Starling business customer Aina Gomez is a filmmaker, photographer and mother. She runs her business, Family Memento, from Cambridge.

Aina Gomez works as a freelance photographer with a focus on family portraits. “I feel really passionately about family photography because of not having pictures myself,” she explains. Her husband, who worked as a film producer and director, died five years ago when their daughter was seven months old. They only had one blurry photograph of the family together. “It was taken by a friend of ours - it’s not a great picture but bless her, I’m really thankful that she took that picture.”

Through her company, Family Memento, she provides others with images she knows they’ll love. “It’s a constructive approach to grief,” says Aina, 36.

Aina Gomez, freelance photographer

Creative and business evolution

She set up her first business with her husband in 2008. They ran a small production company in Spain, where Aina grew up. After five years, they decided to close to the company.

“I wanted to take a break from being an entrepreneur for a while,” she says. “But it’s a strong calling, you go back to it. The first leg of my career was all about moving images. Now I’ve moved to stills.”

Aina focuses on family photography

Aina set up her photography business Family Memento after moving from Mallorca to Cambridge in 2017. “I moved to Cambridge to challenge myself as I had become too comfortable in my home town and in my managerial job. I wanted to expand my horizons and set out on my own,” she says.

“It’s logical to feel nervous about setting up a business. There’s no safety net. It feels like you’re jumping into the void. But it’s been very freeing.”

During the time between running her production company and her photography business, she helped set up and run a language school. She coordinated classes in English, German and Mandarin, some of which she taught herself.

Running a solo business

When she ran her production company, she employed at least 20 people for each film. At the language school, she headed up a team of 25. “It’s a huge change being completely on my own. When I started to feel that loneliness creeping in, I joined a co-working space.

As the sole carer for her six-year-old daughter, she builds her work schedule around school pickups and activities. “When I was working for the language school, I used to not see her Monday to Friday. I’d wake her up, drag her to nursery and then not see her until the next morning. I was spending all my money on childcare and it didn’t make any sense: why work all those hours to then spend the money on childcare so you could keep working all those hours? I decided to take a hold of my life.”

Aina’s daughter

Going into business comes with a lot of risks and I’m still at the very early stages but I’m making it work and my daughter is much happier.”

Managing time as a freelancer

Like many freelancers, Aina often struggles to switch off. “When you’re a freelancer, you own your time but you never completely disconnect from your work. At night, you can lie there thinking about clients, how to get the next job or finish something you’ve started. It’s not like you leave the office and you’re done. You expect yourself to work outside of typical office hours.” Her advice is to try sticking to a timetable and to give yourself time off.

Valuing your prints

For fellow photographers looking to improve, her advice is to print your work. “Print as much as you can because digital dies,” she says.

“When you print, it doesn’t look the same as it does on the monitor so it teaches you about how colours react to different prints. You also need to really think about the picture you’re taking. You might take 50 images but you won’t print all of them. There might only be eight that stand up so it makes you question how you can improve and have more photographs you value enough to print and hang up. It’s a change in mentality.”

Saving for equipment with Starling

Aina downloaded Starling after her accountant recommended their business account. “Knowing that Starling is a full bank helps - lots of online providers haven’t got their licences,” she says. Starling received a full banking licence in July 2018, meaning that customer deposits are protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Her favourite feature of Starling is Goals, a space where customers can set aside money as savings. She set a goal for new equipment, which she achieved. “In my business… it’s important to keep growing and improving your service and having more equipment allows me to have a better service and keep being excited about the technical aspects of my job,” she says.

She also uses Starling for her personal banking. “Being able to have it all in one app has worked wonders.”

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