Dominique Munoz and Shylee Conaway are both culinary students at Be.Tech High School.
To look at them, you would see two sweet teenage girls, but to know them, you would discover that they are not only sweet but smart, dedicated and passionate about developing their own businesses.
Dominique, 15, has taken her love of capturing precious people, places and moments in pictures to another level.
“It started as a hobby,” Dominique said. “People would ask me to take pictures of them and I did. Then they kept asking. I did it so frequently that I eventually realized I could be making a profit. And so I started a business.”
Specializing in photos of babies, families, weddings and parties, Dominique said with a grin that her business is booked.
“It’s pretty rolling right now,” Dominique noted.
The teenage business owner opted for the name You-Nique Photography because she genuinely believes every person is unique. As she celebrates her first year in business this June, she admits that she also is unique in the way she handles her business.
“I know what it’s like to struggle, so when people ask what I charge, I’ll ask them what their budget is and then recommend a package that fits their budget.”
Dominique’s aunt, also a photographer, has helped Dominique understand some of the legal sides to the business such as the difference between granting a copy right verses a print release.
“When I first started my business, I gave a customer a CD with the photos I had taken for her,” Dominique said. “When she went to print copies, they wouldn’t let her. The pictures looked professional (and they thought she didn’t have permission to print them). I gave the customer a copyright to the photos and later learned from my aunt that if the customer put one of my photos in a magazine and won a million dollars, having the copyright means she would have received the money (as if she had been the photographer). With print release (it protects my work) and the money goes to me.”
While training in culinary at school and having a photography business may seem on opposite ends, the two actually compliment each other as they are different forms of art. Between the photography mentorship she receives from her aunt and the principles of professionalism, integrity and passion taught to her on daily basis by her Culinary Instructors Chef Holloway and Chef Griggs, the future for this teen and her business is looking very bright.
“At Be.Tech we focus on integrity and character traits,” shared Dominique. “I know that I have worked on it. I’ve learned to develop better communication skills and new ways of dealing with things and I’ve also gained many connections here.”
One exciting connection for the teen recently was meeting local photographer Glenn Kahl, who she hopes to job shadow sometime in the near future.
When asked what she would like to share with the community about being a teenager with business dreams, Dominique shares,
“A lot of people think, I’m only 15 and that I’m just taking pictures but in December I worked with Santa taking photos and earned over $3,000,” she said. “That’s not a teenager just taking pictures. I’m willing to put the work in and I have passion for it.”
Shylee Conaway, 17, is another passionate teenager who embraced her vision of starting her own catering business after Chef Griggs informed her she would be running a 600-people catering event at the end of last school year with him and a few other culinary students.
It was the largest catering event Shylee had participated in and she found working side by side with Chef Griggs, and making sure every catering need was met, simply amazing. Gaining confidence from the experience along with catering other venues such as Del Web, fueled Shylee’s desire, thus starting, Custom Vision Catering.
The very first catering she did on her own through her business was a bridal shower where she prepared a breakfast buffet which included a waffle and parfait bar, sausage, eggs, bacon, trays of fruit along with champagne cupcakes smothered with cream cheese frosting. The event was such a success that guests requested Shylee’s business card and from there things have been booming.
Like the name of her business reveals, Shylee customizes her catering to whatever vision her customers may have.
Some custom visions have included Cappuccino Mocha Cupcakes, Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Bunny Butt Cake pops, Mexican Lasagna and even green apples perfectly sliced to create a decorative Swan along with much more.
As Shylee grows in her understanding of business, one thing she is already certain of is that integrity is important as a business owner.
“Even if it’s a ten-dollar deposit that needs to be returned to the customer, I want to make sure I give it back to them because it’s their money, not mine” she said.
Shylee believes that being a student at Be.Tech and having the opportunity to learn the art of culinary from talented chefs who believe in “teaching students to become good people no matter what career path” reiterated by Chef Holloway, has not only inspired her but has helped her to appreciate her education as well as bring about maturity.
“I don’t go out and do a lot of things that the typical high school student would do because most of my weekends now are focused on my catering business,” Shylee said. “It’s taught me responsibility and how to put my education before the fun. My vision is by the time I’m 40, I want to have my own restaurant with an Italian/Mexican fusion and have a second location by 50.”
When asked what she would like to share with the community about being a teenager with business dreams, Shylee noted, There is more than meets the eye when you meet someone. People might look at me and say she’s a kid, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But then they try the catering I’ve done and they are amazed. That’s when they know that there is more than meets the eye.”
While some teenagers may get a bad rep for various reasons, Dominique Munoz and Shylee Conaway are two local teenagers serious about their education, business and making a positive difference in the community.
uTo learn more about You-Nique Photography visit: youniquephotography2015 on Facebook.
uTo learn more about Custom Vision Catering, visit: custom.vision.catering on Instagram or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.