Did you know that one in five independent business owners have lost money due to the lack of organization in their business? It’s so important for us to have systems in place to not only support our business but also give our clients the best experience possible.
Christiana Yebra is the owner of Currently Events, a popular photo booth company, and she joins us to share how systems, strategies, adaptation, and community have led to her making half a million dollars in revenue for her side hustle.
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Christiana’s entrepreneurial journey
Christiana is the first to say that her journey doesn’t make sense on paper. She has a background in chemistry and biology, and she was dead set on going to medical school, but after college, she took a year off to work in an ER. That’s when she ended up helping a physician launch an on-demand healthcare company.
The healthcare company was so successful that it was acquired less than a year after it was launched. Christiana’s next move was to cofound a dating app called Vouch. Her co-founder happened to be Sean Lowe from The Bachelor.
Today, Christiana works in the tech sports environment while running a highly successful photo booth business, Currently Events, on the side.
Generating revenue through creating organized systems
Christiana learned to embrace the “messy middle” when she was launching her photo booth business. She was still working full-time, so her extra time spent on her side hustle consisted of a lot of experimentation. However, the business was eventually successful enough that she realized she needed to put organizational systems in place in order for it to thrive.
Christiana turned to HoneyBook to manage her leads, store her contracts and liability insurance, and automate client communication. Honeybook helped her build trust with her clients, which turned them into repeat clients.
During that time, Christiana also revamped the SEO on her website and focused on posting video content on social media. After one year of focusing on business organization, her photo booth business brought in half a million dollars of revenue.
The importance of providing an excellent client experience at every step of the process
The booking process is only one aspect of the client experience. To generate repeat clients, you need to provide an all-around amazing experience for them at every step of the process.
For Christiana and her photo booth company, that looks like building up her client’s confidence while they’re in the booth. She wants to guarantee that the photos and videos taken in the booth are shared, which will only happen if participants feel good about themselves. She and her staff are well-trained to boost people up and give them an amazing experience in the booth.
No matter what kind of business you run, it’s up to you to set the tone. When you have the right attitude, you enable your clients to have an amazing experience. Giving your clients an amazing experience is also key to generating client referrals.
Leaning into community to support business growth
Every entrepreneur feels isolated from time to time, which is why leaning into a community is so important, whether it’s local or online. Christiana prioritizes being a joy to work with so that she can build community with the vendors and venues that she collaborates with.
At every event, she and her staff create community with the people they interact with. This approach has built a solid reputation for both Christiana and her photo booth business, which has led to her being asked to come back for annual events with big brands.
How to adapt in an evolving industry
When Christiana started her 360 photo booth business, no one around her was doing what she was doing. Today, photo booths have gained a ton of popularity, which means more competition. In order to stay ahead, Christiana is always iterating in her business.
Being able to adapt within an evolving industry is the best way to build long-term success. In order to adapt and remain flexible, you need solid organizational systems in place. You never know when the next business evolution is going to be the one that takes off, so it’s crucial to have your systems ready to go to make room for that growth.
The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and the ones that fail
Christiana believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is preparedness. When it comes to side hustles, preparation and research is what turns your passion from a pipe dream into reality.
Important sections of the conversation:
- [1:45] Christiana’s entrepreneurial journey
- [15:29] Generating revenue through creating organized systems
- [24:01] The importance of providing an excellent client experience at every step of the process
- [30:27] Leaning into community to support business growth
- [35:32] Adapting to an evolving industry
- [40:12] The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail
Connect with the guest
- Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/christianayebra
- Website: christianayebra.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/christianayebra
- Photo booth Instagram:.instagram.com/360boothtexas
Did you know that one in five independent business owners have lost money due to the lack of organization in their business, it’s so important for us to have systems in place to not only support our business, but also give our clients the best experience possible. Today on the podcast Christiana Jabra owner of currently events a popular photo booth company, joins us on the show today to share with us how the systems and strategies she implemented into her business led to her making half a million dollars in revenue. Now, what I love about crystianna story is that she shows us that entrepreneurship can look differently for everybody, and that there’s more than one way to success. Let’s get into the episode. Hey, everyone, this is your host, Akua konadu. And you’re listening to the independent business podcast, more people than ever are working for themselves and building profitable businesses in the process. So on this show, I get to sit down with some of the most influential authors, entrepreneurs and creators to break down the science of self made success so that you can achieve it too. Hello, Christiana, how are you?
Hello, it’s finally. So nice to see you. And so nice to meet you. I’m excited to be
here. Yes, we are excited to have you because I literally even before this episode, like when I was just learning more about you, I literally at the jewelry, I was like, what can’t this woman do?
So this, this ADD is probably what it looks like.
