NJ Mompreneur: Allison Tolpa, iKandi Images


New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the whole work-life balance. At NJ Mom, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building NJ businesses and learn the secret to their success.


Photo Extraordinaire & NJ Mompreneur: Allison Tolpa

Allison Tolpa is the NJ Mompreneur and Owner/ Photographer of iKandi Images. iKandi Images is a one-stop photography solution for your family photo needs including a portrait studio and photo-shoot parties for kids. iKandi Images’ offers reasonable packages for families who want an updated family portrait or a child’s birthday party experience that will be remembered and cherished long after their special day. NJ Mom had the wonderful opportunity to ask Allison a few questions about her business and herself; here’s what she had to share.

ikandi images

NJ Mompreneur and iKandi Images owner, Allison Tolpa

NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?

Allison: In April of this year, I expanded my studio and with the idea of “bringing the party to the photographer,” I created iKandi Images Photo-shoot Parties. An iKandi Photo-shoot Party is a unique and fun way for girls to celebrate. Guests invite up to 15 friends into the studio, and we make the photoshoot fun and entertaining for the attendees. We offer a basic party with in-house props and many other theme options, as well as a number of fun add-on’s to make each party as unique as your guest of honor. We even have an awesome photobooth kiosk with the capability to post directly to social media. These parties are not only incredibly fun, but we promote positive self image and confidence in the girls. Everyone leaves the studio smiling ear to ear and giggling! It’s an amazing way to capture memories for the girls, and moms never have to say they missed taking photos at a party!

iKandi Images

iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?

Allison: As a mother of three, I wanted to provide a one-stop photography solution for families when I expanded from my home studio to my new storefront on Main Street in Chester, NJ. We offer standard sessions with many additional options to create the perfect affordable price point you are looking to invest at the current time. Not everyone wants a two-hour photo session and can afford to spend a $1000. I understand that sometimes we just want a cute updated photo for a gift for the grandparents, and at times we want something special like a custom newborn session.  With iKandi Portrait Studio, I wanted to serve a market that my own family taught me was undeserved.

ikandi images

iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?

Allison: After having my children and photographing them and others over the years, I have realized that my passion is to photograph families and the special events in their lives. As a mother, I want to hold onto these delicate moments forever. Children are pure, beautiful, unique and emotional. They are the perfect subject to me. They still have imagination, creativity and passion in raw form. This time in their life is so short, and yet so incredibly significant to what and who they will become. It is awesome to be able to capture on film and tell their story from the beginning. If taken with care and thought, photos have the ability to tell a story without words and move people to tears without a single sound. 
Getting ready for an iKandi Birthday Party

Being silly at iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: What is your background in business and photography?

Allison: I worked for 10 years in New York City, in mostly the IT field for financial institutions, which gave me a wonderful background for the actual running of a business, which is rare for an artist. My technology background has enabled me to bring a lot of cool techie tools into the studio. I have always been an artist, whether it is with a paint brush or a camera in my hand. I was lucky enough to be home with my kids in the early years and photographing them inspired me to take my passion to the next level, while my yearning to get back to using my brain for business drove me to take it a few steps further. I went back to school to study advanced Photoshop and lighting techniques, as well as attended numerous child photography workshops around the country.    
iKandi Images

Getting ready for an iKandi Birthday Party

iKandi Images

Allison doing what she loves!

NJMOM: Who is your role model?

Allison: In the world of photography, my role models are Dorthea Lange and Annie Leibovitz.   I admire Dorothea Lange not only for being a breakthrough female in her field during a time when photography was mostly done by men, but because of her ability to show through her work that a good photograph doesn’t come from your eye, it comes from your brain and your heart. She is most famous for drawing beauty out of desolation in her series of photos during the Depression. Her work is extraordinary and now a piece of our history. Annie Leibovitz is most famous for her pop culture style portraits. If you name any famous artist or celebrity in the past century, she has photographed them.  She has the ability to truly reveal her subjects, which is the key to being an incredible portrait photographer.

Personally, my role model is my mother for so many reasons. Mostly for her compassion, kindness and incredible strength. 
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Having fun at iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your mother ever gave to you?

Allison: My mother always taught us to be true to yourself, and never change who you are for anyone else. I pass along the same encouragement to my girls, and the girls I am honored to host in my studio.
 iKandi Birthday Party

iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?


“Be kind, you never know what others are going through.”

I think this quote speaks for itself. 

NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family? 

Allison: I have to say my favorite part about living in New Jersey is the Fall. So cliché, I know, but I am a total pumpkin flavor lover and a huge fan of change. I am so ready for the cool mornings and sweaters and boots. Luckily, we live in the best town for all of the seasonal picking like pumpkins and apples. We always joke that this is our little town of Chester’s tourist season.

NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?

Allison: Unconditional love. It’s a magical and powerful thing. It heals all wounds.


 iKandi Birthday Party

iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party

NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?

Allison: I am not a mall girl, so I love walking around all the quaint towns in New Jersey, as well as our beautiful hiking trails and farms.

NJMOM: Where do you vacation in New Jersey?

Allison: I am a big ocean girl and I love to fish! We have our boat down in Brielle and whenever we can, we sneak down to go fishing and enjoy the shore.
 iKandi Birthday Party

iKandi Images Photoshoot Birthday Party


NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?

Allison: When I stayed home with my children, leaving the corporate world, I believed I was just making a career change for a little while. My children inspired me to take my passion and turn it into my career. They helped me find my purpose. Never stop believing in your dreams because your dreams inspire your children to dream.  Another favorite quote of mine is, 
“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.”

To learn more about Allison’s inspirational photoshoot birthday parties and family portraits, visit ikandiimages.com or give her a call at 908-809-0202. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

iKandi Images

Fine Art Photography, Portrait Studio, Events
87 Main Street
Chester, NJ  07930

About Author

Samantha is a resident of Somerset County, New Jersey. Samantha is from a family of five and is the middle child. She is currently pursuing a degree in Communications at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She loves to travel and in the summer especially enjoys weekly trips to the Jersey shore. She also enjoys photography, a good cup of coffee, and is a huge movie fanatic. Writing is a passion of Samantha’s which is why she really enjoys writing for NJ Mom.