It has been a while since I have posted.... sorry! I am so excited to announce that we have officially made it. The last three years have been a struggle but through the support of our amazing clients, working hard, and adding Custom Creations we can say we officially made it.
Over the last few months I had promised myself that I would start blogging but kept putting it off as i was unsure what I was going to post. My thoughts went from writing personal stories about the behind the scenes of running a photo booth/ creating custom creations, writing about the business side of working in the events industry, and a ton of other topics. I was worried about how it would come together.
I decided that I was not going to worry about how it comes together and just write what I feel is right at that moment. It may be a bit of a mixed bag but my hope is that you will not only be entertained but also learn from us.
For this blog I thought I would start by telling the story of how we made it through the shut down. It started just as our business was starting to take off, we had just expanded, and had just returned from our first PBX (Photo Booth Conference 2020).
THEN IT STARTED..
We were so excited to continue to grow and had so many ideas.... over the next few months as people postponed and we started to worry. To add to the stress my mom was told she only had a few months to live. The emotions were running high and I was holding on to the hope that we would make it and we would only be shut down for a short period of time.
I can not lie I was feeling blessed that due to everything being shut down I was able to spend time with my mom, that otherwise I would not have been able to. We had long talks on the phone and when she was at home I could visit her.
During this time we talked alot about the struggles of keeping our business running and what I could do. My mom was disappointed that she was unable to help as that is always what she has done in the past.
A few weeks before she passed she had me come over to visit. She started out saying how proud she was of what we were creating and she wanted to do what she could to make sure we could continue growing the business.
That was when she told me she was leaving me all of her craft/quilting items. I was to find a way to use the thousands of meters of fabric, supplies and equipment to help keep my business going.
At the time I had no idea what that would look like, I only knew that this gift was the biggest gift she could ever have given me. It was not the gift of the "stuff" she gave me that really carried me through this tough time, it was her words and belief in me that touched something deep inside me. I was going to do whatever it took to not lose my business.
THE ONE EVENT WE COULD DO THE SUMMER OF 2020
That summer we did do an outdoor wedding in our blacked out tent and I created some branded masks for us. For the guests and the couple the event was a success for us it only opened our eyes more to the fact that we needed to find another option for doing outdoor events, fast. We learned so much from this one event:
Setting everything up went ok. There was no wind, the sun was shining and we were ready to go. We left for a bit, not sure if it was to change or to get something to eat, but when we returned we found a mess.
The wind had picked up and moved the tent knocking equipment, props and everything all over, meaning we would have to redo the set-up again, but this time within the next half hour. This also included doing the final checks we always do. Thankfully we managed to do this quickly and were ready to go on time.
The rest of the wedding went well for the guests and creating memories for them. However behind the scene we were done. Even with a fan going it was so hot inside the tent. The bugs kept setting of the mirror and every so often the wind would pick-up just enough to move the tent. (we forgot to bring the stakes to hold it down)
To top it off, when we arrived to the mess I had put my Oakley Sunglasses down on the prop table so I didn't have to worry about them. I forgot about them and even held them for a gentleman who was having his picture taken. I looked at them and thought oh wow he has the same sunglasses as me, knowing how much I had spent on mine I was take aback when he threw them on the grass at one point. Not until we were packed up and on our way home did I remember about my sunglasses and put it together. He had taken my sunglasses. Nothing I could do.
This only added to the stress of the day and I told my husband, that's it... no more tent we are finding a camper to renovate.
Over the next few months we talked about what it would look like and I decided to put on Facebook that we were looking for an old trailer. The government had just given us some money to help with shutdown, so we were going to use it to our advantage.
THE START OF AJS CUSTOM CREATIONS
During this time my mom had passed and we started inventorying everything I inherited. People had seen the masks I had created for our business and started ordering them with their logo on them. With my mom's equipment I could make them with no issue. And this is where and how AJs Custom Creations was born. Before long I was making hundreds of masks. I could not keep up with the orders and continue to work so it was decided that I would work one day a week.
I was struggling on what to do with the thousands of meters of fabric, the millions of patterns, books and quitting items, but in my mind my mom's voice kept playing over and over...."Do what you need to do to keep your business".
I started to list everything individually on Facebook market place, but this was so time consuming and hard to keep track of as people were purchasing multiple items. As I was driving home form deliveries one day, it came to me...... Selling everything online, like they do with the minky blankets etc.
I advertised and started my online sales. It took off. Once a week we would number the items and people would purchase them as I held them up. We would sell out each time and over the 42 weeks we created an amazing community. The money was a great help but honestly it was the people who would come on the live sale that truly helped us the most. My husband and I looked forward to these sales and were extremely sad when they came to an end.
As the online sales started to wind down, I started branching out into engraving cutting boards, t-shirts, and over the next two years AJs Custom Creations morphed into a fulltime job. From the day it started until this very minute I have not had one day that there was not an order to make. The support from our friends and clients are truly what carried us through these last three years!!
BACK TO THE CAMPER
You may not agree with what I am about to say but I truly do believe in this. I truly believe that the universe, and maybe my mom had a hand in what happened next.
I had posted an ad on Facebook looking for an old trailer. We knew that there we very few of these trailers out there and was also worried about what it would cost. I had an extremely small budget, it had to be under $1000.00 and this had to include everything (taxes, mpi, etc)
It only took a day or two for us to get a reply. In that time I had in great detail shown my husband exactly what I wanted. We would gut the inside, paint it white, create a seat on the back for the guests to sit in and I had very specific colours I wanted on the outside. We knew this was going to be a lot of work, but we are not scared to work hard. My son paints trailers for a living so that would also help. My husband was not set on the colours and tried to change my mind a few times, but it had to be this teal/aqua colour (and that was it)
This reply from our post stated that they have this trailer they have had for 20 plus years sitting in the bush on their farm. They sent pictures. This was the exact camper I had told my husband I wanted. It was exactly what we needed- the inside was almost all gutted, the outside had been sanded down to the metal and was just waiting for paint, it had new tires and everything was original. when I say it was exactly what we were looking for and what I had described to my husband I truly mean it. We told them as far as we were concerned it was sold, but we would have t coe look at it.
To add to this amazing story, it was literally 10 minutes from our house. We were worried that we would have to travel across the province to find one or further. Turns out that we know friends and family of theirs and they had bought items from me through AJs Custom Creations.
It was perfect. I was so worried about the price... but knew that we needed to buy it. They had thought about turning it into a fishing shack and selling it. We also learned that they have been talking about selling it for over a year and had not gotten the time to put in an ad. When we asked the price, I don't think I took a breath, and when he said $500 I could have cried. It was to perfect.
Now came the issue of moving it. It was in a back forest/field area and it was wet. They were unsure if there would be a dry area to get it out. We had no way to tow it out. They offered to deliver it to us when they could get it out. (we thought it might take a few weeks for it to dry up but were willing to wait) No need to wait... within and hour of us getting home the camper was parked in out driveway and the paperwork signed.
The work started on creating our AJs Mystic Mirror Camper Photo Booth.... I have a progressive video of all the work that I am editing and I will put a link here once it is posted.
This was how we made it. It all came down to the amazing support of Family, Friends and clients who we now consider friends. Not one thing could have happened if it was not for each and everyone of them. We are so blessed and know we are being watched over by 2 very special angels we lost in that first year (2020).......Mom and Grandma
We are so excited that we are back to creating memories with our Mirror Me, Mirror X and the newly added Camper Photo Booth with the Mirror Me. We are your Winnipeg , and southern Manitoba Photo Booth providers and have the only Camper Photo Booth and Mirror X in Manitoba.
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