Tuesday, May 29, 2012

All about US and our GRANT application! (this is a good read, I promise...I wrote it)





  • Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?
            Our business is a photography studio, and we are photographers and graphic designers by trade.  While we are excellent, no...superb, at what we do (toot toot of our own horn) the tricks of the trade are not the only things that make our business's shutter open and close (pun intended).  Our studio does not just excel at capturing still images, we creatively freeze time.  That's right...some would say we're super heroes, but we believe we're the average Josephines blessed with an artistic talent.  It doesn't stop there, freezing time is the skill, the real essence of what we do is in the memories we preserve...the yawns of newborn babies, the joyful tears of brides, the shared hugs among families, the eager spirit of high school seniors, the wagging tails of furry friends, the ambition of business people, the laugh lines of anniversary couples, the hand holding of the newly engaged, the cake-frosted faces of one year olds, and the imagination of children.  Those are just a few examples...please email us for more details.  The skill, the freezing, the preservation of memories, and yet we still have not mentioned the most important part...the relationships with our clients.  Each and every person that walks through our door for a session is our new best friend and the opportunity for us to change somebody's life for the best and for them to change ours.  Touching lives...that's what we do and that's what we hope for from our clients.  That, our friends, is what makes us most successful and unique.  It may be part of what has helped us earn first place in "Saginaw New's Readers Choice Awards" the past two years in a row.
    
  • How is your business involved with the community you serve?
            Our business is located in the heart of tiny downtown Bridgeport, MI.  To us, however, just like our small business our community is everything but small!  We have big dreams for our business, and we have big dreams for how our business can help our community.  Every day we work hard to make all of our sugarplum ideas become realities.  In between sessions, phone calls, emails, client pick-ups, editing, cropping, designing, color-correcting, etc at the studio we help plan many aspects of the town's festival.  With the brain power, time and support of a few wonderful citizens of Bridgeport we were able to restore the festival after several years of dormancy.  We never could have imagined the turnout nor the unity it would bring to our town...we were elated!  We were able to donate proceeds from the festival to our town's beautification committee for new flowers, to the high school band toward new uniforms, and to a few other local organizations.  This year, we are working to ensure the parade, the pageant, the rubber duck race (Rubber Ducky Derby, to be exact), the canoe race, the fishing contest, the craft show, the car show, the entertainment tent, the 5K, the BBQ, the tractor pull, the softball tournament and the carnival midway are a success!  Oh yes, and the Summer Skool of Terror too!  Did we forget to mention that we helped organize and run a haunted house in the empty school as a fundraiser for Bridge Fest last fall, and that we are reopening it for Bridge Fest as a teaser of what is to come this fall?  Well silly us!  Perhaps that's because we were busy updating our community's calendar on facebook, where we keep all the events that we're aware of from all of the community committees, churches, businesses, etc.  Or perhaps we were at the community pet shelter where we volunteer our mornings twice a month to photograph our furry friends who need a forever home!  We were recently honored to receive "Business of the Year" from our local chamber, and a special tribute from Michigan's State Senator and State Representative in recognition of our efforts in the community.
    
