From Young Entrepreneur of the Year to thriving in the pandemic: Ethan Quinn’s journey of success
Ethan started EQMedia aged just 14 by taking photos for local businesses and events in Llandudno.
“I didn’t know anything about business. The only business owner I knew was my granddad who ran a shop in the 70s. My first job was photographing my dad’s friend’s caravan park for £20.
“But I got to know some business owners in the area, and they took me under their wing. I think people saw I was putting in the effort and gave me a chance, and I’m forever grateful to them.”
Ethan also photographed local gigs and events and gradually built up a customer base in Llandudno.
While Ethan was in Sixth Form at Coleg Llandrillo he met Karen Aerts, a Big Ideas Wales Enterprise Officer for the College.
“She was amazing,” says Ethan. “My self-esteem was pretty low at the time, but Karen showed me that I have what it takes to be a successful business owner.”
It was Karen who entered Ethan into the North Wales Business Awards, where he was shortlisted for three awards.
“One of the best moments in my professional life was winning the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for North Wales,” says Ethan. “I was 16 years old, and I felt intimidated by all these posh people in tuxedos. When I stood on the stage to collect my award I remember thinking, ‘this is a turning point for me’.”
Karen also advised Ethan and supported him to grow his business. Ethan had noticed that smaller businesses wanted to use social media to reach specific customers but didn’t know how, and Karen helped him expand into social media content creation and monitoring. EQMedia now offers videography, graphic design, web design and social media monitoring and Ethan works with a team of trusted freelancers across North Wales and northern England.
Ethan credits Big Ideas Wales with his growth in confidence.
“Being a photographer I’m more comfortable behind the camera, and I have struggled with anxiety and low self-esteem. Attending Big Ideas Wales events and training made me more confident in public speaking and networking with business owners – that’s been crucial for my success.”
When the pandemic hit, it was this network of local businesses and customers who helped him through.
“My Dad died on the first day of the lockdown – he was diagnosed with cancer a month before his death. It was an incredibly difficult time. Suddenly I had no Dad, no money, and I couldn’t see my family because of lockdown rules.
“I worked on EQMedia to keep myself going. My loyal customers kept booking me for work even though they didn’t have much cash to spare. We helped each other through the pandemic, it was amazing to have that mutual support.”
Ethan says that he doesn’t regret becoming a business owner so young, despite the challenges.
“Starting a business when you’re young matures you. There were times when I doubted my choices, like when my friends were out having fun while I was stuck in front of a computer editing.
"But now that everyone’s grown up and dealing with the 9 to 5 grind, I’m glad I stuck with it. I love running my own business and at 20 I’ve got six years of experience in the industry – that gives me a head start.”
In 2020, Ethan became a Young Ambassador for Big Ideas Wales and then a Big Ideas Wales Role Model in 2022. He believes that being a younger Role Model makes it easier for young people to relate to him.
“As a 20-year-old, I understand the pressures young people are under. At school and college young people are constantly told ‘this is the most important year of your life’ and there’s so much anxiety about the future. I think it helps for them to see that there’s another way, you can succeed outside of school.
“I advise young people to go and talk to people, chat to local business owners, make connections. I wouldn’t be in the position I am without about 100 other people – including Karen and Big Ideas Wales – and no-one will hire you if they don’t know you.”