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Studio 7 Nam by Sarde Amadhila.

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“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me & because of that I have no limitations.”

Sarde Amadhila is a social entrepreneur and commercial & wedding photographer. He is also the face behind Studio 7 Nam – one of the country’s most distinguished photo studios. He grew up in Oluno in the northern part of Namibia and then later moved to Omaalala. He matriculated from Otjikoto Secondary School then pursued Accounting at UNAM until his 3rd year, when he was forced to leave school to work and save money because he didn’t have funding.
He initially found work as a teacher between 2013 and 2017, teaching Geography (Grade 8 – 10) and English (Grade 4 & 10) at Evale Combined School & Onkumbula Combined School. He felt like it was his duty to make sure the Namibian child had a good education and did so well that he garned up several awards as a teacher, including 85% Pass Rates. Nevertheless, his innate passion eventually came calling and in 2016 he decided to take photography seriously as a full-time career.
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Tell us about Studio 7 Nam, the products & services you offer and your team.
“Studio 7 Nam, formerly called ShootSanNam, started off as somewhat of a part-time job for me. At the time, I had bought a camera with which I’d take pictures of the children at school. One day, someone found me buying lights & asked if I was a photographer. Something told me to tell her “Yes!” and fast forward from that encounter, she hired me to shoot her wedding. Consequently, I began to receive calls from more clients to shoot their ceremonies, however, it slowly put pressure on my work as I was still teaching. I had to make the difficult decision to sacrifice the future of the Namibian child or to follow my passion & this opportunity to grow – and that is how Studio 7 came to be.”
Studio 7 Nam cc offers photography & video production, photography mentorships & workshops as well as advertising.”

The Studio 7 team consists of 6 people, including Sarde:
1. Eva-Liisa David – Head Photographer | Marketing, Manages northern studio.
2. Sarde Amadhila – Head Video Productions | Founder.
3. Tiofelus Kaputu – Assistant Photographer | Announcement Day Photographer.
4. Frieda Luanda – Assistant Photographer | Manages Windhoek studio.
5. Sackaria Ndjambula – Assistant Photographer | Announcement Day Photographer.
6. Michael Markus – Freelance Photographer | Provides software support.

What inspired you to start this business?
“My dad was and still is a businessman. At that time, he ran a car sales company and I would always be with him, shadowing. The fact that he, and most of my dad’s family, was into entrepreneurship it intrigued me as much as it seemed daunting. I also believed that if I put in the time and effort to learn that I could add value to the photography & wedding industries with my own flair and skills. Eventually I pursued entrepreneurship for myself. I also live by a verse, Phillipians 4:13 – that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me & because of that I have no limitations.”

What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I didn’t realise that I wanted it this much until I was in it; it’s as though I’m picking up stuff even after all this time. Being my own boss provides me with the challenge of having to push myself because I was a bit relaxed; now my drive is different and I’m motivated.

What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“I feel that what sets me apart is the beauty retouching and my understanding of the relationship between light & photography. I do both outdoor & studio portraits, of which I retouch images by enhancing a person’s features while still keeping the anatomy of a face – enhancing beauty but not changing the person.”

What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“Not many people know that I was robbed right after my first and my second gigs; I could’ve given up but I used my savings to continue. Further challenges included trying to get it right with corporate & commercial photography (which required a different level of photography), struggling to create a presentation that could sell my work and lastly, the art of good customer service which I wasn’t familiar with. This translated into low sales and having to spend more on marketing & advertising. I also didn’t start off with financial literacy so I struggled with knowing how & what to spend money on.
I overcame my challenges by booking sessions with financial and marketing advisors as well as other photographers that were in the industry to help me understand the market better than I did.”

What is your business philosophy?
“My philosophy is to provide customers with a service that exceeds their expectations by going the extra mile so that at some point, the business and the reputation that has been built will be able to speak for itself.”

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“Understand the basics of running a business and what it means to be the business. Learn every aspect of how to take photograph and what makes a picture. Everything involved is important – from the lenses to the lighting to posing & editing – it’ll set you apart from other photographers.”

How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“Networking is the whole business! It is what helped and continues to help everyone get to where they are. It provides insights of the industry, how one can work around their respective business challenges or even help you identify a niche.”

What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“Through Studio 7, I am able to assist young creatives & enthusiasts by encouraging & helping them with opportunities to take up photography as a more than a hobby but a business too. That in turn fuels the entrepreneurial scene because eventually they can have an independent photography business of their own.”

What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“The start-up scene could do with more financial and business support; funding of projects, mentorships and so on. Start-up owners can also benefit from workshops that focus on ethics, customer service, etc. A few organizations have measures in place but there is still a need to reach out and support more start-ups.”

Startups in Namibia, and all over the world, are facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic; how has your startup adjusted to the situation and/or assisted in disseminating information, combatting the spread of the virus, etc.?
“We have had to do move our Photography Workshop sessions online as well as selling our Photoshop tips & tricks to help photographers retouch better. Reducing our prices was a necessary evil too, in order to break-even. We had stopped operating in-line with the lockdown regulations, however, as the lockdown has been lifted, and we are wedding & commercial photographers, we have resumed work while taking precautions such as carrying sanitizers, wearing masks and using zoom lenses to protect ourselves and our clients by keeping to the advised 1m distance.”
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Website: www.studio7nam.com
Tel: 081 309 1692
Facebook: Studio 7 Nam
Instagram: @studio7nam & @ studio7portraits
Twitter: @Studio7nam

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