Here you are, and we are just so excited for this conversation. Just knowing more about you learning more about you your business, you have a very unique journey. And I’m really excited to lean more into that and just some of the things that you’ve learned within your entrepreneurial journey. So let’s get into it. Because just essentially just walk us through your entrepreneurial journey from where you started to where you are now. Well, I’ve
I’ve mastered this timeline, because my resume and my LinkedIn I was joking about earlier. Like, It’s the strangest most random series of events, but as a marketer, and an expert in PR and branding, I have figured out how to really draw that story and tell you know, that pathway for it to make sense because honestly, on paper, it doesn’t I tell people all the time, like Please don’t look at my resume, if you think that’s going to tell the horse whole story, because it’s it’s not. But I’ll give a quick summary. My background is actually in biology and chemistry, I was dead set on going to medical school, I loved human anatomy and physiology. And back in college, I really wanted to be a healthcare professional that was specific to the blind and deaf community, I had learned Sign languages to communicate with friends that I had met in high school in college, and there weren’t a lot of providers that could provide to that particular demographic. And imagine that like not being able to see or hear and then going through a medical it’s already scary enough, right to to go through a medical procedure when you can see and hear and have the ability to interpret these things. But without that, it’s it’s tough. So I was dead set on medical school, I wanted to be a provider that could cater to that community. And went through all four years prepping for school submitted applications took the MCAT I think I still have a little bit of PTSD from that experience, but made it through and graduated, took a year off was working in the ER at the time, and started to see these issues in the emergency room that were in emergencies like this is five, six years ago. So in an emergency room or trauma center, you’ve got one room that’s got a family of four with the flu, and then you’ve got the next room over that’s got a motorcycle accident. And I’m thinking to myself, Why are families spending their time here in the, you know, in a germy cold, clinical, hectic, chaotic environment when they’ve got the sniffles, or they’ve got the cold, or the flu. And so I worked with an ER physician who was developing this concept to deliver care to people now, I have to remind people like this is this is 2015 where people really weren’t familiar with delivery of care to them personalized care, convenient care. So people were used to using the ER as a place to land because they knew that could be seen. We thought this was crazy. I can’t believe I can order paper towels on Amazon and then have been delivered those to my house and under two hours but I can’t have a medical provider come to my house. So we launched a company back then it was called mend it was on demand health care delivered to you wherever you were. It was really built for like the busy professional. You’re like a prime example. You’re in a big city, you’ve got a lot going on, you have let’s just say a sinus infection. You got to go sit at the urgent care wait there, wait for your prescriptions. I mean, there’s a lot of waiting, lack of convenience, lack of transparency. And so anyway, very long story short, I joined the company with zero business experience, zero marketing experience and really just a knowledge of basic technology apps really becoming popular and and a background on patients and patient care and my passion for people is what brought me to health care and working in marketing allowed me to build that brand up, build our messaging up build our offerings and, and a strategy to get into us into the hands of more potential patients. And it was so successful that we launched in March of 20. If TN and then we were acquired in December of 2015, which is like, not a typical story that people hear, I joke that it wasn’t like my jump into business. It was like shot out of a rocket face first into, into business with really, really limited background, I just, I just worked with what I knew. And I knew I wanted to build something great for patients and couldn’t have done it without the founding team and our investors. But I moved on to do other opportunities in healthcare, I saved up some money, and no matter what job I was, was working, or a company I was working with, in the background, I was always thinking to myself, like what’s relevant to my age group? Or what’s a need? Where are people finding information? How are they connecting? And so while my core full time work was in healthcare, on the back end, I was creating networking events and networking organizations to connect people who were like me, like I came straight out of college, landed in Dallas, I don’t have family connections, I don’t have you know, my family are they’re not business people we don’t have entrepreneurship was a very new thing. For me, startups were a new thing for me. So I leveraged that community of entrepreneurs and kind of young professionals to develop really a platform for myself. And it ultimately led me very strangely into leading a dating app called vouch that was co founded by one of the most popular I think, the most popular face from the bachelor franchise, Sean Lowe. And you might think he’s like, Okay, where did that how from healthcare literally scrubbing into surgeries to running a dating app. And I’ll tell you how this all makes sense. Whether it was healthcare or out events, people want a positive, transparent experience, product experience, a user experience, or in my case had previously been the patient experience. And for dating, it was a really difficult place for people like they, I don’t know if you’ve ever used dating apps, but they people don’t really particularly want to be on them. You know, like they, they don’t love that experience. And often they get off of them really fast. So anyway, when I was hosting these networking events, people came to me with two problems are like how do I network professionally? How do I find my next job? And how do I meet somebody off these dating apps? Or on these dating apps? Like how do I find those authentic experiences. And so because I had a pulse on what the millennial generation was really caring about, through my networking organizations that pivot from healthcare and healthcare tech to leading a dating app, and building the technology, there was not as crazy as it might sound, because patients are patients. Here we go. My users were wanting to have a more convenient and transparent experience and a mother, whether it was the emergency room or on a dating app. So very long story to say that I really took a leadership type of role that I probably definitely was not qualified for. But I it was an honor of a lifetime to build something up and but I’ve always had side hustles. And that’s why we’re here to talk today. So long story short, I’ve ended up now in the sports tech environment, thanks to agreed investor that I had at the dating app. But all while building a very successful and powerful photobooth company on the side. And I know that’s why we’re here to talk today. So yeah,
absolutely. But I think it’s so important for business for us to kind of see that journey number, what are our origin stories are very similar. I also have a biology degree with a minor in Chemistry, I wanted to go into med school, I tapped out way earlier, I was not taking no MCAT girl.
