Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How it All Began

Tonight I was reflecting. Kristi and I were driving home from an engagement shoot, and right before we got into the car, she announced, "Tonight during the shoot I made a decision to change 2 things in our business."

She was half-sarcastic, half-no-nonsense. I knew she wouldn't make an executive decision without my input, but at the same time, I usually agree with her decisions. That's why we work so well together. :)

Anyway, her dramatic pronouncement caused me to think about our business and how much it has changed over the past several years.

It all began one evening about 6 years ago. We were sitting at a restaurant, what was then called Brick Oven, and we were eating dinner together. At that point in our lives, we were both in college and having fun attaining our degrees. Work was part-time and secondhand in our lives, and neither of us knew what our futures would hold.

Over the past few months before that point, my mom, with her entrepreneurial spirit, had been planting the seed in my mind... "Taryn, why don't you start a graphic design business? You could do it on the side, and design all sorts of things for people..."

I remember looking at Kristi from across the table and telling her, "So I think I'm going to start a business."

"What kind of business?" Kristi asked.

"A graphic design business," I told her. "You know... design Christmas cards, invitations, logos... stuff like that."

Kristi's face turned serious and she leaned across the table. "Taryn," she told me, "You can't start this business without me." She said it as if to do so would put an end to the world... as if, since I had not originally included her in the business plan, I must be crazy.

I smiled. Always a fan of teamwork and having a sidekick to turn to, I told her, "We can do it together."

And so began the our journey of starting our business together, which was then geared towards graphic design.

One Saturday, we sat in her basement with a pad of paper and pen in hand, trying our best to agree upon a business name.

After about 30 minutes of throwing out ideas, I started to get silly.

"Purple Rainbow," I said. "Poptart Design. Because there are 2 poptarts in every package... and there are two of us."

After compiling a list of several creative words, we finally came up with our first business name: Two Peas in a Palette.

Within days of sending out our very first advertising mailer, the response was wonderful. Among other small projects, we were honored to take part in helping Apostolic Christian Restmor come up with a new logo design for their Frank Lloyd Wright-esque building that was being built at the time.

The next year or so brought about a very lucrative "Christmas" season for us in which we designed a lot of Christmas cards. Other small projects gave us a great side-business during our college careers.

After college, we both went our separate ways for a year, growing professionally in other careers while sustaining the small side-business. Sprinkled into the graphic design projects was the occasional family photo or senior. During the Fall of that first year out of college, we shot our very first wedding. Kristi's cousin was getting married, so she agreed to let us take her wedding pictures.

Around that same time, business began to pick up, and we were faced with a decision. My mom, ever the catalyst, pumped enough courage into me to quit my current full-time job (which was a steady paycheck but not creatively challenging or a promising future career) and take the dive into our business full-time.

I worked that Fall and Winter full-time with our business out of the basement of my parents' home, while Kristi kept her full-time job and would join me after work or on weekends to keep everything rolling.

That Spring, we shot 2-3 more weddings and as our year started to book up with more weddings and photo sessions, Kristi also made the decision to quit her job full-time and join in the fun.

From there, we made a lot of important changes. We rebranded ourself, changing our business name to Imagine Artists and launched a brand new website. We also decided to focus more on photography and grow in that field professionally.

After our first year in business out of the basement, we had an amazing opportunity that following Fall to rent out a space in downtown Morton. We established our very own storefront and housed some of my mom's cute trinkets and treasures in the front to draw people in for both of our benefit.

Shortly thereafter, Lulu's came to town and my mom moved out and across the street, giving us the opportunity to make full use of our space and continue to grow. We were in our bright yellow office for a year before the building on the corner of Main St. and Jefferson St. caught our eye.

I can remember peeking in the windows with Kristi. When we had been in the basement, we had dreamed of a storefront, but now that we had a space, we dreamed of more room + the ability to have a studio.

"It would be PERFECT," we said, stalking the interior of the place from behind the glass window as cars drove by behind us. "We need to check it out."

We called the phone number on the sign and got a tour pronto. And we were right... it WAS perfect. It was split up exactly as we needed it to be, and it was also a beautiful building with tons of character in the best location possible.

We said yes.

Our photography business currently resides in this building, and our most recent change has been to focus entirely in photography as a studio. We are definitely still in love with natural lighting photography and exploring all of the wonderful options the great outdoors bring us... and even the window-side locations on rainy days. Additionally, we LOVE having our (small) studio in which we can shoot babies and children.

As photographers, we also both still share our passion of graphic design and use those talents as they apply to photography. We take a lot of time making our albums, coffee table books, collages, invitations, etc. to be as unique and custom-made as possible, making each a creation all its own. No two designs are ever the same, and we capitalize on being able to use the images we capture in our design work.

Getting to sit in downtown Morton on the busiest intersection and greet customers as they set foot in our OUR business... it brings me such joy. Sometimes, I know people look at us funny and think we are way too young to be business owners. In fact, just the other day, two older men walked in and had to clarify that we were, indeed, the right ones to speak with for decision-making :) but I look at that and count it yet another blessing among many others.

All along the way, God has had His hand in this in such an evident way that we would be blind not to see His working. First of all, anything we have ever needed has been supplied in a heartbeat. I just read in one of my devotionals about how "delay is not denial," and while that was comforting to me in others areas of my life, where business is concerned, God has not delayed a thing! His awesome provision has been amazing on this journey.

Furthermore, he has taught us both such big life lessons in just 3-4 short years. Over time, Kristi and I have learned how to be best friends AND business partners. I would be dishonest to say that it isn't a challenge. Just like anything else in life worth working hard for and trusting in God with... it has its ups and down, its peaks and valleys, and its pluses and minuses. But I can truly say that in it and through it all, God has taught us one of the biggest lessons we will learn in life, and that is how to love unconditionally and in spite of someone else's mistakes. We wouldn't be where we are today without God's Love in both of our hearts, and our willingness to give and take.

I can assure you that there are few people as different as Kristi and I. We are so different. Yet we always say... it is the differences that meet in the middle and make us a dynamic team of two. We have found a way to mesh her strengths and my strengths to grow our business, and to work out the weaknesses of us both and compensate with our different personalities.

God is good! When I went to Africa a year ago, the little orphans would chant that phrase every morning: God is good! It is true, and as long as I wake up every morning and say that... on the sunny days, and on the gray days... I can remember that is IN Him and THROUGH Him that IA is what it is.

Love you all!

T

1 comment:

kyleandtrish said...

So fun reading this! I really like reading about the very beginning stages :)
-trish