fortunate because I was able to fill all my postponed dates with other sessions like families or branding for small businesses.
I also started a second business called King & Kin that helps small businesses grow online, and I launched an online print shop for people who want to decorate their homes with photos of the County. Oh, and I make YouTube videos so I got into affiliate marketing and made money that way.
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation (the pandemic)?
This is a hard question to answer because I don’t want to be insensitive to those who are struggling. In my own life the pandemic has taught me the importance of slowing down and being REALLY grateful every single moment of every day, always believing in the best outcome and being flexible with what is thrown at you. You really never know.
If you were to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?
“Beyonce”, haha just kidding. Probably positivity, light, faith or beloved.