I was taking organic chemistry and losing my mind was because I ultimately was going to put it and apply it to the to the MCAT. But you’ll save yourself money stress
I did, I graduated, I took my four year degree. And I ran, I knew I was done after that. But what I love is that you still took those skills, and then you applied it to a product that was super impactful. And then utilize that with what you learned and sort of teaching yourself similar to meat where we’re teaching ourselves marketing, we’re teaching us ourselves, we’re taking the things that we love. And we’re also taking the things of like, Hey, I don’t have this piece of paper, I don’t have a marketing degree. But what I do know is I this is what I have, and this is what I can work with. So I’m going to lean into my gifts, and let’s see what comes up of it. And that you just consistently found different ways to say yes to work. Now, if you lead into a dating app, which is super crazy. But also to like creating these events for spaces for people to gather, it’s very obvious that client experience and community are two very huge things that have led to success in your business and all the businesses like all the different variety projects that you started, including the photo booth. And so you know, really just kind of going into that what inspired you to, you know, out of all of your really amazing products that you also have done what inspired you to kind of focus on the side hustle with starting a photo booth.
It’s truly again, the reason why I gave so much background on the events and like millennials and what they were paying attention to was, while I was hosting these events, I would host a charity gala every year 1000s of people would come to this, and I would spend money on all kinds of fun things for them to do and different activations and sometimes I would stand on stage getting ready to make my my speech for the night to thank people we were raising money for STEM education, which was a cause I very much care about, and I’d take a second take a breath and it dawned on me the two busiest parts of my events now matter of how much effort and money I put in, we’re always the open bar. And then the photobooth line was always out the door. And then I knew that we were onto something. When our photobooth started to be the most popular part of the event, like the open bar was no longer the longest line, people wanted to take photos and share them from that evening. So I collaborated with a guy that I’ve worked with in the past who’d previously built like actual products, he helped me fabricate our first 360 photo booths, which were new, I mean, people had seen them kind of red carpet like that tech wasn’t really readily accessible in Dallas, where I’m at, or in Texas, really. So we fabricated our first versions of these booths. And the reason why they were why we’re so set on building them for myself was like I was hosting these events, I honestly just wanted to not spend money using other people’s products, I wanted to build them for myself and improve upon what I’d already seen. And that’s what like I said, I knew we were onto something when that line was miles long compared to anything else at these events. So I could build the most beautiful balloon display, I could build a really cool game thing that people could play, didn’t matter. People wanted to have fun, capture that energy from the night and then share it. And so I really I built the photo booths for myself for these events. But I slowly started to gain traction with people saying like, Hey, we’ve got a wedding coming up, would you be interested in letting us rent this out? So honestly, I didn’t have a website to get started. Like I just built the booths, which were really hard. They were so ugly. And I think anybody who’s built a product, like you know that if you’re not totally wildly embarrassed of your first iteration of what you’ve done, like, you’re not doing it, right, because I weighed 100 pounds. I mean, like it was so clunky and different. But it served like it caught people’s attention. It was different people hadn’t been on these types of platforms. And so honestly, I didn’t have a brand for it. I didn’t have contracts for it, I didn’t have a way for people to easily book I didn’t have a way for people to pay me easily. I hadn’t thought that far. I thought these are for me, these aren’t really for me to take out there. But we did our first wedding. I’ve got some good friends who like let me just I was you know, it’s helped me pay for my people. But other than that, like this is this discounted heavily because I have no idea what I’m doing. And it kicked off this incredible ripple effect of of driving excitement around just a new way to capture photos. And we went from really, you know, two to three inquiries a month. Further, we built this really janky website that basically was just a form fill out for us to get to funneling 50 to 100 leads a day, sometimes at our peak. And it was just because it was different. It was interesting, we dominated search 360 booths were like still kind of new. So we really leaned into the newness, you know, we called them the spin booth or the 360 degree video or so we leaned into that on search, we built the website, I still didn’t have the right infrastructure yet, but I was just generating that buzz. I watched some of your great episodes where about how do you like bring someone into your, into your like work that you’re doing and capturing emails and gaining a social following, we started to do that still kind of light infrastructure. But I was starting to get overwhelmed. It was like what a what a prince was probably like, we’re too busy. But really, I was still working full time. And so launching what is now currently events, we focus on 360 Photo Booth tech and event strategy. We’ve grown it for the last five years or so. And again, we were really the earliest in Texas to do it and do it on a scale to now being one of many. There’s lots of us now, but it was really I feel really cool about being part of that early adoption of this new look and feel to events and the 360 booths have been that they’ve been we’ve captured some really I can’t we talk more about them. But we’ve captured some really cool, incredible moments. And it’s been a really powerful piece for me to generate some additional income. It was really important for me to do that while working in startups, which are high risk, as you know, having this additional opportunity to drive revenue and income was really powerful for me at the time and still is.
