Women In Business: Sophie Oliver

September sees the seventh of our ‘Women In Business’ series, focusing on Sophie Oliver who is based in Berkshire. Sophie is a newborn photographer offering milestone photography sessions from birth to one year old. She set up Minimems photography service to capture ‘miniature memories’ to last a lifetime. She offers maternity, newborn, baby, just sitting and 1st Birth/Cake Smash photography sessions.

Sophie Oliver, Founder of Minimems.

Sophie has always had a passion for photography and often dreamt of setting up a photography business, “I didn’t know where to start with my photography business. I previously worked in a childcare setting for nine years and only in the last year have I began to offer my photography sessions. I never imagined that after one year, I would now be running my own business full time.”

Sophie had many years experience in photography, capturing weddings, still life and landscapes. It wasn’t until her childcare career was in full swing that she came up with the idea of Minimems, “during my childcare career I was given the opportunity to capture the children’s journey in their Nursery environment. Hearing the positive comments from parents of their child’s photos helped this interest blossom.”

“The turning point for me was when a friend took her baby for a professional newborn shoot. The images stole my heart and I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do. I booked a training course straight away with a professional photographer and trained in newborn safety posing. Shortly after the course, I put my skills to the test and carried out my first newborn session for a friend. When friends and family shared my photos, it brought me such joy and emotion, I knew I had the passion to set up my own business.”

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Sophie learn to put herself first and push herself to turn her dream into a career. “I have always been someone who is happy to ‘go with the flow’ and never really set any long term ambitions for myself in life and I have never coped well with change. During the lockdown, I decided to put myself first and push myself. With a great support network, I have worked exceedingly hard to set up Minimems to achieve my goals.”

Facing Challenges

It has become apparent after speaking with a selection of Women In Business, that it is so important to believe in yourself and be determined to succeed. Talking with Sophie, she explained that one of her main barriers to setting up her business was her lack of self-belief.

“I have always struggled with confidence and believing that anything I do is ever good enough. It’s my friends and family who have reinstalled the confidence in me to help me believe in myself and understand my self worth.” 

Having good support networks around you will also help you overcome hurdles. Sophie explained, “Finding out how to do particular things on my own and having to complete endless research to figure out solutions has been challenging however, I have a great support network who I am so thankful for. I have faced the quiet months, but these have been followed with lots of enquiries and bookings. The feeling when I get customer enquiries/bookings and their reviews is what makes it all worth while.” 

When you set up your own business, there are many hurdles you have to overcome and Sophie has faced many of these in the short time she has been in business. Becoming self-employed after being employed for nine years was her first challenge to overcome, “When you are employed, everything is done for you, being self-employed is completely different and learning how to cope with the business side of things has been interesting.”

Another challenge for small businesses like Sophie’s are competitors. She has found over the year, that there are so many other professionals out there locally who offer the same services. She has had to make sure that her offering is unique and that she stands out in order to grow her business and receive more enquiries.

Women in Business

Sophie juggled a full time job while setting up Minimems which is very common for entrepreneurs. Spending time editing photos on lunch breaks, evenings and any spare time she had became the norm. As her business picked up, she was able to leave her full time job and focus solely on her business, giving her the time to edit and find a more normal work/life balance.

“There is never a ‘right time’ to set up a business. I waited and put it off for years thinking it would never happen. I was so wrong! I wish I had set up my business years ago when I first had the idea.”


Sophie’s key piece of advice…

My advice would be to keep educating yourself with whatever industry you are going into, whether that’s training, reading online blogs, watching online videos, as that is how you will grow. The best marketing platform for me is using social media – Facebook in particular. I started reaching out to businesses relative to my industry and spent lots of money on leaflets, which never benefited me. Using social media and allowing people to share my work, sharing it to local pages/business pages and paying for ads is one of the best ways to promote yourself and reach your target audience. 

What does the future look like for Sophie?

She is working on bookings for 2023 and is now offering other services such as maternity, baby and first birthday photography sessions, meaning that one customer can potentially return to her for more photos in the future. Longterm goals for Sophie include setting up her own studio space as currently she offers mobile sessions and shares studio space.

If you are interested in finding out more about the photography sessions Sophie offers, please visit her website.

If you would like to feature in our Women in Business Series, then please get in touch.

Read our other Women in Business interviews here: Cat Archer Underwood, Suzanne Bungard, Lizzie Smith, Dipalee Jukes, Terrie Hounsome, Sue Dilworth.

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