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Member Success: Kapu Patel Finds Fulfillment by Supporting and Inspiring Others

Member Success: Kapu Patel Finds Fulfillment by Supporting and Inspiring Others

Early in her career as a bench scientist, Kapu Patel understood that trust with the outside world was earned by having content published in scientific journals. Most communication was internal.

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Kapu went through a 180-degree career shift when she decided to start Kapu Patel Photography, a highly personal service business that required her to connect with people on a human level.

She initially offered primarily women’s portraiture, along with family portraits, and later expanded her services to include professional headshots and business branding for individuals and companies that wanted to elevate their personal and professional brand.

Kapu takes a much different approach than what she calls “assembly line headshots.” Rather than setting up a backdrop and having employees line up like picture day at school. Kapu goes through an in-depth discovery process to ensure she knows each individual, who they are, and their future aspirations.

“My job is to take personal and professional portraits that people absolutely love and are excited to share with the world,” Kapu said. “Whether family portraits or business branding, photos should enable people to truly see themselves in a way that aligns with their passion and light.”

Finding a Community

Kapu joined the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber about five years after launching her business. At the time, she was a member of several networking and business groups but noticed a difference when she attended her first chamber event.

“I was always searching for a community where I belong, and one that offered me an opportunity to grow my business,” Kapu said. “My first chamber event was a Business After Business Holiday Party. I was in a room full of people whose growth aspirations aligned with mine. They were people who valued marketing and how it supports growth. That’s why I joined.”

Kapu knew the first step to maximizing the value of membership was simply joining and showing up. She served as a Princeton Mercer Chamber ambassador for several years and still considers herself an unofficial ambassador, always looking to bring people into the Chamber to support their growth and create opportunities for her fellow Chamber members.

Kapu also found a community within the Chamber when she joined the Women in Business Alliance (WIBA) Committee. WIBA promotes opportunities for businesswomen to build relationships through professional development, collaboration, and advocacy.

“We host the Women in the Workforce event in the spring and invite speakers and panelists to discuss how women can be more successful and fulfilled in the workforce,” Kapu said. “We follow that up with the Women of Achievement Awards and lead the New Jersey Conference for Women, which attracts exceptional speakers and up to 750 women each year. Every group needs a holiday party, so we close out the year with a fun, less formal holiday networking event.”

On a monthly basis, Kapu especially enjoys Business After Business networking events. Networking in a less structured environment allows Kapu to have one-on-one conversations with new people and be truly present without time constraints.

A Unique Journey Guided by Relationships

When Kapu left her scientific career to pursue her passion for photography, she knew her path to success would be very different from most photography businesses.

“I had no sales or marketing background,” Kapu said. “I’ve grown my business purely through relationships from networking groups, especially the Chamber. I love meeting new people and finding out about their businesses, dreams, and aspirations. The Chamber provides so many opportunities to grow and connect.”

Kapu has found her greatest fulfillment by building human-to-human connections and finding ways to support fellow members, whether she was photographing headshots for the Chamber team or visiting members as part of her Stronger Together project during the pandemic.

“Most businesses were closed, including mine,” Kapu said. “Everyone was taking a different path based on their own circumstances. I would visit Chamber members at their businesses, not just to photograph them, but to tell their story and inspire others. As Chamber members, we succeed by giving openly and graciously. When you help others, you attract people who are eager to support you as well.”

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