Yeah, oh my gosh, so much that you shared that I just want to unpack number one. Even just you talking about being an early adopter. I think right now, that is such a really amazing thing that you’ve brought up. Because you know, we are in a season where you know, I’ve said this episode after episode where the landscape of entrepreneurship is changing. We have so many things with technology that are changing. And it can be really difficult to adjust and wanting to try something new. But I think to your point of where you didn’t have a plan, you were just like, hey, I have this idea. And let’s give it a shot. And let’s see where it can take me and I think again like now there are several other people who have a 360 photo booth. But you being an early adopter, you’ve seen how that has has paid off as a business owner. So I absolutely love that. And also to again, like just starting I think so many times, no matter how long we’ve been in business, we always find ourselves starting new things, launching new things, creating new things. And you know, essentially we always feel like we have to have all of our ducks in a row and it was like look, this isn’t gonna look pretty but we are going to make it work. I don’t have all of the answers right now. But what I do know is is that I believe in this current product, I think that’s something that can be really fun and provide a really great experience for people. So we’re just gonna launch it and see how it goes. And so, you know, I’m really interested to hear the journey because of more details on that that messy middle, because going from where you didn’t even know how people were gonna get paid how people were gonna pay you, you didn’t know how to take an increase to now where you have this really cool running machine. And from my understanding, you’ve made half a million through this business through honey book by creating some of these systems. So can you share with us and break down what that looks like?
Yeah, you message it perfectly. It was I’m, I’m not a perfectionist people might think I think when you see like some of my progress that I’ve made, they might assume that I’m a perfectionist things. No, I think the reason why I’ve been able to do what I’ve done is because I’m not afraid of that messy middle. And I can’t even explain how embarrassed maybe I’ll send you guys a video. So you can have it, how embarrassing. The first couple of videos were, I mean, they were shaky. There were like just all around just not good. But people were excited about it. And when that activity started to pick up, we started to really lean into the newness of it, like I mentioned. And so I started to think to myself, like, Okay, well, I still have my full time work at this time I was running the dating app. So I’m having investor meetings, I’m trying to grow the brand. I’m having tech, you know, conversations, we’re trying to redevelop the product and relaunch it into into the market, essentially. And I was like, there’s just no, there’s no way I can feel these increase coming in with the popularity and the excitement that we’re driving. So I took a step back, and I had I had to really clean things up. So I kind of assessed a couple of platforms. But I needed something to be truly a one stop shop for me like I handled the the financial side, I could I could get my accountants and things to help with but just managing the leads that were coming in. I’ll give you an example. Like one of our most popular things that ever happened is, like I said, we weren’t the only ones to do this type of technology. We’re seeing a lot in LA in New York, and Cardi B had a 360 booth at her. I think her first kids maybe first birthday party, and I’ll never forget, like I saw it on Instagram. I was like, Oh my gosh, you go this is this is the first time I’ve ever seen a celebrity using these boots. So I went on the backend of our site. I started doing some basic SEO work started really capitalizing on the fact that people were like Cardi B birthday booth, Cardi B 360. And I started really leaning into that type of kind of the trendiness of it, because I thought, Oh, this is prime for social, it’s video content. It’s perfect for Instagram, it’s perfect for tick tock tick tock, I wasn’t even a thing. And then. And so sure enough, leads started coming in like crazy. So in order to be able to serve all the inquiries that were coming in, I needed a place where I could capture the leads easily, I needed a place where I could store them how I could communicate with them, I needed the contracts, like that was a huge thing is the first event that I did, my lawyers would kill me now, if they saw what I basically allowed myself to do without any liability insurance without contracts in place, I just didn’t know. I mean, I was just trying to serve, get things up and running. So I needed a place for those contracts to be stored. And really, more importantly, I needed the client to be able to communicate with us in an easy way, and then know what to expect about their booking, I booked products since I’ve done so many events where someone says sure, we’ll show up at six. And then six o’clock rolls around and 630 rolls around the events about to start I’ve got no vendors, and I’m like what’s going on, I needed a way to have a good solid form and place of communication. So HoneyBook. By implementing that I was able to take cardi Thank you Cardi B for the additional boost of hope she’s listening, the additional boosts of excitement around these boosts and what we did for the longest time, and I think you’ve been told now, if you search 360, Booth, Texas or 360, Booth, Dallas or even just 360 booth, in basically the southern half of the United States, our content would serve up first. So Google started to recognize that one, we had been using the search term and these phrases for so long, that it was starting to basically trust our site. And something happened in 2020, where we went from having zero capabilities to do events because legally we were I mean, like there were guidelines in the county here where we weren’t allowed to do events, over 25 people and it just started getting smaller, like it went from big okay, no one’s allowed to do 200 Plus events, to 100 to 50, to whatever it was, and so no events in 2020 Something happened early startup 2021, where the 100 Plus inquiries a day were coming through, people were starting to say like, Wait, we’ve delayed our wedding long enough. And without the infrastructure that HoneyBook allowed, there’s just no there’s simply no way I could have managed that amount of of information coming in and the excitement that was there. So having those systems in place even just to capture the lead like that was that was huge for me to just be able to capture that information. But as we grew and and basically brought in more and more clients, we refine that process. I’ve got really a good mechanism for getting the serious buyers like I educate I build trust, and then we convert them to actually booking for an event and that was really key having that upfront interaction, customer engagement, and the process for it to be smooth. I know I know, as a young professional, I’m not you know, I’m not even a young professional, a middle aged professional, it feels like now, I used to be the young professional now I’m the old one. If a tech doesn’t work for me at first, like whether it’s an app, or I put an inquiry on a website, if I feel like I’m gonna get scammed, or it’s not working, like forget it, I’m on to the next. So having those systems in place, having the contracts, I think legitimized us it built trust, and but more importantly, it gave us protection. And then our customers felt comfortable so that our repeat business was through the roof, because people would say, Hey, we’ve got a engagement party, and then they had their wedding. And then we’ve got their, you know, first baby’s birthday party. So people come back to us, I think, because we offer that high quality experience when it comes to booking but all the way through the the follow up and the recaps that we do for people it’s it’s really full circle, and we really couldn’t have done it without the systems we built in place to automate.
