MUN student recognized for photography business

Karen Wells
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It’s not easy to balance being a full-time Memorial University student and business owner, but 20-year-old Alex Stead has found a way to do both.
The Birchy Bay woman has been named Newfoundland and Labrador’s 2014 Student Entrepreneur Provincial Champion.

As a photographer, Alex Stead captures some of the most important moments in people’s lives.
— Photos courtesy of Alex Stead

Stead received the honour because of her ability to turn her artistic talent as a photographer into a viable business, which allows her to give back to her community (she often donates photo shoots for charitable purposes) and support international organizations. Her business, Alex Stead Photography, provides high-end photography services for weddings, families and graduations. She accomplishes this while providing a relaxed, intimate experience from beginning to end, providing clients with beautiful, custom products.

Her marketing professor nominated her for the award. Stead knew at Christmas-time that she had been shortlisted for the award, and being named the recipient is just starting to sink in.

“There’s a lot of people in Newfoundland right now doing great things in terms of entrepreneurship,” she said. “So the fact that I was accepted is sort of surreal.”

Stead started out taking photos when she was 15 years old. It wasn’t until she was in Grade 12 and taking an enterprise course that she developed a business plan as part of her studies.

“From that I thought I could actually turn this into a profitable business,” she said. “Having that plan definitely helped push me forward to give it a try.”

So at 17 years old Stead became an entrepreneur. She saw a steady stream of clients seeking her services. She probably could have continued to work at her business full time, but getting a post-secondary education was a priority for her and her parents.

She took a semester off after high school to figure out what she wanted to study and had applied for art school. The death of her grandmother around that time resulted in her deciding not to leave home right then.

“Then I reworked my idea and decided that art school probably wasn’t the best choice and I decided to go in for business instead which has definitely worked out in my favour,” according to Stead.

The connections she has made through her studies are some of the most important things she has experienced.

“Even if the information I learn in university isn’t directly applicable (to her business or career), the people I am meeting are really pushing me in the right direction,” she said. “It’s not so much about the piece of paper you get at the end (of her studies), but the people you meet along the way and the things you learn in the process.

She has learned how to balance both her school and business.

“It was hard finding a balance at first. It was ridiculous actually. There’s only so many hours in a day, so you need to prioritize,” she said. “It’s challenging, but in a good way.”

Stead is a full-time student during the fall and winter months, but come the spring and summer months she will be “flat out” with her photography business once again. Just in terms of weddings, she has 12 booked to cover over a period of eight weeks this summer.


Regional competition

Stead will showcase her business and personal accomplishments as an entrepreneur at the Enactus Canada Regional Exposition on March 8 where she will compete for the title of regional champion.

Stead will compete against three other Student Entrepreneur Provincial Champions from Atlantic Canada for the regional title and the chance to move on to the 2014 Enactus Canada National Exposition in Calgary, Alta., taking place April 28-30. The National Champion will receive a $10,000 cash prize and take home the John Dobson Cup (the John Dobson Foundation are program supporters).


The Pilot

Organizations: John Dobson Foundation

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Calgary, Alta

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