Lea Khayata and Elettra Fiumi met while attending the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. One year later, a masters was earned and a company was born. Lea is French Lebanese and Elettra is Italian; they have varied life experiences with similar skills, are good friends, and both love telling stories. Starting a company together, centered around digital journalism as they explain it, was an organic experience. With preparation and luck they were able to find each other and mentors, and while leveraging their passion for film, Granny Cart Productions was created.
“When looking for jobs nothing stood out to us…” While in school, one of their professors suggested they create their own company, so they did.
In France, it’s not common to be young and an entrepreneur, as Lea explains, but she never thought that being a woman would make as big of an impact on others’ impressions of their venture as it has. People are often surprised that two young women are out on their own, creating without guidance, a reliable income, or guaranteed benefits primarily because it’s not common place, not because they don’t think they are capable of it.
Coming from a film background and an entrepreneurial one at that, Elettra knew how difficult starting their own company would be. She also always valued and understood the importance of women pursing their dreams thanks to an all girls school undergrad experience. “Seeing people surprised by [a young female entrepreneur] is strange.” She doesn’t think it feels “strange or exceptional” stating that “every young woman should be an entrepreneur if that is her dream,” and that is true regardless of gender or age.
“With this economy every young person is scared of what their career will be like, especially in journalism,” Elettra reminds us. “What makes sense today is to start your own project… to venture out and have the courage to do that.” Listening to Lea and Elettra, who recently founded Granny Cart (in September of 2011), you can’t help but be inspired by their optimism and excitement for the possibilities that are open to them. Eletra believes that “if you are doing something you are passionate about, success will follow.” These women are perfect examples of this.
Both women credit Columbia University as a strong influence in building their company. After a two year masters program in Paris, Lea transfered to Columbia to finish and discovered digital media. Elettra’s father, mother, brother and sister has been in the film industry for many years. Her family founded a film festival in Italy and her father is responsible for a subtitling system, so she has grown up surrounded by translators and in and around film festivals. Even with her background, she had never thought about making films until she enrolled in Columbia. The decision to continue her education came after getting tired of her previous job and the opportunities that may or may not be available for her to advance within it. The poor economy was the final deal breaker that gave her the motivation to leave and look for something new.
“Granny Cart Productions tells stories about heritage: the lost, the preserved, the rediscovered and the sacrificed. We make short and long-form documentaries, corporate videos and craft unique online branding campaigns. Our equipment? We are one-woman bands shooting with Canon HDSLR cameras. When we have extra equipment, we use our granny cart.”
While their education may be in journalism and documentary film making at the end of the day they are “good shooters” and they know how to “write well and make a point quickly,” which benefits the branding piece of their business. They are storytellers.
View the trailer below for Khayata and Fiumi’s digital master’s project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Being Interfaith.
Along with their commercial video work, they are also working on raising funds for another project that follows “a man on a quest to preserve an endangered Afro-Caribe language and culture called Garifuna that originates in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.” Find out more about their documentaries and branding work at grannycartproductions.com.
“It is really stressful to have your own business.” Having a partner helps you manage that stress.
The positive energy that comes with their friendship and working relationship keeps their spirits and creativity up. They aren’t sure of how it came to be, but Granny Cart has launched in a strong way since September and they already have a name for themselves.
Similar skill sets due to the Columbia Journalism program and their passion for journalism and filmmaking are what Lea and Elettra credit their success in partnering with another young woman. While they have many similarities, they also have different backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses that can make working together difficult at times. When it comes down to what is important, “the reason why it works so well, even if we disagree sometimes, is because there is no pride” in the relationship. Like the Pageant Professors profile, the two women have common goals and passions that make for a beneficial partnership.
Hear their full story, ask them questions and meet other young, female entrepreneurs on Thursday night, March 15th at 6p/9e at http://on.fb.me/yfetv. YFE is hosting a one hour live stream and chat with guests, Elettra and Lea of Granny Cart Productions. Along with the profiled women, YFE is honored to have Ryan Paugh of The Young Entrepreneurs Council on to speak about their campaign, #FixYoungAmerica.
Looking for support, inspiration, community, or guidance? Be sure show up Thursday night at 6p/9e!