Well, yeah, I mean, a half a million is a lot.
In one year, trust me that was no, no. That was huge for us. And one thing, like one thing I really love is being able to look back at that, like honey book allows me to go back and look and see like, oh my gosh, look how much we’ve grown. And also, where’s our traffic coming from? Honestly, honey book was was the first tool that showed me how powerful not that I didn’t understand SEO or, or the power of it, but to show what it meant for our business. And that business in particular, search was never going to do anything for me when it came to my my dating app. Like there were I don’t know if you know, there’s been in Dallas match.com is down the street. match.com owns really every big dating app out there outside of Bumble. So I was competing with millions of dollars of ad spend budget a month, probably millions of dollars worth of resources and people. So search for the dating apps face like I had to get really creative their search for the photo booths, though, incredibly powerful. And I honestly didn’t recognize it until I was able to look at those leads of where that that lead generation was coming from. It was really powerful for me to see those. Yeah,
I love that. I mean, so much strategy that you’ve got that you put in just I mean, with the cart with Cardi B I think that was so smart. And then to me, I mean,
I gotta send her a letter, I gotta say, thank you so much. She wasn’t the only one. But it was it was one of those moments where I was like, Oh, my gosh, Cardi B was on there with her husband and the baby. I think the baby’s name is culture. Culture was on there. It was like a one year old birthday party. And I was like, This is ridiculous. Like, how do I it was. And honestly, it wasn’t even the best quality video I’ve ever seen. But I was like, it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter. We’re gonna make it work. I’m gonna hop on this, people were
interested, I was like, I gotta I gotta tap into this. I think Cardi B thank you so much. I’ll send you a gift card or think shout
out to you, Cardi B. Yes. Yes, absolutely. I love that so much. Again, I think again, like it’s still a huge success that you have made from this business. And again, it talks about, you know, just the key foundational pieces of how a system is here to help serve you. You know what I mean, one in five entrepreneurs have lost money due to the lack of organization in your business. We hear this all the time. We know like, you know, we know client flow is such an important thing. But if you’re not implementing it, if you’re not taking the time, to actually lay out what your work, your client flow will look like to identify the gaps of where you can refine and support people, you definitely are leaving money on the table like somebody else is going to come grab that money. So you know, again, I think that it’s so important that you saw, okay, this is what we’re going to do SEO wise, which is just so powerful. And then now that we have all of these leads, I have now bit built the system to be able to support that, so that I can continue to give my best where it frees up your time to where you can focus on the areas of your business that you want to focus on. And so I have absolutely loved that. So you already implemented all of these systems in place, but then also to client experience wise, right from booking was great. But then also how was the client experience where people that were at the booth? Like, how were you getting people excited to enjoy, you know, being at their events? What were things that you were doing there, because I think that’s also a really key thing as well as business owners is providing a client experience just all around,
right? It can’t it can’t start or end with, you know, just the the booking process, yes, to get them through the door. That’s gonna be great. But one thing that I’ve really loved, and I’ll be honest, I used to be really self conscious about talking about the success of a photobooth company. Because here I am out here building technology to deliver health care to the world, or a dating app that provides more transparent and and authentic experiences online. So I’ve done important like, I’ve tried to tackle big problems, but it made me self conscious that my photo booth of all my companies that I’ve ever been a part of started was the most successful revenue wise and I used to kind of shy away from talking about it. I was like, Oh, it’s just like, I don’t want to be the photobooth girl, right? Like, that wasn’t my brand. But I had to really humble myself and say, like, look, I’m capturing people’s most exciting moments. They want to be on my photo booth. They want to be at this event they want to share and have these exciting moments on our platform. And it starts with the booking process. Yes, but when they get on the booth, one thing we really specialize in and this is you know I’m sure somebody listening here has been in the same spot is offering high quality experiences in real life will never go out of style. I don’t care if AI I don’t know, I listened to your episode about AI and the power of it. And there’s also fear around it. But let me tell you, AI is not going to set up a photo booth at an event and tell you what to do to look good. So staff is trained. And this is something we’ve done from the start is I know that if someone gets on that booth, and they don’t feel good about themselves, they’re not gonna share it. So strike on me, then there’s a strike when they don’t share because the bride or the groom doesn’t get to see the video, or if it’s a brand, if they don’t feel good about what the output of that video is, they’re never going to share it, money lost, you know, missed opportunity to get that reach. And so one thing we really specialize on is building confidence. And I don’t care. It’s so funny that