Downtown Atlanta businesses bear scars from the civil unrest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and are managing economic fallout from COVID-19. Leslie Andrews Photography is one of those businesses.
Located in a cul-de-sac off of downtown Atlanta's Peachtree Street, Leslie Andrews Photography used to be open pretty much anytime it was needed. But the pandemic forced Andrews to cut back the business hours dramatically. She also closed early so that a cleaning company could come in and wipe down every surface. The costs were adding up.
So when she learned she was the recipient of an NAACP-BeyGOOD Small Business Impact Fund grant, she knew her photography studio would be able to stay open.
The BeyGOOD grant will offset some of the costs of cleaning and allow the studio to keep operating. Andrews runs the studio as a co-op, so a shutdown wouldn't have just affected her.
"It would affect 15 other photographers who cannot afford their own studios who want to continue their businesses as well," Andrews said.
Andrews got into photography after a former boss noticed her talent and encouraged her to pursue it as a career. She attended the Art Institute in Atlanta and shortly after graduation she launched her photography career.
Leslie Andrews Photography has supported non-profit organizations like Orchestra Noir and Musicians of Color. Andrews also hosted a market event at the studio called Black Luxe to help vendors raise money for local charities.
The BeyGOOD grant is a validation of all of her hard work, Andrews said.
"I finally felt like the challenges I experienced as a photographer hadn't been in vain," Andrews said in a phone interview. "Somebody picked me out of thousands of other people. They said we love your work and love what you're doing for the community.''"