How two banquet servers turned their photography side-hustle into an in-demand virtual photo booth business
ORLANDO, Fla. - Picture this. You’ve got a full schedule heading into the spring 2020 convention season. All of your days are spent doing what you do best — crafting cocktails and hosting site visits while serving as a team leader for your department. You’re having conversations with your spouse about who is going to watch the kids because both parents are scheduled to work every weekend for the foreseeable future. Then suddenly everything stops, meetings and events as we know them have completely come to a halt, and the very thing you’ve based your career around barely has a pulse. This was the reality for Julian Varela and his wife Miranda Varela, who were both, at the time, banquet team members at local Orlando hotels.
Julian was one of the hundreds of employees who were furloughed in March 2020 from the hotel he was working at. His wife, Miranda, shared the same fate from her two part-time banquet jobs. Both individuals, who were used to being constantly on the go, suddenly had to stop and reevaluate the situation.
“We took a pause for just a beat, in denial and shock of what this could mean for our industries. We realized we must find a point to focus and pivot,” the couple stated. “We couldn't begin to guess how long it would take for the events industry to begin to recover.”
Not wanting to wait on the unknown, they decided they would move full speed ahead on their photography business they began dabbling in 2018: Capture Your Events.
This is no ordinary photo booth rental business. In fact, the owners say it’s not “fair” to call their rentals a “photo booth” business, as they are so much more.
“We worked to develop a very diverse and ever-evolving brand identity,” Julian said. “The concept that photo and video content is key really hits home for us, so our primary services all center around this with an ever-growing list of photo solutions in house, including Roaming Photo Booths, Social Aura Selfie Stations, Magic Memory Mirrors, Infinity Mirrors, Frozen Motion Experience, Mosaic Walls, Photography, Videography, Live Streaming, Virtual Photo Booths, Virtual Mosaics, and our Milestone Mosaics project.”
They knew it wouldn’t be easy as they counted on live meetings and events for the bulk of their business, but they decided to persevere, put on their entrepreneur hats, and think outside the box. At the beginning of the pandemic, they saw a need for virtual photo booths.
“We turned to marketing virtual photo booths to create a fun interaction for participants and teams working and communicating at a distance,” Miranda said. “Our Photo Mosaic Wall technology gave light to our ability to host online virtual mosaic services where participants could really get the feel of the concept ‘we are in this together,’ while contributing their photos to a piece of the whole.”
As Florida started to slowly open up they then saw a niche for weddings. “We then realized that there was a market that was desperately wanting to come back stronger and faster than any other,” Julian said. “The wedding industry saw the birth of the hashtag #loveisnotcancelled. People needed to celebrate something positive and join their lives in love during the most trying of times.” Once again they redefined their business solutions to now include live streaming services for weddings and Virtual Mosaics for families.
Adjusting to change and working as a team is part of the overall success at Capture Your Events. For Julian and Miranda, success is about establishing something they can be proud of and enjoy while also living a full life with their family. “We wanted to find something to focus on, something to be happy about,” they said. “Ideally we are driving for success in our venture surrounded by a team of like-minded individuals who we can enjoy working and building with into the future. Success alone wouldn't feel right, success is built from teams and we want a success that is shared with our friends and families.”
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