CYstarters Spotlight: Shayla Timm

By Lindsey Murray | ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

CYstarters Spotlight: A 14-part series highlighting student entrepreneurs pursuing their business ventures as part of the CYstarters 2024 summer cohort. Through this program, students have the unique opportunity to prioritize the development of their own startup or business idea. Each individual receives $6,500 and access to resources such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational sessions on entrepreneurship and business startup. 

Meet Shayla Belle Timm, a student of Integrated Studio Arts with a minor in entrepreneurship at Iowa State University. Shayla is everything you might expect from a creative entrepreneur. Her business, Belle Brand Artistry, founded in June 2022, has allowed her to combine her passion for photography and storytelling, capturing life’s milestone moments for graduates, families, couples, and professionals.

Growing up in the town of Madrid, Iowa, Shayla was always surrounded by creativity and entrepreneurship. Her parents, both business owners, instilled in her the values of hard work and independence. “I didn’t realize what my parents were doing was considered entrepreneurship,” Shayla reflects. “I always thought it was just a side hustle rather than an entire industry.”

Shayla’s journey into photography began long before Belle Brand Artistry came into existence. As a teenager with a camera in hand, she and her friends would explore nature and their community, capturing moments to share on social media. This hobby gradually transformed into a flourishing business as more people sought her out for photo sessions. “Back then, it was just fun with friends,” Shayla recalls. “But eventually, I thought, why not make this into a real business?”

Her time at Iowa State has fueled her creativity. As an Integrated Studio Arts major, she immerses herself in various hands-on art forms, from ceramics and printmaking to painting and drawing. This broad artistic foundation has impacted her photography, making her work uniquely expressive and deeply personal. “Art is a way I can connect with others,” Shayla says, a philosophy that she hopes to integrate into every aspect of her business.

Painting by Shayla while in Rome, Italy: Isola Tiberina (oil)

Her semester abroad in Rome, Italy, was a life-changing experience, offering her the chance to paint the stunning architecture and landscapes of the historic city. She walked away from her time in Europe with a new perspective on the world and her place in it. This global perspective has shaped her artistic vision, adding depth and dimension to her photography.

Despite her passion and talent, Shayla faces the typical challenges of a young entrepreneur. From deciding on the best platforms and website options to managing client engagement and marketing her business, the journey has not been without its hurdles.

CYstarters, a program Shayla discovered through an entrepreneurship class, has been instrumental in the growth of her business. Surrounded by like-minded individuals equally passionate about their ventures, Shayla has found a supportive community that pushes her to excel. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a group that is so determined, thoughtful, and passionate about what they’re doing,” she says. “It’s really inspiring and pushes me to get things done.” Shayla invited the entire CYstarters cohort to her photography studio for a fun afternoon to take updated professional headshots for their businesses.

CYstarters headshots taken by Shayla: Ella Schulte, Chloe Mettenbrink, Tate Zalasky, Kai Huntoon.

As she navigates the complexities of running a business, Shayla remains focused on her goals. This summer during CYstarters, she is focusing on revamping her business systems and procedures, enhancing her marketing efforts, and expanding her product offerings to include photo printing options and original artwork. “I started with a passion that turned into a business, not the other way around,” she reflects. “I wasn’t seeking out a business opportunity but wanted to pursue creativity as a passion.”

Shayla’s vision for Belle Brand Artistry is always growing and changing, and she is embracing the uncertainty of what the future holds. “Of course, I want to expand and grow,” she says. “But I don’t know what that will look like right now. To me, that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship.”

For Shayla Belle Timm, creativity is more than a career—it’s a way of life. Through Belle Brand Artistry, she continues to connect with others, tell their stories, and capture the moments that matter most. Follow her work on Instagram (@bellebrandartistry) and Facebook, and visit to book a session for yourself.


Be sure to join the Ames community in supporting Shayla and her fellow CYstarters on Demo Day, celebrating the progress and successes of these student entrepreneurs. Demo Day will be held on Tuesday, July 30, from 3pm – 6pm at the ISU Research Park Core Facility. The event is free and open to the public, and we ask that you please register at