In my ongoing quest to bring inspiration to your day; Sparklefly Candle Company has reached out to some other amazing entrepreneurs to share their stories and products. As always, I encourage you to explore these small business owners with me and remember to shop small this holiday season and all year round.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller
This week I deliver to you Michael Belling of PhotoSpell. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this amazingly talented photographer and friend. We've been through our growing pains together and Michael is known as "the helper" to his fellow Indie Business owners. We always want to be placed next to his booth at shows because beyond his incredible, custom work, he is one of the most genuine, intelligent and helpful people I am fortunate enough to know. This is his story and I am so excited to share it for him.
Q: Tell me about PhotoSpell and how you got started?
I have always loved photography and anything to do with cameras. I get it from my grandfather, without a doubt. As a kid, he always had to have the NEWEST camera, the newest gadget and he always learned every possible way to use it. Through school and afterwards, I kept up with my little film camera, even turning the bathroom in my apartment into a dark room where I would develop and print my own images. When I got married in 2011, my wife Nicole bought me my first digital DSLR camera. Right away I knew I had to get back into real photography, get rid of the Auto mode and teach myself digital processing of images. I took a great class in NYC, Photo Manhattan. While there I began taking photos of objects around the city that looked like letters. A traffic light as an E, a manhole cover as an O, etc. I started collecting these images and making words with them. I made two prints, BELLING for my brother's house for Christmas and BEACH for my dad's house at the Cape. They were a hit. Before I knew it, I had 15 different designs and friends were buying by word of mouth. That spring I decided to try out an arts and crafts fair. I built a website, increased my products and PhotoSpell was born. Today I consider PhotoSpell to be a company mainly involved in gifts, home décor and unique custom items. We are currently carried in 5 retail stores on Long Island as well as 12 to 15 art and craft shows each year. We are hoping to increase our online purchasing capabilities this winter.
Q: What is your favorite aspect about being a small business owner?
Making the final decision. One of my former bosses told me a long time ago, the only way to go to work every day without complaining is to own your company. If you are the one making the decisions, then everyone else is doing the complaining, better them then you!! I love that if I wake up with an idea, I can try it out, laugh it off or turn it into our next big step. If a mistake is made and something doesn't work out, no one is yelling at me or putting me down. When something works out great, it is so gratifying. I also love getting to see other people, family, friends and strangers, happy over something that wouldn't have existed had I not created it. That's pretty cool too.
Q: What are some of your bestselling prints?
As far as the PhotoSpell prints themselves, we have a few that always seem to sell. MONTAUK, LONG ISLAND, Welcome to OUR HOME (designed by my wife Nicole), HOPE (designed by a great family friend Eileen Tobin during her battle with ovarian cancer), and our sports team line are certainly the most popular. Recently I have gotten back into more standard landscape photography as well. Scenes from NYC, the beach, sunsets etc. These style images have also been some of our best selling products.
Q: What should a customer expect when purchasing one of your prints?
Different. By far it is the most often stated word at my shows. People come in and just go wow, these are great, they are so DIFFERENT. I love that. Going to craft shows you see the same products in 50 different ways. When you see something you have never seen before, it allows you to wonder about where that product will now fit into your life. (A lot like Sparklefly Sparkle Stones). You can expect, a good story or two from me, a great quality product, and all the patience in the world in helping you create or find exactly what you are looking for.
Q: Who or what has been the biggest inspiration for you?
I have so many. I think my grandfather obviously taught me how to appreciate the really cool things in the world. He knew how to build anything (even the first vehicle ever to touch down the moon). Without him, I'd just be taking selfies with my cell phone. My mom has taught me more than anyone. As a single parent, she raised my brother and me to always think bigger. She taught us never to settle for what we have, if what we want is greater. I've always tried to do better and do more in order to experience the best. My wife Nicole has been there encouraging me and PhotoSpell the whole time. From setting up for shows, to making deliveries, to finding letters, I couldn't have done any of this, and I wouldn't have wanted to do any of this, without her.
Q: What types of customization do you offer?
If you can think it up, we will give it a shot. I have done first names, last names, hometowns, sports teams from PAL to professional, even addresses of new homes. I do tons of engagement gift designs using the couple's new last name and adding their first names and wedding date in font to the print. I even have included engagement photos that were given to us.
Q. Do you have any events or specials coming up?
With the holidays quickly approaching, we have several live events lined up. We will be at the Amityville Apple Festival on 10/4, The Garden City Fall Festival the weekend of 11/8, Walt Whitman High School Art Show 11/22 and Northport High School Holiday Fair the weekend of 12/6.
Q. Where can your prints be found?
You can check out everything we have to offer at our website: http://www.photospelldesigns.com/. You can also visit a retail location which are listed on the website as well. All and any questions can be sent to Michael at email@example.com
Say HELLO to Mike and leave a comment!