Eric Guel, Eric Guel Photography


“I believe most people can (and should) carry their passion into

whatever vocation is available to them.”

-Eric Guel


There’s that old saying that a picture’s worth a thousand words. But is it really that cut and dry? Think about it. Sometimes a picture’s too blurry, too bright, a head’s cut off or there’s a bad angle. Realistically, not all pictures are worth a thousand words. And if you have any doubt of that, a quick “photography fails” search in Pinterest will leave you either giggling or cringing – or maybe even a little of both.

But what if good photography – true photography – is more about a calling? Wouldn’t that kind of explain the cringiness of some of those Pinterest fails?

It makes sense. Let’s take Eric Guel, for example. Eric truly feels that there is legitimacy to the old adage that you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. Prior to high school Eric had no photography experience. None whatsoever. Just by chance he took a random Photo 1 class, and he liked it. He really liked it. It’s almost like photography grabbed a hold of him and wouldn’t let go. A love for photography was now deep within Eric’s heart and soul.

After three years of photography classes in high school, Eric decided to pursue journalism and photojournalism in college. Despite the fact that both parents were Houston Baptist University alumni, Eric followed his older brother’s footsteps and made the move to Waco to become a Baylor bear.

A photographer in Waco? Seriously, Waco would have to be a photographer’s dream-come-true. There are so many scenic backdrops to explore. There’s Cameron Park, the Waco suspension bridge, the downtown Waco murals and just about any spot on the Baylor campus. You get the idea. Waco is chock-full of fabulous, on-location photography spots. For a heart-and-soul kind of photographer, Baylor is the perfect choice.

While at Baylor, Eric studied photojournalism under photography professor, Clark Baker. One of Eric’s main takeaways from Professor Baker is it’s all right to fail and it’s also all right to just be yourself as a photographer. As a student, Eric worked with the Lariat which ultimately helped him land a job in the newspaper industry after graduation. And like many trailblazing photographers before him, Eric started out doing part-time photography for weddings and family portraits with Eric Guel Photography.

A few years ago, however, Eric decided to take photography on full-time. He was actually motivated to make the giant leap after hearing Fawn Germer speak at a Baylor Pro Sales event. The entire talk was about taking risks to do what you love to do. That was all the nudging he needed.

Eric also decided to shift his business focus to commercial photography by primarily serving businesses with convention and conference photography, headshots, marketing collateral and website images. Since then, he has been able to capture images for organizations such as Bausch + Lomb, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard, Salesforce and even for his beloved alma mater.

Even though Eric loves being a full-time entrepreneur, he admittedly isn’t much of a business person. Eric jokingly confesses that he just may actually have an allergic reaction to all things involving mathematics. But Eric is a firm believer that there’s always something to learn. He considers Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins friends and mentors — in a podcasty kind of way. When thinking about his business challenges and obstacles, Eric leans on one of his favorite quotes from Robbins, “It’s not a lack of resources that’s the problem, but a lack of resourcefulness.”

Maybe Eric is onto something. Maybe there is some legitimacy to you don’t choose photography, but it chooses you. It certainly looks like photography has chosen this Baylor bear. Sic ’em!


For more information about the John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneur/.

Brett & Emily Mills, Jesus Said Love

“Know your purpose and don’t deviate.”

~Emily Mills


Just taking a shot in the dark here, but chances are that most folks have entertained the thought of being their own boss at least once, maybe even twice. After all, entrepreneurship sounds like a pretty stellar gig.

Forbes.com recently posted an article listing the four benefits of being an entrepreneur as 1) you’re always learning and growing, 2) there is never a dull moment, 3) you decide what to do with time, and 4) everything depends on your choice.

But when Baylor grads, Brett and Emily Mills booked their entrepreneurial gig, they were looking at entrepreneurship from a different angle. In early 2003 the couple was leading a worship band at a conference focused on ministry to sex workers. At this event, they listened to first-hand stories of women who felt trapped within the sex industry. Heartbroken and determined, the couple was burdened for the exploited women in their hometown Waco, TX.

As Brett and Emily tried to dissect the stories they noticed that gender violence was a consistent and common thread among the women. That spring, they honed in their focus to strip clubs in Waco. They decided to bring Easter to the women trapped in the Waco sex industry.

Like an army platoon on a mission, a small group of women went into two strip clubs armed with nothing more than gift bags filled with practical, high-quality gifts. Brett and Emily are very particular about the gift bags. They feel that if Jesus can give His life…then they should be able to give a nice bag. Jesus gave his best. They will then give their best.

