Meet Jackie Blair, in-house photographer– and philanthropist
Ask anyone at Chair Covers & Linens, and they’ll agree that photographer Jackie Blair is an entrepreneur by nature.
After all, not many people can claim to have put together their own curated degree program – and then go on to start a business while still in college.
“I started my own wedding photography company during my undergrad,” says Jackie. “I had transferred to a new program and designed my own major at Oakland University so it could equip me with the digital imaging & entrepreneurship skills for my photography business.”
Jackie quickly made inroads into the wedding and photography industry, and found herself jet-setting across the country shooting weddings, making incredible connections with colleagues nationally.
“I was only in my early twenties, and I’m really thankful to have seen quick exponential success shooting some amazing events with such great clients – and to have been able to travel for work at such a young age.”
But with her degree completed, Jackie found herself looking for alternatives to the time she established in wedding photography.
It was perfect timing. Kristen Store, CC&L’s HR Manager, found Jackie and her impressive portfolio – and promptly got in touch.
“Kristen found me on LinkedIn promptly during my job search and sent me an email. It was very exciting to see an opportunity that included so much of my previous role in a team environment. My focus here is as our in-house photographer, and initially with our marketing through graphic design. I’ve become passionate about managing our digital media through our brand’s social media presence – and I absolutely love photographing venues around Detroit documenting our rentals at amazing client events.”
On any given day Jackie might find herself shooting showroom tables and designs, photographing new linens to upload to the web catalogue, overseeing the visuals for internal marketing projects, and writing and sharing social media content.
“My favorite project so far has been working on our first seasonal look-book. I spent nearly two straight weeks shooting a series of six elaborately styled tables put together by our in-house team. It was a privilege to also then design the final piece and to see it all come together. I’m working on a summer look-book now, and I’m really thrilled for the end result.”
Never one to turn down a challenge, Jackie is also dipping her toe into shooting video at Linen Hero & Top That! Event.
“The move to video is a transition with so much potential for the company. There’s a lot of digital growth opportunity there for us, and on a personal level I love being able to share my artistic direction and grow my digital project management skills.”
And when her busy days come to a close? Jackie’s never far from her camera.
“I love the creative energy here in Detroit, and you can always find me at art or live music shows. I like to explore areas as I travel with analog film – it’s photography stripped back to its basics. You only have 24 exposures, so you have to get the right moment at the right time; shooting in manual mode. It’s a huge contrast from weddings, and reminded me of how I fell in love with photography at such a young age before digital and at GVSU in the darkroom.”
Jackie’s also heavily involved in philanthropy, volunteering her camera skills to the not-for-profit NoChild.org.
“I travelled to Kenya in 2013 to take and update profile photos of children at three different orphanages in the Pokot region. The photos provide an update on how the children were doing through letters to their sponsors and they are used in marketing for their initiatives with Hope Water Project which has raised millions of dollars to bring clean water to the area. ”
Jackie will travel with the organization again to Nepal in October, where she’ll use her photography skills to help at-risk and rescued young women and girls.
“I’ll be taking head-shots as a new initiative to establish sponsorships for hundreds of young women and girls, which will provide them the ability to receive an education and learn trade skills– the aim is to improve how they’re viewed in their local communities with worth and now prevent human trafficking across the border into India; as well as assist those already rescued.”
In addition to this, Jackie is in the process of establishing a side business called Fine Art With A Focus that will combine her three passions: photography, travel and giving back.
“I’m planning to release my collections of artwork – primarily film – from specific areas where I travel, and to donate profits back to a specific charity based in the place where those collections were created- like Kenya, Nepal, Jamaica, Colorado and even Michigan.”
Being able to combine her creative talents with meaningful work that makes a difference to someone is something Jackie feels very strongly about, and she’s pleased to be able to do so both within the office and out. She is excited to use her talents in social brand management, interior design, and shooting photo/video to give back to the cause.
“I asked myself an honest, challenging question what I would truly do with my life if it could be anything- so with FAWAF.org, I’m passionate about creating art and giving back to the world, and that’s what pushes me forward with my photo work.”