"Like a true nature's child We were born, born to be wild We can climb so high I never want to die "
- Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf

Featured Studio Owner

Deborah Williams
Home Video Studio - Florence

Date: 03/12/2015

“Lights! Camera! Take Action!” This was the theme of a recent Home Video Studio Getaway and it’s the greatest advice we can give that will fit on a t-shirt: For there will be no lights without action. There will be no cameras rolling without a sale. There will be no cash register ringing just by dreaming about it. The ranks of Home Video’s successful studios are filled with people who know this well, and one such “woman of action” is Deborah Williams of Erlanger, Kentucky, our March Studio Owner of the Month.

Nearly every Monday morning on the Weekly Marketing Call Debbie’s name is read as “tops” in marketing activity and, in fact, being active is, and always has been, a part of her life. Besides being a studio owner Deb is a wife, as well as a devoted mother of two boys (17 and 9). And that’s enough to fill someone’s day, isn’t it? Hold on, we’ve hardly begun...

She’s also an accomplished and active flutist (graduating with a degree in both Commercial Art and Music Performance because she couldn’t decide on one). She has a sixth degree Tae Kwon Do black belt and is a first dan in combat Hapkido. (If you don’t know what all this martial arts stuff means it’s okay. Just don’t mess with her or her family.) And in her down time, when the studio is closed, the flute is cased, the boys are in bed, and the nunchuku is safely stored Deborah likes to knit and crochet.

"I like to take action and do things." says Williams. "I was very shy and athletically unimpressive as a child. But somehow I did a 180. Now I'm not one to shy away from things that interest me – no matter the investment. You've got to try." So, when Deb ran across Home Video Studio while looking for creative business opportunities she went after it. She started out as a part-time studio owner, opening her doors on November 16, 2011. Like most rookies in any endeavor she didn’t know what to do at first – so she just acted like she did! “My first customer came to me with nearly 60 tapes to transfer,” laughs Deb, “and all I could think of was that I had to act like I knew what I was doing when I didn’t.”

Supplementing her path with other part-time positions such as a group fitness instructor, a personal trainer, and as a Mary Kay Consultant (all of which she’s still involved with) Williams has, in the past 3 ½ years, grown into a full-time studio while more than doubling her sales from her first year. She has also won several international video awards in that time, taking the Hanley Award for Best Lifetime Video, Best Use of Music, Best Long Form Video, and Best Photo Video Keepsake.

We caught up with Debbie (not an easy task) to ask her about her life as a studio owner:

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Warren, OH, but due to my father’s job, I moved every two years or so until I was 15. This included three elementary schools, one middle school, and three high schools in cities such as Detroit, Lansing, Indianapolis, Paducah and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati.

Did your parents influence your professional choices? Is entrepreneurship in your DNA?
My parents were the typical family mold of the 60s and 70s. My mother stayed at home to raise five children while my father worked as a General Manager for the Kmart Corporation.

Were you interested in photography or video as a kid? When did it become an interest?
I knew as a young child that I leaned toward the creative side of life. Growing up, I was always drawing and painting because it came naturally to me. While in high school, I was fortunate to have been given a 35mm camera by my father. I pursued photography with a passion, including the art of working a dark room and BW printing. I likely get the photography bug from my father as he was always the one shooting family events in stills and 8mm film.

What did you do before you became a studio owner?
After graduation I was able to get a job as an advertising artist at the local community newspaper. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it gave me the experience needed for my next job which was at The Cincinnati Enquirer as an advertising layout designer. While there I was able to also work as the Advertising Art Manager and spearheaded the department responsible for special advertising supplements. Both of those positions were instrumental in getting me ready to own my own business since they demanded management skills and organizational skills in developing a product from conception to final product.

Why did you decide to leave?
It was eighteen years of the concrete jungle. I wanted to leave that and try to freelance in graphic design. It was important to me to be home and present when my boys came home from school.

How did that go?
Clients were hard to find, especially in a very competitive field in a city where there are many advertising agencies. Plus I was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the peaks and valleys.

Is this when you ran across Home Video Studio?
Yes. I researched opportunities and kept coming back to Home Video Studio. After being a freelancer I was drawn to a proven marketing plan. Plus I felt a comfort in what the business had to offer with the creative end of preserving memories, and could also implement my growing skills as a photographer and videographer. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue that path, things kind of fell into place without delay. I researched opportunities in July/August, and was installed in November.

What are some tenets you apply when it comes to running your business?
I always fall back onto the tenants of Taekwondo that has been ingrained into me for over twenty three years. Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit and Victory. Also, along that line, losing a Taekwondo National Championship by 1 point was by no means fun – but it did teach me not to hesitate on your instincts. If I had not done so that title would have been mine.

What's your favorite part of the business?
Enabling people to smile when they see or hear their loved ones is rewarding. My favorite part of this business is the creation that goes into making the most heartfelt Keepsake or video that will be enjoyed for years to come. If tears are shed, I’ve done my job.

What trait do you feel is absolutely necessary to thrive as an HVS owner?
You have to enjoy your work. Otherwise, it’s a job. And you must have discipline for yourself and in your work ethic, as well as respect for your work and your customers. Without them there would be no business.

Deborah Williams
Florence KY

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