  • What would a $250k grant mean to your business plan and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability?
            Our goal from day one has been to offer our clients a high-end product and top-notch service, yet to keep our pricing at a level that can be affordable to most...who are we to exclude those with a lower expendable income from preserving important memories, yet why should the stay-at-home photographer make more than our established business?  These are all considerations that factor into our pricing; along with cost of goods, payroll, phone service, rent, and equipment expense.  We are not the most expensive studio in the area, nor do we come close to the prices that 'big box studios' can offer!  We have been quite successful at balancing our income and expenses in order to make a reasonable profit.  If we exceed sales plan, we utilize the excess to purchase new props , donate to local events and charities and splurge in the occasional small team morale booster.  It is a solid plan and has been working nicely for us!  What would we possibly need a grant for one might ask?  With the technology ever-changing in this industry  (well in the world in general), especially to the photography and graphic design realm, it is important to stay cutting-edge in order to stay competitive.  And we all know why a business must stay competitive.  A $250,000 grant would allow our business to purchase equipment that could really make us stand out.  We would like to be able to advance our cameras entirely to include wi-fi capabilities in order to speed up our downloading process, which will in turn speed up editing and ordering.  A faster turn around time will help us stay ultra competitive.  This would also allow for instant viewing, which will enable on-the-spot sales for sports groups and other event photography.  We would also purchase a photo booth to be able to offer our clients as a favor for weddings, school dances and other events.  Our business plan going forward tells us that we must always be generating new sales in the 'event photography' portion of our business in order to continue growing.  With the popularity of new 'over-the-counter' cameras, the general population will become more savvy and our growth in portrait photography may trend at a bit of a slower pace than in years previous, but events will provide growth stability to our company for years to come.
    
  • What types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them?
            Every business plan, new or old, has the potential to become an obstacle course.  The idea is to identify the obstacles and understand how to overcome them in advance, so that you are prepared for the challenge, can conquer the course and move forward as a stronger business!  Using the knowledge we have of the industry and the equipment, we know that technology updates are a frequent necessity.  In the plan above, we mentioned that we would like to purchase updated technology right away with our grant money, projecting the updates will generate enough revenue to be able to continue renewing our technology and equipment as needed.  One challenge is that there is always the possibility of equipment failure, premature to when our plan permits for the next update.  There are means to cover us, such as insurance.  We also believe in the concept of having back up equipment, so the plan will include the necessary pieces to get us through smoothly until we are able to purchase a full replacement if necessary.  Another challenge is the possibility in a complete overhaul in the photography equipment technology (such as when the switch from film to digital required a complete change of tools).  Continuous research, training and planning will help us prepare for such an event and is what will keep us from falling if this were to come up.  We would be able to stretch our equipment through the early stages of the change as we slowly purchased pieces that would smoothly transition us into the new era.
    
  • Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful.
            We have an impeccable team of talented professionals!  Each one brings a unique set of skills to the success of our business.  We have Christina, who utilizes great skill and her zany brain to create marketing pieces that make a statement and pull heartstrings.  She sends them to Rob, who is the master of all things electronic.  He waives his magic wand and alas! they are on the website, which is a well-oiled sales tool.  Once our clients visit the website they are sure to fly into the studio where they are greeted by Chrissy, our friendly customer service connoisseur!  You think Flo from Progressive is the sweetest?  She has nothing on our Chrissy....clients love her to pieces!  She will greet them and escort them to the camera room for their session, which is where they meet the amazing camera-handler and main photographer Stefanie!   She combines impeccably proper technique (which she learned from Master Craftsman and owner of our studio's name from 1976-2005) with unique artistic talent, to produce amazing artwork that our clients fall head over heels in love with (insurance disclaimer: nobody has been hurt in this head-over-heels fall).  Once our client is in love they are guided through the sales process by the same Christina that marketed them in, where she will provide them means to take their artwork home and ideas on how to display it.  Before they get to take it home though it must be edited by the same great Stefanie who shot the memory...she will now mold it into perfection (like weaving straw into gold).  Once it is ordered from the lab, Chrissy uses her amazing skills to call the client and turns her charm on as they stop by to pick it up.  The process is on-going and starts over with every visit to our website, every session in our studio, and every order that is placed!
    
