by Ethan Waltersdorf
Abigail (Abby) Hamilton, Currently a sophomore at Syracuse University, knew she wanted to pursue a career in business from a young age. Abby began running lemonade stands at the age of ten, establishing her fascination with the world of business and entrepreneurship. Eight years later Abby decided to attend the Martin J. Whitman School of Management because of, “the phenomenal business program and entrepreneurial support network available through the Couri Hatchery, The Tech Garden and Whitman’s unique entrepreneurship curriculum.” However, Abby did not wait until college to explore her own business ideas.
In 2014 she launched Patriot Portraits after developing a business plan for a high school entrepreneurship class she took during her junior year. The class was sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which is a nationwide program that educates and empowers youth through entrepreneurship programming. Abby recognizes this class for completely changing her perspective on her future. The class required Abby to develop a business plan that solved a problem the she often faced during her daily life.
“As a young photographer, I personally experienced the stigma that is associated to young professionalism. I also frequently witnessed my peers’ families face deployment on short notice, leaving without a single family portrait to remind them of times together.”
Based on these experiences Abby came up of with idea of Patriot Portraits, which hires talented young photographers to photograph military families facing deployment. Patriot Portraits empowers young photographers by providing them with their first photography jobs allowing them to break into the professional industry, and provides military families with photos to cherish during times of separation from loved ones.
When asked what has been the most rewarding part of the Patriot Portraits experience for her, Abby replied stating, “seeing the joy that these portraits brought to military families and the empowerment that our youth photographers found through their work in our program was incredibly rewarding.” She also expressed that she experienced enormous personal growth in her mindset and as a business owner by launching Patriot Portraits, “This business validated that entrepreneurship is the best career for me.”
Syracuse University and the Whitman School of Management have continued to assist Abby as she furthers her education, career in entrepreneurship and new business ventures. Abby explained that she now has a much deeper understanding of the backbone of running a business, “I now understand why initial failures occurred and strategies to implement for future success. Every class session I attend, I learn something that I can apply to how I run my business.” She also has some valuable advice for perspective and current student entrepreneurs.
“When launching your business, design it so that it pertains to something you are passionate about. The classic, ‘if you love your work, you will never work a day in your life,’ motto rings especially true to student entrepreneurs developing a business in their spare time. It definitely becomes challenging to balance a full course load alongside launching a company, but much of the course work at Whitman makes it easily translatable for implementation into your business, and makes the course work more relevant to you.”
On top of entering the Panasci Business Plan Competition, being a full time student and advancing Patriot Portraits, Abby is also developing another venture, Spolitic, which is a platform that allows millennials to engage with political events in their area.