people who are like the most shy because it’s let’s let me just set the tone. You guys have probably seen it, but you stand on this platform, and arm goes around you 360 degrees, so you don’t get to hide your bad side, it gets all of this because it’s all your sides, okay. And then it captures it in a really high quality like forte, slomo resolution. So if you’re self conscious about anything too bad, because we’re going to see it all on the photo booth. So one thing that we really, really want to do is make sure that people feel confident while they’re up there, and then confident enough to share that video. Because, again, what’s the point if you take a video and then don’t show anybody from these events, especially for the people who are paying for it. And so we really focus on body positivity inclusivity I think one thing that we’ve done is really training people on what looks the best on the videos. It’s funny, when I work a lot of events, still, it’s really just about giving them those little cues and kind of guiding them through what we think looks great, what presents while on camera, and most importantly, what not to do on the 360 booth, especially in slomo things can get weird. You know, people try to they they do funny things. And I’m like, Well hold on a second, like don’t bite your lip and slim, okay, like I know you’re trying to be cute and unsexy, but doesn’t look great. So we give them these tips. And I wish I captured every single time we take somebody who’s kind of like, No, I don’t want to do it, too, when they see their video afterwards, like the screams of joy and excitement and like how fast can you send this to me after the fact like that’s why I do this. So I shouldn’t feel self conscious about capturing moments that are exciting, or making someone feel and look like the badass is that they are. That’s the most powerful thing. And it again, it is as simple as someone getting on this platform and US guiding them. But I think it makes all the difference from somebody booking another platform or another company or maybe not having a photo booth at all, we are able to capture that energy and that excitement and the passion that people have. We captured our first live proposal the other day at a very large sporting event, when I was thinking to myself like oh my god, like, first of all the pressure to do a live proposal with no preparation. But it was just again, one of those things, we captured a 360 degree view of someone’s most exciting moment that’s I know, their weddings probably gonna be the best stabilize, but at that point, probably one of the best days of their lives. And we did that because we made them feel comfortable and confident. And it looks great. Maybe one of my proudest achievements so far was capturing a moment like that. But from there all the way to I mean, people can see it on our Instagram, we turned everyone’s event in basically to a mini music video, take the footage from the 360 layer with, you know, B roll and other footage we capture from the event. And it’s a really nice little recap and bow to put on the end of event for people to go and see it. And we’ve done weddings where they’ll message us and say we’ve watched this video 100 times we haven’t watched your wedding video yet, but we’ve watched the 360 recap 100 times because I get to see their friends and their grandmas on the booth. The grandmas are the ones you you got to be careful for I can never get them off the booth at the end of the night. But it’s just a fun moment. And again, like I said, I used to be self conscious about it because I thought like this isn’t like of all the important work I’ve done. But when I look at it, people want to be there, I’m capturing some of the most exciting, important moments for people. And I should feel good about that. And I do. I
love that so much like you can literally feel the passion of just how excited you are just about the photo booths, and just the fun moments that are captured. And I’ve definitely seen some of your social media content, which I loved. I think it was a sporting event. Like it was like an NHL team, it was a hockey team specifically. And because you work all different types of events in the sports industry, you know, weddings, anything. And so it was really fun just to kind of see you in your element as you are directing people how to say could you tell people like because if people you could tell that people just weren’t really sure exactly what to do. And those little details are what truly matters to people like how you would go in and just be like, Okay, put your hand here or do this or say this. And you were really involved in that process to where then they were able to do it with just you could just see their confidence go up and then at the end product to see what was created. It looks super dope. But I think again, that’s just so so key of just, there’s money in the details, right? Like I think sometimes we can forget because I’m assuming my mind. I’m like, Yeah, you just go up on the booth and like do your thing. And it’s like, not everybody feels that comfortable. You know what I mean? It’s the fact that you saw those details and we’re like, okay, how can I make this the best experience possible for every single person that steps on this? Who’s to where they feel so excited so that they can share it, and other people can share it. So then again, that’s going to be able to give you more referrals for your business. So I just love that so much, because I think it’s so so key. And another thing that I’m really curious about too, is just based on a lot of the things that you have done, I mean, community, right, I feel like something that you do very well is community. And so as you’ve grown this side hustle, how has community played a part in it? Or has it played a part in it at all? Like, what is that? What does that look like?
