The famous quote “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is frequently attributed to Chinese philosopher Confucius; however, no one is really sure if Confucius was truly responsible for this gem. Despite its unknown origins, this quote has proven true for Brandon Brown and Destin Pace. Brandon and Destin are co-owners of PicMe Photo Booth Company in Atlanta, Georgia. They took a fairly old concept and revamped it. Now, they create unique and memorable experiences while also doing something they enjoy. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but in their case, two heads are definitely better than one.
Brandon and Destin were born in Georgia and they attended Georgia Southern University before graduating and starting their business. According to Destin, it was Brandon who thought of the idea. He attended a back-to-school event where he saw a similar photo booth set up. “I walked up to the guy running the photo booth and started asking him questions,” said Brandon. “I asked him where he got the photo booth but he wouldn’t tell me”. It was the man’s reluctance to share details about the photo booth that pushed Brandon to do his own research. After about 6 months, he pitched the idea to Destin, bringing him on board.
So what exactly is the PicMe Photo Booth experience? According to Destin, their main focus is event curation and services. “We help curate memorable events for different festivities from weddings to birthday parties or other social events. I mean anything, you name it. If you want to have fun with your friends, that’s what we’re here for”. The PicMe experience is the “wow” to your event, Brandon explained. “Our slogan is ‘If PicMe wasn’t there, did it really happen?’ We’re basically saying it’s not a party until PicMe’s there. We cater to our clients. Any graphics, prints, or social media sharing, whatever they need, we’re able to get it.”
Brandon and Destin were known for throwing epic parties, so it was only right that Brandon would turn to him to be his right-hand man in this new venture. “Dealing with the logistics of throwing an event wasn’t foreign to us so we knew it was definitely doable. We just had to put our efforts behind it. If you know us, you know that we have an entrepreneurial spirit. We just don’t like working. We’ll try different ways to make money outside of our normal business day” Destin explained. Both he and Brandon work full-time jobs outside of the photo booth company.
Using the 9-5 to fuel your dream
It was actually their full-time jobs that allowed them to gather the initial finances for their company. “People say use the 9-5 to fuel your dream and that’s what we did,” Brandon revealed. Destin also pointed out that he and Brandon both had superb credit allowing them to get a jump start on purchasing the equipment they needed to get started. Although getting the equipment wasn’t too hard, making the monthly payments was another ball game for the duo. “We didn’t have any business coming in for 3 or 4 months in the beginning. Nobody trusted us yet because we were new. When you start out, you see all of these other photo booths charging $300 and $400 an hour. However, when you’re new you have to charge $50 or $75 an hour so you can try to build those client reviews”. Although Destin expressed that sometimes he doesn’t like his job, he wouldn’t have been able to afford the initial costs for the company without it.
It’s all about balance
For Destin and Brandon, running a business with a partner hasn’t been as hard as one may think. When they first started out, both men would go to the events to get a feel for the process, but now they’re able to split up the work. “Nobody really takes on more than the next person. If I work five events by myself, then Destin will work the next five events by himself so it’s just a balance. I’ve talked to other people about partners and it’s just having that understanding from the jump,” Brandon explained. They both split the work when it comes to responding to emails, posting on social media, and handling the financials. Though many of the day to day tasks are shared, they each bring their own creative talents to PicMe Photo Booth Company.
When it comes to the behind the scenes technology, Destin is your guy. Brandon admitted that “If you see something crazy on the photo booth, Destin probably had a lot to do with it. If someone is like hey can you add gifs, Destin will say yes we can add gifs and then some and it’ll be something crazy. I’m usually like no man you’re doing too much, but Destin will figure out a way to get it out.” Destin also makes sure they have the most current technology to give their clients the best possible experience. On the front-end, Brandon takes the lead. He’s responsible for creating ideas for different props and backdrops as well as making sure the Instagram page is aesthetically pleasing. Outside of Destin and Brandon, they reach out to friends who are more than happy to lend a hand or give creative advice if they can’t agree on something.
Staying afloat during Covid-19
With PicMe Photo Booth Company being a service that’s dependent on public gatherings, Covid-19 has made it difficult for them to grow their business during this time. “I could understand people not booking us, but people not being able to congregate was a whole other adversity that we didn’t see coming to this extent. We’re just learning how to maneuver through the times. Governor Kemp is kind of helping us out. I know that sounds crazy, but him not closing the state as heavily has allowed us to have more events during this time. It’s kind of a double-edged sword when you think about it.” Destin also explained that even though they are still available to book, they’re taking every precaution possible to ensure not only the safety of their clients but the safety of themselves and their business. They make sure to wipe everything down and have temporarily stopped the use of props to cut down on any possible spread of germs. They also require clients to sign a waiver and they remain flexible with refunds or date changes.
Never be afraid to ask questions
It’s only been two years since they started the PicMe Photo Booth Company and they aren’t afraid to admit that there’s still a lot to learn. Brandon isn’t afraid to ask questions, even if it means being made fun of. When they first started Pic Me Photo Booth Company, Brandon posted a picture in a Facebook group asking for help with how to fix his backdrop. The group’s response wasn’t what he thought it would be. “They laughed at our backdrops so much that they had to turn off the comments for our picture,” Destin said. Thankfully, someone reached out to them outside of the Facebook group and offered his expertise. “We ended up meeting a guy named Michael and he was a big photo booth owner in Philly. He was nice enough to reach out to me on the side. He talked to us and mentored us on how the game goes.”
As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to put yourself out there. Even so, Destin is a strong believer of “closed mouths don’t get fed, you never know how one introduction can go for you.” Destin also advised people to keep learning their craft and to try not to stay stagnant. They are constantly updating their social media accounts, logo, and website to stay current and to appeal to new clients. Brandon’s advice was to never give up. “I tell everybody, during me and Destin’s third or fourth month, we didn’t have any business. You can’t just sit around and say this isn’t working. We said maybe we should have a flash sale or maybe we should do a free event. You just have to test and try everything and eventually, something will pop.” The lesson here is to learn as much as you can and even if you feel like it won’t work, keep trying. Even though their business has seen a lot of success, it wasn’t an overnight thing and most success stories aren’t.
The PicMe experience
PicMe Photo Booth Company is a one of a kind experience. Nowadays, anyone can just pull out their phone and take a Snapchat or add a filter, but Destin and Brandon know that photo booths tickle our nostalgia bone. “A lot of people want that classic feel of the photo strip. So as we’re advancing, people still like the classic touches. It’s just a good time right here in the booth. It’s one of those times where everybody isn’t on their phones. We can just really be ourselves and really get active in the booth and we get to have those memories.”