We had the good fortune of connecting with Jewel Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jewel, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Over the almost three years of my company being official, I’ve always had to balance school life, extracurricular activities, and my company. Being involved with various activities in my Senior year, such as Dance Team, JROTC, Drumline, Latinx Dance Club, Yearbook Photo Editor, and more truly showed me my time management skills. Over time, I’ve had to also balance with beginning my Freshman year at Columbia College Chicago starting in 2020. It was a shift, especially having mostly virtual classes, but with my calendar and my reminders app, I figured out the two. With my company, I realized that I could not cater to photoshoots or video shoots every day during my college school year and had to put a boundary on that. Once figuring out my schedule, I set shoots to only happen on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I tend to think about the balance in knowing that I want to be successful in my education and my company and plan things accordingly to ensure both tasks are fullied to their best abilities. In the end, after finishing my freshman year at Columbia College Chicago, I finished with a 4.0 GPA, having Straight A’s this entire year, and still being involved with other activities and clubs on campus. Balancing my time wasn’t easy, but I had to prioritize certain activities to make sure they all work together.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At nine years old, children are playing with toys, watching Sesame Street, or coloring. At nine years old, I spent my time learning about the film industry. My father knew of a film program called Visions Blu led by Film Director Ms. Karon Hamlet. Every week we learned something new about cameras, editing, and journalism. When the program ended, I knew that film was what I wanted to pursue in college. I encountered many opportunities, such as becoming a youth reporter for the Bud Billiken parade in Chicago and a photographer for the Women’s Rally for Toni Preckwinkle. Over time, I also participated in more film and television programs. While participating in film and television programs, in June 2018, I put my talent into a business and became an entrepreneur by founding Jewel In Focus, my photography, and videography company. Capturing memorable moments for people, such as Birthdays, Graduations, and Prom, made me realize the impact I want to have on others using my creative skills. Getting to where I am today professionally was pretty straightforward, but there were many adjustments along the way. With me being a self-taught photographer, I had to learn more about my camera over the years and ensure my prices matched that experience. I would have small photoshoots, including some of my friends from High School, and they would pay a small fee to ensure I got that experience. Even working with clients outside of my network had to include some adjustments in making sure they understood my passion for my work. I overcame some of the challenges by discussing them with my parents and even doing my research to make sure I had the proper steps to take. Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way are that every photographer, videographer, and creative all have a different mission for themselves. For a while, I thought most photographers had the same niche and ran their company the same, which isn’t the case. I also learned that prices are unique to your own company and your audience. I want to be that photographer and videographer who is reasonable enough for an individual to still receives high-quality work. With my brand and my story, I want to ensure individuals understand that balancing all my activities and being a young entrepreneur isn’t always the easiest. Still, since I have a passion for it, I’ll ensure I give 110% of my energy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In Chicago, there are so many places to explore and especially some unique food places. For food, I would take them to a black-owned restaurant called Phlavz. The food is fantastic, along with excellent customer service. I would recommend anything on their menu, but especially their lobster nachos. You can’t come to Chicago without trying some of our other iconic places, such as Harolds, Garrets popcorn, or trying our Deep Dish Pizza from Giordano’s. Another place I would recommend to hang out is pretty hidden in Chicago, but the Garden of Phoenix, which is located behind the Museum of Science and Industry. This garden is stunning, and you can even enjoy a nice picnic there on the grass. I would also recommend Downtown, Navy Pier, and Michigan Avenue. Downtown as a whole is such a great space, along with my college campus being there in South Loop. Navy Pier recently opened back up, and it is an excellent place for photos, along with just walking around and enjoying the lake view. Michigan Avenue has some top stores, such as our new huge Starbucks location, Water Tower, and other stores all along the street. You’ll enjoy yourself shopping down there. Chicago is filled with many things to do, places to go, and foods to eat, but those would be my top recommendations to check out.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shoutout to my parents and my family. Without them, I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today. Starting at just nine years old, my father was the one who introduced me to my first film program, which I was a bit unsure about at the time. I grew my love for the film throughout the years, and he would bring me along to his radio shows, any press conference, the Bud Billiken Parade, and other events. My mother was also my #1 fan and cheered me on along the way. Even throughout my Senior Year and College process, she helped ensure I applied for all my scholarships on time, checking in about my school work while still being my company’s manager. With the combination of their love, along with the love and support from my siblings and my family members, I appreciate how they’ve helped me grow throughout the years.