Madison Stefanis was just 19-years-old when she started her reusable film camera brand 35mm Co.

Now at 23, she has built a $4 million business.

It started as a hobby and love of vintage cameras and has quickly become a full-fledged operation which turns over more than $1 million a year.

According to 7News, Stefanis was studying a bachelor in business, majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing, but things took off and she dropped out of university with only one semester left.

The young entrepreneur said pursuing her business full time was the best education she had ever received.

“When I would head out with friends on the weekend, you could always find a disposable camera in my clutch,” Stefanis told 7Life.

The idea first came about during her first year of uni in 2019, when she sold an old SLR film camera for $250 on Facebook Marketplace.

She received a number of offers after and “sold it for five times the amount I asked,” she said.

Stefanis at a public speaking event for female founders. Photo: Madi Stefanis/Instagram

That was when she realised there was a gap in the market and started flipping vintage cameras.

After running into supply issues as the old film cameras were continuously selling out, she started developing her own film cameras.

“Small and compact like a disposable camera but that was completely reusable,” she described the cameras.

“Customers were seeking a beginner friendly camera at a much lower price point.”

Stefanis used $50,000 in savings from her high school supermarket job and her savings from working at beauty store Mecca as her investments.

She remains as the sole investor in her business which turned over $2 million in its first year of business.

While successful, her business journey wasn’t easy, getting started during COVID-19 and not having anyone in her family with a business background.

“I started 35mm Co during the pandemic, so I felt really isolated.”

But it became easier once she started connecting and networking.

Last October the business owner appeared on Shark Tank where two investors offered her a $300,00 investment.

An experience she said was “definitely nerve racking” but put them in front of several large-scale retailers.

Other big moments since starting the business were speaking on panels at events and having actress Gwyneth Paltrow use one of her cameras.

35mm Co camera. Photo 35mm Co/Facebook

“My first panel was in front of 500 female founders,” she said.

“I was terrified but it was such a rewarding experience and has forced me to really work on my communication and public speaking skills.”

Stefanis said having creative freedom is one of the most rewarding experiences and also loves customer connection.

“I love product design, marketing and campaign ideation.”

“Being creative on my own accord, without restriction or limitation, is one of the most rewarding parts of working for myself.

“The community we’ve built feels really special. We’ve invited customers to in-person events and hosted intimate dinners with friends of the brand.

“I love the emphasis we place on true human connection and living in the moment.”

35mm Co is launching into major retailers in Australia and the US with hopes to expand into new markets like the UK.

Stefanis also wants to start another product-based business within the next five years.

“You will only regret the risks you didn’t take.”