With Love Photography: A Love for Vermont
Before the opening of With Love Photography, residents of Johnson, Vermont would have to travel long distances to get photographs of their families and newborns. Due to its remote location, few photographers had thought to open a business in the Johnson area and would instead opt to open studios in Chittenden or Washington counties. Cousins and business partners, Heather Perkins and Mariah Reed, sought to break this mold.
With Love Photography grew naturally out of a need to provide the community with high-quality photographs and professional studio sessions for all occasions. The services their studio offers for infant and family portraiture means that the community no longer needs to travel long distances to capture their children’s images in memorable keepsake photographs. The convenience of having this unique service in the community has been embraced by the local citizens.
As an artistic business, With Love Photography offers a unique edge by having two photographers working together as a team in the studio while also covering off-site events, such as weddings. Two full-time photographers working in tandem means two artistic perspectives and many more photos from which clients can choose.
Meeting the client’s expectations is another area in which these cousins and businesswomen excel. Educating the customer about the service they can expect to receive, and following up with efficiency and an outstanding final product reflects their quest for quality and excellence.
Opportunities is a different financial institution because they really do focus on small business and people that want to get started.
“We try to customize for what our clients want,” said Heather. “We try to figure out what their style is and what they’re looking for to make sure we will fit and work well together.”
Mariah and Heather are committed to their art, education, community, business, and clients, and their passion for their work shows in everything they do. For example, Heather and Mariah added a children’s nursery to their studio in order to accommodate newborn portrait sessions.
“I love photographing babies,” said Heather. “I don’t know if it’s because I am a mom, but I think it’s harder than weddings just because little babies are a week old, they’re unpredictable, and mom is exhausted.” Having a nursery makes studio sessions easier for all parties while offering greater comfort for children and parents.
When they aren’t working together in the studio or at special events, Heather and Mariah often use Google chat to communicate with each other about their business. With Mariah living over an hour away from the studio, the Internet is a convenient way for them to remain in touch with each other, alleviating distance as an issue for their team.
Many businesses begin by accident, and Heather and Mariah didn’t originally set out to start a business together as photographers. Heather received a camera as a holiday gift and took a few photos of people that led to an interest in photography. With a busy life that includes a degree in Education from Plymouth State, full-time office work at an alternative day treatment program, and running a girl’s AD basketball program, Heather still makes time to pursue her interest in the photographic arts.
“I went to a couple conferences and conventions and just really fell in love with photography,” said Heather. “As I got busier, I realized I didn’t want to do this on my own, and Mariah has always been extremely artistic.”
With similar creative interests and complementary photographic styles, the cousins were a natural match as business partners.
As Heather was contemplating her business plans, Mariah was enrolled at Keene State College in New Hampshire. With a camera in hand for as long as she can remember, Mariah has long had a passion for photographing landscapes and architecture. With Heather’s roots in Vermont, Mariah agreed to move to the green mountain state to join forces on a new business venture.
As a cohesive team, Mariah and Heather use their different perspectives to push each other artistically.
“We’re a good balance,” Mariah said. “When Heather’s looking at something and thinking about it, I’m often looking at it completely differently.”
The end result is creative growth in the individual photographic styles of both photographers. There is a balance in their work that makes the transition between Mariah and Heather’s photographic styles nearly seamless. As a cohesive team, the pair excels in their artistic pursuits, and they create photographs that delight their clients.
Another aspect to being taken seriously as professional photographers was to secure a location for their studio.
As demand grew for studio portraits, a dedicated space was desperately needed. A safe space for newborn and maternity photo sessions allowed this segment of the business to grow, and the studio was moved from Heather’s home to its current location in Johnson.
The studio has many unique features and amenities, including the nursery that makes the studio a comfortable space for toddlers and babies during their photo sessions. It also provides the opportunity for a small gallery, so Heather and Mariah’s work can be displayed, and they can show their customers examples of canvases and metal prints. The ability to see these unique display selections allows clients to envision the prints in their own homes, and it is far more personal than making their choices from online digital albums.
Having been in business for over five years, opening the studio in October 2015 was an exciting new step for With Love Photography. A kind and flexible landlord with a wonderful location and the financial resources of Opportunities Credit Union helped them take this big step for their business.
With the Credit Union’s support, these hard-working businesswomen were able to finance their local studio in order to meet the community’s needs with one-of-a-kind photographic services.
Working with Opportunities Credit Union was an easy and painless process for Heather and Mariah. With a referral from Score, they approached Opportunities for financial support and had a wonderful experience.
“It was huge for us to try to find someone that believed in us,” said Heather. “Our business could be seen as risky, but they gave us a chance and it’s worked out.”
Heather and Mariah had spoken with other banks about financing options in the past, but they were told their only option was a large commercial loan. The response from Opportunities was unique: “This is something different.”
Working with Greg Huysman, the Senior Business Development Manager at Opportunities, was especially painless for Heather and Mariah. Greg’s quick response time made the process of obtaining a loan easy, even though Heather nor Mariah had written a business plan or obtained a business loan in the past. They described it as a quick process, and said the convenient online banking services have been immensely helpful.
When asked if they would recommend Opportunities to other small businesses in the community, Heather said, “I’ve actually recommended them to other people who needed loans, and they got one, including my stepfather.” Mariah added that she would definitely recommend them for micro loans.
Heather summed their experience up by saying, “I think Opportunities is a different financial institution because they really do focus on small business and people that want to get started. It was very evident that they want small businesses in Vermont to be successful, so that’s what pushed us to go for them.”
With Opportunities by their side, many local small business owners are able to make their dreams of growing their business or opening a storefront a reality. With personalized customer service and custom financing that allows startups to blossom, Vermont benefits from the many unique businesses that call our community home.
As Heather and Mariah from With Love Photography can attest, owning a business is about hard work, teamwork, and community. A strong network of support and people who believe in your success makes the journey easier. Opportunities is pleased to serve the Vermont community as a part of the team that helps small businesses launch, grow and thrive.
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