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Columbia senior’s journey to owning her own company 

Columbia College Chicago student Jewel Baker first started creating music videos and competing in photography projects in elementary school. She began learning about film at 9 and by the time she was 12, she took a professional interest in photography and journalism.

“I always did music videos and photography projects in elementary school and that transitioned to say, ‘Hey, let’s actually make this into something.’ But the start of my company was really when I produced a fashion show in high school,” Baker said.

“At 12 I learned more about camera work and journalism through the Bud Billiken Parade,” she said. The Bud Billiken Parade celebrates the legacy of The Chicago Defender, a Black-owned newspaper still in publication today. 

In high school, Baker produced a fashion show which inspired her to launch her own business, Jewel in Focus. Now, her company has turned five.  

As a senior film and television major at Columbia, Baker specializes in studio photography, cinematography and flyer designs. At her studio in Chinatown, Baker offers brand shoots, prom and graduation photos and studio portraits, among other services.  

Outside of her professional endeavors, Baker also excels in the classroom. She recently finished filming a three-minute film titled “Chatterbox” about college roommates for her Directing II class, and also recently filmed another project last November. The project is fully independent, and Baker oversaw casting, finding her crew, scouting the location and writing the script.  

Outside of filmmaking, Baker is heavily involved in campus organizations and groups. She is the President of two Columbia organizations: Student Programming Board and Soul Sisters. SPB comprises students who plan, promote and produce campus-wide programs. 

Soul Sisters is a newer Columbia College organization which started in 2020. Baker has been a member since its inception and served as vice president last year and president this year. The group is dedicated to fostering community and sisterhood among Black women at Columbia. 

“We’re at college for ourselves,” she said. “We’re here for our friends. We’re here for our professors. We’re here to learn. But at the end of the day, we’re the only person with our name on that degree and we have to live life for ourselves.”  

After graduation, Baker hopes to expand her company and elevate it to the next level.

“I really want to turn it into a production company. Because I do have a little bit of experience with TV,” she said. “I’ll definitely look out for opportunities at different news broadcasting stations, social media, creative directing roles and just kind of intertwine all the different things I do. We’ll see what happens.”

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