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Rising Stars: Meet Marvella Duarte Coon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marvella Duarte Coon.

Marvella, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am originally from Venezuela and came to the US in 2001 to live my American dream. I wanted to learn English as a second language (Spanish is my native language), so I decided to leave everything behind and come to The University of Findlay in Ohio. The situation in my home country was getting really bad, so I decided to stay in the US and continue my education. I studied and worked very hard at one point holding three jobs while studying. Still, I was committed to accomplishing my other dream, to have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). I earned an MBA in 2004, and a few months after that, I was offered a brand new position at the Alumni Office as the International Alumni Relations Associate. I was back now as an employee. It was a blessing in my life. After having a wonderful experience at the UF, I decided to move on and relocated to Columbus, OH, to start my career in the corporate world. I worked for Nationwide Insurance and J.P. Morgan Chase for several years. I also earned a Master of Project Management and developed my career as a Project Manager during that period. God allowed me to meet my soulmate, and I got married in 2010. We have 2 amazing, lovey daughters who are the most important part of our lives. This was my ultimate dream come true. At one point in my life, I realized that the Corporate world was not fulfilling my happiness anymore for various reasons. I decided to make a change and start all over again with a new career. I have always loved photography, which became an obsession and passion once I became a mom. My girls became my inspiration and models. I studied and worked very hard to become a professional photographer because I wanted to serve people by capturing their special stories and creating amazing memories to be cherished forever. So, that is how I started my new dream, Heartfelt Photography, LLC, in Ohio in 2018. I love what I do, although it is not easy to run a small business independently. There are always new things to learn and challenges, but most important is how rewarding it is when I make people happy through their heartfelt memories. Two years ago, I was supposed to attend my first photography workshop in St. Louis, MO. However, after the pandemic started, it was canceled. This photography workshop is called Shutterfest, which only happens in this amazing city. I could finally attend this year in April, and I had an incredible experience. I also loved the city and the many models I had the pleasure to work with. From now on, I will be going to St. Louis for this workshop every year, and I look forward to building more business relationships there. Thank you for reaching out to me about getting to know me and my story. I am honored by your request, and I hope my story inspires others to follow their passion(s), learn from every opportunity that life gives us, and work hard to accomplish all our dreams.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My experience as a professional photographer and entrepreneur has been quite different but, at the same time, very similar. I had to use my business skills learned at the business school and the project management skills learned during my corporate experience. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. The time and financial investments required are more than what people imagine. I now deal directly with the customer and have an exclusive end-to-end relationship with them. I do it all! Although I feel like I work 24/7, it is very rewarding. I love to capture my clients’ special moments in their lives, such as Senior sessions, maternities, family/children portraits, corporate headshots, birthday milestones, fashion photoshoots, and more. The biggest reward is to hear and see that people love and appreciate my artwork and that they loved the experience they had with me as their photographer. Bringing happiness and success to them is my top goal. I am constantly trying to improve my artistic skills, investing in new equipment, and optimizing my internal processes to be a better asset to my clients and serve them better. People deserve excellent service for their investment, which is a top priority for me. Creating amazing memories for my clients is heartfelt to me, and I hope they feel the same way.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
Please, see the story I shared at the beginning of this interview. I am very proud of what I have accomplished since I arrived in the US. I worked hard, believed in my dreams, and followed my heart. I am proud to be a US citizen. I am proud that I have 2 master’s degrees. I am proud that I have worked in amazing places. I am proud of my family. I am proud to be a business owner and the professional photographer I dreamed of.

What set me apart from the rest?
I am humble, but I can say that I care about my clients as if they were family. I do my best to provide the best customer experience with my service and photography. I go beyond what is expected, which always makes me feel good. My clients are important to me, and I try to make them feel respected, successful, and loved.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I had mentors when I worked in the corporate world because I believe it has been important to my success. On the other hand, I have been a mentor to young girls in Central Ohio Big Brothers Big Sisters because I wanted to give back to my community and make a positive impact directly in someone’s life. I have tried to have a mentor in the photography industry, but unfortunately, I have not been lucky to find someone willing to do it. It is a very competitive industry, and I am not. Many photographers have ignored my requests, and it has been very disappointing. Nevertheless, I will continue trying, and I hope my mentor can be found in St. Louis.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Heartfelt Photography, LLC – My photos (Marve) Models: – Alexa Duarte Coon – Anna May – Autumn Huse – Caylen Johnson – Cierra Bird – Miranda Dereak

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