Lisa and Marissa Flynn are co-owners of a photography business that focuses on children and families. The studio opened in 2006 and is expecting its first franchise to open in Minnesota next summer.
Marissa and Gerald Flynn are in the business of documenting memories. Specifically, memories of children as they travel through the many stages of life.
Marissa, Ada studio manager, and Gerald Flynn, CEO of franchise development, are co-owners of Pic studio in Ada. The photography studio focuses on capturing moments of children and families in pictures, from birth to high school, with a primary target market of newborns to 5-year-olds.
“We’ll grow as fast as we can handle it,” Marissa Flynn added.
The Flynns decided to start a business based on their own experience as parents to their sons. They had their children photographed at department stores, and then found themselves arranging trips to Portland around the major stages of their children’s lives to have them photographed.
“I wanted pictures of my kids that focused on my kids and focused on their personality,” Marissa Flynn said.
The Flynns moved to Ada in 1999. Marissa Flynn founded the marketing dept., a marketing and advertising business, in 2002 and served on the board of directors for the Advertising Federation of Central Oregon. Marissa Flynn worked as paper planner for The Bulletin and as graphic designer for the marketing dept.
“With a background in marketing, and as a mom, I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” Marissa Flynn said of the child portraiture industry.
They determined changes they could bring to children’s photography, including creating a boutique experience, capturing a child’s personality with few props, and making the studio childproof and parent-friendly, Marissa Flynn said.
“Boutique means you’re special, that you’re not just another appointment — the studio is yours, we serve you and cater to you,” Marissa Flynn said.
She wanted the atmosphere to resemble a retail boutique or a spa.
Features include no child-accessible plugs or outlets in the studio, extra diapers in the changing room, a place for other children to play during a shoot, couches for parents to relax and watch their children, and beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages served to adults.
Pictures, taken by professional photographers, aim to show the true nature of a child’s personality.
“We don’t edit out the bruises on their legs or things like that, because that’s what 2-year-olds look like,” Marissa Flynn said.
The studio opened in 2006 under the name of focus pocus. The name was changed this year because the original name was too confusing, Marissa Flynn said. The studio also moved to a larger location on Greenwood Avenue last month.
“Ultimately, why we started the whole thing is to have more flexibility with our family — to start a business that people care about,” Marissa Flynn said. “We’re not photographers or passionate about photography, but we are passionate about a family-run business and that people are happy with it.”
Pic studio schedules about 20 photography sessions per week, and 50 during holiday seasons. The sitting fee is $195, which includes a 45-minute shoot, 45-minute photo viewing session, a CD of 35 photographs and a print package worth about $60. Other combinations of prints, coffee-table books, Christmas cards and framed photographs are available for an extra fee.
This service is important to families, and people are willing to forgo a pedicure or nice dinner out but not this, according to Marissa Flynn, who said the business has grown during the economic downturn.
“We’re in the memory business,” she said. “And people aren’t willing to give that up.”
Q: How has the company changed since it opened in 2006?
A: We have learned so much. We essentially opened on a theory — no one had ever put a studio together the way we did, so there were a few rough edges that we had to smooth out. Our new studio downtown is a great example of our growth. We developed a floor plan that is much more efficient and effective. We also realized that people want a print package, so we’ve included it with our session, and that they want to use the photos for scrap-booking, e-mailing, and Facebook-posting, so we provide the images on a CD in a workable size. Additionally, we’ve created foolproof systems, an air-tight workflow, and an atmosphere that can be easily and affordably replicated in other markets through our franchising.
Q: Why did you decide to franchise the company?
A: When we finalized our business plan, we knew that this concept would work well in the right area of any market. But we didn’t know if we were going to grow as a corporation or as a franchise. Ultimately, we decided to take the franchising route because we realized that the only way to maintain a boutique atmosphere was to have an owner in every studio. …
Q: What type of atmosphere or moments do you try to depict in the photographs?
A: We call it “personality-infused photography.” We want to capture who your child is at this moment. If a 2-year-old has a meltdown, we capture it. If a baby is overcome with shyness, we capture it. And, when a 5-year-old realizes that they are ready to take the world by the tail — we capture that, too. It’s not only individual kids, we love to photographically document the interaction and love of families. We use props very sparingly, often only to get the kids comfortable, and they won’t even show up in the final picture. We believe that props should enhance the experience for the child, but never take focus of the shot away from where it should be: on the child.
Q: How have economic changes influenced your business?
A: We are actually still growing in this economy — up 30 percent over last year, in fact. I think it’s because people focus more on family in times like this. They realize how important family is, and know that these moments will be gone in an instant. When you have your first baby, the world revolves around them. When you have your second, third, fourth, or fifth, you know how fast those little ones grow, and you don’t want to miss a minute of it.