Amazingly, the outreach was welcomed with open arms by both the bag recipients and the club managers. The bag giving became a bi-annual endeavor at Easter and Christmas. By 2007, Brett and Emily felt the need for a bit more structure and organization for their outreach. Jesus Said Love (JSL) was then adopted under their existing worship and ministry nonprofit 501c(3) Bartimaeus Ministries, Inc.

According to Emily, eighty-nine percent of commercial sex exploits say that they want out but have no other means of survival. The next step in this outreach was Lovely Enterprise. Lovely Enterprise (Lovely) is a retail storefront that serves as a social enterprise of JSL aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex exploitation by providing living-wage jobs and launching micro businesses. The goal of Lovely is to provide economic empowerment opportunities to domestic, commercial sex exploits.

Dictionary.com defines entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Organizes, the JSL way…

Brett and Emily saw a systemic issue with a lack of employment opportunities for those trying to break away from the sex industry. They faced two immediate hurdles:

  1. Finding employers willing to hire JSL ladies – most ladies either have a criminal background or have been in the industry for so long that they had large resume gaps.
  2. Securing transportation – many of the ladies’ driver’s licenses have expired.

When the realization hit that outsourcing jobs was a daunting and seemingly impossible task, Brett and Emily decided to create their own storefront space with Lovely.

The idea is that women who have gone through JSL will move on to work at Lovely. The products sold through Lovely include handmade items, leather jewelry and Lovely Buns. Lovely Buns are  mouth-watering, cinnamon rolls made with love and Emily’s Aunt Mammy’s secret recipe. The Lovely Buns lead baker has personally overcome the industry with the help of JSL and wants to eventually start her own food service business. Lovely is providing her with the stepping stone to do just that.

The Lovely goal is all about empowerment, not enablement.

Manages, the JSL way…

JSL operates under six basic financial principles:

  1. Cash only (no debt)
  2. Have a savings
  3. Operate on a budget
  4. Give generously
  5. Spend less than we take in
  6. Financial transparency

Enterprise, the JSL way…

Brett says, “The more you’re around people who need Jesus, the more you realize that it’s not ‘them and us’, but it’s really just ‘us’.”

JSL encompasses what they refer to as their three-part method:

GO – Visit commercial sex establishments on a consistent basis, bringing high-quality gifts to employees.
LOVE – Offer authentic relationships to commercial sex exploits, no strings attached. We love them where they are.
CONNECT – Offer access to community and spiritual resources, awakening hope and empowering change.

Business, the JSL way…

Overhead is a necessary and normal component to every business, charitable organizations included. For JSL, the approach to overhead expenses is to maintain a positive return on investment, and at the same time enhance the effectiveness of their programs. Ultimately, Brett and Emily spend what it takes to accomplish their mission.

Initiative, the JSL way…

Neither Brett nor Emily had a traditional business background. They relied on the input of others who forged a path before them with successes like World Cup Cafe and Perpetual Help Home. At the urging of right-arm, staff member Jersey Schmidt, they even embarked on a field trip to Los Angeles to visit Homeboy Industries and The Giving Keys for additional insight.

Emily says, “Most people start business with a product in mind, but we started with people in mind.” She continued, “People will always be number one for us.”

Risk, the JSL way…

Emily explains that the work she and Brett do is messy; because, simply put, people are messy. She stresses that working a job that you love and are proud of helps establish value. But creating those jobs and helping women in recovery requires money. With that in mind, JSL is always looking for those who have a passion to give to innovative solutions to poverty.

Brett and Emily feel their calling is that they “are called to something much greater than ourselves. Loving God, loving others, worship, and justice motivate everything we do. In this calling, we are compelled with a ferocious resolve to do what must be done and stop what must not be done.”

Jesus Said Love…a company with a social impact, humbly serving Waco, Dallas, Bryan/College Station, San Antonio, Temple/Killeen and Houston. It’s entrepreneurship at it’s best. A mighty stellar gig, indeed.


For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/

Rob Curnock, Dub-L Tape

rob-curnock“The desire to better oneself is the most powerful incentive to innovate.”

~Rob Curnock


After a long, hard week there’s nothing like firing up the VCR and pulling out your old home VHS movies for the best throwback movie night ever. Movie snacks…check. Favorite blanket…check. Oh yeah, let the movie binging begin. But then the unimaginable happens. The VCR won’t work.

