For Courtney Shea Smith, launching her own photography business made sense for several reasons.
In addition to her passion for capturing beautiful and precious moments with the click of a shutter, she knew it would be an enterprise she could continue on the move. Shea Smith loves to travel for location shoots, but as the wife of Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Braden Smith, she knew her husband’s NFL career could lead to frequent relocations.
The couple met as students at Auburn University and knew early in their relationship they wanted to spend their lives together, Shea Smith said, wherever that took them.
“I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to be in Alabama, and I wanted to have a business that I could take with me if we were to move through multiple cities, and I’ve always wanted to travel,” Shea Smith said. “That was a huge part of why I wanted to pursue photography professionally.”
Shea Smith, 27, formed Ninety Three Creative, named after the number she wore on her jersey as a catcher for the Auburn softball team, while still living in Alabama. She specializes in weddings shot on film and said she is “very intentional” in how many events she shoots so she can attend Colts games and spend time with her husband during the offseason.
More recently, Shea Smith launched Courtney S. Studios, the branding she uses for her studio-based portrait work. At her Carmel studio, she specializes in maternity shoots.
Smith isn’t officially part of the photography business, but Shea Smith said he has been crucial to its success, from giving her the confidence and space to pursue her dreams to more tangible efforts, like helping set up and tear down equipment when she needs a hand.
“Braden is incredible. I cannot say enough about him,” Shea Smith said. “He has supported me from before day one.”
Smith said his wife “takes a lot of pride in her work.”
“She spends countless hours on her craft,” he said. “It’s important to her, and she can deliver a quality product. She doesn’t take any shortcuts.”
Many of Shea Smith’s shoots are destination weddings, and she has done recurring portrait sessions for several families of Colts players.
“It’s really fun to get to watch their families grow,” Shea Smith said. “To be a part of that is really, really special.”
The Smith family is growing, too, as the couple is expecting their first child in January 2024. Shea Smith knows parenthood, like her husband’s career, will likely place limits on her photography business – for a time. But someday, she expects to devote more time and energy to Ninety Three Creative.
“When he’s retired (from the NFL), I’m excited to see how my business changes,” Shea Smith said. “I’ve had to put a little bit on the backburner for life, and that’s something that I would choose to do every single day. I wouldn’t do this any other way, but I’m excited to see what it looks like post-football.”
‘Exactly what I needed’
The Indianapolis Colts are recognizing National Women’s Small Business Month throughout October by highlighting local female entrepreneurs with close ties to the team.
Isabella Therien launched Zionsville-based I.T. Home Improvement after relocating to Central Indiana in 2021 with her boyfriend, Colts offensive lineman Will Fries. The finance major and basketball player at Loyola University Maryland started the company after spending a year working at a wealth management firm on the east coast – and realizing it wasn’t a good fit.
“I realized it was just not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” said Therien, 24. “I just knew in my heart that I needed to find something with a little bit more flexibility, something that makes me happy at the end of the day. That’s what led me to I.T. Home Improvement.”
I.T. Home Improvement has completed commercial and residential projects, Therien said, but going forward she plans to focus her efforts on home remodeling. Therien said she and her business partner, general contractor Emerzon Perez, aim to offer a “one-stop shop” for clients in north Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
In addition to finding the work fulfilling, Therien enjoys being able to set her own schedule.
“I love going to (Fries’) games. That’s something I look forward to every Sunday,” she said. “I don’t have any family (in Indiana), so I get to go home sometimes if I’m a little bit homesick and Will is on the road. I think it’s exactly what I needed.”
Learn more at therienizzy.wixsite.com/website.