Here is what Suzy says about her job and how she ended up opening her own business, Alfresco Booth.
Q: Tell us about Alfresco Booth and why you decided to start your own business?
A: Alfresco Booth was born out of a desire to go back to work. I stayed home for two years raising Hayden. As much as I loved spending time with him, I was restless. My husband and I married last summer in California and Hayden served as our ring bearer. Our photographer offered a photo booth as an add-on to our wedding. We loved it. It was great entertainment and the booth provided the best photos from our wedding! I felt that starting a photo booth business was the perfect next step for me. This business would allow me the freedom and flexibility to work from home and raise our son.
So, about us, and how we’re different: We're a dynamic photo booth company that provides our clientele a lively, upscale, engaging experience through our unique approach to events. Our process puts "fun" in the driver’s seat, yet we also incorporate results by providing our corporate clients with a marketing and analytics tool to measure the impact that our events generate in terms of their exposure.
Q: You have a wealth of variety in your background experiences, from United States Air Force E-4, Senior Airman to firefighter and acting. How has this diverse path influenced you?
A: The discipline and focus necessary to be an entrepreneur can be directly attributed to my time in the Air Force. There I learned a lot about accountability. One of the best things about serving is that the military trusts young people with a lot and you either sink or swim. You learn quickly the importance of honesty as well as clear and direct communication in what can be life and death situations. When I was honorably discharged, I went onto complete my education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Going back to school on the Illinois Veterans Grant was a huge win for me, I was a disinterested student in high school, but after my time in the Air Force, I had mastered my lack of discipline and focus and found that I enjoyed education and excelled because of it. Taking those few years to work made a huge difference. After college, I was looking for adventure and joined the United States Forest Service to fight fires for a season. This was the most difficult experience I've had in life. I learned that all government agencies haven't integrated us girls into the workforce as we'd like. I was isolated and truly put to the test. In the end, I saw it through rather than quit. I'm proud to say that because of what several other women and I did and experienced there, we succeeded in changing the culture of the US Forest Service in the region. Another thing that colors that experience is that on one fire, a helicopter crashed close to where our team was working. We were forced into the path of a fast-moving fire on a mission to get the injured pilots out over steep terrain. When we got to the site, flames were really close and the area was covered in gasoline. The only way out was straight up hill to a burned zone. I got to a point where I questioned every decision I made to get into this situation but I fought through it. We made it to the "safe" zone and were able to evacuate the two pilots and a technician out via helicopter and then we had to hunker down until the fire burned past us. I held up the corner on the stretcher of one the pilots and this guy was big! I found out that I can do a whole lot more than I ever imagined. So, as I reflect now over that experience I realize that some of the best most meaningful things you will do in your life come with challenges. Happiness is a decision. Embrace those challenges.
Q: What is your top goal for Alfresco Booth?
A: I love the marketing aspect of event photography. I see a lot of potential in the branding and sharing of these images on social media. Not only do I want to grow with multiple photo booths, but I am diversifying my event photographic services. Big news to come in 2017!
Q: What would you say are the three top skills are to successfully lead an organization?
I'd say first skill is Attitude. You need to have a strong positive self-identity. If you don’t then you must do the work on yourself to improve it. Your identity affects your outlook on your company, your service, and the marketplace, etc. You must ask yourself if you really are here to succeed or are you just interested in the spoils of the organization. If you can't embrace the process of the service that your business provides you will not be able feel good about what you do. The second skill is behavior. Behavior is the steps you take each day to ensure your success. It starts with having a system in the morning to start your day all the way to systematic approaches to prospecting for new business. For instance, in what order do I do things when time is limited? Do I do fun things first and the important stuff gets neglected more and more as I run out of time at the end of each day. The most important thing in establishing systems for successful behavior is that you must be honest with yourself. The third skill is technique. Technique relates to strategies to implement your behaviors. For instance, I found that I had a deficiency in this regard. I was putting the time in. I had a positive self-image. I really wanted to succeed, I just didn't have all the information. So, I went out looking for it. I found some amazing techniques through Sandler Training at Corporate Strategies, and now I have great tools on how to communicate my value to clients, track my performance to make improvements, and increase my sales. Overall, I learned that if you want to successfully lead an organization you should start with yourself.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?
A: When I started my business, I figured there would be an endless stream of prospects lining up to book me for events, selling would be easy and referrals would be delivered by the truckload… Then reality hit! Quickly, I found that many had interest but few had the commitment (or budget) to hire a premium-class booth experience. I spent countless hours chasing after prospects who had no intention of buying- and quite frankly my process of “Winging It” wasn’t getting results. Everything changed when I started applying a system that allowed me to be “me” but also gave me the roadmap to conduct direct, concise meetings that prompted decisions quickly. I learned techniques that empowered me to enjoy selling!
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I love to ride bikes with my husband and our son. My husband is an avid rider and got me into it when I moved here from California. I love spending time with my son, Hayden. He is so full of joy and he makes us laugh. Being a “momtrepreneur”, as they say, it’s tough finding the right balance because you feel like you’re always on the clock. I’m still working on finding that balance. In my free time, it’s all about giving Hayden my full attention and soaking up every precious moment of this special time.
Q: What is one thing most people don't know about you?
A: I grew up with missionary parents traveling and living all over Asia, the Middle East, Canada and the US. By the time, I was 11 years old I had lived in 11 countries and traveled to more than 40. When I lived in the Philippines, I had a pet Monkey named Fuzzy.
Other interesting facts you wish to share with us:
After graduating from Baron-Brown Acting Conservatory in Los Angeles, I came to Chicago and studied improv at Second City.
I used to work in jewelry and fashion. For someone who was famous in Japan ;-)
By Robin Boggs Choquette, Psy.D. Elite Performance Counseling, Inc.
Elite Performance Counseling provides psychological services to individuals from preteen through older adulthood in individual psychotherapy, family therapy (including parenting strategies), couple’s therapy, and skill seminars. In addition, she consults with a specialized emphasis on performance enhancement for athletes, performing artists, musicians, and executives. http://eliteperformancecounseling.com
Photo by: Stolen Moment Photography, a local business, owned by 20-year Naperville resident, Colleen Abrahamovich. What Colleen captures best are candid moments! Most of what she specializes in are the “stolen moments” that happen when no one else is watching; that’s when the magic happens. Colleen is available for events such as Candid Wedding Photos, any types of party celebrations, Family Reunions, Sporting Events, etc. Colleen loves children and family photo ops too, in a relaxed, candid setting! Starting out shooting mostly sports, Colleen has 12 years of experience shooting all levels of sporting events; high school, college level, and even the NFL! Sports is not just action, it’s an event. Colleen specializes not only in getting the action, but the subtle nuances that are happening in and around the event.
Please visit: www.StolenMoment.Photography and on Facebook: Stolen Moment Photography. Colleen can be reached at 630.947.3714 and Colleen@stolenmoment.photography