Two young, local entrepreneurs striving to make their businesses successful

Shane Skaar co-running a fitness apparel brand; Alex Thompson focusing full-time on photography

More than 25 million people in the U-S are either starting or running their own businesses.

Now two young, local entrepreneurs are showing that anything is possible when starting a business.

Both of these young entrepreneurs started their businesses from scratch.

Shane Skaar is a sophomore at UW-La Crosse who runs a fitness clothing brand.

Alex Thompson is a 25-year-old living at home to focus on photography.

Their businesses are completely opposite, but their passions are quite similar.

Starting a business from the ground up takes a lot of sacrifice.

“I sold my PlayStation,” Skaar said. “I sold my TV.”

“I was in school for marketing at UWL, and I actually left school to run photography full-time,” Thompson said.

Shane Skaar and Alex Thompson only see success as the option.

“What we truly care about is bettering yourself, and it’s extremely, extremely motivating to me, and it keeps me wanting to keep this growing even more,” Skaar said.

“Photography is always going through my head 24/7,” Thompson said. “So it’s just the creative drive that keeps me going.”

Skaar first thought of his business in the hospital.

“The whole idea of Streignth kinda came from the surgery I had when I was 15,” Skaar said. “My sternum used to cave in.”

He decided to get a procedure to correct his sternum.

“They say the success is not guaranteed, and the pain is worse than open heart surgery,” Skaar said.

But it worked.

“I was blessed,” Skaar said. “The best moment in my life, hands down.”

Skaar had to wait a full year to work out again.

And two years later, he and his cousin started a fitness apparel line called Streignth.

“Through all of that, I kinda just developed this mindset that, if I want something bad enough, I’m gonna do whatever it takes to make it happen,” Skaar said.

Business is going well.

“We’re extremely low on inventory right now,” Skaar said.

The same could be said for Thompson’s Instinct Photography business.

“It’s been going fairly well,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s idea started when he was in high school.

“Just kinda doing it for fun,” Thompson said. “Some of my friends starting telling me, ‘are you charging people?’ And I’m not like, ‘no, why?’ And they’re like, ‘well, you should. You’re pretty good at it.'”

He took his friends’ advice, and ran away with it.

“I just started offering sessions for senior packages for like $50 just to kind of get my name out there,” Thompson said. “I did my first wedding in 2013. And from there, I’ve done over 20 weddings now.”

But every entrepreneur has their challenges.

“Being a full-time college kid, it’s not easy,” Skaar said. “The biggest thing that I can say is it just comes down to time management.”

“There are some challenges like during the winter months where photography tends to slow down,” Thompson said.

Thompson was even forced to shut down his studio.

“I was outside more than I was inside actually using it, so it was just more of an overhead cost that I wanted to cut,” Thompson said.

But through thick and thin, what they realize they’ve both done is very rewarding.

“The coolest thing ever, is when I’m walking to class or I’m here in the rec, and I see people wearing this stuff,” Skaar said. “There’s not a cooler feeling.”

“My ability to preserve a moment in time and to just create art through my lens, I just love photography and all that is has to offer,” Thompson said.

Despite both Skaar’s and Thompson’s sacrifices, it looks like their hard work is paying off.

Streignth sells a variety of shirts, sweatshirts, joggers and other items, selling apparel in almost all 50 states.

Thompson says he has taken pictures for more than 100 clients, and usually goes on two to seven shoots a week. He mainly uses natural light for his pictures.

He is also busy making connections with people in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Instinct Photography has more than 3,600 followers on Instragram.

Streignth has just over 5,000 followers on the social media platform.

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