  • Additional relevant information you would like to share
            "Hillier Studio" was opened in 1976 by Bob Hillier in the same town in still resides.  Bob was very successful at running this wonderful portrait studio, and over the years it became a very vital asset to the town of Bridgeport.  In 2001, after her senior portrait session, Stefanie began working with Bob as his receptionist.  Instead of rushing out the door at closing time every day, she found herself staying after to explore her new-found talent of using the cameras and lighting.  Soon she began regularly assisting in the camera room, and shortly after that she was photographing the occasional session on her own and assisting at weddings.  Within only a couple of years, clients were primarily requesting Stefanie by name to capture their memories.  Mr. Hillier was sneaking up on his hopes of retiring and was glad to watch Stefanie spread her wings and build upon her natural talent.  Meanwhile, her brother Robert was just about to accept the honor of receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and (his now wife) Christina was only a year away from walking across that same University stage to take on the future with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and Art.  Mr. Hillier's talk  of retirement turned into action plans, as he approached Stefanie about purchasing the business from him.  She took the proposal to her brother Robert for advice and more action plans were made...plans that would change the lives of all involved with the studio forever.  In 2005, at the young ages of 20, 22 and 23, Stefanie and Robert (along with Christina) purchased the studio under the legal name of Licht Inc., and were eager to know what the future held for their new business, Hillier Studio.  Personal savings were tapped into (savings accounts through Chase Bank, which is the only way to go), sweat equity was put in, sleepless nights passed, laughs and tears were shared, and with careful tact a wonderful new business plan was brought forth and executed by the team.  Seven (and a half) years later, the team continues to move forward, to grow, to improve and to thrive in the wonderful community of Bridgeport as a studio with a fresh face and a wonderful history.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mom, Mommy, Mumma, Ma, Mamma...


Let's be real...your mom put up with a LOT from you. And if you are a mom, you now put up with a LOT lol. But there's something special about a bond between mother and child, regardless of the ups and downs that come along with the job. There is a PRICELESS feeling that you don't get to see between you and your mother or between you and your children...unless you get to look back at it. A portrait will achieve just that. Allow us to capture that bond in a bottle (or a portrait, rather) so you can cherish the memories for years to come!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

P. R. O. M. twenty twelve...


Bring your dress, your jewels, your heels and your besties for this super fun photoshoot! What else are you going to do with that beautiful dress you spent so much money on? Better take some amazing portraits with it so you can remember how awesome you felt it in for years to come! $20 per person includes the session, glamour retouching, 1-5x7 per person and one facebook image per person!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

POP POP goes the bubbles, the bubbles...POP goes the bubbles cause the bubbles go POP!


Who doesn't love to play bubbles!?! You get out the bubbles and there's not a single person I know who would be tempted to pop one if it flew in front of their face. AND I guarantee they would look for more and hope their next bubble is even bigger and pops even MORE! Try it out....I challenge you lol. But before you take your bubbles to the supermarket, book a super fun, ultra adorable BUBBLES AND BABIES session! Our little claw foot bathtub and your precious one's smiles will make for amazing art work. These portraits are just for fun or can really create unique art piece for your master bath, guest suite, etc.! IF for some reason these dates do not work for you (or you've just stumbled accross this blog and your 2 days (or months) too late, give us a call...we may just be able to help ya out!
http://hillierstudio.bookmonline.com/schedules/Bubbles2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pound Puppies

We had the great honor of photographing some very very special and sweet little furry fiends this morning! These four-legged beauties are not somebody's pet...in fact, sadly they currently do not have humans to call 'mom and dad'. The good news.....they are very adoptable and YOU could provide them the loving stable home they deserve!! Take a look at these faces and tell us how you could say no to cuddling with them every night!! Check out the 'Saginaw Adoptable Pets' page on facebook for more details!
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saginaw-Adoptable-Pets#!/pages/Saginaw-Adoptable-Pets/333062970065996


HOMER:
English Lab (potentially pure bred)
Very calm dog with a friendly demeanor



Happy:
Adult Male Spaniel Mix
20 lbs
Moderately active and quite curious
Sits and stays and greets everyone with a smile
Such a sweetie pie and so darn lovable


Candy:
Female Mix
Beautiful eyes and markings
Very sweet and well-mannered



Barbara:
Adult Female
35 lbs
Surrendered after family house fire
She's sweet and affectionate
Very good with other dogs and very easy to handle


Ace:
Lab Beagle Mix
Approx 2 years old
Very sweet and quite active


Zoomey:
1 year old
10 lb male
Loves attention
Very sweet lap kitty
Beautiful color
Surrendered by his owner


2 day old baby kittens
Not quite ready for adoption but they will be soon!


