Houston couple Brittany and Austin Havican found themselves with a choice to make earlier this year. Personally, the couple had wanted to buy a Volkswagon bus to restore for many years. Professionally, they knew it would be a smart decision to add a photo booth to Brittany’s wedding photography business. But instead of picking one or the other, they decided to integrate the bus restoration into their business venture.
Now, the couple owns PhotoMoto, a mobile photo booth for events that they operate right out of their newly restored VW bus.
The couple is aware of one similar photo booth in the Kansas City area, but to their knowledge they are the only VW bus photo booth in Houston.
The unique aspect of their photo booth may have been born out of compromise. But Brittany also said that it’s been a better business decision than a more traditional photo booth could have been. In a phone interview with Small Business Trends she said:
“I think it’s definitely helped our business because it’s just really unique. If someone wants a traditional photo booth there are a million places they can call, but if they want something a little adventurous or different they call us.”
Brittany has been taking photos for about ten years, and doing professional wedding photography for about two. Her photography business and PhotoMoto can run independently of one another. But the photo booth has helped gain clients for Brittany Havican Photography as well:
“People will see the bus on Facebook or at other events around Houston – it’s really great for getting people’s attention. Then when they call, I’ll tell them I also do wedding photography and I offer a discount for people who book the two together.”
The restoration itself wasn’t without challenges. The bus was rusted and needed upgraded paint and repairs before being event-ready. But Austin’s interest in being an amateur auto mechanic and the couple’s interest in old cars helped them get it done. The market in their downtown Houston neighborhood, which Brittany described as “artsy,” appreciates the distinct vintage experience that PhotoMoto delivers.
Overall, Brittany said they would do it all over again if given the opportunity, and not just because of the business growth. In fact, she left open the possibility of adding another vintage vehicle in the future, though the couple has no solid plans to do so just yet:
“We both have an interest in old cars and it has just been a really satisfying experience to see the transformation and put our hearts into it. Plus we love driving it and it’s just really fun to have.”
Wow, talk about branding! This is an example of where business owners combined their own interests and personalities with their business to create something truly unique. It’s interesting how these owners didn’t come up with the idea because they believed their customers had a thing for Volkswagon buses. They simply took one of their own passions and made it a part of their business trusting that their customers would go along with the quirkiness…and it worked.
Agreed – being quirky is one of most effective branding effort 🙂
Quirkiness can sometimes be a risk. People may not be open to it, or ready for it, or understand it. I therefore really commend this couple on going for it and succeeding. It’s inspiring to see.
What an inspiring story. It seems that they will somehow be led to that type of business. They are good at photogaphy. Sometimes, it just needs one great idea in order to make things big.
I was smiling after reading the first paragraph :-).
What a wonderful, unique and fun idea! It also sounds as if it’s a merging of several things they love/have an interest in (photography, old cars, auto mechanics). There’s a lot synergy going on there, like it was meant to be.
Life works in wondrous ways. In my 20s I became an engineer, in my 30s I was successful as a business man, in my 40s I became a musician. The interesting part is that one needs to apply one’s talents to the opportunity given. It takes much of our life time to develop our skills and to thrive on our talents. Never force yourself to be something that you are not, go with the flow and be happy, really happy.
I would have never thought I would become a professional musician at night and a mortgage broker in the day, which is all radically different from my engineering studies in my early 20s.