From PhD To Photographer

Cumbria Business Growth Hub and the European Regional Development Fund help to launch pet photography business
December 7, 2022

Phillip Jolly worked as a chemistry researcher before embracing a career change which led him to start his own pet photography business. During this transition, Cumbria Business Growth Hub was able to support Phillip with the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. A year and a half on, he has completed the scheme and successfully launched his business.

Phillip’s original career in chemistry started after he completed a PhD at Strathclyde University, and was given the opportunity to work in Poland, and then in Germany at the prestigious Institute for Organic Chemistry at Heidelberg University. By the start of 2020, Phillip had spent two years working at the University of Ottawa in Canada. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring of that year, he lost his job.

While the UK Government was suggesting those in the Creative Industries like ballet dancer Fatima might go 'the other way' - and try for a 'proper job', Phillip was headed in the opposite direction (he just didn't know it yet).

Compelled to reassess his career, Phillip picked up a camera he had inherited from his grandfather and decided to learn how to use it, taking a photography course at the Ottawa School of Photographic Art. He started by taking photographs of landscapes and animals, finding a particular talent for photographing dogs. Upon returning to Cumbria, he noticed a gap in the market and decided to launch his own pet photography business.

Chester: Crossing A Body Of Water Without Any Restrictions

Jolly Dog Photography specialises in dog photography offering both studio portraits, and environmental portraits in customers’ homes or in natural settings. Customers can purchase different packages from a 90-minute photography shoot to a package of four different shoots to capture a new puppy’s development at different stages. Jolly Dog also works with a photography lab to present the finished photographs in high-end frames and prints for customers to purchase.

While in the planning stages of his new business, a quick Google search took Phillip to the Growth Hub’s website where he found out about the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. Funded by the European Social Fund and administered by Cumbria Business Growth Hub, NEA supported people on Jobseeker’s Allowance to start their own businesses.

After completing the application process for NEA, the Growth Hub provided Phillip with a monthly allowance, while he setup the business, and paired him with business adviser, Justine Douglas. Justine met with Phillip regularly advising on areas including the business plan, budgeting, and the different types of insurance needed.

Phillip is clear: “Justine’s guidance was invaluable, particularly while preparing my application to the NEA scheme, imparting advice from budgeting and insurance to where I might find additional support. The scheme afforded me some additional financial support and confidence whilst establishing the business.”

For Phillip, the benefit of running his own photography business is having the freedom to be his own boss and express himself creatively through his work. In future, he plans to expand his work into other forms of photography including country and lifestyle, and sport.

“It is great to be able to capture some of the beauty of the natural environment in my dog portraiture and I love spending time in the Cumbrian landscape. Some of my other interests including hiking, cycling and fly fishing so naturally I am eager to see if Jolly Dog Photography can be a launch pad to explore other exciting photographic experiences, for instance tomorrow I hope to capture some images of Artic Char in Ennerdale while the Environment Agency monitors their health.”

Millie: Considering Her Heritage

The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regeneration.  

If you would like more information on the very real impact the European Community is still having in your neighbourhood, check out: