HOULTON, Maine — A young Houlton entrepreneur is shaking up her summer vacation with the launch of her second business.
Fifteen-year-old Tori Ervin, a Houlton High School incoming sophomore, is using her time off to get her new photography business, Tori Ervin Photography, off the ground, she said.
“I love to create art for others,” she said, adding that she loves taking pictures to capture people’s personalities.
For the past year or so, Houlton planners have been encouraging entrepreneurship and small business startups. Ervin’s business acumen and enthusiasm fit right in with the town’s goals.
Houlton is one of 10 Maine towns taking part in a national plan to nurture small businesses. The only Aroostook County town involved, Houlton joins Ellsworth, Augusta, Bath, Belfast, Biddeford, Saco, Gardiner, Rockland and Westbrook in the national Main Street America 2022-23 Entrepreneur Ecosystem Project.
Ervin loves taking photos of the people she loves and really started getting serious about it a few years ago when her grandparents bought her a camera, she said. She recently upgraded to a Canon EOS Rebel T3.
“I’m really loving it,” she said.
While her photography business is new, she completed an outdoor photo shoot this week in a vast field of multicolored lupines.
She plans to focus initially on creative shoots and portraits of individuals, couples and families. She wants to work with her clients and get creative, she said. Though the images will be posed, she’s hoping to make them more casual with less awkward-looking poses.
She wants clients to be in comfortable settings.
Once a photo shoot is complete, her customers will have access to a digital gallery and they can choose what they want from the gallery.
Initially, she will keep her rates fairly low to gain experience, she said, adding that she will increase the rates as her portfolio expands.
Ervin started her first business, Tori’s Cakes and Bakes, a year and a half ago. She creates cakes and other delectable delights for members of the community for parties, showers and special occasions.
“I sell them to members of the community — birthday cakes, bridal shower cupcakes,” said Ervin.
With nearly 4,000 TikTok likes, Ervin asks her nearly 450 followers to “come make a cake with me,” as she demonstrates how to make a carrot cake cupcake bouquet or flower-topped tie-dyed cupcakes.
Baking is generational, she said, talking about her grandmother’s artistic cakes.
Last year, Ervin’s company donated a baker’s dozen — 13 gourmet cupcakes, vanilla flavored and tie-dye colored with vanilla frosting — to the Houlton Rotary Club’s annual fundraising radio auction.
Ervin is the middle child of five with two older brothers and younger twin sisters. In addition to her business ventures she also plays lacrosse, basketball and runs cross country and track and field. And she’s baked plenty of cupcakes for her team members.
Her sisters are super excited that she has started her photography business, Ervin said.
“I will probably take less pictures of them,” she said, laughing.