It seems like you see more about supporting small businesses a lot more during the holiday season with days like “Small Business Saturday” to try to counter Black Friday and other huge shopping days. Last year around this time I started posting links to small businesses that I love, or that are run by friends and family, and this year I will be doing the same. As a small business owner myself, I understand the importance of supporting them more than most, and I would love to be able to help others see why it is so much better to buy locally and small than to support large multi million dollar corporations. Don’t get me wrong, I will be getting some of my Christmas presents at places like Costco or Trader Joes, but I try to do the majority of my shopping from small businesses, or I put together creative gifts of my own. It can mean that things might cost a little more, but knowing that I am putting food on the table for a family, or helping them to buy gifts for their kids is a great feeling.
Here’s something to think about when you book with me.
I might be a little more expensive than getting your photos done at Wal-Mart or JC Penneys, but by supporting me you are supporting a local small business. This means you are supporting a person, not a multi-million dollar business that doesn’t need your money. You are allowing me to pay my bills, provide a roof over my head, and buy more equipment for my business. By purchasing my sessions and prints you are also supporting someone who gives back in as many ways as I can. Not only do I give 10% to charities during the holidays, but I also volunteer with Operation Love ReUnited (www.oplove.org) providing amazing photos for military families who otherwise might not be able to afford to have those moments captured.
I have also given several gift certificates to silent auctions for places like Jubilee Women’s center, (http://jwcenter.org/) and I give away a couple sessions a year for those who can’t afford to get professional family photos. I was raised to always give back in any way I could. We didn’t have much money growing up, but we had enough, and we were never lacking. My parents always found ways to give back to those who needed it, and taught my brother and I to do the same. Every Christmas we would take our allowance or babysitting money and use it to buy food items for the food bank. We would also choose a toy off the giving tree that we would purchase with pride knowing that it would make another little kid smile. It is a tradition I plan on carrying on when I have kids of my own. It is the reason that I give back to military families and others through my photography, knowing what a difference it makes. It is why I spent countless hours helping with the calendar for HB Carepackages, knowing that the money made will put smiles on the faces of many of our deployed soldiers. It’s the reason that this year, just like last year I plan on giving 10% of all my net sales to charity. (www.hbcarepackages.com and http://melodiccaringproject.org/ ) Make sure you check out these charities and perhaps even sign up to sponsor a package of your own. It would be a great thing to do with your kids.
When you book with me, you also get my personal attention, to me you are a client who matters, and I will treat you as such. You are not a number, or just one more client bringing their baby in for holiday photos in the big name studio I am working in. I pride myself in being able to capture your family at your best, and give you an emotional portrait you are proud to share and hang on your wall. More than a photo, I strive to give you a piece of art that will make you smile each time you look at it remembering the fun day we had during our shoot. You are an individual who is helping me realize my dream and helping me to make a living doing something that I am passionate about and absolutely love. I appreciate and love each and every one of my clients, and I appreciate that to many of them, my session fee (although less than many) is still an investment, money that could have been used in other ways, but instead is being given to me so that I can provide beautiful photos for you to cherish and pass down through the generations. It is not a responsibility I take lightly.
Deciding to take the step towards being a small business owner was easier for me than many since I was raised in a small business household. My dad was a beekeeper when I was growing up, and we sold our honey, candles and wine at high-end art shows, as well as our own store in Moscow, ID. The holiday season meant going to lots of shows with them where I would help sell their products, as well as sell my little entrepreneurial items of my own like wreaths, earrings and dream catchers. I loved going to these shows with my parents, it was an exciting atmosphere, and I enjoyed being able to find cool hand crafted gifts for my family. I would sneak off from our booth with one of my handmade items and approach the other artist about trading. Most of the time they had trouble resisting the adorable little blonde girl, and I would leave their table beaming, knowing I had just gotten a beautiful hand-made item that my mom, dad or brother would love opening on Christmas day. It was always so much fun to see the smile these items brought, and to be able to share the story of how I was able to get it without them noticing. I really can’t imagine having that same joy and excitement for an item purchased at Wal-Mart. Plus the items are unique, and mean a lot more (especially photos) than any random item you can buy at the department store.
Here are the pages for some of my favorite small businesses. They all make unique items, and again, by purchasing from them you are supporting a family instead of a corporation. When your loved ones open the gifts on Christmas morning with a smile on their faces, you can take pride in knowing you found them a unique gift that they will cherish, all while supporting a family run business and helping to brighten their family’s Christmas as well.
Axiom 8 Designs: Hand drawn, custom art that can be used on t-shirts, decals, car parts and more. (Also happens to be my brother!) Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Axiom8Designs
Life Force Red Bell Pepper Sauce: A delicious SWEET red bell pepper sauce that makes an awesome gift for the foodies in your life. Tastes amazing with egg rolls, crab cakes, fish, with cream cheese as a dip and more! (Created and made by my amazing parents.) Can be shipped anywhere in the world. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LlifeforceRoastedRedBellPepperSauce?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser Website: http://www.lifeforce-specialty-foods.com/
Tammy’s Boutique for Kids: Hand made headbands, hair ribbons, tutus, shirts and more for you little one. Great for special occasions, photo shoots, or just because you have a cute kid and want them to look even cuter! Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tammysboutiqueforkids
Maedeanies Beanies: Beautiful hand crocheted beanies of all types, from animals to sports themed. Can be custom made for whatever you are looking for. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MaedeaniesBeanies
Neverland Cakes and Creations: Cakes that are delicious and beautiful for any occasion, Neverland is owned by a fantastic single mom of three and is based out of Kirkland, WA. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NeverlandCakesNCreations
Lil Boricua’s Bakery: Another bakery with delicious and beautiful products, owned by a military family and based out of the south end. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lil-Boricuas-Bakery/160499427307641
Essence Salon: A great small salon located in mid Seattle, they offer hair cuts, coloring, sugaring and more, with all natural products. Essence also offers hair and makeup for weddings or other big days Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Essence-a-chic-coiffure/72681406561
Please go check out these small businesses and give their page a like. Browse through their items and see if you can find something unique and amazing to give to your favorite people. And remember, gift certificates make a great gift for those hard to buy people in your life!