Photographers Tania Eastlake and Simon Eves saw the potential for photo booths – and their restored Volkswagen is the perfect vehicle for one.
After a Balinese holiday Tania Eastlake and Simon Eves realized they needed a bright idea that would allow them to collaboratively expand their blossoming photography business. Both had noticed the increasing popularity of photo booths in the New Zealand market but didn’t want to come in and just “reinvent the wheel”, as Eastlake puts it.
That led them down a quirkier, more creative route making something that had never been seen before: the Photokombi. This is a fully restored Volkswagen Kombi van with a custom-made photo booth fitted into the back, something completely unique to their business, Sadie & Co.
When they hit on the Photokombi idea, Eastlake and Eves made the tactical business decision to divert their entire marketing budget into the purchase, restoration and customisation of the Kombi van.
The couple’s main priority to begin with was making sure the van and booth were done to such a high standard that it essentially couldn’t be done better by anyone else.
They both regard the van as the best marketing tool they could ever have, as it does much more than just act as a mobile billboard for Sadie & Co.
“It is the business,” Eastlake says. “The entire experience people have with Photokombi starts and finishes with the van and the booth.”
Eastlake and Eves stand firmly behind the decision they made and believe it’s definitely paid off for their business.
“Although it wasn’t something we would have done had we had more money, in hindsight it has worked really well for us. Word-of-mouth is our best tool and the overall experience people have with Photokombi is something all the advertising and marketing in the world couldn’t give us.”
Sadie & Co’s marketing efforts don’t stop with the Photokombi. The pair make an effort to benefit from cheaper (and free) marketing methods. They make a habit of engaging in one-to-one marketing, regularly being a part of the Little Big Markets and the Matakana Indie Markets.
“For a small stand fee it allows us to talk to potential clients on a regular basis,” Eastlake explains. They also work hard to build and maintain connections with others in similar lines of work.
“We’ve formed great relationships with other likeminded companies and organisations who we get to work with on a regular basis,” says Eastlake, proving a personal touch goes a long way in any business environment.
Social media is also a big focus. They’re constantly publishing brand-related content across a variety of social media channels.
“We put a lot of time into our Facebook page, blog posts, Twitter and Instagram to make sure Photokombi is top of mind and also has an online presence,” Eastlake says. The result? Nearly 1,000 likes on Facebook within just 15 months. The page also gets a good level of engagement, as they’re both mindful of encouraging conversation with their fans and replying to those posting on the page.
Both Eastlake and Eves have differing backgrounds in photography, which is how they met.
Eastlake studied photography at the Elam School of Fine Arts straight out of high school and after her second year went to live in Italy.
“I decided to leave school and take my passion for photography overseas. That ultimately led me to a contract where I worked on cruise ships where I worked as a photographer and met Simon.”
She’s also worked in sales and marketing, more recently at Coca-Cola, relaunching Peroni, Grolsch and Miller in New Zealand. This diverse skill set has no doubt been put to good use in the running of Sadie & Co.
For Eves, the story is not all too dissimilar. He began working in photo labs at the age of 10, assisting his dad and learning the photography basics with a 30 year-old 35mm Pentax SLR.
When he left high school he went to art college in Cambridge in the UK to study graphic design.
“Photography was a core subject I ended up specialising in,” explains Eves. He wasted no time in putting his newly acquired skills to use: “I went straight to sea, working on cruise ships as a photographer – where I met Tania – seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world and learning my craft.”
After eventually getting into more senior roles and with a total of 14 years at sea, Eves decided it was time for a change. “I decided it was time to retire and set up home and business here in New Zealand with Tania.”
And so Sadie & Co. was born.
Although there are a fair few other photo booth companies in the market, they’re confident they have a competitive offering.
“Photokombi is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and is something completely unique to our business,” Eastlake says.
“What Photokombi offers in terms of experience, quality, aesthetics and service is second to none.”