Well, it’s, it’s to build something, in general on your own is somewhat of an isolating experience, right? I think a lot of entrepreneurs go through that. And honestly, for a while, I was even a little bit hesitant to even use the word entrepreneur, because I didn’t really understand the power of it. Like it used to be kind of one of those, you know, intimidating things, or people say that, but they don’t really mean it. But when you really look into the stories of people who’ve built and developed things, whether they’re creating, or they’re reinventing something, like I’m not the first person to do photo booths in general, I’m not the first person to even do 360s. But I wanted to take my own take on or, you know, my own approach to it, add my own flavor to it. And that in of itself is kind of an isolating experience or working. When I’m, I have a full time role, I have had a full time role, basically the extent of my work with my photobooth company. So I’m working late evenings and working on the weekends to build the photo booth up, which was an isolating experience, I’ve really leaned in to the creative and the entrepreneurial community here in Dallas to to really expand my reach and figure out how I can then connect with people who are in similar similar positions, a lot of people that I know, have their full time work, and then they’ve got that side hustle. So I’m not alone in that, I think it’s been helpful for the photobooth for to be popular, I didn’t really rely on community for myself, but the community of the event space or being a trusted, reputable vendor in the space is very important. So the reason why the Dallas Stars book us every year when they could go book anyone else, and to be honest, they could probably create their own thing. They’ve got really great camera quality and really great resources that I’m sure they could generate their own thing. But we’ve built a reputation with them of offering high quality work. My staff is wonderful I joke like I can’t even pick I tell the stars, I’m gonna bring my best crew. But in fact, like anyone could come with me because I trust them and believe in them so much. The girls that work with me are fantastic guys and girls and the stars, you know, building up a reputation in the sports space is kind of a challenging one, it’s kind of untouchable, like, I mean, a lot of people have gone to an event. But working directly with teams and leagues in this fashion is kind of tricky to do, you’ve got to go through some pretty robust kind of credibility checks, I have to have a certain level of insurance, I’ve got to have my contracts together. So the community of of building a positive reputation and benefiting from that really couldn’t be done without some of the infrastructure that we have in place. And then leaning really hard on relationships, I talk about this a lot about being a joy to work with. And being a joy to engage with, whether it’s at an event or even our online communication with our clients, the end of the stars are a great example of a great brand we’ve worked with, we’ve worked with a lot of others, we’ve worked with Red Bull, the American Heart Association, I’ve worked with some really serious brands and some really fun ones. But it’s so good to have my act together. And one comment we get all the time is that the communications always been clear and crisp. My staff on site is respectful and on time, which I thought was like the bar set so low like for Ben, like what do you mean that like, we’ve just worked with people who don’t tell us what time they’re arriving, they don’t send us any information about what to expect. And I really couldn’t have built up the reputation that we had, or what we have now without just some of the basic, common sense approach to just customer service. And like I said, we’re not the only ones to do it. But the reason why we build the reputation that we are how we’ve built the reputation that we have now is because we focus on creating a community at each event. But follow up with the vendors that book us or the groups that book us, it’s really important for us to cater to really all aspects of it, otherwise we wouldn’t have much. So the creative community’s been great the event community I know a lot of girls that I’ve worked with actually use honey Book who are on the event coordinating and event planner side. So they get that but building something from scratch is hard for anybody and I couldn’t do without the support of my my team and then the people who trust and support us 1,000%
It sounds like to like that client experience is what has really aided in just building that community of people who love your product so much where they’re spreading it among other people. And again, I think it just hones in the fact of just how key client experience is and something that’s so minor where you said like, that was really meaningful for people that you showed up on time. And our minds were just like, Well, yeah, like why wouldn’t I show up on time? Right. But I think again, it’s like we really discredit like some of the smallest things that can make clients like literally brighten up their day or just love us even more and want to continue working with us. And so I just love that you have leaned more into that and then and just really building because to your point with the sports industry, like it’s really not an easy space to be to get into or be in like, you generally have to know somebody or again, you have to show up with, with that resume on point. And so the fact that you’re consistently doing it and getting booked, I think that just shows, again, just the passion that you have for this business and the work that you’ve put in to see the success that you’ve seen, you know, the landscape of entrepreneurship is changing. And so for you, are there any strategies that you will be implementing to the future of your business to make sure that this side hustle is still thriving,
and he needs to because it’s my, it’s my primary, you know, focus for driving revenue, working in startups, is high risk, as I mentioned, and I understand that risk. So I’m careful with which companies I work with, and then how much I invest in my side hustles here, but I joke that it’s my side, hustle was really my full time passion is building creative products for these events. So one thing we’re really thinking about is now that there’s a lot of competition out there, there are a lot of people doing similar things, what’s going to be the next wave of things. Now, I used to be kind of skeptical of are we putting too much effort into events, knowing that COVID wiped us out for an entire year, people were begging us to do events, even small events. But I just really didn’t feel comfortable putting myself at risk, putting my staff at risk. So we literally did 00 events and 2020. And we could have I think there was some some, you know, there were mask protocols and things. But just because I wanted to offer a truly seamless experience, I just couldn’t, I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t put myself at risk. So we did zero events in 2020. But what 2020 taught me was that it does not matter what’s happening in the world, people’s desire to meet up and celebrate in person will never go away. We joke about AI and the power of that. But AI is not going to set up the photo booth and it’s not going to, you know, check people in and it’s not going to serve drinks, not yet. There’s still going to be an in person element that’s important. And those premium experiences when people do get to meet up together are what are what’s memorable, and what’s important to them. photo booths are merely just a tool to capture these exciting, exciting things. So I’m trying to think, what’s next photo booth going from, it’s really fun, we actually get requests still to print photos. And I’m like, how we’re gonna put my 360 video. But the old school traditional photo booth where you step into a booth and print out, you know, your, your filmstrip that was kind of what existed, the 360 offered just a new format and flow for that. And then it exported in video. So video we know is so powerful for social media, but what’s going to be the next thing, is it a different angle? Is it a different experience, maybe we’re able to edit some of these videos in real time and have a really different type of export and feel once they get it. So I’m trying to think about what the next thing is because I’m not afraid to invest and go all in on in person events. I think they’re here to stay. I think it’ll be years before we all just decided we’re gonna meet up in the metaverse. There’s no way I’m gonna get my aunts and uncles to to have a Kingston Yetta on the metaverse. So there’s going to be in person events for a long time. And so I’m not afraid I’m not afraid to invest resources in coming up with what’s new, I think, you know, my background in healthcare is gives me some infrastructure and biology you get this, like if things don’t work at the cellular level, at the functional and system level, they’ll never make sense. So the same infrastructure we’ve built for the photo booths to be successful. Now, it doesn’t matter what I’m offering, I don’t it doesn’t matter what the next product is, having some of those core systems in place will allow me to be successful no matter what the next thing is. And to be honest, I can’t even believe I’m going to say this. I’m normally a very like humble. Maybe even set myself that like I don’t I don’t promote myself too much. But I’m at this point I’m not afraid of, of something not working out. I’m never afraid to start something new and b I’m not fearful that it’s not going to work. What I’m afraid of is is going to work so well. And I’m not set up to be able to capture that excitement. So whatever the next thing is, I now feel good about going all in because I’ve got the infrastructure in place, I’ve got the team and I’ve got the experience, like I know when it’s a good time to panic about something. And when it’s like take breath, calm down, it’s in the contract, go back to the contract, you know, whatever it is, I feel good about putting all my resources and to building creative experiences. And it’s 360 booths right now. But there are a lot of cool things in the in the works. And I can’t wait to show them soon.
