Overcoming difficulties is what Kevin Haggenjos does. Being a successful professional photographer in the days when just about everyone has a camera in their phone is challenge enough. But being deaf and fighting to build your business in order to stop receiving public assistance, would be more than most entrepreneurs could handle. But not Haggenjos… overcoming is just what he does. More about Kevin's story.
When told that he would not be able to find clients because he would have difficulty communicating with the hearing public, he developed a client base. When updating equipment became critical to compete in a world in which everyone with a smart phone sees themselves as a photographer, he applied for a grant from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services. When his business plan was rejected, he turned to Michiana SCORE to help him make it better.
How does a deaf photographer make it in business? Just like every entrepreneur, hard work, tenacity, perseverance and, oh yes… talent.
Every year the City of South Bend, through its Downtown South Bend (DTSB) organization matches creative entrepreneurs with vacant storefronts in the 100 and 200 blocks of Michigan Street. In its fourth year, this successful "Pop-Up Shop" program gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to launch and expand their businesses while adding excitement and energy to the downtown shopping experience. The competition to get these opportunities is tough. But, despite the competition, Kevin Haggenjos believes he will be one of the winners. “We provide exceptional quality and service”, Haggenjos says. “And I believe we have a powerful story to tell”.
Michiana SCORE agrees. The SBA sponsored organization of volunteer executives provides mentoring and coaching to businesses like Kevin Haggenjos Photography. They bring their years of experience to provide the input for hard working entrepreneurs like Haggenjos to make their dreams a reality. This holiday season, if you visit downtown South Bend, you just may be able to stop in at the Kevin Haggenjos Photography Studio. If you do, you’ll get to meet a local entrepreneur who refuses to let a disability stop him from realizing the American Dream. You’ll get a chance to meet a Michiana Photographer who continues to triumph against great odds.
"The harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. Self-realization demands very great struggle."