Ingredients for a Catalog Startup
They hired a different photographer, along with a photo stylist. “They were very good and creative. But we realized we were still putting too many products in a shot,” says Spitalny. Next time around, another professional photographer and food stylist team were used, says Spitalny. “That got us to the next level of professional presentation.”
But Spitalny still wasn’t satisfied, and felt the finished product lacked creativity. “We look at our catalog as our sales team,” she explains. “We wanted to communicate the aura of the product along with the high quality, and that just wasn’t happening.”
Digital production has given Fairytale Brownies the flexibility it was looking for to be more creative. “We can see the shots right away; it gives us more flexibility to make changes.” Today, she says, the company uses a stylist who is highly creative, adding things such as Easter eggs and a purple spoon to shots. “Interestingly, she’s not a food stylist,” says Spitalny.
Another addition to the catalog pages that Spitalny loves are the little hand-drawn elements added between shots and copy. “They add a sense of whimsy, and they really capture the essence of Fairytale Brownies.”
Keeping the money flowing. As with any new business, a big challenge for the company has been financing: “We don’t have outside investors. So it’s been a constant personal challenge to get bank financing.” Initially launched with $14,000 in personal financing and a $40,000 bank loan, the founders didn’t take a salary for three years.
“When we got going,” Spitalny recalls, “we were growing at 100 percent a year.” The problem: “We didn’t have any profit or equity to show for it. So it was difficult to get the bank to pony up more money each time.”
Being persistent paid off. “For two young people with no experience at owning or starting a business, it took a lot of persistence to get the banks to give us the loans. And if one [banker] said ‘no,’ we went to another.”