Today Jaime Lueders is on the show to tell us about the challenges and courage that it took to open a brick and mortar studio, with a rent of 4k a month, in a place that are already had six studios. I’m so excited for you all to hear how thinking outside of the box and just going for it paid off in a big way.
Jaime has been a photographer of some sort since she was a little girl. 2.5 half years ago, after working out of her home, lugging studio gear to clients homes and struggling to get enough clients to make a living, she took a huge leap of faith and decided to rent a space and opened Amber Sky, near St. Louis, MO. Jaime is the first to admit that she didn’t know anything about the business side of things. She opened her doors and began to shoot A LOT of extremely low cost sessions. After 6 months of working non stop for very little profit, she realized that the clients she was working with were using her because of the price, not because they loved her style or valued what she did. She was spending tons of time and energy getting them what they needed and trying to make them happy but the reality was, that if she raised her prices to where they needed to be, they weren’t going to come back.
She realized that something had to change and became confident enough to say no and that it was ok if she wasn’t everybody’s photographer. It was scary to raise her prices but when the first client tipped her $200 on top of her session fee and then purchased one of her largest collections, she knew she could never do it any other way again. Jaime’s business is thriving. Last year, she had 180 sessions with clients who valued her skill set and were willing to pay for it.
Standing Out from the Competition
4k a month in rent may sound daunting but with some outside of the box thinking Jaime has come up with a really unique business model. Amber Sky is much more than just a photography studio. On site they have the top hair salon for children in St. Louis, a family boutique, a lactation consultant, nutritionist and pediatric chiropractor. It’s basically a one stop shop for families and has so many resources for new moms. Best of all, there is truly nothing like it in the area. The business has become much more than what Jaime’s original business plan laid out. Her advice to anyone thinking about renting a space is, “don’t be afraid to change the plan. Sometimes you have to pivot to survive.”. It’s best to look at your business plan as more of a hypothesis about what might work than a road map of what you must do.
Even with her innovative space, with six other photographers in the area, standing out can still be a challenge. Especially since Jaime doesn’t offer digital files. The desire to be able to have the session files is the number one hesitation that new clients have. Jaime finds that if she takes the time to have a conversation with people about why they want the files and then addresses their concerns, people understand and are happy to work with her. A lot of times, people don’t even really know why they want files. When you explain that they are investing in a session and it makes sense to own family heirloom products that will be enjoyed for generations, they realize that’s what they actually want. StickyAlbums has also helped. At the end of every ordering appointment, Jaime helps her clients load a StickyAlbum with their images on their phone and walks them through how to share it with family and friends and post to social media. Taking this tiny bit of extra time to walk people through that process pays off. When they see how easy it us to use, they’re excited to share it and help market Amber Sky.