It is often said that a picture can say a thousand words, so what about the frame holding it? With the right picture frame, that photo could say a lot more.
When someone goes shopping for a picture frame a lot of factors come in to play. Everything from design to color must be considered because not all frames are created equal, nor do they compliment every picture. No one knows that better than Alisha and Corinne Lee. This mother and daughter team are the owners of Your Picture Frames. The website, which was founded in July of last year, is just one branch of the family business which was started in 1945.
Tell us a little about Your Picture Frames.
YourPictureFrames.com helps people protect and proudly display their photos, artwork and special memories with a wide variety of picture frames that fit each customer’s unique personal style. A family-owned business, YourPictureFrames.com is dedicated to bringing customers the perfect on-line shopping experience every time they visit.
What inspired you to launch your business?
My family’s tradition of selling picture frames since 1945 and our passion for picture frames really is what inspired us to start YourPictureFrames.com. Picture frames and photography have been part of my family’s life for decades so it seemed only natural to start an online business where we could serve customers from all over the US.
About how many frames do you have listed on your website?
We have over 700 different frames on our website (not including all of the different sizes for each of these frames) and are adding new frames to our site every week. By the time we’re done adding frames, we should have over 2000 different styles of frames.
Which ones are the most popular among your customers?
We sell a huge variety of frames everything from simple wood and metal frames to fancy gold leaf and silver frames to fun jeweled frames. Because our selection is so diverse, it is difficult to pinpoint any one particular type of frame that is the most popular.
How long did it take for both of you to get your business together and launched? Has it changed much from that initial idea?
It actually took about 3 months to get the website up and running. Luckily, we didn’t have to spend much time finding frame manufacturers because my family had been selling frames since 1945 and had relationships with all of the major frame manufacturers. And surprisingly enough, the business hasn’t really changed at all from the original idea. I think that is because we were so familiar with the products we were selling as Corinne (my partner and mother) had been selling frames in a retail location for over 40 years.
What do you hope to accomplish with your business before you reach your first anniversary in July? What are some of your long term business goals?
Our goal is to have one of the nicest selections of picture frames on line and build a reputation for providing excellent customer service where customers love visiting and shopping on our site. In terms of long term goals, our goal is to be one of the top picture frame retailers on the web.
What has it been like working together on this business? What are some of the benefits you’ve seen from working with your mom in business?
It’s actually been great because we’ve been able to spend a lot of time together. I’m really thankful for having the opportunity to spend so much time with my mom. My mom and I were always very close before but now instead of talking on the phone several times a week; I now get to see her all the time. Because of the business, and by working together as partners, we have expanded our relationship and better understand each others strengths in business.
Some believe you should never go into business with family. What would you say to them?
Well I think it really depends upon the relationship you have with your family. I would definitely say that you need to have a solid and trusting relationship beforehand otherwise you’re asking for trouble. I think you also have to accept that when you work together the dynamics of your relationship will change a bit and you have to be able to separate family time from work time. I find that it’s really easy for “family time” to get monopolized with discussions about the business. These things may seem trivial but it can really impact your family life if you let it.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
One of the lessons I’ve learned is the importance of getting to know your customers with an online store. I think most people view the internet as very impersonal, so when our customers get our emails or call our 800 number they’re surprised to find a friendly person on the other end. I’ve been really surprised at the reaction our customers have had to our friendly and helpful service. I think if every online business focused on providing excellent customer service and treated their customers as friends or neighbors they would be amazed at the results.
Any tips that you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
I think there are really two important tips that I’d like to share. The first is that you need to be passionate about whatever products or services that you sell. This is incredibly important because if you don’t love working on your business, then it will be painful spending the time, energy and resources needed to make it successful. The other thing I would recommend is sitting down and evaluating beforehand what you are willing to do and what skill sets you have to make it successful. Make sure that you have the proper resources and the right skill sets with your partners or employees in order to be able to launch your business properly.