Once the wailing subsides to a subtle moan, you realize the evening’s not a complete loss. You make a quick dash to the local 24-hour superstore to pick up another VCR. Problem solved.

Wah?

When did the come-as-you-are superstore where you can buy anything at any time stop selling VCRs? What about all of the VHS tapes — Grandma Betty’s 90th birthday party, Beth’s first ballet recital and Uncle Sam’s heart-felt, yet somewhat perplexing rendition of “I Will Always Love You” at last year’s family reunion. Hours and hours of priceless memories recorded on VHS tapes, reduced to nothing more than mere dust collectors cast aside on a shelf.

It’s at this very moment when Rob Curnock at Dub-L Tape is transformed from an ordinary, everyday entrepreneur to an outright superhero. A champion for the disenchanted. A warrior to the defeated. Armed with nothing more than a flash drive and a pretty snazzy UFO this superhero can defeat your dilapidated VCR blues and turn defunct VHS movies into memory-making keepsakes.

Never heard of this guardian to the distraught? We’ll break it down for you.

WHO: Rob Curnock (a.k.a. the superhero) graduated from Baylor in 1981 with a communications degree. After graduation, Rob started his career as a news reporter and sports anchor at a local television station. While working at the television station, Rob introduced central Texas to Dub-L Tape in the back room of his house with $200 and two VCRs. Dub-L Tape is an audio/video production, duplication and conversion company that has evolved drastically through the years as technology has changed. Rob worked double-duty between the television station and his budding business for six years until he was able to expand Dub-L Tape to a stand-alone shop.

WHAT: A big chunk of Dub-L Tape’s current business is converting old films, slides/photos and video/audio tapes to digital formats such as DVD and flash drives. As DVDs are slowly phasing out, Rob is converting more memories to flash drives. But Rob didn’t want to hand customers their precious memories with just a plain ol’ flash drive. He wanted something nice and keepsake-ish. Rob worked with a mechanical engineer and after a couple of rounds of trial and error he created the fabulous UFO (Unidentified Flashdrive Organizer). The UFO is a protective case that will uniquely label, secure and protect almost any make and model of flash drives on the market today. Determined to keep UFO production in America, Rob found a company in Wisconsin that can construct the plastic injection molds that are needed to make the cases. With the UFO design and production successfully under his belt, Rob is currently charging fast-forward after his most difficult obstacle and short-term goal of marketing. Rob has always depended on word-of-mouth to grow his business and that’s proven to be quite a savvy and successful business plan. But Rob is taking a different approach with the UFO. He recently partnered with a company that specializes in marketing and promoting unique products, and he’s optimistic and even excited at the possibilities.

WHEN: Dub-L Tape has been in business since 1985 when Rob started off duplicating VHS tapes. Then in 1997 VHS tapes started phasing out to DVDs and Rob adjusted his business accordingly. As flash drives started to replace DVDs, Rob created a second ancillary business in 2012 called Abundant Supply Company that handles the sale and administration of the UFOs.

WHERE: Dub-L Tape is in Waco (the heart of Texas), Texas.

WHY: Simply put, Rob wants to give customers a quality product and service at a good price. Rob explains, “Contrary to popular belief, I am not my boss. Every customer that walks through the Dub-L Tape doors, is my boss.”

Rob’s biggest fear since day one has been that customers would just stop using Dub-L Tape. Every superhero has his kryptonite. But with Rob’s uncanny super power to save the day just in the nick of time, we think this superhero may just obliterate his kryptonite…one flash drive and UFO at a time.


 

For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.

 

 

Tierra Barber & Denitia Blount, Oh My Juice

tierra-barbar-_-denitia-blount

“We see that there’s a real need for our products,
so that drives us to work harder to stay around as long as we can.”

Tierra Barber


We are living large in America. The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than one-third of US adults are obese. We all know it takes regular physical activity and a healthy diet to tackle this weighty nemesis.

Physical activity is easy. It can be anything from walking, biking, swimming or even Prancercise if you’re so inclined. Eating healthy may be a bit trickier, and in some cases just downright ugh-inducing. Basically, we should aim for a rainbow on our plates. What that means is the more colorful fruits and veggies we have on our plate, the better.

But what if you could drink your rainbow? Or what if you could eat your rainbow…from a bowl…with a spoon? Well, that would definitely bring a splash of fun to the fight.

