As we gear up for Black History month, why not celebrate Black Women in our city that are making history and thriving. Covid was and still is a tough time to be in but, these success stories will show us all that it’s still possible to make your dreams happen during this time.
Meet Toshia D.
My name is Natoshia (Natasha) Damptey (Damp-tee), but you can all me Toshia D. I am the owner of Yaakoa Stylz: Photography and Design. I specialize in beauty and fashion photography along with composite graphics. Also, I coach cheerleading, gymnastics and tumbling plus I have started doing choreography for the cheerleading team that I am coaching. I have been doing photography since June 2017. In graphic design I had started at the age of 10 by teaching myself how to design on photos. In 2009, my dad had purchased Adobe software for me and I was teaching myself how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. In high school I studied graphic design and web development. Now, I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design while teaching myself about the photography world. I enjoy my career and everything that comes with it because it is something different plus, I am always challenged. Having a challenge helps me stay on my toes and test my brain!
How has quarantine been for you?
Quarantine has been a slight struggle and a blessing for me. There was a period that I did not have work and then we had reopened back up. Being out of work for about 2 to 3 months was not easy for me because I had felt like my photography business was not going to go well due to the pandemic. To keep myself a bit busy I had to get myself to be creative. I built a little studio in my bedroom to create those shoots. I have also used different parts of the house to create but most of them are created in my bedroom.
What have you learned as a business owner
As a business owner I have learned to have patience with other people and to get to understand people. I always try to work with people and make it convenient for them.
How have you been able to adapt? Any hard lessons you had to face?
The hardest lesson during Covid for my business is to adapt. I had to learn about myself and then learn about people and how to cope with them in my own way and not in a way to just make people happy.
Covid continues to impact Indy, through a global pandemic how have you been able to be impactful with your business?
Due to the world being in a pandemic and many people losing their jobs but wanting to still be able to live their life the way they try too. Basically, I tried to keep pricing reasonable. I had made my deposits be valid for the entire year instead of having them valid for only 30 days for their shoot date. That way if they need to reschedule their appointment then their deposit will be there because it is normally a non-refundable deposit.
Social distancing, being away from friends and family, 6 feet or more has provided A LOT of time to self reflect. What is something you reflected on that actually has helped you grow?
Something that I have reflected during this pandemic is myself on how creative I can be along with my mental health growth. I tried to keep up with projects at home and clients outside of work. While I was out of work for 2-3 months, I had tried to stay creative as possible with projects and post as often as I can on social media. I created a mini studio in my room to create because I had a feeling that I was not going to have the clients that I was working up to have. Since doing that it has helped me grow my clientele around the city.
We’ve seen business close without plans to reopen, and unfortunately ones that have hit rock bottom. How have you been able to stay afloat? And stay booked and busy?
The way that I stay booked and busy is not just from having great customer service. I am always trying to make sure that I have something to post because that is a way for me to promote myself every day on my business page and other pages. Also, I post on my story often on my personal page so that the engagement can eventually hit my business page for those that are interested in seeing that.
Has social media been a tool during this time for you? or mentally draining?
Social media has been both a tool and mentally draining. The social media apps can help me promote and bring a decent to hopefully large size of engagement. I had decided to post some of my work back in April or May because I figure out what direction of photography I had wanted to go to. Since I am now focusing more on beauty and fashion photography, I had wanted to post those shoots for my personal page following to see. This has also helped building up my clientele. Social media can be mentally draining because I tend to compare myself to another photographer out there that has been in the game longer than I have. I am learning to get myself out of the type of mindset because that is not going to help me. Whenever I do this on social media, I tend to get discourage with myself and think that my work is not good enough for the people to look at. I am learning to get out of this as well because I know that my work is good and that it is only getting better every single time I walk into the studio or have a new client. Anytime a client tells me that I am doing well, or I receive a new client. That tends to remind me that I am doing something right because people have complements and some will come back for more photoshoots.
Be honest, everyone has struggled during this time, what was hardest hurdle for you?
The hardest hurdle is staying a float in general. I overthink way too often, so a lot of times I will think that my work is not going to get me anywhere or that no one is looking to notice my work. Then later on in the year I was starting to get more and more notifications on my posts. Telling me that I am doing welling and that they can see the growth that has come. That was helpful for me because it helped boost up some of my confidence whenever I am going to post. Now, when I post on my social media I will just post and leave it where it is. Somebody is going to see my work at some point and there is no reason to rush the process.
By being a Black Woman, with you own black business… How important is it for you to be able to tell our stories?
As a black women it is extremely important to tell your story. Many women and even men will or have gone through the same type of situations that you have. That person may not know how to deal or cope with what is going on. It is best to tell your story to some people in a safe space so that they can learn from your mistakes or whatever you have gone through and how you have overcome those situations.
Make sure to follow her and all her creations: @yaakoa_stylz and @toshiadvisuals