Diary of a Startup Goddess: Abby Chandler, CWC Productions
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
Origianlly published July 27, 2020
When she was a senior in high school, Abby Chandler served on the speech and debate team, the drama club, and started her photography and videography business, CWC Productions.
While the idea of opening a small business may have been daunting for her peers, many of whom only had Kristy Thomas’ Baby-Sitters Club as a reference, Abby was surrounded by mentors. Her stepfather, Mike Tarantino, started Creative Corners Framing in Austintown, Ohio, when Abby was 13 years old and, later, iM Image Marketing of Canfield, providing a successful entrepreneurial roadmap to follow. Her aunt, Ginger (Erdner) Deuley, also ran an embroidery business from her home, demonstrating to Abby from an early age that successful startups come in a variety of business models.
“They were both very successful businesses but both very different,” Abby notes.
So, Abby began to build CWC Productions to her specifications, always with the intention to work from her home like her Aunt Ginger.
What does CWC stand for, you ask?
Abby laughs. “It’s a little embarrassing, but I’ll tell you the fun story . . . ”
Abby and her friend were taking television production classes when the high school received a call from a couple, asking if the school would shoot their Civil War reenactment wedding. The school declined but recommended that the couple hire Abby and her friend to shoot the wedding, using the school’s equipment.
They were hired and then featured on the front page of the Austintown Town Crier. Bookings for more weddings began to follow.
Abby's friend came up with the perfect name for their business — Cuties With Cameras, or CWC.
“In my 17-year-old wisdom, I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s perfect!’” Abby grins.
Since then, Abby has become the sole owner of CWC, now “Creative With Cameras,” and developed the production company into a photography and videography crew with over 40 years of shared experience. Abby and her team shoot weddings, recitals and plays, and, more recently, drive-by celebrations.
Abby also volunteers her photography skills for Olivia’s Grace, a local nonprofit that offers bereavement photos to parents who lost a child as a result of stillbirth, miscarriage, or infant death at no cost.
Five years ago, Abby and her husband John opened another business, Paladin Brewing, in Austintown, Ohio. While John is the legal owner of the tavern, Abby’s decades of entrepreneurial experience provided them with a distinct advantage, offering business savvy on their hours, methods of payment, and the countless scams that target new startups.
“A lot of scams come across your desk when you own a business. You'll get bills from the phone book that aren't the phone book . . . You get so much crap that comes across your desk, and I could spot in a second that it was junk because of my stepfather's business and my business.”
Paladin Brewing has many upcoming events, including a DIY Succulent Sip and Plant class in June and July. Paladin also regularly features monthly family days, with special stations for the kids, including a commercial-grade bounce house.
Abby offers Paladins’ outdoor patio/yard space for Saturday receptions/fundraisers/parties at no cost. Banquet tables and chairs are available for use. Also, did I mention the bounce house and a photo booth? There is also a photographer/videographer on-site for hire.
Abby wants everyone who has thought about dipping their toe into the startup world to consider this important idea:
“Don't let anybody tell you you're ‘too’ anything. You're not too old. You're not too young. You're not too skinny. You're not too fat. You're not too white. You're not too black. If you want to do something, do it. The boxes that we put ourselves in are worse than the boxes that other people put us in.”
Abby opened CWC Productions while still in high school. She continues to run the company today. Abby has a passion for weddings. She will hear songs on the radio and picture how they will look in a wedding day music video. When she sees beautiful landscapes, her brain superimposes a bridal couple in the foreground. The only thing that might tie with weddings is Abby’s love for children; you will notice in the sample photos the flower girls and ring bearers get a lot of attention!
Abby is married to John Chandler, and they have four kids: John, Luke, Clark, and Chloe. She enjoys scrapbooking photos of the kids and loves to take them on adventures to parks, museums, and swimming. She does volunteer work photographing infants who will not get to come home from the hospital with Olivia's Grace. Abby is outgoing and fun loving. Keep an eye on her and you will be sure to catch her dancing at your wedding reception, camera in hand, loving her job!
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Dr. Jessica Paull is a doctor, but cannot help with that rash--please see your regular medical provider. Her degree is in sociology, with a focus on inequality, which she uses to analyze pop culture or anything within a 10-foot radius. Jessica’s happy place is filled with coffee, puppies, and vintage dresses. She hopes to leave the world slightly better than she found it.