Yeah, but I think again, it just speaks to the fact of what you said like no matter what of how things are going to change, I’m always going to make sure that my key systems are always in place to be able to support me and the fact that you said like, Look, I’m not afraid of failing. It’s the fact that I know what’s going to do so well that can I have the systems in place to be able to support that. I mean, just that mind shift, right, like hearing you say that. It’s like, you just feel fearless. You know what I mean? Like I can do these things in my business. I just gotta make sure now that I have the systems and those things in place to make sure that I have the success that I want to see and be able to get the best experience possible. And so I love that this conversation has been just really inspiring Christiana, honestly, I love that and it’s been so much fun to hear more about your journey and the success. And so the question that we always like to exit with is what do you think is the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail? I
think it’s that preparedness. We’ve talked a lot about that. I think, you know, I, I love listening to podcasts that give real tangible, true advice for someone who’s listening right now to actually implement. And if anybody can advocate for the power of having a side hustle, drive some financial freedom for them, I feel really confident I can actually, probably years ago, I don’t know if I would have been able to stand on a metaphorical stage or a platform and tell people, but I think one thing that I’d love to share with people is that no matter what your full time role is, if you have a passion that’s elsewhere, being prepared and researched and thoughtful about how to bring those passions to life, it’s not a it’s not a pipe dream, it’s not something that’s so far away that you can attain it the photo booth for me, again, not the most groundbreaking work I’ve ever done. But it is something I love I’m so proud of and having the preparedness now now to start wasn’t so prepared. So having infrastructure, like what HoneyBook offered me, allowed me to really focus my full time efforts on my w two role. But man, I felt really good when those inquiries came in, and I wasn’t worried about who was going to respond to them, or how we were going to get contracts out to them fast. That gave me a peace of mind to just get ultra creative and lean all the way in. And without it, I would not be able to have afforded some of the incredible things I’ve able to do the last several years, having that side hustle, but be full time passion is something I think that there’s a lot of people who are trying to figure out how they make that next move. But I think of you have the resources, less about the money that you have. And it’s more about how prepared you can be and how willing you are to dig deep. The one thing I’ll say to people is that there’s a lot of research out there and people have shared their stories about what works and what works well. So listening to podcasts like this, like if you’re thinking I gotta figure out what my next move if you’re already a step ahead of a very large amount of people who are in the similar step listening and learning and seeking out these resources are what’s going to differentiate you and the others. So I’m I’m proud to be able to say that finally and I’ve loved to be able to share more with the creatives that we work with here in Dallas and and beyond. So platforms like this, give me a reach beyond what my photos can do, just here in the DFW area. And I know that our our impact is is there as well.
Oh my gosh, she has so much goodness that you shared there. Because again, I think you’re just a really great reminder of just how entrepreneurship just looks so different for so many of us. And the fact that you’re still yours is still a side hustle, which I think is just phenomenal. Like you were still working full time. And then you have this side hustle that you are making it work. And again, to your point of I’m just gonna keep nailing it home having those systems in place so that you can still do the things that you are passionate about and continue to make that impact which I think is so important. And and if you are listening in whether you know you have been a business owner for a long time, or you are you know, having a side hustle or you’re thinking about making the leap, like just be that preparedness, do your research, do the work like it’s it’s very possible that entrepreneurship can look any way that you want it to look, there’s no right or wrong way. What does success look like for you? And leaning into that? And I think just you have done that so, so beautifully. So thank you so much for coming on the show. And for people who would like to connect with you. Where can we find you?
Well, LinkedIn is a good spot is Christiana Jabra you can find me pretty easily there. My website is Christianity abroad.com where you can see really a lot of the work that I do. I work full time in sports technology right now. And it’s mainly because I’m passionate about sports. I love the incredible work that’s happening both on the tech side but in the media space. So the photo booth has been a fun way to sometimes weave the two together like with the Dallas Stars. So you can see a lot of that work on my website. But our handle on Instagram is 360 booth Texas you can see a lot of our past events and how we really differentiate ourselves i i encourage you to check it out because we do some really cool things.
Yes, you guys do. Thank you. Thank you so much. I have loved this Convo. And if you’re listening until next time, that ends our episode of The Independent Business podcasts. Everything we’ve discussed today can be found at [email protected] Had our website to access for show notes, relevant links and all the resources that you need to level up. And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast to make sure you never miss our future content. Drop us a review and leave our guests some love on social and thank you again for listening.