Baylor grads Denitia Blount and Tierra Barber firmly believe that your rainbow can indeed be fun, tasty and nutritious. And anyone who has had an acai bowl or a cold-pressed juice from Denitia and Tierra’s Oh My Juice (OMJ) knows that this dynamic duo means business. Colorful, healthy and deliciously-fun business.

OMJ is a  #WACOTOWN eatery that offers juices, smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy treats. All menu items are made to order with fresh ingredients with no added sugars or preservatives. Nothing is prepackaged or processed. The end result is the ultimate rainbow of healthy goodness.

But the tale of Denitia and Tierra is one of two very distinctly different journeys that came together at one very gloriously yummy final destination. While Denitia and Tierra both ran track for Baylor, their paths never actually crossed on campus. Denitia majored in education and graduated in 1988, while Tierra majored in health science studies and wrapped up her MSEd in exercise physiology in 2004.

These two Baylor grads actually met in Arizona at the 2014 Fiesta Bowl where Baylor took on UCF. The outcome of the game itself was ultimately not-so-great for Baylor football fans, but for Wacoans who love a yummy healthy-food alternative…the game was definitely something to celebrate.

When Denitia and Tierra met they realized there was a shared passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As former athletes, they certainly have the know-how for physical activity. But there was also a mutual zeal for healthy eating, specifically juicing. It was then and there that these two decided they were going to bring Waco its first juice bar.

The juicing duo first introduced Waco to OMJ by selling cold-pressed juices from a vendor booth at the popular Waco Downtown Farmers Market (the Market). The Market is open from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm every Saturday morning and features locally-grown produce, cooking demos, live music and awesome artisan vendors. The Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning in Waco.

If you think about it, launching OMJ at the Market was an act of pure brilliance. Absolute, unadulterated, magnificent brilliance. What better place to launch a product line made up of local, fresh ingredients than a local, hot-spot farmers market?

A perfect storm is a rare phenomenon where a collection of circumstances come together in a way the result is of such magnitude it’s beyond description. Let this sink in for a minute. You have two passionate Baylor grads with entrepreneurial hearts…a desire to be healthy and to help others be healthy…a yummy product line…a high-profile retail location that promotes local, home-grown produce… Pretty close to the perfect storm, but in a marvelous, non-weather kind of way.

Initially, Denitia and Tierra set out to simply survive. Neither had much business experience and they really didn’t know exactly what to expect. The goal was to build a large enough customer base to survive a year. But they dug in and with a little trial and error they figured out what worked well for OMJ. The duo also reached out to other local Waco businesses for guidance, mentorship and support. Denitia explains, “This venture would have been nearly impossible without the help of a lot of talented people.”

For the next year and a half, the juicing aficionados provided Market goers with a product that was not only unique to Waco, but it was also fresh, healthy and indisputably delicious. As this small, cold-pressed juice operation set up at the Market to gauge public interest, it didn’t take long for OMJ to become a popular Market stop.

An all-natural, Saturday morning juice fix became a must-have for many Market goers. But soon once a week just wasn’t enough and eventually those who partook in the deliciously juiced delicacies were wanting more. And they wanted it every day. So, when Denitia and Tierra had the chance to move into a downtown, store-front location they jumped at the opportunity.

The new brick and mortar location kept the duo in the heart of downtown Waco in the popular River Square Center. This was a game changer though. When customers only had access to OMJ once a week at the Market, they could be a bit more forgiving. Now that OMJ had somewhat of a cult following with everyday access, the pressure was on.

The cool thing is these two juicing dynamos didn’t falter. Not even a bit. They successfully navigated the array of industry, state and local regulations for juice bars. And what started out in a Market vendor booth with two passionate entrepreneurs is now a store front with a staff of twelve. All the while, they continued to put out consistently delicious smoothies, salads ‘n such’ to the delight of their customers.

The acai bowls have hands-down been the most popular item at the store front. Especially, the Berry Blend (acai, berries and apple juice) and the Nutty Coco Bowl (acai, almond milk, cacao and banana). They’re oh-my-goodness delicious!

Regular Market goers needn’t worry though. OMJ is still at the Market on Saturday mornings providing fan-faves like Fruit of the Spirit (pineapple, apple, kiwi, orange, lemon and lime) and Hulke (apple, cucumber, celery, parsley, lime, spinach, lemon and ginger).

A recent post on the OMJ Facebook page says it best, “Because when you stop and look around, life is pretty amazing.”

Without a doubt, OMJ is adding a sparkle and energy to downtown Waco…one colorful, amazing  juice at a time.


 

For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.