"Seeing someone's success is one thing, but understanding their struggles and how they found their passion is a whole other story..."
The early days
Throughout high school, I struggled. Bullied for my size and struggling in class, I was kicked out of mainstream school in the last year. I left school at 16, unqualified but young, ambitious and eager to make something of myself and make some money. My first job was in door-to-door sales for Anglian Windows and with determination and hard work became their youngest “Best Salesperson of the Year”. I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot about sales but PVC windows were not my passion! In 2006 my partner Kaylie and my mum bought me a camera for my birthday and it was here that my passion for photography and capturing precious family moments was born. My first daughter Lacey was a 1 year-old at the time and I would snap away taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of her and our growing family, and I decided at that moment that I wanted to become a photographer.
I invested in lighting equipment and launched a mobile photography business – but this wasn’t without its own stresses and I yearned for the security of a regular wage to support my family. I got a job as a photographer at a branch of Olan Mills Photography where I really cut my teeth in running a studio business. The opportunity came up for me to run the studio during my manager’s absence. I went somewhat rogue, testing out new and innovative photography styles and sets and products and in just 1 month increased their sales by £10k!
Armed with more skills, experience and a newfound confidence I felt ready to branch out on my own. I took out a £10k bank loan secured by Kaylie’s dad (gulp..no pressure there then!) and on Lacie’s 2nd birthday, the 1st November 2008 we opened Taylor Made Portraits. We made £30k profit in year 1 and paid off the loan, but the subsequent couple of years were rocky, we fell behind on rent and struggled to find a niche and an edge in a pretty crowded local market.
We were on the brink of throwing in the towel and losing everything we had worked so hard to achieve, when, at a Photography Expo in 2013 we discovered a new style of newborn photography that we instantly fell in love with. We took a leap of faith, and invested every last penny of our remaining savings in training with internationally acclaimed newborn photography trainer/expert, Elli Cassidy.
BabyArt Studios was born in 2013
The rest, as they say, is history! And we have never looked back. Baby Art UK (as were called back then) launched and within a few short months our business model changed, bookings and sales were through the roof and our price list tripled! We had found our differentiator and niche and Baby Art became our sole focus.
By 2013 our family had expanded to include 3 kids – Ruby-Mae and Rowen had arrived – each with some additional needs. Ruby-Mae is deaf and Rowan has autism, and as any parent of a child with additional needs knows, the ongoing commitment required to support them is significant. We wanted to open another studio to cope with demand but didn’t feel we had capacity alongside our family commitments. And so, the franchise model was born! Our first was in Folkstone in Kent – opened by David Hebbditch in 2017 – who is now also a director of Baby Art HQ. And I will be forever full of respect for David in taking that leap of faith and believing in my idea.
How far we've come..
Today we have 11 studios in the UK and our goal is to open 100 studios worldwide bringing Baby Art and the joy it gives to even more people around the world! Through our franchise model, studios earn 6-figure salaries working less than a 40 hour week. It’s a hugely successful model that we are enormously proud of.
But it’s not all been plain sailing and for every positive story there is a flip side. In 2010 we had a miscarriage at 20 weeks pregnant and sadly lost our baby boy, Lewis. This devastated us and going through an experience like that really changed our perception and for Kaylie and myself brought sharply into focus just how precious each and every life is, and the importance of family.
It made us realise that Baby Art isn’t about just taking beautiful images. It is about capturing memories to treasure for years to come. It is the ability to freeze time, just for a moment, and to be able to relive those experiences again and again.
Many families share their wonderful stories with Baby Art, from IVF babies and rainbow babies to miracle babies, capturing memories for others so they can enjoy their precious moments forever.
We have truly found our calling – we don’t work to live, we live to work! We love our jobs and even if we won the lottery we would still do what we do. . . except we’d be able to reach more people and capture even more perfect moments.
We have gone from strength to strength – from winning internationally recognised awards to being featured in OK magazine and being a favourite among celebrities, even being chosen to photograph Holly Willoughby’s niece!
It doesn’t matter where you come from, how you started, what mistakes you’ve made or the barriers that you’ve faced. Channel your negativity into something positive and embrace the help and support around you. For one day you’ll be in a position to help others also.
We love every moment of this journey. Creating special and unique family memories for our thousands of customers is a true privilege and we look forward to welcoming you to Baby Art Studios.