Hanna:
Female
Domestic long hair
Calm and gentle
Enjoys being brushed

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Phat Toos Day

Fat Tuesday equals FAT DEALS ON TUTUS!!!

Buy one tutu set from the boutique and get one for only $2.00!!

Wowzers!! Stef is gonna have to sell her chair in order to pay rent if we have any more deals like this!! (a chair is a luxury anyway...not a necessity...suck it up Stef!) LOL

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

L is for the way you look at me....

If you are looking for the most specialrific Valentine's gift for your sweetie pie, be sure to consider this...
video

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Worth the Wait

Every week we are blessed to get to photograph the miracle of a newborn baby, or the precious smile of a toddler, or even the wonderous belly of an expecting mother. And every time brings joy to our hearts and a smile to our face...and admittedly we feel excitement for the day that someday we will be capturing the memories of our journey to parenthood. Well that day is here for Rob and I and we are sooooooo excited!! Stef now has a unique addition to her portfolio...an 'excited to adopt' session!! And we have added a fun new portrait to the cover of our adoption profile book! Pretty soon we will have a new addition to the studio...a tiny brand new precious baby (and plenty of portraits that we will share with all of you!)



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Class of 2013 Model Search


We're accepting applications through January 23 for 2013 senior models!
Are you interested in awesome senior portraits, discounts, prizes and roller skates? If so this is for YOU!
Click here to get the scoop and fill out the app!

Friday, December 30, 2011

All About Smiles =)

Smiling is something that is near and dear to our hearts!
Operation Smile is an organization that supports awareness and surgeries for people with cleft palate, cleft lip and other congenital facial deformities.

We believe, at Hillier Studio that EVERY person should have the opportunity to SMILE! While we enjoy the smiles that are produced for a portrait, we equally enjoy the smiles that are produced from looking at a portrait!

A smile can change a day, turn the table, and even save a life!
If you are interested in making a donation to Operation Smile, now is a great time as they are matching donations dollar for dollar! If you are not in the situation to donate, please at least spread awareness for these children and their families!
Check it out! http://www.operationsmile.org/

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just sayin...Pixie Stix

I mean, who doesn't LOVE pixie stix, right!?!

Won't you please BE MY VALENTINE?


Didn't get Christmas cards out this year? How about Valentine cards of your little sweetheart!?!

This session is so super cute and will melt the hearts of whoever you share the portraits with!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CHRISTMAS 2011





To see more of these precious santa babies and their families, check out our facebook gallery!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry...

,...you better not pout I'm telling you why....SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!!!! That's right, he will be at theBridgeportFire Dept tomorrow (December 9th) from 6pm to 8pm for the Pioneer Christmas Celebration in the Historical Village on Dixie Hwy! Bring an unwrapped toy valued at $10 or a $10 cash donation for Toys For Tots and we will gift you a free 5x7 photo with Santa! See you there!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween 2011 Pictures

We saw Dora, Thomas The Train, Fairies, Monsters, Super Heroes, Princesses, Butterflies, Cowgirls, Buzz Light Years, Monkies, Bears, Dogs and even Peacocks. But No Justin Biebers??? Really??

To check out the pics, head to our facebook gallery =)

Monday, October 31, 2011

YIPES, STRIPES, FRUIT STRIPED GUM

Does anybody else remember those commercials with the multi-colored zebra!? Please say yes.

Anywho...
Halloween Pictures tonight from 5pm to 7pm!! FREE mini session and discounted order pricing!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We're FAMOUS!

Well actually this kitchen is about to become famous, but it is thanks to Stef for her amazing photojournalistic artwork on these catalog portraits for Capital Granite!

Capital Granite by the way....has AMAZING products, and their staff is absolutely wonderful! Be sure to check them out for any home remodeling projects!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011