Megan James: Improving the world with philanthropy, photography

Her photography company has been a B Corp for four years and an honoree for the Best for the World community in 2018 and 2019

Photo by Megan A. James Photography. 

This interview is part of an ongoing series with ColoradoBiz Magazine to learn from Best for Colorado companies about the impact they have in our state.

Megan A. James Photography strives to be an example of what a business can do for the community. Megan James has been photographing for seven years and donates 20% of her revenue to charities. Of the donations, half is donated to the client’s charity of choice while the remaining portion is donated to the ALS Association for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research. Because of this philanthropy and more, the photography company has been a B Corporation for four years now and an honoree on the Best for The World Community List in 2018 and 2019.

Lauren Farkas: Can you expand on your give back contribution commitment? What was the inspiration for this?

Megan James: I was first inspired to donate back to nonprofits in 2013. Moore, Oklahoma was shattered by an F-5 tornado and left the town in shreds. The storm ripped apart the town’s elementary school, which sparked an initiative in me to do more than just take photos. I have kids and the whole situation was heart-wrenching. I held a day of photography where all the revenue went directly to disaster relief in the community. At that point, I realized I wanted to continue this journey.

LF: What inspired you to take the step and go through the B Corp certification?

MJ: I’ll be honest, I really didn’t know about much about B Corp initially. My husband went to one of their meetings, and I think Kim Coupounas was speaking. He came home very inspired and told me how companies in the B Corp community have the same initiatives as I do.

I love my job and being a photographer, but I also feel pulled to do something more. When my husband came home suggesting I get involved, I started doing more research. I realized that I was already aligned with the values of B Corps. It sounded like a community I would love to join and be with other like-minded individuals.

LF: You are a solo entrepreneur, Certified B Corp and a Best for Colorado company and have been honored as Best for the World. What does this mean to you?

MJ: When I was honored as Best for the World, I was shocked. I am a sole proprietor working alongside some of huge corporations that are also B Corps, so it was unexpected. After I had a moment to evaluate and take it all in, I experienced a huge moment of pride and realized I am making a difference and other people recognize it.  

Even people outside of the B Corp world were talking about it. They see how others are making a difference beyond their community, and it inspires others. I have spoken to many other potential B Corps and have helped them realize that even through small business, we can achieve so much. 

LF: What would you tell those who think they are just one person and they can’t make a difference?

MJ: Within the B Community, I have had a few people question my legitimacy, my B Corp status and almost look down on me. I have utilized my achievements to show other small businesses that even through being a sole proprietor, we can make a huge impact on local and nationwide communities. 

I tell them that even though they might only be one person, there is always a ripple effect regardless if it’s one person or 500 people. By being a sole proprietor, you can pave your own path and not have to go through some of the formalities or restrictions you might face within big corporations.

LF: Do you have any remarks you’d like to close with?

MJ: For me, regardless of my photography, the bottom line is I have a heavy emotional connection to people in need. I love what I do, but I love impacting the community even more.

Best for Colorado is a program of the Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

Lauren Farkas was the programs assistant at The Alliance Center.

Categories: Company Perspectives, Women in Biz