Karla Melgarejo is a published fashion photographer from Bolivia and Co-Founder of a fresh new photo-stock platform called Incamara. Incamara is a global marketplace where marketers, bloggers, advertising agencies, social media gurus and content creators can find the right imagery for their campaigns.
What inspired you to start your company and how did you set about doing this?
We know how much time it takes to create content and how easy it would be if you already had images ready to share, so you can focus more on your business. We wanted to facilitate the process and offer the fastest and most affordable solutions, whilst opening the doors to a variety of photographers and providing them with the chance to grow their talent into a business.
Had you had any business experience before this?
I’ve worked for several global companies managing teams and in 2011 I launched my personal photography brand, which I am still working on – at the time it was YOUnique Photography, now it’s known as Karla Melgarejo Photography. Karla Melgarejo Photography is my personal brand focused on fashion photography and fashion styling. In 2013 I launched the first digital magazine in my country (Bolivia), which is no longer around, but we definitely set the trend for digital media back then.
How big is your team at the moment?
There are two Co-Founders – my brother Rodrigo and I, as well as a small team of developers and marketing specialists. We also work with a team of 20+ contributors who are photographers or graphic designers that sell their work through our platform and they are a hugely important part of our creative team. Our team is growing every day.
How do you promote and PR your business?
We don’t do PR as such, although we should focus on it a bit more. Our main source of traffic is Digital Marketing – mainly Social Media.
When did you first start learning photography and what resources would you recommend wannabes?
I started to learn photography when I was in college, I studied Corporate Communication and it was one of the courses I took during a semester. That was it! I loved it! Also my brother had always been into photography and I always admired his work.
What I would recommend is to never stop learning. I mean sometimes we get stuck in the idea that we got it all down, but the truth is we never stop learning. So many things change specially today with technology being so fast paced.
Don’t ever settle with where you are, there is so much more out there to discover!
Which is most important – camera, lighting or photoshop?
I think all of them! They all cover something essential in photography and at the end you can’t do one without the other. They all end up working together to create the final image and concept.
Do you have any other entrepreneurs in your family?
My brother, who is my business partner, we both launched Incamara together and our father is also an entrepreneur so we must have got it from him!
Do you ever use any mobile apps for editing?
I do, I love Darkroom.
What future plans do you have for expanding your vision?
We have so many plans ahead of us, Incamara was launched last year (2017) in March so it’s not even been a year, there are so many things we want to do and expand into.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
As we are a small team right now, I still have to be involved in almost all aspects of the business. So everyday might be different, split between meetings, marketing and strategy building, content creation, photo-shoots and so on.
Tell us more about some of the aspects you are working on and further developing
We are now working on expanding our platform further, we work with Latin America and the US but we want to get working more within Europe and Asia.
How does running your own business compare to your previous career?
Everyone thinks running your own business is freeing you from working for someone else, but actually the work and time you invest is probably much more if you want to succeed. It takes time, patience, a lot of hours, sacrifices, investment it’s definitely not as easy as it seems but totally worth the ride if you love it.
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
My biggest and most important highlight is more personal – becoming a mom! I have a 7-month-old baby girl and she came into this world to change my life completely. Everything I do, I do it for her, so that one day she will know that she can be whoever she wants, so long as she persists and believes in what she is doing. Hope Incamara will be a legacy she can continue someday.
And biggest failure?
I wouldn’t call them failures but I do think we all have pitfalls, I’ve had many a long the way and still do, but I learned to stand up and keep going.
What’s been the funniest moment of your career?
I can’t think of a specific moment, but I will say that sense of humour is ESSENTIAL when you are an entrepreneur. You should take things seriously when running your business but if you can laugh off the pitfalls – trust me your days will become so much easier when you also have fun.
What do you think the advantages and setbacks are for a female founder in the startup space?
I think today we see more and more female entrepreneurs and leaders, which of course leads to greater opportunities for us. The fact that there are more and more leading female roles at companies now means we’ve created an important role for women in business today and that is really empowering. I am proud to say I am an entrepreneur today where we are inspiring future generations of girls to be whoever they want to be!
What advice would you give to someone starting out and looking to break into the modelling and fashion industry?
I would probably say BE YOURSELF! Being part of the fashion industry is not only one of the most competitive industries but also one of the toughest because there are so many expectations. One thing I learned is that being different is actually what will make you stand out. Don’t be what they expect you to be, don’t change your style or who you are because you think the industry wants you to look or be a certain way, you are you and no one will ever be that so stick to your persona and most importantly own it! Confidence in this industry is EVERYTHING!
Did you have a mentor or people you asked for advice?
My husband, I don’t know what I would do without him, he is not only my biggest fan and always cheering me on, but also the one who always gives me the most honest feedback and advice.
Who are your role models?
I would have to say my parents. They were always present for us while still being dedicated, successful and hard working. Something I am learning to balance and make my priority, as I am now a mother myself!
How has what you do, changed you as a person?
It has taught me that sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone to go places, to let go of some opportunities in order to create your own new ones.
How do you like to take time out for yourself and stay healthy and active?
I love taking long walks, but now I also am getting back in shape and going back to the gym. Post baby body – new year, new goals!
What’s on your reading list?
1.-GIRLBOSS (Sophia Amoruso)
2.- The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
3.- Zero to one (Peter Thiel)
If you could do any other job, aside from what you do now, what would it be?
I wouldn’t, I love what I do! 🙂
Do you have any unconventional words of advice?
Do something that matters! Make sure it’s something that has a meaning to you; don’t just wait to get a paycheck because that won’t bring happiness or ‘success’. Do something that you are convinced that people need, that you believe in, that confidence and passion will lead to a story, a story people will relate to and what will ultimately sell!
What is your motto?
Never give up!
If money and time were no object, what would be on your to-do and to-see list?
Travel, travel and travel around the world!