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Developing business . . . Ayla Cottier (24) is taking the bad with the good, after a year of running Fotographix Oamaru. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

As a young girl, Ayla Cottier had never dreamed of running her own business.

In fact, until the day her former boss, Ian Cope, at Fotographix Oamaru, told her he was closing its doors, she had still not considered it.

Now, the 24-year-old has run the Thames St photography store for just over a year, and although she admitted there had been tough times, it had been more good than bad.

‘‘It’s had its ups and downs,’’ Miss Cottier said.

‘‘Sometimes it’s just amazing, and I just fly through, but other times — like at the moment our printer’s down with technical issues, and we’re waiting on insurance, which, they take forever, so that’s put a hold on things — it’s frustrating.

‘‘But most of the time it’s pretty good.’’

Miss Cottier’s grandparents owned Oamaru Paper Plus, and her parents recently bought Baarkers Dog Grooming, and owned Cafe Katz ‘‘back in the day’’, so business advice was readily at hand.

‘‘They led me in the directions that I needed or didn’t know about, and they helped me with all of it, so it, yeah, made it a wee bit easier.’’

The photography industry was a tough one, because although most people now walked around with a camera in their pocket, fewer people tended to get their photos printed.

Miss Cottier hoped she could bring printing ‘‘more to light’’ for younger people.

‘‘People just store on their phone, and Facebook, and everything, and then it’s just left like that. I’m hoping that a younger mind can bring it to a younger generation.

‘‘But it’s proving to be a lot more difficult, because . . . it’s not a habit we’ve got into, so it’s getting people into that habit.’’

Printing photos was much more straightforward than it used to be, because you could choose the exact photos you wanted, and it was a short wait for them to be processed, she said.

‘‘It’s just trying to make it more of a necessity — especially if your phone dies or breaks down and you can’t access it, that’s a lot of things gone, and it’s happened a lot more than people think.’’

The shop still had the equipment to transfer VHS on to USB or DVD, and to digitise old negatives and slides to print them out.

Customers could also download an app to their phone, and order photos online, which had helped the business during the pandemic.

‘‘That did jump up quite a bit, because people could just get them posted and it was all contactless,’’ Miss Cottier said.

Photo printing on gifts, such as mugs, was popular and new products were being released all the time.

She was also working on getting a vinyl printer operating to print on to clothing.

Miss Cottier grew up in Oamaru, and went to Waitaki Girls’ High School.

She left school in Year 12, and studied accountancy by correspondence, but after gaining her Level 3 qualification, realised that occupation was not for her. She began working at Fotographix in 2015.

Her accountancy training set her up well for running the financial side of the business, and she was grateful she had her family near ‘‘just to run things by’’.

Being her own boss made Miss Cottier a lot more conscious of her priorities.

‘‘Get the harder things out of the way before the easier. I can’t just pass it on to someone else, unfortunately.’’

She had a partner who lived in Timaru, and had considered opening a second shop there, as some of her clients travelled to Oamaru to get their photos printed.

Miss Cottier said if she was to offer advice to another young woman who had an opportunity to run their own business, she would tell them to go for it.

‘‘Definitely take the chance — even if it does seem scary, it is rewarding.

‘‘There is definitely going to be hard times, but at the end of the day, it’s more rewarding than not.

‘‘You feel so in control. I feel more in control of everything now, even my own personal life outside of it.

‘‘It just makes me feel like I’ve stood up.’’

She was grateful for the local support she had received.

‘‘It’s been fun so far, and it can only get better as well.’’